Wednesday, December 5, 2012

And life goes on...some holiday thoughts

In the past year we have lost numerous people that we love, including two of my dad's sisters, the last two of my mom's siblings, and many other friends and relatives.  I guess this is to be expected as we get older but it is still always so hard to let them go.

Today I was going to try to post something uplifting and cheerful - I should never have re-read my last post as now I am sniffling as all these tender feeling rush back in.  I sure miss my mom and my brother, and those others who have gone on, expecially at this time of year.  Mom was a great lover of holidays and always made Christmas special with lots of homemade goodies and gifts.  I treasure the crocheted doilies and other things she made for me through the years.  What special heirlooms they are now.

I thought I might give a little update on us.  Our oldest daughter is actually visiting this week from California.  We love having her here and wish she lived closer so we could visit back and forth more often.  Our tree is up.  All of the kids and grandkids except our son's family were here on the weekend for dinner and the grandkids decorated the tree for us.  It looks beautiful and it was fun to see which of that huge stash of ornaments we have collected through the years they chose to put on the tree.  A great deal of them are the handmade ones, not the fancy store bought items. Even the little children seem to be drawn to those things that have been made with loving hands.  I think it says something about how they are being raised that they are not just drawn to the commercial side of things.

Our daughter and her children who has been with us this past year seem to be doing better now that the divorce is final and they can get on with life.  It has helped that "he" is now living out of state and is not daily causing contention and drama, although "he" seems to have found a way to continue do that via telephone.  It has been a rough year for them, and for all of us as we tried to help in whatever way we can.  We love our grandchildren, and we grateful that we were able to have them safe here with us this year but I know that it is hard for everyone to have multiple generations in one house and they kids suffer from too many adults telling them what to do, so it is good that they now have their own home and can be a little family unit of their own once again.

We all went to their home for Thanksgiving dinner via a special invitation from the children. It was the first time they have ever been able to be the host for such an occasion and they were so excited.  Our little granddaughter age 7 was so thrilled to be having everyone to their house that she made individual Thank You cards for everyone thanking them for coming.  I thought that was so special.  She is such a sweetheart!  It was a lovely day and we enjoyed it immensely.

With the approaching Christmas season I know everyone is too busy, life is too hectic, and sometimes overwhelming.  We take on too much, think we have to do everything and wear ourselves too thin.  It is not good.

In the midst of all of this, I challenge you to stop, take a deep breath and think of all the blessings you enjoy.  I am grateful for just being alive.  I am grateful to have a family that I love and that love me.  I am grateful that the Savior came into the world to save us all.  I am grateful that our prayers are heard and that we have a Heavenly Father who wants only for us to be happy and to live so that we might be able to return to Him.  I am grateful that we have the process of repentance and forgiveness and the atonement of Christ for us so that we can move past our mistakes. I am grateful for the Christmas season that softens hearts and reminds us all that we can do better, we can love our neighbor, we can reach out to those around us in even small ways, we can lift one another in so many ways.  It costs us so little to do so.

Have you noticed that as a rule, most people are more friendly, more helpful, more caring even in the hustle and bustle of shopping and such.  I have and I love it.  I love the sounds of Christmas.  It is wonderful to see and hear people exchanging greetings of Merry Christmas.  I love the music that is all around us.  I love hearing the excited voices of little children as they delight in the beauty of the Christmas trees, and new fallen snow, and seeing Santa.  And I ABSOLUTELY LOVE it when my little grandchild says, "It is Jesus's birthday, you know, Gramma.  That is why we have Christmas."

Yes, Sweetheart is certainly is why we have Christmas.  I hope you never forget that.  And so I wish a very Merry Christmas to all of you, and I hope you have a blessed new year.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The one constant in life is Change!

It has been said that Change is the only thing you can count on in life.  There is so much truth in that.  It seems that as you get older, the changes come closer together.  It is hard losing the older generations in our family.  Soon we will be the older generation.  How did that happen?  All of my mother's ten siblings except one are gone now - and there are only my dad and three sisters left of their family of fourteen.  And several of our generation are gone now too.  Time is so fleeting and you cannot call it back.

This has been a hard year for my dad.  He lost his little sister Beanie (Berniece) right after Christmas, and my mom's sister Joyce who was like a little sis to him in May. They were all very close and lived just down the hall from each other in the same nursing home. Every evening you could find them playing a game of cards and talking of old times. All of our families have always been so close.  Now that both Beanie and Joyce are gone I know he is quite lonely.  But he takes it all in stride and finds ways to fill his life with fun and happy things.  He loves "the home" and all the wonderful people who work there. They are so good to him that he is quite spoiled by all of it...which he loves.  

