Wednesday, October 27, 2010

He Is Here For A While

Well...the verdict is in. I took my dad to the doctor today and it looks like he is here at least until December 2nd. Wow. The doctor told me that if he was younger he would definitely be a candidate for surgery. But because of his age, they are just having him do physical therapy until he can have a better range of motion. His shoulder will never be the same and I guess that is okay. At least he is in good spirits and improving some each day.

And...I am SO HAPPY that I packed his cats. He would be so sad without them. However, I feel at times that my home has become wild kingdom with all these felines running around. Kind of crazy, but it makes him happy.

I guess the main thing we have to worry about now is whether or not the roads will be clear to drive on when he is actually is given the okay to go back. I guess we just have to wait and see.

Bonus because of this experience: Thanksgiving with my Dad :) And, if the roads remain snowy he may even be here for Christams :0) Woohoo!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Catalpa Tree

When I was in Astoria last week I spent an afternoon driving around Olney snapping pictures to use in possible future paintings. While I was out driving around, I stopped at the top of the driveway to my old home. As I got out of the car to look around, I was greeted by the present owner of our old farm. He invited me down the driveway (it was a long road) to take a tour of my old childhood home.

As I got out of my car at the end of the driveway, I turned around and this is what I saw. Crazy as it seems, I became teary-eyed just from the sight of this marvelous tree. For some reason, I was very sentimental as I stood there remembering all the times Dayna and I had climbed that tree as children and sat up in the limbs in the small tree fort our dad had made us. I loved this tree. It is now so large and majestic looking. The tree fort is gone and the limbs have grown longer, but I still consider it "my tree". Always will.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

It Has Been Interesting

These past two weeks have been interesting...very tiring, but still interesting. I think that one day I will look back on this experience and smile. At least I hope so. However, I have to admit that many times throughout these past few days I have felt tears close to the surface and a feeling of just wanting to lay down and collapse. I never dreamed that a trip to Oregon would be this draining - physically and emotionally. Unfortunately this experience is not over. It is just in a different geographical location.

I want to record some of my feelings and thoughts that I have had running through my head while on this trip, so please forgive me as I indulge myself a a bit and record them on my blog. After all, this is my journal.

When I arrived in Portland Kirk was waiting for me at the baggage claim terminal. He had left dad asleep in the car in the parking garage. I was so startled by what I saw when I finally laid eyes on my father. He was slumped over in his seat sleeping soundly and had no idea what was going on around him. When he woke up it really did not seem like him. Something significant had changed. He was just a shadow of the man I had seen just mere weeks before. It broke my heart.

Funny how our bodies hold our spirits captive. Now when I look at my dad I see him in some kind of physical prison - trapped in a body that won't allow him to do what he wants to do. His hands are too shaky to produce art, his feet shuffle when he walks and his parts of his memory are slowly fading. I think to myself "where is the man I remember?" It sometimes takes a lot of digging, but glimpses of him are still there.

My dad is so unsteady on his feet that he never went upstairs in his apartment the entire time that I was there. He just can't manage the stairs. At night he slept in his recliner. He wanted to sleep there because it took pressure off his shoulder where he had fallen. I was too scared to leave him alone, so I slept beside him on his couch. I was worried that he would fall in the middle of the night and I would not hear him. Because of his prostate cancer, he has to get up numerous times throughout the night to go to the bathroom. He was in such bad shape that he could not even stand up from his chair without some kind of help. I was up three to four times each night just to help him stand up. Sad.

In addition, he could not put on his shirt, socks and shoes each day. The expression "Labor of Love" took on an entirely new meaning to me. Each time that I would put his socks on, I thought of my Savior and how he had served people throughout his entire life. What a priviledge to be able to serve my dad in some kind of small way...even if it is just putting on his socks. We really do love the people we serve. When I was helping him I often had the thought run through my mind that someday when he has past away I will remember performing this small act of service for him and be grateful that I did it. It will be a wonderful memory.

