Proud as Punch

I’m not very good at singing the praises of our children. I think it’s historical and probably isn’t helped that it was how I was brought up, but I’ve made a decision that I need to change that. And I’m going to start now. (And don’t worry we’ve told them too!)

I am SOOOO proud of them both!!

Recently, we have had letters from the High School, about both of our kids and how well they are doing.

For Rebecca, we have had two within the past week! One regarding her amazing fundraising where she raised over £1000 by walking the 3 Peaks in 24 hours for her Romania community project that she is going on, alongside her contribution to the school in general, and one for her amazingly helpful input at parents evening.

For Sam, we had one about how he had been really inclusive and kind and helped the new Year 7 students to settle into the school….something I can promise doesn’t happen with all of the kids!

I know that these things might seem small to some, but with everything that the kids are having to deal with at home, I am so proud that they aren’t falling to pieces at school, or using it as an excuse to be quite inward thinking. They are still keeping hold of the values that we’ve tried to teach them over the years, namely to think of others as well as themselves. And don’t get me wrong….I totally wouldn’t blame them if they had become more self-centred with all of this.

We do have two amazing children. They are so kind, and so giving and I feel really blessed to have them. On Wednesday, I was struggling and a bit teary while Nick was away and Rebecca was out. Sam spotted it straightaway and came and gave me the biggest hug in the world….he knew what I needed! And even Rebecca, someone a little less tactile than Sam, seemed to know I needed more from her when she got in later in the evening…she straightaway gave me a big cuddle….and I can promise you, that is not the norm from her.

They are living with such a hard situation. I think that sometimes we take it for granted after all this time, that our family is living with the Big C. With myeloma. With a big cloud hanging over our heads. I know that I certainly take it for granted that it is always in my mind (especially now I’m back on treatment). It impacts so many of the things that we do, whether it is the every day decisions of what to do, the holidays we can or can’t go on, whether the kids can join clubs (Can we get them there? Can we get them home?), even, whether they can go somewhere with their friends.

But yet it is so easy to just feel like they, in particular, should just get on with these decisions without challenging them or feeling that they are unfair. Poor Sam even had to deal with a science lesson this week telling him that stem cell transplants were a cure for cancer, especially bone marrow and blood cancer – not easy when he knows there is no cure for myeloma. But again, I was so proud of him for coming home and telling us about it. Talking about it. Not bottling it up. It’s so important.

They are the most special children. I love them so much. We’re so very lucky.

Christmas is coming!

I know that statement is a tad obvious, but yesterday I made my Christmas cake. I didn’t bother last year as I seemed to be the only person to eat it previous years. The idea of Christmas has me jumping about like a kid, I am enjoying the build up, knowing that the actual day will be tinged with sadness, okay a lot of sadness. I miss my kids on Christmas Day more than any other day of the year. The being woken at 5 in the morning to be asked if it was time to open presents, the excited looks on their faces. The fun and games, the TV was banned. We had a very relaxed “eat what you like” policy, no slaving over a hot oven, a large buffet of food was laid out and everyone just helped themselves to what they fancied. Times change, I know that. One is working, two have new families who they spend the day with, one is far away and the last can’t decide where she wants to be. I just hope I can get them all together for the now traditional “Italian Extravaganza”. I won’t bore you all again with the details, you can read about it here or even here

Mike says the same thing every year, “let’s spend next Christmas somewhere sunny” and every year we have the same discussion about what I should cook! This year it will be turkey and all the trimmings. We invited one of Mike’s oldest friends and his new wife over for Christmas Day. We didn’t want him spending another one feeling so depressed he wont even get out of bed! 

Talking of Mike I was very remiss in not updating the blog on his discharge from hospital last week. He seems to be on the mend, he is certainly a lot better than he was even last week when he came home. 

