Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Important dates, significant people

Yesterday I took my daughters to college. one went north, one went south. i spent the whole day in the car and when I was alone in it, I had some emotional moments. My babies are gone! They have grown into beautiful young women and I'm glad they get to go to school but I will miss them. They have played such a significant role in my life. At least for me, parenting is more for me than for them. I know they're not gone forever but there's that element of it never being the same. They have been my closest friends for years [they wouldn't say the same about me but that's okay] We've done lunch, shopping, field trips, activities, worked, played, debated, had long talks, had disagreements, endured some tough growing pains and had lots of fun. I'm sure I've grown and learned more than they have. I am so grateful I could be there mother.

There have been other 'big' days this weekend too. My husband turned 47 - eek! I don't feel us aging but we are. We have been married 21 years. We embody the adage opposites attract. we're like static cling - and sometimes there's a lot of static. He is an early riser, I like to sleep late. He likes TV, I like books. He works, I play [actually, I work very hard but I like what i do, he just treats his job like work - which isn't a bad thing] He sees the world in black and white; I see color. He's serious, I'm playful. He likes to save money, I like to see it get put to good use. He has an incredible singing voice, I've always wanted one. He reads the headline news, I read the comics. He is practical, I'm imaginative. He is steady, I am hormonal. He is good at everything a man should be good at: sports, hunting, fishing, camping,  math, car repair, house maintenance, yard maintenance, leaving things around for his wife to pick up. I have never been quite sure where I fit - except that I love being a mother and taking care of our home. somehow we've managed to make things work. I wouldn't want to be with anyone else and feel so grateful the Lord led us to each other.

Yesterday, the 23rd, was the 23rd baptismal anniversary for Jackson Sonneborn. I taught him the gospel. He has taught me many things about life, particularly the importance of long lasting friendships. I met Jack my first day in York Pennsylvania. It was Thanksgiving. Somehow he was able to chew food and smoke a pipe at the same time. He'd been married a year to Sylvia and it was obvious he adored her. It was the second marriage for both of them and they had found their ideal match. But, Sylvia was a member of the LDS church - Jack was not. The Bishop who married them counseled Jack to support Sylvia in her church responsibilities. Jack loved Sylvia so he took that counsel to the limit. He attended church with her every week having prepared for it by reading both the Sunday School and Priesthood lessons. He was shocked to find out members didn't do the same. He listened to the missionaries so many times he could give them the lessons. He just wasn't ready yet. When I came along the area had just been turned over to sisters. He liked us and he listened. We committed him to baptism. the only trouble was we committed him in March and he wanted to be baptized August 23rd because that was the day he met Sylvia. I was being released from my mission on August 21. I was crushed. Well, things worked out so I could stay an extra few days and be there for the big day. It was wonderful and he and Sylvia have been close friends - because of their efforts - ever since. They still live in Pennsylvania and are serving as Family History missionaries now. They are in their late 60's and both have had some health problems but they continue to give generously of their time and talents. they are honorary members of my family and have endeared themselves to my children. What a blessing they have been.

This past weekend also marked a year since my friend Anne Peterson Creager passed away. I have thought of her every day and continue to learn from her short life. She had just turned 33 when she died and left behind a loving and best friend husband and three little girls which took miracles to get here. Anne had metastatic melanoma. it was her second battle with it. the first time they told her she was cured and didn't give her any instructions to continue to be checked. she moved to a different state and it was forgotten except for the scar on her arm. Then, while skiing almost 3 years ago, she fell. it wasn't a bad fall but her chest hurt for more than a week. when she finally got it checked and had an xray it showed a large tumor in her chest. During surgery they discovered the tumor was far larger than the xray showed and it was attached to her heart. Later scans revealed tumors in several places in her body. Anne's cheerful response to this was, "At least it isn't in my brain." She endured horrific chemo treatments only available in Colorado which required time away from her daughters and much sacrifice from family members for travel and extended stays. Her husband had recently graduated from dental school and was trying to build his clientelle. In order to help him keep his business several other dentists donated their time to care for his clients so he, Ward, could take care of Anne. Amazing people.

Anne tried every thing she could to stay with her precious family. Without the chemo her days were numbered. With it she gained 18 months. She was so optomistic and the doctors worked so hard with her that I thought she just might beat the odds. Thankfully she only had one week of  'the end'. She had some kind of brain accident and was in and out of consciousness for a few days before she passed. the way she spent her coherent hours is evidence of the kind of person she is/was. She focused on the blessings and miracles they'd experienced during the trial and how Heavenly Father's plan made it possible for she, her husband and girls to be a forever family. She emphasized to her daughters that the choice she and their father had made to marry in the temple meant she would always be their mother even if she weren't around and some one else raised them. I'm sure it comforted Anne to know her daughters would always be hers, even if she couldn't see them their whole lives through.

I knew Anne longer sick than I knew her healthy. We shared a love of writing and were in the same writing group. She was the sweetest, gentlest, happiest, faithful person I've known - a true handmaid of the Lord. This was a completely rotten ordeal but she never wavered in her trust in the Lord. In her final blog she expressed feeling peace. I know this is because she submitted to the Lord's will and believed He could make this horrible thing work for good. if you would like to see her blog, family photos, and follow the courageous battle go to wardandannecreager.blogspot.com  It's called 'This home is built on love and dreams"

I know I learned a lot from this. I learned this life is not about this life. It's a small part of an eternal life. we've lived before, we'll live again. we'll always be alive - in different realms. if mortality were all this tragic event would really be tragic. instead it is only a test. not that that makes it any less difficult. it just helps it be bearable.

Anne and I also shared a love for the musical 'Wicked' and Kristen Chenowith's portrayal of Galinda [the first 'a' is silent][that's a quote from the play] So in conclusion to this long blog on important people and dates I am going to include the lyrics of a song from the play. It's called "For Good" and I'd like to dedicate to all the people who have and continue to affect my life for good.

I've heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don't know if I believe that's true
But I know I'm who I am today
Because I knew you:

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

It well may be
That we will never meet again
In this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me
Is made of what I learned from you
You'll be with me
Like a handprint on my heart
and now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend:

Like a ship blown from its mooring
By a wind off the sea
Like a seed dropped by a skybird
In a distant wood
Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
But because I knew you:

Because I knew you:
I have been changed for good

Who can say if I've been changed for the better?
I do believe I have been changed for the better?
And because I knew you:
Because I knew you:
I have been changed for good.