Friday, November 13, 2015

A life long lived... not long enough

This is a dang long post...
Last night my Grampsydoodledandy stepped through the veil. I did not think it would be this hard. I really didn't. He had fallen months before and hit his head. It left him with walking trouble and some memory lapses so I know that he didn't love that part of his life but he lived it with grace. I am closer to my Grandpa Ed and Grandma Della, more so than any of my other grandparents. As a young child my family didn't live by any of my grandparents and we only saw them on holidays and special occasions. As I got older, my funny grandpa Woolf (mom's dad) came to stay with our family because he couldn't live alone. He was a lot of fun! His spicy mouth and hot temper secured himself a lot of time alone... which he actually wanted anyway. He had suffered a debilitating head injury while my mother was young and so he didn't interact with us much but he still knew what he wanted! He watched TV ALL. DAY. LONG. year and year out. My favorite part of him living with us is when he would flip me a nickel a say, "go get yourself a treat". Made me laugh as I realized that he hadn't been to the store in years... a nickel couldn't even get me a phone call home at that point. His grocery list was frame worthy. "grandpas cookies, Butterfinger beebies and 2x4x1 block of cheese." (insert laughter because I always thought it would be so hilarious to take my measuring tape with me to the store for his cheese log.) One day we came home and Gramps had decided to recharge his batteries in a fry pan on the kitchen stove. He was so patiently waiting for them to get their charge back. (Mom nearly wet herself.) When his room stunk we would usually find the old food he didn't want to eat molding in the chair cushions or hiding in the closet. He must have been trying to grow his own mold... that was his fav trick. It made my mother quiver. Shower time was no good! It had to be scheduled a week in advance and at least 30 minutes after he ate because he wasn't going in the water on a full belly! I saw my parents love and serve him until the day he died in their home. At his funeral I realized that he was more than his disabled old and frail body had become. He adorned a purple heart for an injury that he braved while fighting in WWII. He was so handsome in his younger years. He had 6 beautiful children who are all great people. He had an impressive ancestry and I am thankful to him for giving life to my angel mother. When grandpa Woolf died I had only been married for a short time; 5 months. I had been asleep for a few hours that night and he came to me in a dream to let me know that he loved me. It was short but burned a memory on my heart that I will not soon forget. While living in Texas Granny Goose passed away. Just a few months prior to that October day, I spent an afternoon with her. She did not look like she felt well at all... but she smiled and played with my little Bailey while Bailey played with her Oxygen tubes. Granny Goose loved her flowers and her camping trips with her siblings and their children. When I was younger we spent every Christmas morning with Granny goose for breakfast. It was so fun to wake up early and then go down to Salt Lake. Many times it was snowy through Sardine Canyon and mum would sing, "Over the River and Through the Woods". I used to close my eyes and pretend I was on a horse drawn sleigh... heaven only knows that it was cold enough to believe I was outside. (the car never heated up until Brigham City... Thank you Logan UT!) As soon as we stepped from the car, at granny's, the smell of bacon whipped my nostrils and the laughter of my aunts Ginger and Betty welcomed us in. Grandma was always making hot cakes in her apron and hollering for somebody to set up tables. As we got older Granny couldn't do much. The gout got her. I used to drive down from USU to see her. Watching her take in her daily dose of "The Young and the Restless" was drama at its finest! Absolutely hilarious! I would head over to Einstein Bagels and get her a cinnamon pecan bagel with Carmel cream cheese smothered on top and a coffee. Her face would light up when I walked in. My favorite memory of Granny Goose was the heartfelt gratitude that she had for me when I would plant her flowers. It became a game for me. I loved to buy flats of flowers for her garden because of her epic response. Grandma-Great (we called her).. Nate's Grandma Ethel Mecham, was undoubtedly a grandparent in every word and deed. Two months and Four days prior to her 100th birthday, Grandma Mecham finally got her wish to see Grandpa. She did not want to live to 100! While she made it a point to let everyone know that she was surely forgotten by the angels before her, she still made every effort to hold family gatherings, she attended every event and though she couldn't tell you how many grands and great- grands she had, she could tell you every one of their names and birthdays by memory. We told her that if she wanted to die she needed to get out of her garden and off her exercise bike! I don't think she ever did. She had dinner ready for us every time we walked through the door and she kept her lower cupboards stalked so the babies could reach the cookies. Let me tell you... she was a fairy god mother type of grandma! One night she invited us for prayer and while we all sat there she got down on her worn out knees. The memory of that prayer makes me emotional even today. She had few visitors and a humble home, all the friends her age had died and she so wanted to be with them. But she poured out her heart in gratitude for all the blessings of her life. She prayed with power for each of her children and for my family. She must've prayed for 10 solid minutes.... Nothing asked for herself. Then we all stood up and grandma (who was near the stairs in the back room) crawled over to the banister and pulled herself up. We seriously would've helped her but she insisted on the banister. Nothing in her house was more sacred than her relationships with her family and friends and we all knew it. What an angel. Today I live in her house and when I was moving in I could feel her presence very strong. She is delighted that I am here! Even a decade after her mortal body was laid to rest, she continues to love and serve her family from another place. Quiet little Grandma Woolf passed away, on a