Friday, June 17, 2016

The Overhaul

Today was our last day to spend the night with my Mom, since February, when Dad passed away.  It has been an adventure for all of us (my brothers and I).  We decided from the first night without him we would rotate nights to be spent with her.  It's been 4 months.  Randy and I took Wednesday and Thursday nights, with a rotating Friday night that we split up every 3 weeks between the 3 of us.  Mom loved it; at least she said she did.  She became anxious to see us and was delighted whenever any of us walked through the door.  Even though we all knew it was an adjustment, it was small, compared to her peace.  So we carried on.

A month ago my niece and her law school bound husband expressed a desire to move in with her.  The back bedrooms and bathroom would be perfect for their bank account, and Mom would have company, at night until he finished school in a year or so.

This brought on a decision to "over hall" the back part of the home.  The 1975 brown and yellow striped carpeting and wood paneled wall would have to "go" in one bedroom.  The blue multicolored shag with the blue and white striped half way up wall paper would "go" in another.  And the dirty beige carpet and mural scene of the Jackson Hole Tetons across a complete wall, had to "go" in another. (A blessing, you say?)  Plus, there would be repainting, remolding  rebaseboarding, and doors redone in each room. along with new cupboard doors in the hall and bathroom.  That makes 40 years of life, gone.

This leads me to our last nights. . . The "over hall" began swiftly.  So fast, that when we got there, we were prepared to head back home as soon as we saw there was no place to sleep.  But nay. One lonely bed was left, with a lamp sitting on the floor.  We rolled our sleeping bags out, just like every other night, and made the best.  How hard could it be?   Things started getting tricky when we had to wear shoes to bed.  The bare floor hadn't seen the light of day for 40 years.  All that was left were glue marks scribbled back and forth in some creative designs; along with remnants of 40 year old crusty carpet fuzz.  But the funnest part? The potty in the bathroom is right next to the door.  Did I say door?  No door!  It was a strategic event if you needed  the bathroom for whatever the reason.  Every door from distances away had to be closed!  Sliding doors, laundry room doors, etc.  And whatever you were doing in there, you had to hurry, keeping your eyes only on the outside doors.  Heaven forbid, they would slide open from someone on the other side!  You had to be prepared to scream at the slightest slide. Do I have to paint a picture here?!  Don't forget, the curtains and blinds had all been taken down, and the window from the "blue room" framed that potty in the doorless bathroom.   A perfect view from Jim's house!

When we returned home from vacation, Mom had room mates and a "new house".  Thank goodness it was a beautiful overhaul.  It covers up the memory of those last nights.   

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


June 6, 2006.  Kayla was 6, in kindergarten, and joining her older sister in taking piano lessons from me.  We were very creative when it came to octaves, since her little hands could only cover about five keys.  But as the days and years passed along, her hands grew.  Her feet reached the floor.   Her abilities expanded.  Her tastes were enhanced by her Vietnamese background.  To day was her last lesson, after finishing up with some beautiful pieces at a recital 2 weeks ago.  She has been with me for 10 years, and is now a junior in high school.  That is an accomplishment.  It pleases me to know she is a better person, with senses that have only been provided her from consistent practicing and sharing.  This makes me happy.

Visiting Teaching Backpack

My Visiting teaching days with Katherine were filled with inspiration as we visited Sharman.   Month after month, Sharman's living room became a sacred spot.  I would listen while Katherine (who had recently lost her aging mother to cancer) and Sharman (who was in the middle of caring for her mother in another state), shared stories, ideas, and encouragement for an hour as we visited each time.  Their stories were similar, but even more alike was the, love and compassion they each shared for their mothers.  In those days, I had healthy and able parents, yet I was prompted to know that the visits would do me good in my future.  So, I collected those thoughts and feelings and put them in my back pack for future reference.

Now many years later, I find myself reaching in to my collection for assurance.  I don't remember the details of their stories, but I do remember the feelings I had when I listened in.  Compassion, love, generosity, patience, faith, on and on.  I'm so thankful for those visits, because today, I am beginning to put these sweet  pieces together.

A miracle of Visiting Teaching is that it can affect us all if we, with empathy, tune in to another's life  And the life that is benefitted most can turn out to be our own 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Dear Gregg

Happy 29th Birthday!  Here is your birthday story for the 129th time:   You spent the last month before you were born laying vertical.  The Doctor figured you would naturally move.  But in those last weekly visits, you didn't budge.  A couple of weeks before your due date, the Doctor informed us that he would be out of town the same day.  By then, the likelihood of having a c section was a reality.  So, he told us when he would be in town and showed us a calendar, explaining that, because of the circumstances, we could pretty much pick a birthday.  Daddy and I considered the days.  I was born on April 26th, and Julianne was born on June 26th.  Here it was November, and the 26th seemed like a perfectly great birthday.  So we scheduled a c section when we knew the Doctor would be there.  You never decided to turn.  But we were thrilled to welcome you here to join your brother and sisters. 

Your life has been a blessing to me.  I can't begin to express my love for you, and Oh, the pride!  You are truly a treasured gift of perfection.  Happy Birthday, Gregg!  On this 26th day of November.  Have a wonderful real birthday and Thanksgiving all in one!

I love you dearly!!!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Daisy Mae Duck

My new favorite cartoon character . . .

