Sunday, November 29, 2009

Waiting for Tomorrow...

Back in July I wrote a post about being a clock watcher. Summer was winding down and I knew that the lazy days of summer were coming to an end much faster than I was ready for and it was soon going to be back to early mornings, set schedules, homework and earlier bedtimes. I knew that I was again going to be a clock watcher to make sure we were all where we needed to be, when we needed to be there. Summer freed us from being clock watchers but the start of school put us back in that role.

Here it is almost December and I am still very much in clock watcher mode (although I did escape it for 5 glorious days for Thanksgiving break!).

It recently occurred to me that not only am I a clock watcher but I am also now a Calendar Watcher.

I have closely watched the calendar as the days and months have gone by.

I can tell you that it is nearing a year ago that Tim had the diagnosis of cancer. I can tell you that it has been almost 11 months since his surgery.

I can tell you the date of his biopsy.

I can tell you the date of his surgery.

I can tell you the date his radiation began.

I can tell you the date he got his feeding tube put in and when he finished radiation.

I can tell you when he began to be able to work part time again and when he went back to full time.

I can also tell you now that Tim is nearing a milestone on the calendar -- the very calendar I have been watching. It has been almost a year since his diagnosis and 3 months since his last scan. That means that another scan is coming....tomorrow, in fact...December 1st.

So I have very much been a calendar watcher waiting for tomorrow to make an appearance.

Scan times are always riddled with anxiety as you wonder just what it will reveal. Will it show cancer successfully at bay or will it confess dreaded news? You just never know because the very nature of cancer is uncertainty.

But while uncertainty looms about some things, there are many other things that are certain and THAT is what we cling to. We cannot ever let uncertainty of things we don't know cloud our vision of the things we do know.

Psalm 118:24
"This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thankful Hearts....

The day after Thanksgiving finds our family very thankful.

We had a nice Thanksgiving meal together that was quiet, calm and uneventful. We like quiet, calm and uneventful. :)

At about 10:30 last night Tim and Jacob were in the kitchen and Tim decided to have some leftovers from dinner. His bottle of water that accompanies him everywhere happened to be in the living room while he was in the kitchen. Mistake number one. After deciding he didn't need his water he took a bite of turkey. Mistake number two. Tim then had a major choking episode where, without the help of Jacob, may have turned out very differently. Jacob acted quickly and did the Heimlich method on him. Tim struggled for air and Jacob kept working with him while I called 9-1-1. Thankfully the 9-1-1 call was able to be cancelled because Tim's airway finally cleared. It was a very scary time for all of us but are so thankful that Tim was okay and that Jacob was there to help him.

Then today we got an email from Jordan. He is still in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah until December 21st. At that point if he has his visa he will head to Brazil but if he doesn't he will be sent somewhere in the United States until his visa comes through. We hear from him regularly but today we got a very special letter from him. Here is some of what he wrote:

Hey family!

So it hit me Monday that I hadn't said much about Thanksgiving and I've missed it now but I still want to share a little with you all. Hopefully the spirit of Thanksgiving is still present with you all.

Thanksgiving morning Jeffrey R. Holland and his wife spoke to us. Their love for each other was so great that it made me want to share it with everyone. Sister Holland ended her talk by talking about her husband saying, "He took my breath away when I fell in love with him and now I can't breathe without him". Elder Holland opened his talk with a long silence, and then with tears coming to his eyes simply said, "you just saw the sweetest and most virtuous person I know". Being that he associates with the prophet almost daily, that hit me pretty hard. I am grateful for such love and also for the love of families.

Annah, I love how sweet and innocent you try to be and are. Nobody is perfect all the time but I see the little things you do to make others happy, I see you grow up which makes me sad, but unexplainably happy to watch because I see the happiness you bring to people already with the simple things you do.

Abigail, you're the big sister everyone should have. Its not easy to always be the example (or the one that gets blamed for everything) but I am so thankful for the things you do. I love to see how grown-up you are sometimes. I was so happy I got to see your play and band performance. School doesn't last long so do all that you can while you are there.

Jacob, I would be grateful if you could find it in you're heart to forgive me. Having a little brother should be the coolest thing ever and I don't feel that I ever realized that. You are probably the most interesting Valenta brother the family has (in a good way), I was amazed at what you could do with those computer programs before I left. School is just a passing thing, don't let anyone convince you that anything is more worthwhile than learning and being with your family.