warm July, after what seemed like an eternal battle of life. What a silent strength and example of long suffering. As a child we didn't see her much. All I knew was that she had a serious green thumb and little parakeet that flew freely through her pioneer home. Grandma Woolf didn't talk but she laughed a lot! My dad would tease all 4 feet of her petite frame and she would chuckle and giggle for several minutes. When it came to conversations, however, Grandma was quite reserved. I inherited her very face. When I look at pictures of my Grandma Woolf I see my own resemblance. I sure hope I also get her beautiful white hair! Grandma lived with my parents, at the end of her life, until my mother couldn't take care of her any longer... that's when she went into a care center. I know she loved to collect Avon Jewelry and china dolls. She had the most random collection of nick naks and I loved to look at them. Her life was full of hard work as she supported her family and herself for the great majority of it... But even still, she was never bitter about her lot. Grandma Woolf, So soft in her words but so generous with her kind smiles and sweet demeanor... What an angel lady. And now I've arrived to today... My Grampsydoodledandy decided that 93 years was enough. He absolutely wore out his life in service. Like I said, I didn't live near my grandparents so I saw them on holidays and special occasions... except Grampsydoodle. He and Grandma Della would come see me and my family for no reason at all except to take us out to eat and check in. He NEVER asked me for anything but a visit. While I was at USU I would take my roomies and go down and stay at his humble abode by the river and we would usually stay up late listening to stories. Grampsydoodledandy didn't ever talk small talk. He detested it! So every conversation had value and was fortified with wisdom. Over the last year I have had the honor to take care of my Grandpa on a few occasions... nothing like grandma Della does (she treated him like a KING!)... but here and there I stayed with him. One night I put him in bed and kissed his forehead and he patted my hand... then with every ounce of strength left in him that day he slowly got out the words, "I love you". Two seconds later he was asleep. I found myself pleading for his mercy. Though imperfect like us all, I couldn't think of single soul alive he hadn't served in some small or large way. That day I learned that service heals the heart and makes the atonement real because it offers the fullness of its fruits... seeing imperfect people through God's love. It was a lesson that Grandpa taught me and I am a change being for it. I can't thank him enough. Even as financially successful as he was, I swear he gave away his last dollar. His mother named him well... Edwin Gold... Because his heart was truly laced with Gold. He absolutely hated to watch people suffer and he would do everything in word and deed to pay off their car, their mortgage, their lunch bill, put to rest the bullying comments, buy a Christmas... you name it, he did it. Once a truck load of ice cream was rejected but the ice cream was good still. Grandpa called a few bishops in the area and the elders quorum presidents pulled up in their trucks and filled them with ice cream treats for the members who couldn't afford them. His service started young, paying for needs of siblings, offering jobs and then time spent fighting for our freedom in WWII. I have often asked for him to tell stories but he just got very quiet and smiled at me. He never wrote them down or spoke of it. In the not so recent past, my boys were at his house and chose to watch a National Geographic documentary on WWII. I didn't think of it, but Grampsydoodle was in the room in his chair... when I looked over at him he silently lay there looking at the ceiling with a single tear rolling down his cheek and his bottom lip quivering. I realized that the chosen program was very difficult and immediately had Mckay turn it off. His silence on the subject was never so loudly proclaimed. While serving every soul in the world, in a fight for freedom, a part of him died. Those memories on the battlefield forever changed him. This last year has been hard for Grandpa Bird... It has also been the hardest year of my life... Even in his quiet place he offered a refuge for me from people who were not kind and wisdom on how to overcome them. He offered us hope for Nate to live out his dreams in owning his own business. He and Grandma champion us at every turn... always positive... always helpful. Lessons I learned from watching my Grandpa Ed, being the recipient of his goodness, serving him and even in his graceful death and a life lived over 93 years are plenty and possibly too long to list... but here is a start: (1) sing in the morning (2) "people die in bed." (3) be happy! (4) "Save your money" (5) OPTIMISM is the key to a long life (6) be the first to forgive and never hold a grudge (7) there is a life lesson to learn from every good and bad situation. (8) serve like your life depends upon it. (9) give all and expect nothing in return (10) pay your bills. Early. (11) don't live beyond your means (12) work. work. work. (13) kindness softens the heart (14) say what needs to be said but skip the small talk (15) relationships are everything (16) even when you don't like what is going on, be graceful and have class (17) Live a life of acceptance of everyone No. Matter. What. (18) all you need is "a smile and a kind word" (19) don't procrastinate (20) be tough (21) Go to ball games (22) fish with your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren (23) visit your loved ones (24) keep things around the house that you don't use just for the grandkids (25) check your pride at the door (26) cancer is curable (27) if you break your neck you can still work (28) Don't get offended (29) find the good... there is some good in everyone. (30) tell your family you love them. While my heart is a little tender today as I think of so many lives long lived, I have a tremendous amount of gratitude for a loving Savior who felt it all. He did, in fact, overcome... even death... and so it is, until we meet again. Sure love you Grandpa. (picture above with Nate at the Diamond Backs World Series Game 7)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Understanding the struggle is part of what makes is so Beautiful!

