Monday, September 29, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Mother! Part One

This picture is about four years ago taken in Mom's back yard.

This is a very long blog about saying goodbye to my mother who died on July 15, 2014 at age 90. I wanted to record my feelings and memories before they are lost.  These next two blogs are about my Mom, but really for me. 

I have made many trips to the West over the years to be with my Mom.   My  dad died in 1998 and after that Mom also  made many more trips to Virginia. We've had some fun times, some great trips together and some filled with a little stress.  In the last five years, I have spent lots more time visiting Mom.  Often we could never decide who was in charge, but wow, what I have learned about heir in the last couple of years while writing her history, is what an amazing woman she is.  A month before she died, I was able to visit her and finally read her life history to her that I had also recently finished.  It was so fun and exciting for Mom.  Mom's sisters, June and Helen came for a special lunch and also admired her completed history.  She was so thrilled and between the two of us we thought of a couple of other events to add to the history.   She was quite frail, but was always ready to go where her kids were.  Mom was  able to attend Lauren's graduation party.   (Thanks, Darryl for getting her there.)

And, she talked me into a field trip with the assisted living residents on their bus to an ice cream parlor.  She wouldn't go unless I went with them.  She said, "Oh come on.  You'll have fun."  And I did.  It was our last hot fudge sundae together. 

Looking back I feel so fortunate to have spent time with her in June.  Our plan was to have a fun birthday celebration in August, but she didn't make it to August. 

I received a call in the middle of the night on a Thursday in July from Mom's assisted living facility in Draper, Utah . The nurse felt like she wasn't going to make it through the night and they couldn't get in touch with anyone in Utah. I told them to call 911 and told them one of my brothers would meet her at the hospital. I was able to get a hold of my brother, Mike who went straight to the hospital.  He was exhausted having just returned from the hospital for 21 hours straight with his wife.  His wife and mother were in the same hospital.  Mom was diagnosed with pneumonia and a bad infection. By the weekend Mom was still on a ventilator off and on. I bought a ticket on Monday to go to the West and by that evening she needed the ventilator constantly. I landed at 1:06 pm the next day and my brother, Kenny picked me up and we drove straight to the hospital.

Mom was so little, fragile, and helpless. Her heart kept beating erratically but then would beat normally. We all knew she was barely clinging to life. I stroked her cheek and held her hand. Through tears Margo and I sang the Poky fight song to her. She loved that song. We also sang 'You Are My Sunshine." We love her so much and couldn't do much so we sang.  She was really struggling.  Surrounded by her family,  my brothers and their wives, and Darryl's children, Natalie and Mark, Mom's heart stopped at 4:13 pm.    I had been there only three hours.  It seemed like my own  heart quit beating too. It felt completely unreal.    She had come back from the edge so many times, but this time, it was not to be.   I knew when I left her in June, she was so weak, I had left part of me there with her. Now she was gone. Just before she died, she opened her eyes one last time and I told her I loved her.

Boy, it was all so final.  After a while everyone left.  They had been with Mom for a few days, but I had trouble leaving there in the hospital so Kenny stayed with me and I was able to stay a few more hours. I couldn't believe she was really gone. I knew this was coming, but I thought we had more time. Even as I write this now, I can't believe how sad I feel about saying goodbye.  The hospital staff kept coming in and we would ask to stay just a bit longer.  Then it was time to go and Kenny and I left and yes stopped for a diet coke in Mom's honor!  She would have loved that idea.

The next day we set about making arrangements for Mom's funeral service. We (my brothers and I)  decided to take her back home to Idaho for her funeral even though she had been in Utah for fourteen years and it turned out to be a very good decision. It all felt right to have her home and for us to be home to honor our mother and celebrate her life.

Mother's obituary
                      This is Mother at age 17.  What a cutie!

Donna Hansen Neider passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on July 15, 2014 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was born in a little farmhouse in Newdale, Idaho on December 15, 1923 to Antone Vernstine Hansen and Stella Butler Hansen. When Donna was two, her family moved to Lavaside, Idaho just outside Blackfoot. Donna was 15 when her family moved to Tyhee, Idaho. Soon after, she met Boyd Neider in Tyhee and a year later they eloped in 1940. The Tyhee farming community became the most important part of life for the Neider family. Together Boyd and Donna raised their six children in Tyhee: Kenneth Boyd (Margo Yates) of Idaho Falls, Idaho; Andrea Leona Neider Crowley (Rich Crowley) of Culpeper, VA; Michael Antone (Rosemary Curtis ) of Draper, Utah; Mark Lee (Renee Hobson) of Pocatello, Idaho; Julie Neider Selders (deceased) (Jack Selders) of Murray, Utah; and, Darryl Leroy (Anna Marie Hunt) of Granite, Utah. Boyd and Donna and their children were later sealed in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple.