Our oldest daughter has been able to come from California to visit both at Thanksgiving and at the beginning of this month. What fun weeks those were. She got to spend some quality time with all the family and for the first time ever was really able to connect with the little ones.  She is privileged to be the "favorite auntie" in our family and the kids all adore her.  I think everyone should have a favorite aunt.  I know I had one in my mom's youngest sister Joyce, who was like a second mother to me.  She passed away this May and I miss her sorely. 

She was in a terrible car accident in 1979 which left her paralyzed from the neck down.  She spend many weeks in the Craig hospital in Denver during her recovery and since we lived there at that time our children came to love her as if she were another grandmother.  She has been such a tremendous example of strength to our entire family.  Although she was never well after her accident she worked very hard to regain as much use of her body as possible.  She never complained and always had a smile and a kind word for everyone she met.  I never knew her to be cross or judgmental, but rather always loving and encouraging. When my mother passed away she was such a comfort to me and helped me so much through the grieving process.  I will miss her sweet smile and tender love so much.  Aunt Joyce I hope you know how special you were to this whole family and especially to me.  Such a reunion you must all be having on the other side.  Give my mama a hug from me. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A long time coming

This post has been a long time coming.  I can't believe it has been nearly a year since I last wrote here.  Too, too long, but life has a habit of getting in the way sometimes.  The past year has been a busy one with many changes.  In September our middle daughter took her little ones and fled from her abusive husband and went to a safe house.  After a few weeks there she and the children came to live with us.  It has been a bit of a trial learning to cope with preschoolers again at our age but we are getting used to the noise factor now and they have settled in pretty well.  Nothing is resolved for them yet...the divorce will not even go to court until late they are all still in a bit of a limbo, but we just take each day as it comes.  The one thing I have learned is that my mother was right when she said, "The good Lord knew what he was doing when he gave children to young mothers."  When you are old you don't have the energy, the stamina, or the quickness to chase after them all day no matter how much you love them, but most days they are a delight and we are grateful for every moment spent with them. They are beautiful children who do not deserve the trials that life has thrown them and we pray for their well-being continually.

I would like to write a tirade on abusive men but for now I will keep that to myself  as it would benefit no one.  Maybe when it is all over and resolved and not such a part of the now I will have a better perspective.  We'll see.  :-)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Old Friends are Family Too - Memories with the Gattens

On Thursday our dear friends lost their son Danny. The Gattens have been some of our oldest and dearest friends for many, many years. We had only been married about a year and a half when we moved to Corpus Christi in 1969. Jay was Sieg's new boss and he and Tora took us under their wing right from the start.  Soon we were more friends than co-employees. Sunday evenings were spent at one another's homes enjoying each other's company. After Tora had put her two little ones down for the night we would play games (usually Scrabble) and talk and talk.

Our Beckie was just a baby so we would lay a blanket on the floor and she would drift right off to sleep. What fun we had together with our little families. Picnics, holidays, movies, play dates, sight-seeing, and sundry other fun activities drew us together. When our Dan was born Tora was there to watch Beckie for me, bringing meals and helping just like if my mom had been able to come.

The Gattens introduced us to the the gospel and we began to go to Church with them, and in time Jay baptized us. How can you ever thank someone for having such a profound effect on your lives? That was a gift that we can never repay. It has made such a difference in our lives and brought us so much joy.

In time we all moved to Missouri with our company. After a while there Jay took a job with another company and they moved away. We too left and moved back to South Dakota to work for my father-in-law. That was not a good fit and in a couple of years we were again looking for work when Jay called and asked if we would consider moving to Tennessee to consult for the company he worked for there, so we were off on another adventure.

When we got there they opened their home to us  and we stayed with them several weeks while we looked for a place to live. Sieg was working in the field and I was due to have another baby within a few weeks. Tora was also expecting so poor Jay had two pregnant ladies and four preschoolers underfoot. I am sure it was a trial but there was never any discord and I still have wonderful memories of staying there. (Even if Jay was worried that I would go into labor and Sieg would not get there in time.  lol )

We stayed in Tennessee three years and our last two children were born there. During this time the Gattens left and went to another job. ( Don't all geologist seem to move frequently?  We certainly did! ) Then the day came when we were again looking for work and Sieg applied for a job in Kaysville, Utah. Guess who else was applying for the same job? Our friend Jay. Jay got the job, and within a few weeks we were hired also. So off to Utah we went. Our new house was just a block from theirs and our friendship continued like we had never been parted. Our kids played together just as before, except now there were four children in each family.

