Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Facebook Kidnaps Bloggers

It's been a looooonnnnnggg time since I blogged. I'm not sure if I will continue this again, after this post, but I just want to put down a few thoughts.

First, tomorrow is Nathan's birthday. Happy 29th birthday, Nathan. You are a son that has brought me more hours of joy than you can imaine. You came into this world, as you have lived it. Not making a big fuss or big commotion, just quietly going about your business, doing your thing. Marching to your own drummer, not really caring so much what others think, confident in your own timing. I love you so much and am very proud of the man/son/father/husband you are.

Second, Aunt Shirley...on my mind big time. Aunt Shirley (86) has been in a nursing home, in the Alzheimers/Dementia wing for about a year and a half. Uncle Dick (89)lives at the same facility, but in a different, less restrictive wing. About a month ago, U.D. called to say that A.S. had been refusing food and meds. She eats, then she won't eat. Repeat. When she eats, it's very little. Evidently, this is part and parcel of the progression of dementia.

So, now the question is how to deal with this dilemma. Request a surgically implanted feeding tube that will guarantee the much needed nourishment and hydration? Or, let nature take it's course and let her gradually, slowly-but-surely, fade away. It's pretty much his call, but bless his no-internal fortitude-little-89-year-old heart, he is having a hard time making this call. Probably the MOST important call of their soon to be 50 year marriage.

I spoke to the nurse that manages her care today. They've been trying to get him to make a "yay" or "nay" decision about the feeding tube for nearly a month. He just can't bring himself to decide either way. And, I surely don't know what is best.

It's easy to say "let her go" when she's relatively healthy and one isn't faced with this choice. It's another thing when she's displaying behaviors that are clearly detrimental to her well being.

Here's the big issue. It's a quality of life vs. quantity of life thing At what point do we not fight that fight? As a person who values life, and has always believed there is a point and value in some suffering at times, even when it's not obvious what that purpose is, but at the same time, wanting to be compassionate and gentle and respectful, it's hard to know what advice to give U.D. He's looking to me to help him. I won't (can't) make that decision for him, but he knows how I feel about her, recognizes me as her primary living relative who has a vested interest in her well being and is looking to me for guidance.

She pretty much has zero, what we call, quality of life. She lives her entire life, with the exception of an hour or so when she's taken to the dining room once a day, in her room. She can no longer walk or transfer herself out of bed or use the bathroom without assistance. She still knows Uncle Dick, but I don't know if she's going to recognize me when I go see her in a few weeks. But, that whole "quality of life" thing bugs me. Who are we (I) to define "quality" of life. Isn't all life "quality" life? Didn't Christ die and atone for all of us? Did he say, "I'm going to atone for everyone who has a really good quality of life, but for those who aren't active or are paralyzed or have ALS or other insidious diseases, who leave them with a pretty crappy "quality of life", they're out of luck"? Of course not! All life is precious to him. It's not what we do that gives our life quality, in His eyes, is it? It's who we are. God's child.

So, "quality" of life...should it factor in? It SEEMS obvious that it should, right? But, are we really qualified to make that call? So, then, the question becomes, how far should we go to extend life?

I don't have the answer to this one. I'm suspecting it is going to be a while in coming, after much prayer and contemplation. And, I'm praying for my Uncle Dick, that he can make the decisions he needs to make and have a sense of peace and assurance that he's made the correct choice. When he finally gets around to making it.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Happy Birthday, Erin!

Let me begin with a little disclaimer. This post should have pictures, but my pictures are being held hostage by my sick computer and I can't attach any, which is a huge bummer!

31 years ago, on Tuesday, Erin Elizabeth Garrard joined our little family. She joined her ancient, 13 month old sister, Sarah, and her mom and dad, in our little house in Burley, Id.

Because I had been pregnant 18 months out of the 24 months we had been married, my doctor, who was also a family friend, offered to induce me and I jumped at the chance to not be pregnant. She was due on the 9th, but we got her on the 4th. She gave us a little scare on the way, as she was posterior for while and there was a little distress and there was a little time that a caesarean section was being considered. But, she turned and everything went well and she came with no problems. She was my smallest baby, but then, everyone else was late or on time.

From the beginning, Erin was different than Sarah. I loved to hold my baby and cuddle. Erin did NOT want to cuddle. She had thick, dark and what would later turn out to be curly, hair. Sarah's hair, like mine, is stick straight.