She has a genealogy story that became personal to me today.  
But she was named after someone far greater.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

October to November

"October is my favorite color".  I do love it, so.  And it's sad to pack up my friendly witches for another year . . . and the little orange lights around the front window and door . . . and the sweet recollection of laughter and imagination from beautiful grandchildren in Halloween costumes some let me sew in early September.  It's a calm season.  I do a lot of feeling the windows, because they turn cool and it makes me smile.  The doors and windows stay open most of the day.  October naturally turns into November, and as much as I long to keep it here, there is no turning back.  The good thing is, I'm really not afraid of November, it's just new.  And I also know that by the end of November, I will have thought and said at least a hundred times, "November is so overlooked,"  (especially when I think of Carianne, and those  little Crandell girls due soon).  So bring on the blessings! There is not a minute to spare. 

Friday, September 4, 2015


The prologue:

On September 5th, 2014, Randy and I were enjoying some down time in the basement when the telephone rang.  As he picked it up, I was tickled by the conversation.  It was Kate, our grand daughter

"Hi Kate!  How are you doing?  What are you doing today?  You're shopping??  Sure you can come over to Grandpa and Grandma's to sleep over night.  I always love it when you come to Grandpa's house!"

The connection with Kate was interrupted by our daughter, Carianne.  Their conversation was short and confusing, causing Randy to jump to his feet and swiftly run upstairs to retrieve his i phone.  I felt a breeze as he flew past, breathlessly asking if I had seen Carianne's latest post on face book.  I had not, but before I could reply, he was back downstairs with the i phone, showing me the screen.

What is this?"  we both questioned over and over in unbelief.  It was a photo taken in a long, unfamiliar hallway.  Rusty (son in law), Carianne, and Kate were shown smiling from ear to ear, as they pushed a cart that looked like it had a baby in it.  It took us minutes before we realized there was really a baby in the cart!  We were speechless.  We knew that "shopping" for babies didn't make sense, given that they were this close to being ready for fertility treatments.  But somehow, they had spent a mind boggling afternoon at the hospital, meeting and learning about this one day old baby girl.  

Of course we had hundreds of questions, which flew out all at once: the same questions they had had in their state of shock, earlier that afternoon.  And now, as their reality was setting in and they found themselves sitting on a cloud,  they were excited to tell us the wonderful details of this sweet baby, and cry again at our reactions.  The photo was one of two that were posted only to two different sets of Grandparents.  Their game began:  Which set would be the first to notice the photo?  Grandma Crandell won.

This story will be told with gratitude and excitement for the rest of all their lives:

The story: (Grandma's perspective)

Just after noon, on September 4, a security guard in the hospital parking lot noticed a slowly moving car, with a young girl behind the wheel. She hovered around the little drop-off drawer, especially  made available for "safe haven" babies.  (  As the guard watched, he could see her hesitation.  Not wanting to scare her away, he sent a message to the doctor inside.  The doctor came out and approached the car.   She stopped and rolled down the window.  A tiny pink baby girl, wrapped in only a sheet, was handed out to him, as well as the placenta which had been placed in a separate bag.  Though the details are vague, it is understood that the doctor, who is the only one to see or speak to her, was concerned for her health; encouraging her to come in so he could make sure she was alright.  She quickly declined the help, saying, "No, I have to get home and clean up before my parents get home."   It is thought that she delivered the baby herself, maybe with a little help from the internet.  Born around midnight, mother and daughter were together until that next afternoon.. There was no one with her for support.  Maybe no one even knew her condition.  So young, so scared, so wanting a safer place for her new baby.  And yet, somehow, being so divinely led.

A miracle or two:

When a safe haven baby is born, the adoption agencies rotate the assignment to vote for the most deserving family in their profiles to adopt it.  Another miracle in the story, is that their agency, had not been functioning as an adoption agency for a couple of months.  But it was still considered in the rotation, and it also happened to be their turn. Carianne and Rusty's situation of trying to adopt before, with sad results, was still well known among most of the case workers.   Their vote was obvious. The chance for Carianne and Rusty to adopt this little girl would be given to them.  That's when her phone rang.

In the afternoon on Friday, September 5, Carianne answered her phone to hear the voice of a long lost case worker.  (Life was rolling along again at their house, despite left over broken hearts from an almost adoption in April.)  She was surprised to hear her voice, and even more surprised to hear the details of a baby girl, being held for them.  A meeting was quickly arranged, causing the three of them to drop everything and go.  They arrived at the hospital in record time, in a sort of frenzy.  Walking in, they tried to look like they knew what they were doing, as their hearts pounded faster.  Eventually they found their case worker.  Unbelievable details about the baby's little story were shared, and thoughtfully soaked in, as they pondered the miracle happening before their eyes! They felt as if they'd been pinched, when the case worker said, "Well, would you like to meet her?" 

In my heart, I know they recognized each other from the eternities.  That experience is for them to tell.

The name card on her little rolling cart would be a welcome change, from "baby" to Madelyn.  She was a small celebrity and  Carianne and Rusty were treated like royalty.  Even the doctor who took her in, bought her a little pink outfit. She stayed in the hospital for the weekend while every test imaginable was given.  Then on Monday, she was released, passing each test with flying colors of perfection.  They wrapped her up tight and have never let go.  Their little family grew in an instant.

Just when we think we know how our story should go, we are taken by the surprise of a much more beautiful plot.   It still humbles me to know that their morning, on September 5, started out as a normal day.  But by evening, there is no denying a miracle had taken place.  In a twinkling of an eye, sweet peace filled their hearts in validation of Heavenly Father's love for all four of them.  He knows our stories, and thankfully He is in charge.  Happy, Happy Birthday, sweet Madelyn.