Over the span of 4 years (actually a lifetime) I have been prompted on multiple occasions to keep a journal. I have volumes of journal. Mostly they have documented the happiest parts of my life and occasionally outlined a few lessons. I have never, however, written down the struggles in my life. I didn't want to think of my life in a that way. In the last 4 years I have learned how beautiful the struggle is though. I often wish I had written the hardest part of every journey because coming through the other side has been what has molded and shaped my very happy life. It has given me perspective, deeper love for mankind, compassion, empathy, patience, self esteem and an undeniable understanding of God's love for me and all of His children and more perspective on the glorious atonement that is absolutely mandatory in each of our lives. The struggle is what strengthened me, healed me and made me happier than I though possible in every word. Because if this, I have decided to take my 4 year journaling sabbatical to a close. I love my life! I love the visible mercy and love that falls upon it even during the hardest parts. I have decided to share it for two reasons; (1) I have felt prompted to do so, even if some of the contents may be uncomfortable for me to share or hard for others to accept. When prompted, I am learning to stop questioning and act in haste. (2) I hope that opening up to others in a world (made small by internet) that humankind can learn from each other. Take it or leave it... Some of these realizations are nearly half a decade old, some may be more recent and still there are those that make me realize that the Lord is not done with me... I am a constant work in progress. Years of digging has brought me to an understanding: TRIAL, TRIBULATION, ADVERSITY, and AFFLICTION are not all the same thing. I have often heard something to the effect that we chose our trials in the pre-existence. I'm not sure that is doctrine (Sometimes I think that is hogwash) but I am certain that we choose our trials here. Trials are brought on by the very consequences of our weaknesses and poor choices. For example; I choose to have financial problems because I didn't change the things I was taught before me, or I overspent etc. (whatever it is) OR I have no relationships with anyone because I choose to focus on negativity and their shortcomings rather than overcoming my own and serving those who need my help. You get the point. Think about it... Tribulation and adversity is different from trial. What about the earthquake that destroyed my neighborhood, the hurricane that broke my home, the tidal wave that obliterated my coast line and claimed the lives of my family? What about the years I spent unable to have children, the cancer that my daughter was born with? I certainly didn't choose that. It was an act of God... maybe a cleansing... maybe not. But it happened and I can be carried through it and learn things about myself because it is a struggle that Heavenly Father knows I can handle with His help. Affliction. And then there is that one guy who opted to make choices that inflicted a negative change on me. Abuse in every one of its detrimental forms, kidnappings, addictions which allow dark angels to control their body which in turn may do and say hurtful things to mine, teachings of self loathing ingrained upon our young minds, self pity stitched into the fabric that controls my young mind, his greed leading to taking advantage of... Well... take your pick there... He/she chose it and took it out on innocent me. Insert here: This is crap! But it happens to good people, to ancient prophets, to neighbors and friends and sometimes to us! DARN IT!!! But when I finally come through the other side of this, I have empathy to help another. I have knowledge that can make a difference. I am less judgmental. Would anyone sign up for such garbage? Heck NO! Would the Savior put us in that for a trial of our faith? ABSOLUTELY NO... NOT EVER! But He also won't take away another's agency. He can however heal every part of our wounds. The great lessons come from wading through "it" and finding the joy that the atonement offers in any of these situations. In our trials God will make weak things to be strong. We become more like Him. We have more understanding. The Almighty powerfully blesses us as we pick up the pieces of tribulations and help each other recover from losses that are sent our way. We learn about our strengths, loving another more than ourselves and the blessings that come as we depend more on God than the arm of the flesh. We are more like Him. He will show Himself every second of every day if we are willing to look for Him. Even though Heavenly Father will not take away the agency of one to choose wrong, It certainly does not mean that He condones it, it is not a trial we chose or tribulation from Him. It is a simply a choice made by one who chooses evil and inflicts it upon another. Even still, Heavenly Father will mercilessly carry us. The Savior's atonement will still heal us in any of these situations. The very Gods of Heaven will cheer us on to overcome every evil and natural man choice of this mortality. In the process we learn some empathy, have the potential to partner with the angels who are carrying others in these same situations and to have a greater understanding of agency and the blessing of it as it divides good and evil by our own choices. Undoubtedly, My favorite part of it all is that the Christ, omnipotent, can make right any of these situations. We are His work and His glory and He is 100% of the time successful. Allowing Him to take over is the hard part for all the thick heads that live on earth. Understanding these things has made me so happy because I know that even when its hard, Heaven will lead and guide me if I want these things in my life.