Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The greatest Christmas gift...

FYI: I am going to start posting all the posts I put on my Moms ALS blog here too so when I make this year into a blog book I will have them included.

In order to understand how wonderful the gift our family was given this Christmas you would have to understand what happened on Thanksgiving....

After an amazing Thanksgiving dinner at my Aunts house my Mom had one of those moments where her grief overwhelmed and knocked her over. People always talk about the stages of grief. I agree with the emotions they have identified but I think the term "stages" can be misleading. Stages seem to imply progression, that you complete one stage and move onto the next stage. For us grief has not been like that. It hits us in waves. Most of the time we cant even see it coming and it knocks us over before we know its there. And it comes over and over again.

My Mom was hit with one of those waves after dinner because she had been forced to sit on the sideline of the dinner preparations all day long. Here is what she typed on her ipad that night:

I realized tonight that I cant do Christmas dinner. I always wanted a family holiday dinner like we had today but I am not able to enjoy it like I would have when I could be apart. These last two days I have lost my ability to talk and by Christmastime I wont be able to communicate or use my hands.

We knew we had to do something different for Christmas and our plan was to have it catered which would eliminate the need for us to be busy in the kitchen all day but still allow us to have our traditional meal. A few weeks before Christmas my Dad got a call from President Love, a member of the Stake Presidency in our Church. He asked my Dad if we would allow him to bring us Christmas dinner. My Dad does not break down very often but in his own words, that offer overwhelmed him.

Not only was the offer amazing and an answer to our prayers but he went about it with sensitivity and selflessness. He wanted to know what we eat each year and even offered to gather our traditional dishes ahead of time to serve it in. He wanted to give us our traditional Christmas dinner without the burden of the work.

Rumor has it that President Love is an extraordinary cook so we were looking forward to Christmas dinner with great anticipation! It was liberating to be free of the cares and obligations of dinner so we could focus on making my Moms day as comfortable and happy as possible. In fact our minds were so at ease that we failed in our only responsibility of picking up our pies from Marie Calendars! (No worries - we did get them thanks to Kelly)

As we were setting the table at 3:00 I realized that I had also forgotten to buy Sparkling cider. My Dad asked me if we had cider around 3:30 and I scoured the storage for any hidden bottles with no luck. My Uncle Rick had thankfully brought 2 bottles, but that wasn't going to go far with 20 people. I was really irritated with myself for not even thinking about it ahead of time! I wanted everything to be perfect and I was so frustrated with myself that I put myself into a really foul mood.

Santa came right on time in the form of President Love, with his Santa's hat and apron on accompanied by his sweet wife. As he brought the platter of turkey in the kids came running and shouting, "there are a hundred people coming to Grandma and Grandpas house!" As I walked out onto the porch there was a procession of loved Ward members from our Church, bearing dishes loaded with delicious smelling food and I heard the sweet melodies of Christmas carols.

I can not explain the love our family felt in those moments looking around at the familiar faces of those who have loved and supported our family over the last 23 years.

We saw people we had grown up with as children standing there with their children. There were faces I did not recognize that had come with those they were visiting to share in this sweet gift for our family. Everywhere I looked there was love reflected on tear stained faces.

My Dad stood holding my Mom against him for support as they listened to the carols. This was the ultimate gift of love. It was touching that our friends were willing to sacrifice their time on Christmas to serve our family.

I had one counter cleared and ready for food but when I came back into the kitchen that counter was overflowing, the island was filled and had overflowed onto another counter.

It was like Christmas morning all over again as we unwrapped the foil to find what dish was inside. It was a beautiful and delicious feast! For me the tears really came when I saw 6 bottles of cold sparkling cider! Everything was perfect, as I had longed for it to be.

As we celebrated the birth of our Savior this last Saturday we experienced first hand his message to his disciples in John 21 :
Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him,
Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Our family was fed not only physically,
but also spiritually and emotionally.
Christmas dinner has never tasted so good!