As Erin and Sarah grew, she had a built in best friend in Sarah and they spent countless hours playing all the things little girls play. School. House. Beauty Shop. They put on plays and shows for us. They made BIG messes. They were inseparable.

We nearly lost Erin when she was 5 years old. She & Sarah were in swim lessons at the Burley city pool. Kids had to be 5 years old to take lessons and Erin had turned 5 the week before. She was doing well in her lessons when one day, a terrible accident happened. Without going into all the details, the instructor found her floating face down, unconscious, in the deep end of the pool. I was there and spent a very surreal, almost out of body 10 or 15 minutes until she got to the hospital. Poor Howard was at home with Nathan, who was asleep, and I had our only car. A friend I was with drove the car home so he could get to the hospital and I rode with Erin in the ambulance. A true miracle occured as she was not responding and the doctors were telling us that she needed to be transferred to a larger hospital in a neighboring town. A ward member, came to the hospital to see if he could be of any assistance, as he had heard about the accident when he was in a store, selling radio advertising. The clerk at the store was also a member of our ward and her husband was a deputy for the sherrif department and had just heard about the accident from her husband. Dusty Anderson came to the hospital just in time to help Howard administer to Erin and she almost immediately made a turn around and did not need to be transported. She was kept overnight for observation, but by late afternoon, she was a permanant attachment at the nurses station. She recovered with no brain injury whatsoever and is a living testimony of the power of the Priesthood.

Erin has brought us so much joy. She is a very tender hearted person, as anyone who knows her can attest. She has a VERY strong spirit. That strength of spirit expressed itself often during her teenaged years. There were times I just KNEW that when Erin turned 18, she would leave home and I'd never see her or talk to her again. There were times I really wondered if our relationship would survive. But, I'm happy to say that it did and is thriving today :)

Erin is really smart and she loves music, especially the piano. She started taking piano lessons when she was about 9 or 10 years old and took for several years. Her piano playing has brought many hours of joy to me and others, I'm sure. Seeing her play makes me very happy.

When Erin was 12 years old, she was diagnosed with scoliosis. For a while, she wore a Milwaukee brace, which, for her was torture. She had to sleep in it, and could only be out of it for 1 hour each day. She wore that brace for over a year, until she outgrew it and then got another type of brace. Right before she was 14, at a routine visit, we were dismayed and shocked to learn that her curvature had increased to the point that surgery was required to correct it. She was in the hospital for 9 days and endured pain that no parent ever wants to have to see their child endure. She has subsequent issues from the scoliosis that still cause her neck and shoulder pain, but she seldom complains. She just deals with it. Pregnancy is particularly difficult as the baby grows. Brooklyn will never know what her mom endured before she got here! Erin has a strength that I marvel at. She sure didn't get it from me. I am pretty sure she inherited her grandmother Garrard's pioneer stock strength and I'm grateful for it.

Erin is a wonderful mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend. She makes friends easily, as people relate to her soft voice and tender heart and spirit. She has a great sense of humor and is very quick to offer service to others she sees in need, never expecting anything in return. She has matured into a capable, smart, wise woman and shares her gifts with others. She does not like a lot of hoopla made about her, but I am hoopla-ing for her tonight because she deserves it. She is amazing in so many ways.

I can't imagine my life without her and pray I never have to.

Happy Birthday, Erin.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Nobody blogs anymore!

It seems like since Facebook hit the market, no one blogs anymore. Maybe that's ok, I don't know. I know I sure don't. But, that's mostly because I just don't feel like I have that exciting a life to bother with it. But, that's what a lot of people say.

It's 12 days til our missionary son, Michael, comes home. Am I excited? SO excited!
It's a very busy time at work for me and that's a blessing because it keeps my mind occupied and that's good. Very good. Though, I can tell you that at least 10-15 times a day, I think about it, look at the calendar, REcount the days and imagine the homecoming scene at the airport. Michael has requested In-N-Out for lunch that day, with absolutely NO hesitation, when asked what he'd like to do. So, that's easy enough. He's spending a lot of time deciding what he'd like his first home meal to be and is going to get back with me on that! Silly boy. Yes, it is wonderful. Not just to be able to see him again, as I think my kids think it's all about for me, but to have my entire family together, again. That's the beauty of it, for me.