I hope you don’t mind me boring you all dear readers with my Christmas preparations, Mike is sick of listening to me already!!! :)

My fantastic 5


Heinous

I’d been taking pictures all summer with a Kodak StarFlash camera. Popular back in the late fifties and early sixties, it was a camera body with the flash reflector built right into the top of the case. They came in colors but mine was white and was a Christmas present from one of my aunts in Texas. It took standard 110 film rolls and for flash, it used these little plastic ampule looking bulbs with the plastic tinted blue to make the flash wash less color out of the pictures. Day or night, if you put  flash bulb in it, it would flash. Nothing so fancy as a switch, but then neither did it need to warm up like some of the new strobe based flashes. Plus that, the camera was a pretty rugged little thing. I dropped it any number of times and it always managed to work …until one day it didn’t. But it took four years or so to wear it out.

Up in the woods of Rindge, New Hampshire there was lots to take pictures of at the boarding school. First, New Hampshire is just plain photogenic, at least it was back then, and the school had all sorts of distractions for young boys and girls from a fully functional farm to arts and crafts and carpentry to vehicles mechanics. Even tree house building was a sponsored activity at the school whose focus was more helping kids discover their potential than regimented classes on the three Rs. Education was never downplayed, we had to achieve specific learning objective appropriate to the class years we were in. But they offered modular studies that we could take at our own pace. One year, I managed to work through and pass all of the test for my full grade year in the course of five weeks. That left the rest of the year for me to engage in hordes of things I took a shine to. And one of them, obviously, turned out to be photography.

We had an english teacher who doubled as the photography teacher. His name was Alcott and he was a generation or so removed from the famous Louisa May. So when I found myself with some 25 rolls of film to develop and print, I was assigned to Alcott to learn about photo development and general darkroom procedures. Bill Alcott was also a pedophile of the first magnitude, and being a typical dumb little kid I totally believed him when he explained that to protect our clothing from the darkroom chemicals, it was best to work in the nude. At this point I could make a long story short, and doing so, I can say that before the end of the first session I was finding my private parts being investigated by my mentor. This was an experience that freaked me out and when I fled the darkroom in frightened escape, exposed and destroyed each of the 25 rolls of film I had so dutifully collected.

Trying to explain the incident to the school headmaster brought a thunderous response of accusation that I was trying to fake a scandal against a teacher who’d given me a bad grade. I had actually never taken a single class from Alcott, yet somehow I was shown classroom attendance under his proctoring replete with failing grade.  How is a 13 year old kid supposed to counter such a thing? I was taken from the mainstream dorms and sent off to an offsite residence called Red House. There, I spent my time being ‘tutored’ by Bob O’Brien, who appeared to have the same predilections and appetites as Mr. Alcott, who would often make unscheduled visits to the Red House. It was summer and so I was constantly told to run naked through a sprinkler in the very secluded yard as a function of PT. Both O’Brien and Alcott took a lot of photos of me which, I’m sure, were developed at the scene of the original crime. After a month or so of both the sprinkler exercises and the discovery that I had been joined in my bed as I slept, waking suddenly in the night due to painful penetrations of a particular orifice, my behavior became problematic. I was refusing to eat, and was in fact throwing my food topped dishes at those in authority over me and spending lots of time trying to formulate (and be caught in) escape plans.

When the local police ended up involved one day because I made my way to the town road that intersected the small street upon which the Red house sat at the far end and got picked up almost immediately by a farmer in a truck. I spit out my tale of woe to an outraged driver of the truck and deposited at the city cops segment of the city’s municipal building. The school was notified and the headmaster himself came to retrieve me. At first the cops refused to let me go, their regulations stating that a child in my situation was to be returned only to a parent or legal guardian. But the school produced papers that my parents had signed which amounted to a dependency waiver In order to attend the school, parents had to forfeit their parental rights to the student, leaving all life decisions up to the school so they could be free to exercise necessary treatments, medical or psychological. In those days, instantaneous communications were still far off in the future, and many circumstances were intolerant of waits of hours and hours or even possibly days or even weeks to secure parental authority to act on a student’s behalf. Or the schools. Today’s communications are instantaneous and so there is absolutely no need for such a draconian disposing of rights of parents over their children Any organization asking for such broad powers these days needs to be viewed very closely and with high suspicion. While certain powers of attorney are necessary, such a complete denouement of parents rights is a very bad idea. Armed with their paperwork, I was fetched back to the school and the police admonished for involving themselves in something they had no business insinuating themselves into.