In time we left Utah and went to Denver for nine years then to Reno for two years, before moving here to Wyoming. Gattens had finally put down deep roots and stayed in Utah. Over the years we have shared letters and cards, phone calls and visits. We have laughed together, cried together, shared joys and sorrows, and our love has just grown stronger. To us they ARE family.

And as in all families, when one hurts we all do. Right now our hearts are sore with the loss of their oldest son. We have so many happy memories of Danny. What a handsome young man he was. He was such a friendly kid who seemed to always be laughing and full of fun. Full of spunk and enthusiasm, I never saw him ever do unkind or hurtful things to any of the other kids.

Like all children he was curious about the world around him. I remember when he was just a little boy how many questions he would ask...always seeming to start with "Why"  When he was about two and a half Tora and I were visiting together and I was nursing our new baby when Danny looked at me and said, "Why that baby biting your belly?"  We all had such a laugh over that. When he was a little older he decided he did not like buttons on his shirts. What a trial it was for him when they wanted him to wear a button-up cub scout shirt. I think Tora finally got him a scout Tshirt.

I remember how kind he was to the little children. Our kids were all younger than him but he played with them and let them tag along. Beckie worshipped him, following him everywhere she could. I often wondered if we had not moved away if they two of them might not have ended up together. He was definitely her first love.

After over forty years of being friends, and many years living away from one another I still feel that they are our oldest, dearest friends. Yesterday as I was talking to Tora on the phone I expressed this to her, and she said they feel the same way. Sometimes I think there are friendships that were forged in Heaven before we ever came here. I am grateful to have friends like the Gattens in my life. I am grateful for the times we have spent together. I am grateful for my knowledge of the gospel that bring comfort and peace at times like this when our hearts are broken.

In a general conference talk President Thomas S. Monson said:
Because our Savior died at Calvary, death has no hold upon any one of us. 
Life moves on. Youth follows childhood, and maturity comes ever so imperceptibly. As we search and ponder the purpose and the problems of life, all of us sooner or later face the question of the length of life and of a personal, everlasting life. These questions most insistently assert themselves when loved ones leave us or when we face leaving those we love.
At such times, we ponder the universal question, best phrased by Job of old, who centuries ago asked, “If a man die, shall he live again?” The empty tomb that first Easter morning brought comforting assurance, an affirmative answer to Job’s question, “If a man die, shall he live again?” 
To all who have lost loved ones, we would turn Job’s question to an answer: If a man die, he shall live again. We know, for we have the light of revealed truth. “I am the resurrection, and the life,” spoke the Master. “He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”
Through tears and trials, through fears and sorrows, through the heartache and loneliness of losing loved ones, there is assurance that life is everlasting. Our Lord and Savior is the living witness that such is so. ... He became the firstfruits of the Resurrection. Because He died, all shall live again.  
“Oh, sweet the joy this sentence gives: ‘I know that my Redeemer lives!’ ”

Sunday, July 10, 2011

In Memory of Daniel Jay Gatten

Some of our oldest and dearest friends lost their son Danny this week. We have been friends for so many years that the Gattens seem more like family than mere friends and my heart is broken for their family.

Danny was just a year older than our Beckie and our kids played together when they were growing up. When she was a little girl Beckie used to say, "When I grow up I am going to marry Danny Gatten". They were that close. Tonight my heart hurts for Danny's parents and his children. I know how hard it is to bury one's parent. And I am sure it must be the hardest thing a parent would ever have to do - to bury one's child.

It seems as we get older so many things come to break your heart. Losing loved ones, seeing others suffer, feeling helpless to comfort them. I know when I lost my mother, then my grandniece Jenn to Cystic Fibrosis, and my little brother Ronnie - that I felt like I would never heal. And really I don't think you ever do. You just learn to live with the loss - like a piece of you is missing that cannot be replaced.

I had never heard this Brad Paisley song before Jenn passed away but it was a favorite of hers and has brought me comfort. Tonight I dedicate it Danny. I know that now you are free from the struggles and trials of this life and are surely rejoicing in the new life there "on the far side of the sky".