Boyd and Donna owned and ran the IGA store in Tyhee for many years which further connected their family to the Tyhee and Fort Hall communities. When the store was sold, Donna went to work for Garrett Freightlines until she retired.

Donna's entire life centered around her family, faith, and friends. She was generous and never met a stranger. She loved everyone. She was knowledgeable and proud of her pioneer and American heritage and was always interested in the politics of the day. She was very patriotic and loved her red white and blue.

She had many hobbies which she enjoyed throughout her life. She loved reading and writing and music, and was often called upon for musical and theatrical productions in the church community. One of her favorite activities was participating in the Tyhee Literary Guild with her dear friends. She also loved oil painting, mainly Southern Utah landscapes, and China painting. She also enjoyed history and was an accomplished horse woman who rode with the Silver Sage Riders (a women's drill posse) for many years. She was a prolific quilter (like her mom and sisters) and made quilts for her children and for each grandchild in their high school's colors when they graduated.

Boyd served as the Bishop of the 33rd Ward in Pocatello with Donna right by his side supporting and loving each and every ward member (or pushing from behind). She was famous for her German chocolate cakes. Boyd and Donna started spending winters in St. George, Utah, but interrupted their snow-bird time to serve a mission at the LDS Employment Center in Pocatello.
When Donna's daughter, Julie, died in 2000, Donna moved to the Salt Lake City area to be near Julie's young sons to help out. She volunteered at their elementary school everyday until they moved into junior high. She was awarded the Volunteer of the Year award from the school district during this time. Donna loved working on the computer well into her 80's and kept herself and others busily engaged in her many projects. Over the past six years, she was also a key attraction at the opening of one of her son's 26 Five Guys restaurants in California, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Utah where everyone loved her Five Guys "costume" and enjoyed her enthusiastic interaction. More recently, Donna lived at Assisted Living of Draper, Utah where she loved her care center family who loved and treated her so well. A special thanks to all of her caregivers, especially Don, Hannah, Casey, Leslie, Marcia and Susan.

Donna was preceded in death by her husband Boyd; daughter, Julie; three grandchildren, Brant, Thomas Boyd and Jennifer; her parents; a brother Arvel Hansen; and a sister Vella Mecham. She is survived by two sisters, June and Helen five of her children, 28 grandchildren, and 69 great grandchildren.

                                      Here's Mother on her 89th birthday with her happy smile. 

It was a bitter/sweet task to write Mother's obituary.  I wrote it from memory as I had just finished writing her history over the last year and a half.  I think when someone dies, it is helpful for your brain and emotions to switch to auto pilot to be able to accomplish everything that needs to be done.  It is such a labor of love.   Darryl added a few things to the obituary and then we sent it to the paper.  It was so hard to see it in print.  Everything we did made it more real.   I had wondered what it would feel like when Mom was gone, you just can't imagine this type of reality.

My brothers and I had to plan Mother's funeral and we wanted every detail to be perfect for her.  We remembered planning Dad's funeral, but the difference was, Mom was there with her input.  We thought about what her input would be and worked toward that end. 

As I was looking for pictures for her funeral program, I ran onto this picture from the '80s.  Three of the people I love with all my heart all gone from me, but they are together and I imagine they are smiling, just like in this picture.

                                   Andrea, Julie, Donna and Boyd on the breezeway making a pancake breakfast for our reunion.  We made aprons for everyone!  What fun memories.  Look how happy we are.  I'm so happy to know that families are forever and that I will be with them again.

Mother's funeral and other memories in Part Two to follow when I get it finished.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My 10 BookChallenge

My Favorite Mary Cassett portrait!

I pulled this from Facebook to expand the reasons I love the books from my 10 book challenge on my blog!

I have been nominated by Susan Mull to the 10 book challenge. I have so many favorites, I could have the top 1000. I have favorite authors rather than books. If I like someone, I will read everything they have written -- sometimes twice. The following books all broadened my thinking. Thanks Susan Mull. This made me think about why I love reading so much. I challenge Patty Zeugschmidt, Maurine Proctor, Rosemary Curtis Neider and Corinn Seely.
I especially love books that have great character development. I love a good mystery or a really wonderful story.  I am an English major so I do look at books a little differently, but I love identifying with  one of the characters and determining if I would make the same decisions.  I use to love to ask my students that same question.  Whatever the reason, I love to read.