Fortunately I was not returned to the school dorms, nor was I returned to Red House. I was placed, instead, with a faculty members family. These were honest and loving people, and I owe all of the many benefits I took from my three years of attendance mostly to them and their even handed approach to everything. By the way, nary a thing happened to my two tormentors, who both continued on school staff without so much of an out of step stumble. Both were later discharged from the school with no reason given, but I suspect it was likely that their extracurricular appetites finally caused them to target the wrong kid. I know that for the first time in my life I had fantasies of taking another person’s life, and under very grotesque means that often dealt with soaking them in gasoline and lighting them up like a Salem witch.

While I could use this forum to talk about the pure hatred I developed for homosexuals at large, I won’t. Suffice to say that over time I was at last able to separate the difference between people with a particular sexual orientation and pedophiles. I don’t look at gayness much differently than I do hair color these days, but I have an unquenchable vehement distaste for adults (or even other, older kids) who act as sexual predators. Adults molesting children is, in my view, a capital crime punishable by summary execution and to hell with the appeals process. Bring on the gas can and and Bic lighters.  Where i was fortunate was the attitude taken by my new benefactors. They chose not to bring up any of the issues of my complaints. In fact, they tended to downplay them in favor of attention to new and positive focuses of my time and energy. Sadly, may agencies and institution made a huge deal out of a child’s experience and that helps to cement them into the psyche of the victims and invites PTSD. The same is true for the suppressed memories crowd who seem to want to ensure that people with issues can relate them to a non-existent event in order to defray unreasonable senses of guilt about modern and totally unrelated issues. “Ah, you feel badly because you feel you cannot succeed in relationships. Well, it’s not your fault. You have suppressed the memory, but you were molested by your cousin Eustice on your second birthday and that’s where the trouble lies…’ Hogwash. A load of hooey.

Accentuating the positive and guiding the child away from focus, or worse yet, obsession about the issues, is a demonstrated much better course of action because it permits the individual to disassociate themselves as a function of their own growth and maturity process. It’s not an imparted artificial achievement that does the trick. Humans are, and kids to a greater extent, a lot more resilient than many give them credit for. This is another reason why wilderness based schools and programs are the  more positive helpmates of kids who struggle with issues that make them incompatible with the mainstream and need custom guidance and challenges that permit them successive successes of their own to lead to the major successes only they can earn for themselves.

 

 

Kelsey and the Yellow Kite

I remember when I was first diagnosed, one thing I felt grateful for was not having young children… to worry about, to have to arrange care for while I was incapable of even caring for myself, to be upset about possibly not seeing them grow up, to feel sad that they might lose their mother far too young. I couldn’t imagine how it might feel to be in that position.

It seems that myeloma, which used to be considered ‘an old man’s disease’, is now being diagnosed more frequently in younger people, both men and women. The youngest person I’m aware of is Emma Jane in London, who is shockingly young at only 28. But there are others, older than Emma and younger than me, who are quite likely to have young children, not only to care about, but also to have to explain why mummy or daddy is so ill and what might happen. I mean, how do you have that conversation? How do you talk about an incurable illness to a young child? How on earth do you do that? How do you find the words?

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I’ve not seen it yet, but Kelsey and the Yellow Kite is a new book that has been created to help explain myeloma to young children, hopefully in a way that makes it simple and less frightening. I imagine it could be used with grandchildren too.

Gordon Barbour died from myeloma in 2008, leaving a seven year old daughter called Kelsey, for whom the book was named. His family raised £13,000 for Myeloma UK, which allowed them to create and publish the book.