Andrew, you are my brother. Every good childhood memory with family I have, you were present for. I'm thankful for the chance I had to be so close to you growing up, you were my role model. I watched you as I grew up, you were the example of everything I wanted to be. I loved you for what you were, and I love you for who you are. Every time someone comments on a similarity between us, I smile inside that at least a part of me lived up to my childhood dream to be like you. Please be that role model for everyone you meet.

Mom, I am thankful for everything you have given, continue to give, and will give. I didn't inherit all your traits, but I pray each day that I may have a portion of your love, and a fraction of your faith. I am slow to remember the promises of God, while you are slow to forget the blessings he has freely given. I am very grateful to have a mother who knows her Father and Savior so well. God builds us up through trials to fulfill his plans for our eternal joy.

Dad, it has been a long time since you have been absent in my prayers. I am grateful beyond words that I am your son. As I grew up I looked up to you, a man with all the answers, for reassurance in all things and comfort. Less than a year ago though, I looked down on you as you were in a wheel chair, and your body struggled through more than I will ever know, and I only wanted to be your strength and reassure you of all things and comfort you. I was powerless but God knew, as did I, that I could not do what was required of me without you. I am grateful that God has allowed me to bring this comfort of His mercy to more than just our family.

I love you all and hope you had a great Thanksgiving, I enjoyed the cookies (as did the rest of my district). Tchau! That means bye.

Our hearts are truly grateful....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Doing Well Enough to Post Words....

I've been getting emails about the fact that I haven't posted much on my blog lately. My last post was a few days ago when I posted some of my favorite fall pictures. A very "safe" blog post, to say the least.

Then this morning I got an email from my sister. I hope she doesn't mind that I share what she wrote because it was that email that made me decide to write again. She wrote:

I love the photos you posted on your blog. I was going to comment but thought it best not to be public with it.
Here is what I was going to say:
I LOVE the photos and look forward to the time when you are doing well enough to post words. Not because I need to read them but because I think you need to say them.
You are in my thoughts every day. I am so happy to know you as more than my younger sister.
........let's both have a good cry now......

Let there be no doubt that I did have a good cry after I read that.

The reason Cretta thought "it best not to be public with it" was because *I* have been fighting being public with "it". "It" is the situation that our family is dealing with regarding my parents. I know that there are people back home that read my blog (although I don't necessarily know them personally) and then talk with my parents. Some even print out my blog posts to give to them so they can keep up with us. :) I have not written about all that has been happening since September or my feelings about it because I didn't want my thoughts and feelings (and occasional misplaced humor) to find its way back to my parents and they be hurt or feel worse about the situation they are in and we are in. So that is the reason I have chosen not written about it.

But, Cretta's email this morning made me realize that, yes, I do need to write even if only to preserve my sanity...or what is left of it. We have joked that I could do a private blog just for family members so I can write what I need to write but adding more work to maintain two blogs just didn't feel like the answer.

So what is the answer?

I know what the answer isn't... but I am still not completely sure what the answer is.

Perhaps there is a happy medium somewhere to be found where I am not feeling squelched and censored on my own blog.
I suppose that I need to enlist the help of those who might read my blog and who also know my parents. I need them to use their judgement in what is shared with them from my blog as nothing that I write on here is meant to hurt them.

Where to begin.....making a very long story short, as of this past September both my mother and father are in a nursing home -- in the same facility and in the same room. Since then things have been very hard and very complicated. Not much has turned out to be what it first appeared to be.

It has been hard on my parents to be confined to a nursing home to live out the rest of their days but it has also been hard on each one of us as their children to have to make decisions that are almost always contrary to what they want. But the decisions made have all been in their best interest and with the best of intent even though they don't always agree with the judgement calls that have had to be made.

A few weeks ago Tim and I went back to New York to help get things sold that were left in their home. We were only in town for 3 days and it was a lot of work but things got done. I got to see my sister and my brother and my sister-in-law for a short time and had some much needed laughs together in the midst of doing hard things and cleaning out your parents house is hard thing.

I am the youngest of five kids so that means that out of all the kids that *I* lived in the house we were cleaning out the longest. I don't know if that is what makes it all feel so hard. The last night we were in New York Tim called me outside and said to bring my camera. He wanted me to be able to take some last pictures before the sun went down on my childhood home. With camera in hand I walked around the property and took pictures one last time.

It does feel heartbreaking to see the place that my parents have lived in for 40 years winding down. Because of financial obligations from choices they made years ago the property will not remain in the family but will instead go through bankruptcy and will be sold. In my head I know it all needs to be done and I can detach and not "feel" the pain of seeing it all going away. But when my heart begins to "feel" there is no detaching and that is when it hurts most of all.