I have been thinking lately about my blessings and I recognize that I am blessed in so many ways. I have pretty good health (and it's getting better), I am married to a great man and have 5 pretty great kids and 11 definitely great grandkids. I have a pretty decent paying job and Howard's job seems secure in this turbulent economic time. I live in the USA, which provides all sorts of blessings in and of itself {heathcare, (while not perfect is better than if I lived in China or the Congo or, I don't know, Mongolia, maybe?), clean water anywhere I go, flushing water and electric power we take for granted}. Cars that run, (carS, not car),friends & family that love me and care about me. I have, while definitely limited, an education that surpasses what many ever get to have. I have never been hungry because THERE WAS NO FOOD to eat. I am blessed to have been born in a time and place that I was able to learn about, and gain a testimony of, Jesus Christ. His grace has blessed me countless times and in countless ways. I know things and have gifts that make this life so much easier than those who don't.

The consideration of the blessings I have, especially the ones that I did nothing to receive them, naturally leads me to ponder, on occasion, the why nof it all (I'm a WHY person from the get go)and I've come to the conclusion that I don't know why I was born when and where I was, but God does.I just thank Him for his goodness and lovingkindness. With all these blessings come great responsibility. Now, that's where it gets a little dicey. I'm not so great to living up to all that I have been given. I squander time. I suppose I squander money. I'll have to account for that. I think, somewhere in the back of my mind, I hope that if I have a significant GOOD event or two that I did, or caused to happen, that it might wipe out a few of the squanderings. It probably doesn't work that way, but you know, the spirit is willing, but my flesh is DEFINITELY weak. I've come to understand that scripture more the older I get. So, the challenge is to get the flesh in line with the Spirit, huh? Yeah, I don't do so well with that, I think. But, I have my successes, too.

I guess this will be it for now.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Sometimes, situations arise in our lives that test us, yes? Whether they are tests designed just for us, or are the consequence of well... life, and others' use of their Divinely given agency, albeit perhaps poorly, isn't so much the issue, as it is that we have to deal with said test. Trial. Opportunity for growth. Whatever you want to call it.

I'm dealing with something right now that fits into this category and I'm torn between how to handle it. Do I consider the source, knowing that there's little I can do that will change their mind, be humble and take my lumps trusting that God will deal rightly with all concerned, including me? Or, do I stand up for my reputation, and use the tools at my disposal to do everything I can to change the path that seems to me, from my perspective (yes, that's redundant, I realize) headed in the wrong direction? Both choices have potential positive and negative outcomes.

What to do, what to do?

Isn't this just part of why I'm here on earth? To use everything I know to ponder, pray and make decisions? Then, search for confirmation as to the rightness of that decision? Now, I don't know about you, but sometimes the answers are crystal clear. Often, however, they aren't, leaving me to question, even as I'm acting on what I think is the better option, to wonder if I'm doing what is "right". Right for me, at this moment in time. And "right" to me, means, "is this what Heavenly Father would have me do? For whatever reason?" I realize that what He would have me do might lead to more tests & trials. Not every "right" decision leads to an immediate happy ending, does it?

So, I have some work ahead of me. To figure out what I should do; to as a friend recommended, "be humble". I'm trying, I really am. When pride and humility meet, there is ALWAYS a conflict. I don't like the feeling of being a battleground for my soul! But, I think it is a necessary thing. Where else would this war happen? My battles can't be fought on someone else's battleground.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy birthday, Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane. My eldest child. My first daughter. My wonderful daughter. Born 32 years ago Monday. How in the WORLD can she be 32 YEARS old? Aren't I only 32 years old? It's weired. It's surreal. But, it is real.

When I learned I was expecting a baby, I was tha-rilled. I hoped so hard that it would be a girl. I can't figure out why, except that I never had a sister and always wanted one, so I guess I thought a girl baby would be the closest thing. And, it turned out to be so. Of course, this was in the days before ultrasound was a common thing and we got to wait and be surprised. Consequently there was a lot of yellow and green baby gifts given before babies arrived in those days. But, I digress.

One day, when Howard and I were talking about names, (I still remember where this conversation happened. On our front porch steps of our house), he told me if we had a girl, he wanted to name her after his grandmother, who had died a couple of years before we got married. I thought, "oh, that is so sweet"! Just one more reason for me to love a man who was so thoughtful. "What was her name, honey"? "Sarah Jane". "Sarah JANE?!" I immediately flashed back to being 12 and remembering a girl I went to school with who's name was Sarah JANE. I. Did. Not. Like. Her. She was mean and unkind to me. So, asking me to name a child of mine Sarah JANE was not something I was crazy about. So, I (diplomatically, I thought) said, "How about Sarah, but not Sarah Jane"? I thought that would satisfy both sides. Giving Grandma Catlin the honor of naming a child after her, but not making me have to remember the mean girl every time I spoke her name. But, no. It would be Sarah Jane or nothing at all. Later, as I saw the family group sheets and pedigree charts, I realized how common Jane is in the family. I got over it. Sarah Jane came. And I'm so glad. Now, I can't imagine her named anything else. Janer, for a nickname her dad sometimes calls her. She's the best.