No one would want to have to have to face this situation ever, but it does happen. Hopefully this book will help. It’s available to order for free from Myeloma UK. The book is listed in the Living with myeloma section, about halfway down the page.

Coming Home

The plane lifted off and crawled into a fast darkening sky. I watched the lights of San Francisco recede and fall behind until there was nothing to see but blackness. I felt that sad melancholy of  leaving people you love behind as the plane took me back to Spokane. I had just watched my eldest son marry the woman of his dreams, the seedling moments from which the tree of relationship would grow.  Living in Spokane keeps me far from my children; they are scattered from Seattle to San Francisco to Los Angeles and our seeing one another is a rarity, so seeing any of them is always a treat. But seeing all three at once and having the delicious joy of all of them at once was a pleasure that can only be described as exquisite. Interacting with them day to day allowed me to get accustomed to their presence, to have them just a glance away from me, to be able to reach out and put a hand on their shoulder or share a hug was sublime. Leaving them to scatter away and back to their own homes again was a bittersweet heartbreak.

The marriage of a child is so stark a reminder that life does go on, and that we parents are now extended family to the cores of their own. We are peripherals now, rather than a center. It is no longer up to us to make sure of their safety, nutrition and activity, but to merely watch from the sidelines, quietly cheering them as they now take the reins. But for these few days, these relatively short minutes in the grand scheme of life, I had them all back, and while not necessarily tucked beneath my wing, still close at hand. Close enough that the gravitational waves of family love were almost visible.

The recollecting and reminiscing amplified by the appearance of so many characters in the play of their lives, all reprising their roles as they flocked in to watch and celebrate the wedding. The weekend dunked us all in memories and held us under, we reliving the moments that made us laugh or cry or shout as they happened, but are now things to hold in our hands and inspect, turning them over and over as we remember them. So many years of growing a family, only to have life rightfully smash it, sending the pieces flying off in all directions where they would start the process over again. Some day in the future they too will be looking back and remembering.

But the view is not solely backwards. It is a perspective on the present, seeing what my children have become, and feeling so much pride that I wondered if my chest might explode. Stopping to think my way from the first days in the hospital with each of them, our very first meeting, and the ride from there to the present taking so little time. In so many ways it feels like just yesterday that I saw each of them brand new and tiny enough to fit easily into my hands. I see them now as these awesome people, each doing what they set out to do, so much more successful than I. Who could know, even ten years ago that it would be like this? I had the sense they would do fine, but to see it now just adds to my awe at who they have become. Certainly not my babies anymore, they are people having earned the respect of so many. At the wedding I was approached by so many people who just had to meet me, saying how they just had to meet me and shake my hand for bringing such greatness into their lives. How is a father not to slip away to hide the tears of pride in his children?  ”Your son is just awsome! Your daughter is amazing! Your boys are incredible.”

I know this. And so as I sit in this airplane and hear the murmurs of conversation above the rumble of jets and wind, I look out into the blackness and try to keep from jumping up and screaming to be taken back. Not just to San Francisco, but to those first moments of their lives so I can do this all over again. But I know that can’t happen, and with things as they are, with my illness festering away inside me, that this may well have been the last time I might get to see them all in so happy a circumstance. The last time to have them close by and feeling like a proud daddy and basking in their smiling laughter.

When my time is up, there will be something that I know. I will have the knowledge that they will carry on, spreading their wit and humor on and on. And that will make the leaving both that much easier and that much harder. I would want to witness it all. But I am caught in the cycle of life, just as all before me and all who will follow. A part of a process of over and overness; we all ride on the wheel of time. But it’s a worthwhile process, and weekends like this are testament to it. I have to be satisfied because there is no other choice available. I am grateful for this weekend, and all of the days that I spent as a father. I will, though, cherish this weekend especially because I had believed I would never get it, life having taken the turns it did. I am blessed to have the wonderful children I do, and privileged to have been able to take part in their lives.