We have all been frustrated to see how many material things that my parents (okay, my mother!) is trying to hang on to and cram into their room that has become their new "home". I am usually the first one to complain about it. But it is literally all they have left. I guess I forget that sometimes.

Thanksgiving is tomorrow and it will feel different knowing that my parents are not at their old home but are in their new home -- a place they don't like and don't feel happy in. It's been a long running tradition that on Thanksgiving I call my dad to ask him how to make gravy. He's knows I'll call every year and ask how it is done again. My first thought was "not this year" but as I thought more I decided that maybe I should call to ask and let him feel needed as he has before. Truth be told, I know how to make gravy. He's told me how from the time I began cooking Thanksgiving dinner on my own. Yes, for a few years I needed to ask but the rest of the years I called because it made him feel happy to tell me how to make it one more time. I think I will call again tomorrow to let him tell me for another Thanksgiving.

So, while I don't feel like I am doing well enough to post words, I have done it. Thanks for the gentle prodding, Cretta. You're a great big sister. :)
*This is Cretta while we were in New York! :D

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fall Favorites...

As Thanksgiving nears fall is fading. Fall is one of my favorite seasons in all its splendor of brilliant colors that give way to muted hues that are stunning in their own right.

Here I share a few of my favorite fall pictures......

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Linger a Little...

Last weekend we got to turn our clocks back an hour... one more reason that I love autumn. An added hour of sleep along with the beautiful colors, the cooling temperatures, slow motion bumble bees, the grass not needing a weekly trim.

It makes me breath in deep and sigh -- a good sigh, a relaxing "this is what I love" sigh.

I love that it gets dark earlier now. I feel more relaxed in the evenings as it feels like the day is extended and I am home with my family, in my cozy socks and warmed corn bags. It feels so relaxing, so comfortable.

In the summer time gets away from me. The bright skies trick my sense of time and almost every day I miscalculate the hours and am surprised that it is as late as it is. But in the fall and winter time seems to linger in the darkness.
And that is what I love.
Lingering time is such a gift.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Camera Envy...

So a few days ago I wrote about the great camera that Bill and Debbi sent to me. I mentioned Bill's awesome camera and that it was so awesome I was in danger of breaking the 10th commandment.... "thou shalt not covet"!

Well, we were at an awards ceremony for Annah last week and a man sitting near us had THIS awesome camera!!!!
Whoa! Wow! Wallapalooza!

I'm thinkin' Bill and I will both be in danger of breaking that 10th commandment! Talk about camera envy!!! I'm thinkin' Christmas!!!!! :) What do you think, Bill? ;)

*Turns out that this is Mark Landis, a professional photographer in our town. I should have known but I didn't recognize him with that massive camera held up to his eye! He took our family pictures back in September 2005, before young Tim went on his mission to Canada! :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Minnesota Dreamin'...

I continue to play catch up on my blog.....

It was only a few weeks ago that we were in Minnesota enjoying a visit with Tim's side of the family. It had been almost 2 1/2 years since we had been there. It was time for a visit now that life is more or less back to normal for us. And it was time since Jordan was leaving for two years for his mission to Brazil and he wouldn't be seeing them until his return.

While we were there we got to see lots of relatives, go to Ikea and experience an early winter snow (by Kentucky standards, anyway!) mingled with beautiful fall colors. What a lovely trip it was!

This is the mayor and first lady of Lexington, Minnesota! They just happen to be Tim's dad and step mom! :)
*The world needs to know that the first lady of Lexington makes the greatest roast that can never be duplicated by me... although I have tried for years! :)

This is Phil and Bonnie, Tim's uncle and aunt, had a family gathering at their home where we had dinner with 18 of us total! What a lot of work that was for Bonnie to pull off! Thank you again, Bonnie! It was so good to see everyone again!

All of us together.....
*not the greatest quality picture because I was still learning how to use the camera that Bill and Debbi had sent to me!

And Mother Nature gave us a taste of winter while we were was beautiful!

And why this picture?
There is a story about these is our story -- mine and Tim's.
When Tim returned from his mission to Argentina in March of 1985, we had some long talks sitting on these stairs discussing if we had a future and where it would lead. :) Well, you know the outcome of that story....24 years and 6 kids later, we indeed have a future and it continues to be a very bright future! :)
Gotta love that Minnesota dreamin' -- dreams really do come true!