Our family will never forget your kindness and generosity.
We thank everyone who participated with all our hearts.
We love you so much.

And to dear President Love, thank you for being available to hear the quiet promptings of the Spirit for our family's need. We didn't even know how much we needed it.

You were our real life Santa Clause this year.

A disclaimer: If you were wondering why my Mom looked like she had Christmas tree ears on...that would be my fault. John and I thought they were so over the top and fun that we put them in her stocking and always a trooper and ready for a good time she wore them all day. I just realized that Lisa never put the light up Christmas earnings that she and Mark had put in my Moms stocking on- Darn it! That would have made it even better :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

My Mom gave me the perfect gift....
A snow-globe with a Christmas Angel inside.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

The power of love...

I have learned about love this year. I have learned that a mothers love truly is a security blanket. I have learned that love and relationships are complicated. I have learned true and selfless love is romantic.

I am in awe at the man my dad has become in these last few months. He is so tender with my mom and he works so hard to do anything and everything that he can to make her life happy. He hurts and yet he goes on being strong. He is pushing himself to be more and do things in a way that is more pleasing to my Mom despite the fact it might be out of his comfort zone. He is protective of her and he misses her when he leaves her in my care. I've learned that everyone expresses love differently. Ive also learned it's hard to allow others to love in their own way, but when I'm willing to see the value of their loving expressions it increases my love for them.

I am in awe and overwhelmed at the power of love. It can make us feel so big and invincible and so weak and vulnerable all in one emotion.

One of the blessing of this experience has been my ability to meet new people who are shouldering similar trials. I have received e-mails from women who care for their husbands and I love the tenderness for their husbands I hear in their words to me. I wanted to share something one woman I met through e-mail shared with me. Her husband was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's. She is amazing in her ability to love selflessly. She has been taking caregiver classes and attending caregiver support groups to be the best she can for her husband. She has become an instant textbook of knowledge on Alzheimer's and has transformed her life to fit the needs and comfort of her spouse. She gave up her life not only willingly, but it appears gladly.

She and I have written many times about how in those very rare spare minutes it's almost to much work to think. My to do list has grown as long as Caleb's wish list for Santa - if that's even possible. There simply is no time.

No time to get organized. No time to keep up with friends or stay up on the news. No time to write thank yous. No time to keep track of thank yous to be sent. No time to write the things I'm feeling and the experiences I'm having. No time to sleep. No time to eat more than a bite here and there. No time to sleep. No time to realize I should be tired. No time to self examine and think before speaking. No time to complain. No time to be vain.

Its the most interesting phenomenon. Its similar to the way I have felt after having a baby only this time I have a whole and healthy body to put to work. I can do so much more and its made this experience intense and fulfilling. I use to think I was busy and could use a few more hours a day. 12 extra hours a day would not cover what I need to get done now.

In that woman's caregivers class they emphasized having "me" time. Time to go out with girlfriends, out to eat, or to do something enjoyable for themselves. She kind of challenged that belief to the instructor. Her feeling was that she had worked so hard to a get them to a peaceful place that it was not worth the risk of interrupting that balance. She fills her needs with the satisfaction of how content her husband is and the happy feeling between them. While technically she is giving up some things, the satisfaction she gets back is more than what she has sacrificed. We both laughed that playing Bejeweled is about as much as we need for me time!

I relate to that feeling of not wanting to connect with the outside world. For me its like I'm afraid that delicate glass will crack over my snow-globe life. While I am inside I am protected from the pull of things I probably should be doing. The expectations of being involved, present, and to be everywhere and everything all at once are drowned out by the enveloping power of my life right now.

Ive learned this Christmas season that sacrifice is one of the biggest expressions of love. My Dad has been an amazing example to me of what it means to give up ones life for another. As have the wonderful women I have met through their sweet e-mails.