So here we go

1. Kristin Lavransdatter Trilogy by Sigrid Undset- an historical account of life in 14th century Norway - I read this book many many years ago and it remains one of my favorites.  The author is a Nobel prize award winner for literature and a wonderful writer.  This book is said to be grammatically perfect. Who knows?  I read the translation.

2. Mila 18 by Leon Uris - one of Uris' most powerful and heartfelt works about a determined band of Warsaw Jews in a bunker under Mila 18 Street and their resistance to the Nazi occupiers. Such a good read.

3. Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follet - who wouldn't love Tom Builder and the story of building the cathedrals in Europe. What rich history this book brings.  I also loved the follow-up books.

4. Unbroken: A World War II story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand -- this inspiring story of Louie Gambrini gripped me from page one. Hillenbrand is a wonderful writer who pulls you into this man's life and you feel like you are right there experiencing the awfulness of war. He truly was unbroken in his will to survive. Might be my favorite book of all time.

5. Kite Runner by Kaled Hosseini - a truly educational and eye opening account of the political turmoil in Afghanistan. Interesting that two on my list are about Afghanistan. This is about boys and their dads, betrayals and lies, and their heartbreaking struggles and emotional triumphs. A book that stays with you long after you have finished it. Excellent character development.

6. Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls - a book I read to my young sons. I loved this classic adventure of a young lad and his coon hounds. Who could ever forget Old Dan and Little Ann and the Indian legend of the Red Fern. I attended a lecture about the book by Wilson Rawls and loved him too. He is a great story teller.

7. Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan -- probably not my favorite of Amy Tan, but such a wonderful glimpse into lives that had a huge impact on me. I went to the movie before I read the book and was mostly lost. Then I read the book and bought the movie. This book made me view the Chinese culture in a different light for the fight time. It's an emotional look at mothers and daughters and their relationships. The story about the piano lesson is in one of the high school anthologies. Excellent book! My favorite quote, "You have best quality heart." 

8. Five Smooth Stones by Ann Fairbairn - I read this book so long ago I had to look up the author. It was published in the turbulent civil rights time during the '60s. It is an excellent look at life and love between an African American man and a Caucasian woman. The five smooth stones are indeed a reference to the five stones that David uses against Goliath. David, the hero faces significant struggles but has such warmth you fall in love with him. It is a classic well worth reading.

9. Caravans by James Michner - I remember picking this book to read for a literary club review. I wanted a Michner book, but they were all so long and then I found Caravans. It's about half the length the other Michner works. He is such a great writer and I loved every page. It's about a girl who mysteriously disappears in Afghanistan and the person sent to find her. It has lots of cultural history that is fascinating to read.

10. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom - Here is an amazing story of a real-life super hero. Corrie was a survivor of one of Hitler's concentration camps. This book will touch your heart and soul. The story is what is great about this book. Very memorable and life changing.

Other books I have loved:  Sally Hemmings, Gone With the Wind, Huckleberry Finn or anything by Mark Twain.  I've read everything that Nelson DeMille has written except one.  I like Lee Childs, Berry, Grisham, Baldacchi, and several other modern day spy writers.  The classics are always favorites:  Jane Eyre, Of Mice and Men, Ivan Denisovich, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Old Man and the Sea, anything Shakespeare, A Separate Peace, The Secret Garden, Ethan Frome.  My list goes on and on!

 Another book I love is the Book of Mormon and try to read these scriptures every day as well as the other scriptures.  This book has shaped my life in every way. Well, I am a Mormon! So that makes sense doesn't it?   It gives me the strength and faith I need to survive unbroken.

Since I have vision issues with my macular degeneration, I do all of my reading on my iPad.  I love the magic of using my iPad.  Love you Steve Jobs!  Happy Reading to all!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Two Weeks in July

Rich and I had a few days to regroup after getting home from Utah  before Jeremy and Shelly's family flew in from San Francisco. Audrey and Jocelyn came for a sleepover. We love having the girls for sleepovers and spoiling them!

We went to the flower store to buy flowers for the yard.  The girls were so cute buying flowers to take home to plant in their yard.  Then we came home and worked hard getting all of the flowers in pots and in the ground.  We were late with our planting having been gone most of June so we were Glad to have these darling helpers!

