We had an odd Christmas holiday this year. Mike left town with Nick shortly after school let out (December 19) and headed to the very frigid town of Vernal. He was going to re-model and make his sister-in-law's bathroom handicap accessible. It was a big job and Nick was nice enough to go along to help.
Mike had initially said he'd drive up, come home for Christmas, then drive back to Vernal and hopefully be able to finish. Because he simply HAD to finish--there was no going back and Christmas break was the only time off school/work that he had. So we decided that instead of doing all that driving, we'd meet him halfway in Provo on Christmas Day/afternoon, spend some time, then go back to our jobs.
Well, the weather didn't cooperate. I don't mind driving in snow. Too much. But long, unnecessary drives that put my entire family (or a great big chunk of it) at risk are just not worth it. So we waffled back and forth, trying to decide whether or not to stay or to go. It might have been okay to leave and then stay a while, but I really wanted to be in my home ward to teach that last Gospel Doctrine lesson from the Book of Mormon ...selfish reason to hurry home. So we ended up NOT going to Provo. [Enter Sad Face here.] Mom and Dad were in Provo, too! So we didn't get to see them over the holidays. I didn't feel too terrible because we did see them both in September and I saw Mom in November, so we've been in touch. But still...I think the roads were not as terrible as they might have been. You just never know about those mountain passes.
We had Mike's parents over for Christmas Dinner, we played games. Gail and Seth and Caroline were all together and that was when Gail made her big announcement to Caroline and her grandparents--that they are expecting a baby in June!! Yay! It's been a very long wait for this little one. Yesterday was her ultrasound and they are having a boy.
Mike was working hard in Vernal, it's so cold the cement won't set, there's always way more work to a re-model than anyone ever expects and difficulties always arise with plumbing, electrical or something....typical kind of chore for him. It was nice that Nick got to be there to help.
Then things took a turn for the worse on the home front. Here in Cedar City, Mike's Dad was rushed to the hospital on Sunday night the 28th of December, unable to breath. They admitted him to the ICU and he stayed there until he passed away Wednesday evening, on New Year's Eve. Mike's sister, Gayela, was able to come down from Salt Lake on Wednesday afternoon to be with their mom and dad for those final hours. I stayed nights (Monday and Tuesday) at the hospital with John so Berenice could go home and get some rest. Monday was hard, as he was fighting with keeping his IV's in and covers on, etc. But his 95 year old body was just worn out with an arm-long list of ailments, and it was time for him to go home. So he did. He woke up long enough to kiss his sweetheart of over 60 years 'goodbye.' It was a very touching moment for those who were at the hospital. Mike and Nick did come home about Thursday night very late, but not until after they got as much done on the tile job as possible, having to leave some for others in Vernal to complete.
The holiday (New Year's Day) kind of threw things into a mess, getting funeral arrangements made. Gayela was here to help with much of it, and one of my jobs was taking care of obituary submissions to newspapers. Everyone helped, my neighbors and friends were wonderful to bring food--to us! I was touched. But, you know, it was so appreciated. I was so beat after working (just half days, but still working) at the library and being up so late those three nights...not having to worry about meals was such a blessing. There really is a lot to do, planning for a funeral. I sure hadn’t had any experience with those sorts of things.
My talented kids helped with assembling a nice display of photos of John, and a slide presentation that was played during the viewing at the mortuary Sunday evening. That was a fun project for us, browsing through photos. I wish we could have used more--selecting just 30 or so for the slide show was difficult. We framed a nice selection, too, for display on a table, and I think the display turned out quite nice. I didn't take a picture of all our hard work, however.
Family gathered in droves for Sunday night's viewing, only two stayed at our home. Mike's long-time-gone older brother, Jack, in Arkansas managed to get here . It was a wonderful turn-out of family and friends for both the viewing and the Monday morning funeral. The only bad part about the whole things was that the weather turned really nasty Monday at noon. The funeral was from 10 to 11, the luncheon for family right after, and we had to be on the road at noon, to be in Provo for the burial by 3, and HAD to be out of the cemetery by 4 pm. (Their rules and schedule, not ours) It started snowing around 11 or 12 and we (or rather, Mike) drove through snow most of the way to Provo. There was a lot of snow still falling for the burial service, but Berenice was so pleased to see every one of her nieces and nephews from that area at the graveside to see her, plus many old friends. The drive home to Cedar City was quite harrowing, in that the snow was still falling AND there was black ice in the southern part of the state. We were all blessed to arrive at our destinations safely, however. Many cars were off the road all down the freeway—dozens that we could see.
My whole family came, and even Casey was able to fly in to meet up with Katie so she wouldn’t have to drive home alone. She drove all the way from Reno to Cedar City alone with Hayden on Saturday. Seth gave the family prayer after the Monday morning viewing—Grandpa really liked Seth and Seth has been close to them, too. Damian gave a prayer, Mike spoke. The rest of us bawled. It was a happy/sad occasion. John was so homesick for HIS dad and wished frequently to be able to talk to his dad [Lesson here—be careful what you wish for!] and now they will have their happy reunion.
For those of you who Facebook, Eric wrote a lovely tribute to his Grandpa and you can find it in the “notes” section of his Facebook page.
We were hoping to help ease Berenice into widow-hood, so on Tuesday evening and on Wednesday evening, we went to her house to eat dinner and help polish off all the leftovers from the funeral luncheon that the kind Relief Society Sisters had brought to her. We did a fairly good job of finishing them off. She’s still very busy doing Avon, taking care of the necessary paper work that has to be done, and answering myriads of phone calls from concerned family members worried about her being lonely. I think she’ll have her moments, but she does have many things to keep her occupied—she’s just that kind of woman. It helps to know that John had a long, eventful, and full life and has left a large and loving posterity behind.