There is a rumbling noise as the wheels are lowered and there are lights again visible out the window. Even in the dark I can recognize the features of my home town. In a few minutes I will get off the plane and go back to my own house, my own bed, and my own life. The flight has passed so quickly as the memories of the weekend swirled in my head, punctuated by snapshots of the previous thirty years of my life. The very best years, of course, because they were populated by my children. The very best people I know.

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Relaxed At Last

“I wanted a Thomas!” preturbed the little girl shrilly.” Her brother stared at her before telling her that trains were not for girls. No indeed. To spite him she said it again and flung the little doll she’d just unwrapped to the floor where the cat sniffed it suspiciously. The boy snatched it up and the little girl screeched. “That’s mine!” she said.

“You wanted a Thomas.” said the boy quietly. “I want anything!”

“Hey now.” I said. I gently took the doll from the boy and handed it to the girl. She flung it across the room and restated her preference for Thomas the Train. My wife came to the rescue and pulled a large and heavy box to the center of the room.

“Come unwrap this!” she said, smiling widely. The children complied, ripping and tearing the bright wrappings so carefully place just a few short hours ago. As the wrapping came off, the image of a smiling Thomas peered out at the children.

“Hooray!” they both yelled, tearing away the wrapping more frantically. The full box revealed, they were stumped as to how to open its glued flaps to get at the treasure inside. “Open it! Open it!” My wife complied, and pulled from the box large pieces of what, when assembled, would be a train table where Thomas and his train friends might wander wooden tracks that led right back to the starting point. The children ignored the train table and grabbed at the miniature engine and cars, each cased in their own little plastic body bags. They ran off to the kitchen where they had learned in past times that things rolled better on linoleum than carpet. Out of sight we heard them. “Mine!” they screamed.

I was mucking with the tree. It’s lights were suffering a power failure and creating a belt of darkness around its girth. A contribution from the house cats who’d mounted a frenetic search through its artificial branches no doubt in search of a hidden rodent. The tree had toppled like a fallen spruce at the hands of a lumberjack. When it was righted again, the constellation of little white lights was suffering the deficit I was now trying to fill. A sudden squeal of delight from the kitchen marked the suspension of hostilities, causing the adults congregated in the living room to cock an ear. We waited for a crash or yelp of pain when they tried to get hold of whatever sweets they’d just discovered. Little else in the kitchen could bring such cries of joy. But there was just silence.

Their father took the initiative to go see what his spawn were about, and was shortly followed by the rest of us. Our curiosity was piqued. In the kitchen the children were stuffing themselves with cinnamon rolls upon which they had spooned heaps of the white frosting my wife had made to glaze the rolls with. “Eeek!” said their mother. The sentiment was echoed by my wife. Dad to the rescue, the father separated the children from the foodstuffs and handed them over to mother, who marched them to the bathroom. The rolls would never have been as well glazed as the children’s faces and hands were.

We adults returned to the living room where the television was showing A Christmas Story to the empty room. “You’ll poke your eye out!” the TV said to no one. We all returned to our previous circle and continued the exercise of opening the little wrapped trinkets we’d exchanged, using the remnants of our beleaguered budgets to purchase them. We smiled and cooed approval; as meager as this Christmas was, we were pleased to be thought of and happy with our little collections of booty. We’d all agreed this year not to be at all extravagant, instead spending money on gifts for a few of our friends who were in no position to have Christmas at all, what with the economy and lack of jobs throttling down their dreams.

We sipped cocoa and shared stories of previous holidays, each of us in turn nodding assent as others spoke of how Christmas just wasn’t the same as it was when we were the greedy little seedlings coveting dreams of Santa provided excess. The children, now returned and much less sticky, returned to their task of ripping the innards from gaily wrapped packages and squealing delight in a way that kept me checking the window glass for sonic breakage.