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Precious Treasures

On her A Woman Distracted blog Boom told us about her precious Madame Alexander doll Amy, and how she wonders what will become of it when she is gone. I too have one of these kinds of keepsakes. I still have my stuffed elephant Ellie that my grandmother gave me for my 1st birthday. I am holding it a picture of my mom took of me on my birthday.

Grandma Ireland  died when I was 3 years old, so it has always been very treasured. As a little girl I would hug that elephant and think about my grandma, and how much she must have loved me to have given me such a wonderful toy.

Recently one of my daughters was saying how she loved how soft and silky its fur is after all this time...I have had her for 62 years! My advice to Boom is to keep sweet Amy and will her to a precious child or friend who will love her and think of you when you are gone. That is what I am doing with my Ellie!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Some Thoughts on Gratitude

I wrote this for Mother's Day, but things got crazy and I didn't get it posted.  I decided that I would go ahead and post it now because Father's Day is fast approaching and since it is on gratitude it still seems appropriate.  I am grateful for an awesome father who is a good and honorable man that any kid would be proud to call Dad.

Gordon B. Hinckley once said, "Be grateful. How thankful we ought to be. How comfortably we live. How very easy is life compared to what it once was . . . We have it so easy, so pleasant, so delightful. We ride in cars that are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. . . [We have] the miracles of medicine, the miracles of science, the miracles of communication, transportation, education - what a wonderful time in which to live. Of all of these wondrous, challenging things with which we live, I hope you regard it a blessing to be alive in this great age of the world. . . . I hope you walk with gratitude in your hearts, really. Grateful people are respectful people. Grateful people are courteous people. Grateful people are kindly people. Be grateful"
  -- The Teachings of Gordon B.Hinckley

I have always tried to follow the advice of developing "an attitude of gratitude" even though at times it seems that there is little to be grateful for.  Then I think of my mother's life and how hard it was for her and I know how grateful I should always be.

Mom was born in a log cabin in Nebraska, and while she was still an infant they moved to a homestead in rural South Dakota (on the Pine Ridge Reservation).  They lived in a little log house there.  She told of how in the winter when it was cold that icicles would form on the nails and hang down from the ceiling of the bedrooms, and there would be frost on their covers where their breath made moisture.  She was grateful for the fact that they slept many children to a bed - it helped to keep them warm. I remember that house.  My grandparents had a modern home by the time I came along, but that log house stood on the place for many years and was used for storage…and was a favorite place for us children to play (although I know we were told not to be in there as the floors were not good anymore.) 

After Mom and Daddy were married they lived in various little shacks that hardly kept the weather out, then in a soddy (with a dirt floor) and finally when they moved to the ranch where I was raised there was a little log cabin on it.  Mom was excited that she would have a house, but after a week of living there with bugs (including bedbugs), black widow spiders, snakes, lizards, and other creatures that came in through the holes in the walls she decided her little chicken coop with its wood plank floor was a better choice, so she swabbed it down with Chlorox and moved her family of five and the hired man in, hanging sheets to give some privacy at night.  She turned the log cabin into a place for the chickens. She said that it was hard to coop them up because the holes in the walls were so big they could get out…as well as the varmints getting in to them.  They lived in that little chicken coop for the better part of a year while they got crops in, fences up, and a little home built.  It had just one bedroom and an open basement.  We kids had our beds in the living room until we were quite big as they usually had hired hands living in the basement. 

My grandpa was a good one for finding some poor soul who was down on his luck and needed a hand up.  He would bring them out to my folks' place to work for their room and board and a small wage until they could get sobered up (many miles of dirt trail was too far to go to town for drink) or to solve whatever was the problem.  Sometimes they stayed a few days or weeks, a few stayed for months, and occasionally we had one who stayed for a year or more.  Mom accepted the challenge gratefully because although it might mean more cooking and cleaning and laundry, another pair of hands also meant she had to do less work in the fields.  Eventually my dad finished the basement into bedrooms and I, being the only girl in a family of six kids, got that upstairs bedroom.  How spoiled I felt.  And how grateful I was for parents who understood how important some privacy is to a young girl who is growing up with a bunch of brothers.

I am also grateful for having parents who taught me the value of work, the value of making do, and most especially the value of caring about people.  My mother would always say, "People are more important than things."  She believed it, she lived it, and she instilled it in her children.  How grateful we all should be for the blessings that life has brought to us. 

Thanks Mom and Dad for giving me not only life, but a great life!