Our trip to Utah was long and tiring. Especially when you throw in two cats. Dad loves his cats and the thought of being without them for months was too much for him to consider. So...I packed up the cats. That made the drive even longer, but it was for a good cause. They make him happy and that is what is important.

Since arriving home I have felt so tired that I can't even find words to adequately describe my fatigue. The first night home was the worst. I had not had a complete night's sleep for many days and it all was finally beginning to hit me. My dad has been staying at Mark's home (a block away) because I have too many stairs. Max and Sam are staying at my home because Mark's house has too many dogs. In the days, I go get my dad and he comes over to stay with me(and his cats) while Mark is gone. The first night home I took dad over to Mark's to go to bed. I then came home and tried to get the cats to settle down. Max kept wanting to sleep in my bed, which is a big NO. Greg hates cats in bed and so do I. I finally closed my bedroom door behind me so that Greg could get some sleep and went downstairs and laid on the couch with Max and Sam. And that is where I spent the rest of the night. That is when I finally had my mini breakdown. It felt good to finally be able to cry and just let it all out. I was beat and just needed a moment to release. Funny how crying seems to have enabled me to keep pushing forward and move on.

I don't know what lays in front of me concerning my dad. He may be here for a few weeks or maybe forever. At any rate, I do know that he has changed. I guess we all will at some point. He is different in so many ways, yet he is also the same. I love his deep laugh when he tells a good story (which he did many times throughout our trip to Utah), I love talking about art with him. Many times on our trip I would point things out to him and ask him what techniques he would use to paint it. Such knowledge and talent. I love hearing stories from his childhood and learning things about him that I never knew. It still amazes me that I have known him for 45 year and still there are things I have not heard before. I love that he trusts me. He has told me things and allowed me to do things for him that I know he would not allow others to do.

Yes, it has been a very long, interesting couple of weeks. I am not sure what is in front of me, but thankfully I only have to find out one day at a time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Crazy Week

I finally have some time from my crazy merry-go-round of life to post an update of our family. Here are some of the significant things that we have been doing in the last little while.

1. Emma ran for student council and won! (Big smile...) I was able to see her give her speech Tuesday in front of the school and she did great. Jenni, Tara and Austin also came. Isn't it great that these kids support each other so well? I am blessed.

2. I arrived in Oregon to find my dad in pretty bad shape. Poor guy. Kirk met me at the airport and we headed straight to Astoria. When we arrived I had my dad test his blood sugar levels and they were through the roof. However, I am now happy to report that today we finally seem to have them under control. He is still not close to where he needs to be to live by himself, but at least there is some improvement. I am also worried about his feet. They are so swollen. This is not good. I am getting him into a doctor ASAP in Utah to take a look.

I am also happy to report that my dad is agreeing to drive back to Utah with me to stay for at least a month. This also means that Sam and Max (his two rather large cats) are coming too. I am heading out to the vet in a minute to get some traquilizers for the cats so that we can calmly make the trip. Maybe I need some too :)

3. Today is Christopher's 23rd birthday. I called him this morning to wish him a Happy B-Day and he was having a great day. I sure love that kid. I feel so bad that I am so far away, but we will soon have our big family dinner celebration. I am thankful that he is old enough to understand that I needed to be here with my dad. Once again...I am blessed.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What A Great Dude

I am heading out again early, early Wednesday morning. My poor family. I just returned from a seven day trip to Boise and in two more days I am heading out for five more days in Oregon. Kind of stinks. The only bright spot is that I will soon be eating some Fultano's Pizza and some fresh halibut...yummmmm. Oh yeah, and I get to see my dad too :)

When I received the phone call from Mark telling me that dad had requested me to come take care of him, I have to be honest...I was a bit worried about telling Greg that I would essentially be home for a minute and then be leaving again...for FIVE MORE DAYS. I felt really bad for him. Whenever I leave he never complains, but I know it is hard for him. He told me that this last time he did not sleep good without me here. He was up worrying about everything. Ha...welcome to my life :) So...when I called and told him that I would once again be boarding a plane that sweet man totally surprised me. His reply? "What do you do? Your father needs you...I love you and you need to go." What a great dude.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Late Night Phone Call