I'm losing track of days, but it seems like Shelly came with the kids on June 30 and Jeremy came on July 4th. And boy oh boy did we pack a ton of fun in to the two weeks they were in Virginia.
So let's just show all of the pictures. Did I mention that I have the cutest grand kids on the planet???

Our List of Activities from June 30 to July 13
Not in any particular order
1.  Slip and Slide
2.  Tire Swing
3.  Hot dog roast at Lenn Park
4.  Build a Bear
5.  Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks
6.  Sight Seeing in DC
7.  Last minute dinner with the Maryland Crowleys
8.  Lunch at Carlos O Kellys in Fredericksburg
9.  Making homemade cream soda
10.  Gabe and Shelly take the little kids to the lake
11.  Shopping
12.  Basketball tournament
13.  Sleepovers for the girls

And MORE...

Shelly was exhausted by the time she flew in from San Francisco with the four kids.  Plus she gets up every morning and runs about 6-10 miles.  She deserves to be tired.  She probably won't like this picture!  Okay, nevermind, I took the picture off.  (It was that picture of you asleep on the couch, Shelly.)
Emery's Birthday
Our first big event was getting Emery her birthday present.  She wanted to go to Build A Bear and was very excited.  Charlotte was also very excited and wanted to come along to find a new dress for her newest kitty - Precious!

Here's Emery with her new sparkly bear with the sparkly dress.  She was pretty tickled.
Charlotte with a new nightgown and slippers for Precious. 

Look at these two cute cousins walking hand in hand out the door!

 This is a busy bunch!
Charlotte, Emery, Audrey, Jocelyn
 Here's their sleepover.  They are all in that tangle of blanket somewhere.

Fourth of July 
 The Crowley Gang at the 4th of July Parade in Culpeper!  Andrew, Andrea and Harper in the back.
After the parade we came home to a cookout and wait for dark for the fireworks.   
Hot Dog Roast!
Cookout at Lenn Park!  Grandpa Crowley and Chase in front of the fire pit.

 Thanks, Shelly for looking at me while I  a take a picture.

 Jeremy and two of his boys, Carsen and Tanner.  Tanner is goofing off in almost every picture

Charlotte, Emery, Nathan and Chase w/ Grandpa Crowley 
 Then it was on to the playground.  Matthew gave them a pretty fast and furious  ride!

 Grandpa Rich and the Tire Swing
Rich decided to put up a tire swing for the grand kids. 
 So how many Crowley men does it take to put up a tire swing?  Well, four!
 You see the briar patch behind them.  Rich cleaned out a very large area and planted grass.  Everyone told him grass wouldn't grow there, but look how nice and healthy it is!  Good work Rich.

 Audrey and Emery waiting for another turn.  Cousin Shannon holding Nathan.

 Jeremy and Shelly took their two oldest boys to DC to sight see and on the way back they drove by our old home in Fairfax and Jeremy was very lonesome for Carlos.  SO...The next day we drove to Fredericksburg to, you gessed it!  CARLOS
 Jeremy was very happy to be having his favorite meal!  The rest of us too.  We love Carlos!
 Lest I forget I was there, Rich took my pic with Andrew!

 Darling picture of Jeremy and Shelly in the back yard.
 This is Chase down in Grandpa's studio!

 Harper very worried about events at the tire swing.
 Jeremy and Chase

   We had a last minute get together with Rich's brother's family.  They have a lake house at Lake Anna and were on there way home.  Kara, sitting down and very pregnant,  has since had another girl, Annie.  She is named for Annie Crowley, Rich's mother.
Kara, Ken, and Tricia

 Tanner said he was the King of the basketball tournament!
 Crowley Cousins
Shannon Crowley, Kara Crowley Hurley (missing Jordan Crowley)
Andrew, Matthew and Jeremy
 Rich had the boys and Ken had the girls!  Nice balance.

All of the Crowley Grand kids!

 And last but not least -- Carsen tending the homemade Cream Soda!  It was so good!

 We said goodbye to the Fresno Crowleys who flew home to San Francisco.  They stayed the night with Andrew and Melanie who live closer to the airport in Virginia.  They left early the next morning and were in San Fran by 10:30.  Then they drove home to Fresno.  Those two weeks flew by. Phew!Such a great family time with all of our kids.  Rich and I are so proud of all of them.  They are KEEPERS.  Love those Crowley Men and their families!

Two days after the Fresnos left, I headed back to Utah to a little Mother who was clinging to life.