Sarah has many of the characteristics of the classic first born. She is very much a leader. She is uber-responsible, thanks in no small part to undoubtedly an unfair amount of responsibility dumped on her by her mom and dad to help with the younger siblings. She is SO organized. She loves to organize. It's a talent. A gift. A compulsion, maybe? But, how can you not love that about someone. I WISH it was a talent/gift I had. She got that from her dad, as did her sister Erin and brother Nathan. It skipped David and I'm not sure yet about Michael. Again, I digress.

She is smart. She loves (again, like her dad) English. She majored in it in high school. She is well read. I don't know how, with 5 kids how/when/where she finds the ability to read like she does. She's pretty. She's crafty. She's a talker (she might have gotten that from me). She's a good cook, I think. Not a baker, Erin got those genes, but she makes good meals. She is funny. But, then, most of our family is funny. If you don't believe that, just ask us...we crack ourselves up sometimes. I'm sure many others don't quite appreciate how funny we think we are!

She's a teacher. Naturally. College trained, yes, but a natural teacher. She's a good mom. A mom who stresses that she's NOT, and that she's screwing up her kids because she has imperfect days. She tries really hard and takes her motherhood very seriously. She loved teaching. She set it on the back burner while she took on a more important job...raising children. And, I think she's doing a pretty good job at it. Tyler gets some credit for that, too, by the way.

She's kind. She's thoughtful(again, a Howard thing). She's generous. She has a pretty well defined sense of right and wrong. But, she isn't judgemental. She has a strong testimony of Christ.

I guess the gush fest should end now. I can't help it. I'm unbelievebly well pleased in the person she has become and continues to become. I'm one of those people in this world who happens to believe that family members are put together for reasons and that one day we'll know what those reasons are. Maybe not in this life, but one day. I still haven't quite figured out why I am the mom and my kids are the kids in this mix. Some days I feel like Sarah should have been the mom. She seems so far ahead of me in so many ways. I have learned so much from her. It's like she should have been the mom to ME.

Happy birthday, Sarah. I love you.

Friday, June 5, 2009


I'm home. And, man, there IS no place like it. I don't think I've ever been so glad to see my own house before in my life.

Let me tell you what happened. (Because I know you're all just dying to know!):)

I arrived in MI on Thursday afternoon. Took A.S. to dinner. Didn't say anything. While I had her at dinner, U.D.'s son and daughter-in-law arrived and took U.D. to dinner. Returned to their apartment and visited. Planned to tell on Friday.

Friday AM, I spoke to the social worker with the Commission on Ageing and she agreed to meet me at 10:00. I had an appointment at 1:30 to take A.S. to look at an assisted living center. The social worker was lining up another one at a different place. I got there about 10:05. She was already discussing it with her. U.D.'s son and daughter-in-law arrived. Somehow, someone, finally got around to letting it be known that U.D. had made plans to move out into a smaller apartment (alone!) and she would need to be going to A.L. Well...she wasn't having any of it. She was angry (understandably, I think), but irrational. Refused to go anywhere, in spite of the fact that she knew notice had been given for them to move out by June 1 (3 days away). She just said she wouldn't go and that was supposed to be that. It was heated. The social worker called the place she was trying to get placement for her at and they heard the ranting and raving and swearing and they said, "no, thanks". Eventually, U.D.'s son, Jerry, his wife, Liz and I left with U.D. and went to the doctor's office to pick up a letter that stated she is unable to care for heself. We returned to the apartment and met with the manager. While talking to him, A.S. was seen opening the garage, opening her car and gave every appearance that she was about to drive off.

Jerry ran over to her and hopped in the car and a heated argument ensued. Liz and I went over, too, but stayed pretty much out of the fray. She shouldn't drive. Ever. She doesn't think that's so. Realizing our hands were tied because she NEEDED to be placed in an assisted living facility, but with her refusing (or being unable) to understand, I felt I had no choice but to call the police. They came (they were familiar with her; they had been called before). After talking to her, they called the paramedics. She was taken away by the men in the white coats, literally. She was upset. That's an understatement. She was taken to the hospital and transferred to another hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. She's still there, but is supposed to be discharged on Monday.