I was drinking my cocoa from a brand new cup emblazoned with the logo of The Colbert Report and my wife from a cup marked The Daily Show. Gifts to one another paying homage to the programs with which we both kept ourselves abreast of the political happenings of our nation. The actual news programs were much too depressing and we found informed solace in the humored deliveries of Comedy Central. The rest of the gathered family sipped from mismatched cups, some bearing the corporate logos of companies whose products we never bought. The conversation trotted along as we all shared the latest misadventures of family members not present to defend themselves against our oddly rewarding nit picking.

After a time we all pitched in to collect the shredded wrappings into a communal garbage bag and called an end to the annual meeting of the clan, and soon my wife and I were alone again with one another and the cats. I looked at the tree and felt gladdened that this year the felines had received no presents of their own. As we sat in the quiet, we spoke about how we both were pleased that Christmas was over, and began the process anew with suggestions of what we might get so and so next year.

Getting the Drift

The snow just kept coming. With winds howling a banshhe cry as it wound its way throught the trees and buffeted the buildings of the tiny farm, the snow just kept coming. It didn’t fall so much as race in a horizontal unending tide. Already the drifted snow had reached the base of the second story windows, and showed no sign of waning. The house was lit with hurricane lamps and candles, the hiss of the lamps harmonizing with the song of the wind outside the windows. Power had gone out hours ago, so we spent our time in the kitchen where the wood stove that produced the family meals radiated its warmth. Some of that heat wound its way through the ceiling, warming the floors of the rooms above, but not with sufficiency. We would be glad of the thick down quilts piled on our beds to keep us snug through the night. Although the scene might be interpreted as a kind of arctic hell, we were relaxed as the we sat about the stove and chatted or read in the dim and flickering light that divided the spaces with alternating light and dark areas. The conversations ringed the subject of past New Hampshire winters, a source of awe for my child ears. Warmed with cocoa we were tucked into our beds and swallowed by the puffy down mattresses and quilts around nine o’clock.

The morning broke with brilliant sunshine streaming through the upper windows; the rooms below were bathed in a bluish glow of reflected light. It came through the windows, filtered by the snows that stacked twelve to fifteen feet in depth. With a Christmas morning excitement, we kids filed down the stairs in our wool pajamas, wrapped in the quilts we pulled from our beds and they dragged behind us and we thumped down the stairs to breakfast. Pancakes and syrup, maple syrup we had taken as sap from the many maple trees and boiled down and down to thick viscocity was dumped freely on the stacks. We more shovelled than ate, anxious to get outside and see what wonderland that mother nature had drawn in the passing night.

The front door was frozen. Ice crystals framed the doorway and we had to tug again and again before the door finally saw it our ways. It opened suddenly when our pulls finally overcame the grip of the ice and snow. We all said “ooh” and “ahh” as the open door revealed nothing save a wall of white, shaped exactly like the door even to the little pit of the door knocker that sat at eye level. A shallow tunnel where the doorknob had been. Trapped! All of the downstairs windows revealed the deep snow drifts that oddly enough favored all four walls of the house, showing that the winds in the night had come from every direction. The grownups bade us to go ahead and pummel our way through the door, telling us not to worry about the snow that would cascade into the mud room as we attacked the white wall. We had to get to the barn, save the cows and chickens, goats and pigs woul have to go without food or water.

MY GIFT

Dear Brother,

It has been four and half years since you left many loved ones on this earth. We miss you. Your tragic passing left many people in shock and grief. Three weeks after your death, I still couldn’t pull myself out of despair…. and then ….you somehow…. sent me a gift.

I believe that you had a hand in bringing a little Pomeranian puppy into my life. Our dog Zeus came to us in a such an unusual way. It was beyond coincidences.

He was born the runt of a litter. The owners managed to sell all of the puppies except this one. A friend heard of the situation and offered to take the little dog thinking that he could give it to his grandchildren.

So he brought the feisty fur ball to his three petite, quiet, grand daughters. One day their mother came to my preschool to drop off her child. She showed the puppy to me and let me hold him. She explained that the girls liked the dog but that they were scared of him. He was a lively little thing. Jumping up on them, barking and demanding lots of attention. Her mild-mannered daughters were not enjoying the experience and she had decided the puppy needed a new home. She suggested that my family of boys would love this dog and offered to give it to us for free. After discussing it with the family that evening, we eagerly brought the puppy into our home and into our lives.