What a tremendous example this Christmas Season of what we are celebrating, the selfless gift of our Heavenly Father to give us his Son. As well as the gift our Savior gave - his life for our eternal life. I'm sad to admit that until this Christmas Ive never realized what it must have cost him to give up his life. It has humbled me to remember that I too have been loved by someone enough that they gave their life for me. I am thankful for our Savior.

As I'm typing this (literally) my mind is opening to a whole new realization that is bringing these thoughts full circle.

32 years ago my Mom gave her time, her agenda, her life to give me the gift of my happy life. She sacrificed the things she might have wanted to give me all I needed.

The best gift ever given.
The sweetest gift to receive.

This Christmas Eve, my wish is for everyone to feel of the selfless love given for them.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

CA girl again

I don't have the time or mental energy to write a second post about where my mom is. Please click here to catch up.

What that means for me is that I will remain here in CA for as long as my Mom needs care. I feel bad about staying in a lot of ways - especially for John and Caleb and those that help me care for them when I am gone. Thank goodness John not only understands but wants me to care for her too.

I know I would never forgive myself if I left. No one gets my Mom like I do. Women are complicated like that. I can offer her my care and I can be her voice until the end. I could never leave her side when she needs me. She gave up 2 months of her life to get my children to this world safely and securely. The least I can do is give her 2 months of myself to make sure she leaves this world safely and securely.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas. Our cards have been ready to send out for 3 weeks now and are still sitting here...maybe tomorrow!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Dear Beckham,

I'm not really sure whats happened to you...I mean you have always challenged me with how busy and rough you are. But lately, I just don't know what to say. Mommy is trying to be patient and she is trying to be loving but buddy Mommy is under a lot of pressure and could use a little cooperation. You know what - you don't even have to cooperate with me, how about we just go for not intentionally being difficult every second of every day?
Literally. every. second. of. every. day.

I have never been this exasperated as a Mom but at the same time I have never been as proud. Because you Beckham make Grandma happy. You relate to her in a special way. You both see life without the complexities of diversions. Schedules mean nothing to you, only relationships have bearing in your life. You take the time to laugh, play peek-a-boo, and even do piggies on her toes the way she use to do piggies on your little toes. You make her squeal in delight with as much childlike joy as she gets from you. You make her laugh so hard that she almost cant stand it and you light up her face in a way that no one else can. You love when she chases you around the island in her bathroom and love to chase her. You love the fact that you can actually catch her more than anything!

You love the simplicity of her pure attention because when she is focused on you, she is completely absorbed in you. I can see how us Moms get distracted and caught up in the details to really enjoy the full picture. Does knowing that I work very hard each day to stay in the right perspective help you forgive me for failing most days?

How I wish you were just a little bit older so you could understand how to be more soft and appropriate. Oh man Beckham you are going to give me a heart attack! Then again if you had those qualities you probably would have lost the magic of your innocence that makes you so special and perfect for Grandma right now. I'm not as anguished over the fact that you might not remember her because your age and innocence is a gift and blessing that none of us can offer her as she endures this trial.

Did you know you have her eyes?
I didn't notice at first but Grandma saw it.

None of her grandkids inherited her eyelids but you, and in that way you will always be so special. You got her spunk too that's for sure, but everyone in our family inherited that from her. Her eyes are uniquely for you to carry on to future generations.

Oh Beckham how I wish that you will retain the memory and feeling of how much she loves you and your spunk. She is patient with you in a way no one else is. Perhaps its because she had to raise me and from what Ive heard...you and use the same play book. Maybe it was her perseverance that brought me through to who I am today. Buddy, I'm trying to be like her. To exercise that same patience and see you for who you are inside and not necessarily on how you act on the outside. I just don't know if I'm as strong as her.
I will keep trying, I promise.

Love you!

ps. will you please, pretty please, pleeeeease with a cherry on top cut Grandpa a little break??? Even just a little break...please?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010