At the hospital she said that she thought it was 2004. Dementia. She was pretty upset in the ambulance, I guess, because they gave her Haldol. Strong stuff. By the time she got to the psych ward, she was so relaxed, she signed herself in. But, because of the circumstances, she was unable to sign herself out.

So, while she was safe and secure, we proceeded to pack and move U.D. on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, we got a curve thrown at us because U.D.'s other daughter-in-law, who seldom even visits her, told her husband U.D.'s son that she would call the police if we proceeded with moving A.S.'s things because she said we were making her homeless. Of course, we had ever intention of finding a place for her, once we had the hospital's recommendation as to what level of care she needed. It was a DRAMATIC day, to say the least, but we got through it. She never called anyone, as far as I know.

But, with her stirring things up, all the things I intended to dispose of, (15 bras, probably only 2 or 3 that still fit, 20 pairs of shoes, only 3 of which she ever wears, 13 slips, umpteen pair of panty hose and upteen more pair of knee highs, untold # of nightgowns and slippers, and on and on and on and on...)I decided to keep and just put in storage along with her furniture we were keeping until we were able to know where she would be placed.

So, originally, the plan was for me to come home on Tuesday. Here's where the story gets more interesting...

On Friday AM, right before I went to the apartment to meet them and the lady from the Commission on Ageing, I got a call from my brother. My sister-in-law, Pam, had had some sort of attack and was enroute by ambulance to the hospital. They live in Louisville, KY. Gary said it didn't look good. And it wasn't. It was determined later in the weekend that she had a pulmonary embolism and she had suffered a massive assault to the brain. On Monday AM at 3:57, Pam died.

I diverted my return plans and went to KY on Tuesday and was with my brother and nephew until yesterday, when I came home. Pam's brother and wife from MD and sister and husband from MI and daughter she had given up for adoption at birth from FL all had arrived by Tuesday. A private viewing was held and we all visited and said our goodbyes.

So, there it is. The whole long weekend in a nutshell.

Without a doubt, Friday til Tuesday, were the most stressful, sad, emotional 4 days of my life. However, they were testimony building ones. I had prayed and prayed that I would be guided and led to know what needed to be done. Truly, that happened. I had no intention of calling the police, but it seemed very clear to me, at that moment, that that is exactly what I needed to do. In retrospect it must have been. The hospital says she needs to be not just in an Assisted Living facility, but a memory care facility. I never imagined that. I thought Assisted Living would do. When I got the call from my brother, I just prayed over and over, like a mantra, "make me equal to the task that lies before me this day". And, I guess He did. I got through it. I wanted so much to drop everything and run to my brother's side. But, he understood why I couldn't, until Monday or Tuesday. I could NOT have done this alone, and with Jerry & Liz helping, it all came together. A.S. isn't the only one who has issues. I think it's not going to be very long before U.D. will need to be assisted, but for now, I think he's ok where he is. The people we worked with, from apartment manager to social workers to nurses were all very kind and understanding. I stayed a few nights with Howard's sweet, SWEET aunt Ora, who was a steadying, Gospel filled influence when I so very much needed it. Tender mercies were delivered in a myriad of ways, from assistance to me at the airport to a very understanding apartment manager.

I didn't know when I left HOW this would all work out, but I knew it WOULD. And it did. I'm grateful to know that she'll be taken care of. I'm sorry it's going to cost such an unbelievable amount of $$ to do that ($3500/mo). I pray for my Uncle Dick, who has been pretty overwhelmed by all of this. I pray, too, for Aunt Shirley, to be able to come to a level of acceptance and understanding about what needs to be. And, I pray for my brother and nephew to be strenghtened and comforted at the loss of their wife and mother. While they know Pam has gone to a place where she is free of suffering (she had been sick for a very long time) nonetheless, it will be hard for them as they try to piece their life together without her. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that doesn't always give us what we want, but gives us what we need when we need it the most.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm off!!! (My rocker?)

Well, tomorrow, Thursday, I'm out of here on a jet plane headed to Saginaw, Michigan to place the aunt...somewhere. Still not entirely sure where. Yet. Waiting to see how things transpire.

Wish me luck. Better yet, pray for me. For the next 6 days until I return to good ol' Las Vegas!