We brought him home, changed his name to Zeus to fit his big personality, and introduced him to our first dog, an Airedale Terrier named Zoey. They became fast friends.

This little bundle of energy brought new life and joy into our lives. I still did not connect you-my brother, with this little miracle until I came across some pictures one day. I found a picture of when we were young. You were holding the family dog-a Pomeranian. Then I also realized that you had given your wife and family a dog several years ago-a Pomeranian. I also heard that you had given your friend and his wife a pom. Were you trying to tell me something? I believe you were.

I truly believe you were somehow involved with the events which ultimately led to Zeus coming to our family. You sent this gift to me. To let me know you were there. To comfort me through the pain of your death.

Zeus has been the happy, furry, spoiled baby of the family. Often when I get up in the morning I can find one of the boys laying on the floor by Zeus petting their best friend before preparing for a new day. He loves to “sing” for daddy and get tummy rubs. Zeus is a fierce guard dog if only barking could scare away an intruder. There is something about the unconditional love of a dog that can bring healing and comfort to anyone. Did you know I would face bigger challenges in the future? Did you know that a diagnosis of cancer would shake up every part of my life? Did you know that the gift of a little furry dog would provide comfort to everyone in the family as we faced these challenges?

Yesterday we had to give Zeus back. He unexpectedly passed away. He had not been feeling well off and on for a few weeks. He still seemed happy and healthy so we were not too alarmed. Our family was shocked and devastated when we discovered his lifeless body. I, and my two youngest sons, laid on my bed and cried and talked for several hours. We reminisced about the good times we have had with our little dog and discussed the cycle of life. We talked about Heavenly Father’s plan. We talked about how each of us whether it be people or dogs come to earth to gain a body. That when that body dies the spirit still lives on. That there will be a time when we will once again be reunited with those loved ones who have died. Death is a part of life and I’m grateful that my children have had the opportunity to learn these tough lessons with their pets before they experience them with people they love.

So my dear brother, I thank you once again for your gift. He taught us about discipline, responsibility, unconditional love and the plan of salvation. He gave us comfort and joy and the opportunity to love deeply and learn valuable life lessons.

We had to give Zeus back yesterday and our hope is that you may somehow watch over him until we may all be reunited again. Thank you my brother, until we meet again. I miss you. love your little sister, Kristine

Time for Another Hike

My four sons, son-in-law, and daughter. Aren’t they handsome….and beautiful?!
Our only daughter was married on June 3rd. It was such a wonderful celebration. She was married in the Salt Lake LDS temple. The ceremony was beautiful, simple, and sacred. We haven’t felt like we were losing a daughter but that we are gaining a son.

It’s been six weeks since my last round of chemo. A serious break after 18 months of treatment. After explaining to my doctor all of the upcoming events happening in May, he agreed to let me take time off of treatment. I was desperately hoping he would say that nine months of maintenance was plenty however that wasn’t the case. He did say that we must always weigh out treatment with quality of life issues. Well I must say that “my quality of life” has needed some adjustment so it was wonderful to take a “breather” for six weeks!It has taken a good month to shake off the fatigue and some of the “chemo brain.” Just in the nick of time I have been able to enjoy some wonderful events with my family.
Now it’s time to jump back on the chemo roller coaster. I head up to Huntsman on Monday to begin treatment. I will start with labs. They will be checking to make sure all systems are “go.” Then the games begin. An IV with some saline, a quick push of Velcade(chemo) and a three hour infusion of Aredia-a bone hardening infusion. I will also start back up on Dexamethasone and a new drug called Revlimid. I am not looking forward to the next three months. It is so hard to start back. This time I know what I am getting into! …so wish me luck, keep me in your prayers, and I will get back on my hiking boots and climb a little further up this mountain.