We returned home from our LDS mission to Chile with a diagnosis of terminal cancer in my husband. This is a story of how we coped and how I have been able to find joy in the journey after his death.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Christmas and A New Year
Our Christmas holiday was so incredible. We started the season by attending 'White Christmas with Dave's mother and all of his siblings and their spouses followed by a great dinner where we ended up sitting next to Kyle Whittingham, coach of U of U football. Dave got an autograph for his nephew and had a nice visit with Kyle while wearing his red knit U of U cap which he went to wearing after all his hair fell out due to the chemo.
Dave with coach Kyle Whittingham
Dave and Suz with all Dave's siblings and their spouses and his Mom
Next we attended our first performance of The Forgotten Carols which was touring in Richfield, Utah, only an hour from our home! Now we were in the spirit. The following week we took our older grandkids to the Hale Theater for a live version of 'A Christmas Carol' followed with pizza.
Our next treat was picking up our oldest granddaughter, Alexa, on Dec. 16th from the Salt Lake Airport. She stayed with us almost the full time until she returned to college in Virginia on Jan 4th. What fun that was! Dave's mother arranged to get us tickets to the Tabernacle Choir Christmas program and we were able to attend with Alexa and this was a great experience. It was fun to hear David Archeleta and the entire program was just excellent. We had a huge snowfall while she was here and she made her first snowman and helped me clear the walks with our new snowblower.
On the 20th we were thrilled with the birth of Zachary Limburg, the third grandson born this year. We were so worried that he would be born late and miss out on the family photo but he came on time. Here is Zach with his brothers and sister. They are children of our second son, Paul.
The 24th was our first Christmas party-- with all of my side of the family-- in Murray-- followed by picking up our daughter Micaela and her family who arrived from Hawaii. This was Dave's first time to see their new little boy Andrew. They also stayed with us for most of the holidays. We arrived home late on Christmas Eve with all of our guests and also Challis' family who stayed with us for Christmas Day.
The family from Suz's Mom and Dad now number over 200. We meet in the Cultural Hall of a church. The nativity and pinata are traditional activities every year.
This is our little Hawaiian family (obviously taken in Hawaii)
What fun we had on Christmas morning with two families of little ones and Lexi! Then about 10 AM our oldest daughter and her family arrived from Illinois. This was a surprise as they had planned to spend Christmas day with Brock's parents and then drive to Utah. However, a winter storm in Missouri interfered with their plans so they came straight to Utah. What a great surprise! Not much later, our daughter Jill called to see if she and her family could come down also and stay through Tuesday. Of course they just added to the fun. Christmas and Sunday were unstructured and just fun days of visiting. Challis and his wife left Christmas night but their girls stayed to play with cousins.
I love this photo of many of the younger granddaughters standing in a line doing each other's hair. I just happened to see them and thought it was so cute.
Dave shares a quiet moment with Jordan
Relaxing Christmas afternoon
Noah colors in the BIG coloring book
Monday the other two boys and their families came. Six people went to the condo, east of Beaver, for skiing and the rest stayed and went tubing in Fillmore where we still had most of the 20 inches of snow that fell shorty before Christmas. It was a great day.
Tuesday Challis and Nancy returned and we had activities and visiting much of the day. Then we had a great talent show followed by our traditional Christmas buffet foods and a FHE. Most of the families then headed north for the night.
Here some of the grandkids are helping to decorate the gingerbread house which is a tradition for us.
Julie and her niece Kate show off their decorated cookie
We had so much fun with the talent show. All families participated and cousins teamed up with their violins.
Aleah shows off her artwork
Wed. we left early in a big snow storm to gather up small grandkids and take them to Jungle Jim's Playground in Midvale. We had 14 grandkids and 5 adults and we all had a blast. Our three year-old Eliza wanted me on every ride with her and that made for more fun. Leaving from there we went to Dave's Mom's Christmas party in Farmington. There families acted out scenes from Grandma's life, mostly comical, and we had a great time. The weather coming home was terrible--a white out--so I stopped at my Mom's in Murray with Challis's two girls and stayed the night. Dave and Challis were in the 4 wheel drive truck and they made it home but it took 5 hours rather than 2.
Dave's family put together a memory book for Dave with everyone writing up a special memory that they have of him. This was a very special gift for him that he treasures.
Dave's Mom, Geneal, with four of Jill's boys the night of the party.
Friday was our last big day of playing. We drove back north in snow again for family pictures in the Rotunda of the Utah State Capitol Bldg. which is a beautiful marble area and just perfect for the kids to roam when they weren't in a photo shoot. Then we drove out to my Mom's and about 50 of us had lunch and blessed our two newest arrivals--Andrew Hess, our Hawaiian baby, and Zachary Limburg who was born on Dec. 20th. Zachary cooperated by being born before Christmas rather than in the middle of our Christmas activities, and we appreciated that immensely. Then our immediate family all left and drove about 45 miles in another whiteout to Grantsville where we had our traditional New Years fondue feast and boy did we feast. It was now time to say goodbye to most of the family.
Suz's Mom, Verna, with baby Andrew and little Gracie at the baby blessing.
Cousins get acquainted
Gals and babies
The guys play Who Wants to Be a
When we returned home that night we only had Lexi with us--pretty quiet--but two families visited the next day on their way home. Julie and Brock drove back to Illinois by the southern route of I-70 because of the weather, so we got to see them one more time. Mic and family flew back to Hawaii on the 3rd.
We took Lexi up to Salt Lake on the 3rd after Dave's appointment with his oncologist. She stayed the night with an aunt and they put her on the plane back to Virginia the next day. While she was with us there were nightly visits on Skype with a special boy from North Carolina that she seemed pretty excited about. We thought something was coming of it and sure enough, the Sunday after she got back, she called to announce that she was engaged. They have set a June 4th date. He is also a student at Southern Virginia University and is on a baseball scholarship. She is thinking of wearing my wedding dress so we have shipped it off for her to make a decision.
Our visit with the oncologist was very positive. He said that the tumors are small and he felt that having the surgery in Santiago had been a positive thing. He feels that Dave will have several good months--maybe more--of good health. We couldn't be happier. Dave's hair is growing back in and he's pretty much over all the effects of the chemo and is feeling good. We get out most days to walk and we continue to spend much time with our mothers, children and grandchildren. We have been asked to co-teach the Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Class at church, we are Home Teachers and Visiting Teachers, and we try to visit the elderly in our ward as often as possible. I've started working on Family History and pruning fruit trees when weather allows. Dave is back at work putting our 3,000 + slides onto the computer and labeling them. We are now planning trips to Hawaii this month, to Spain with our son Paul and his family in May and Nauvoo in June for the wedding. It seems that we keep pretty busy and our life is great! We feel so blessed and sustained.