Last night just as I was falling asleep, my brother, Mark called. When you hear the phone ring at 11:10 pm it is never a good thing. He then told me that my dad had fallen and was at the Emergency Room in Astoria. Evidentally Mark had been trying to get ahold of my dad for two hours on the phone and no one answered (Mark was in Utah). He finally decided to call the police and asked them to check in on him. Somehow it was determined that he was in the ER and that he had dislocated his shoulder and had a nasty cut on his head that required stitches. Mark then told me that my other brother, Kirk, was on his was to Astoria to stay with my dad until we could decide what to do. (Kirk lives in St Helens, about 1 1/2 hours away).

What an awful nights sleep I had. I was worried about my dad and here I was hundreds of miles away and all I could do for him was say many prayers and shed many tears. What a horrible, helpless feeling.

This morning Mark called back to give us an update. It appears that dad will need someone to care for him for a while. His shoulder is taped to his torso and he can't even get out of a chair without some kind of help. He has requested me to come help him, so it looks like I am hopping onto another plane sometime in the next couple of days to help him out. Now I know why my mom and I were stopped from making our little trip to Oregon.

Heavenly Father knew that I could not have physically endured so much stress in such a short amount of time. If I had traveled with my mom and Aunt Karen I would have been wiped out by just taking care of them. Each of them have physical limitations that would have made that trip hard. Heavenly Father knew that I would be heading back to Astoria to take care of my father as soon as I had returned and that I would need all my strength just for that task. It appears now that we may actually be moving him permantly to some kind of assisted living facility in Utah (fingers crossed). This is going to be a very exhausting process. He has so much in his little apartment that it makes my head hurt just thinking of moving him.

How grateful I am for a father in heaven who knows all...beginning from end. And while the task ahead of me seems rather difficult, I know that both me and my dad will be strengthened by Him and that all will be well.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Little Miracle

Okay...I have been a bit humbled. I received a phone call today from the office of the doctor that my mom is scheduled to see on October 20th. You know, the one who told me that there was no way mom would be able to see him before I left to return to Utah. Today they told me that they had a cancelation and that they could see her tomorrow. Wow...what a little miracle. How thankful I am that Heavenly Father heard our plea and made this possible.'s a good thing I controlled my tongue and didn't tell off that doctor's secretary yesterday like I really wanted to :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Quick Update

I arrived in Boise just a few days ago and since my arrival I have found myself really, really, really tired. I seem to be beyond fatigued. I am not sure what my problem is.

My mom is still in a lot of pain and I am very discouraged with her doctors. They just don't get it. Her fracture is such that they are not able to perform the procedure that they have done on her previous fracture. Bummer. So...she is waiting to get into a specialist to see what they can do to stop her pain. In other words, she will continue to be in pain until October 20th (the date of her appointment). I leave on Saturday. I am a bit worried about leaving her here alone until she gets to see the physician. I am glad that Dayna lives close by and checks on her frequently. My mom also has a great neighbor that watches out for her, so hopefully she will be well cared for until they can resolve this issue.

Dayna has been having some health problems as well, and received some test results yesterday that enocuraged us a bit. I had been having some sad thoughts about the possibility of having my twin face some rather serious health issues. Thankfully, that does not seem to be the case. Another blessing from my Heavenly Father.

In a way, I am relieved that we were not able to head out west as we had planned. Can you imagine if my mom had fractured her vertebrae while in Oregon? That would have been BAD. I am also so tired that I am not sure I could have driven 9 hours after flying in to Boise in the same day as we had originally planned. I was so exhaused just from the trip here. I am not sure it really would have been safe. I really think that someone was just looking out for us. Oh well...maybe we will get back out to the northwest someday. And hopefully we will all be healthy and able to enjoy every minute of it.