Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bonne Année

I have many many memories of New Years Eve's. The one that will always stand in my mind was 2001.

I was living in England at the time and was leaving for UT on January 8th. Mom, Dad, Lance and I went to Paris to celebrate the New Year. Most of you know that Dad had just recently had surgery for Bowel Cancer. We took the Eurostar from London to Paris.
Once we arrived in France, we went to McDonalds. The directions we were given at the Travel Agency to get to the hotel were WRONG. We had no clue how to get to the correct hotel. We walked around for a while and I knew it was time to take action. I stopped a man in the street and he knew no English. I spoke French and PHEW he was very helpful. I just remember Mom and Dad laughing at me speaking in a foreign language and I had to explain to this 'nice' guy that we weren't laughing at him :) Eventually we found the hotel.

We had booked two rooms and Dad headed right to Lance's room whilst I got to room with Mom. We had fun touring Paris and especially the Champs-Elysees and the Arc De Triomphe. We had a lot of fun traveling around on the underground tube station. I had to remind Dad a few times that 'Sortie' was the 'Exit'.

On New Years Eve we went to the Eiffel Tower. The underground tube was packed with tourists and French citizens. It was an amazing site once we got to the tower and the firework display at midnight was awesome. Once it was over, we headed back to the Underground. Oh my gosh, what a nightmare! There were people everywhere. I suffer from claustrophobia and people were literally pushing everyone everywhere. We were worried someone would fall into the track. I grabbed hold of my Dad and begged him to get me out of there. He said 'Come on love, let's go' and like a true hero he led us all out. Once out I had to stand still for a while to breathe. There was no chance we would have ever got onto the train.

Now as you can imagine, Paris on New Years Eve was party central. There were plenty of cabs, but not ONE available for us. We stood waiting for one for a while but we realized it would be impossible to get into one. Lance suggested we start walking. I thought this was a crazy idea. Where was the hotel? How would we find it? I just remembered how long we were on the train going there. There was no way we could walk.

The American saved the day. Lance picked up a map in the subway and he was our guide. Here is the punch line : WE WALKED FOR FIVE AND A HALF HOURS. This is time to praise Dad. He never complained ONCE during the whole time. We had to stop on several occasions so he could rest. Here was a man who had just endured surgery and yet no word of complaint. I don't remember what time it was but at some point during the journey, Dad needed to go the restroom/toilet. I saw a pub/bar open and I literally carried my Dad in. The manager told me we couldn't go in as my Dad was too drunk. I explained he was not drunk, but that he needed to use the toilet and we would be on our way. He shook his head and said NON Madam (No Miss) I said "Oui Monsieur" (Yes Mr) and helped my Dad to the toilet. Dad looked at me and said "Oh Maxine, you have got my genes haven't you?" I replied and said "Yes and I am glad I do".

We walked and talked for all those hours. I kept praying for a miracle. For a cab to arrive to pick us up, for the hotel to 'suddenly' appear. For an angel to come and fly us to our hotel. Really I was just praying for anything good to happen. I begged God for Dad's sake that a miracle would happen. When we arrived at the hotel, and what a sight that was :) I just remember questioning God and wondering why he hadn't helped us. Suddenly, I felt rebuked. I realized that God had helped us. Lance had a map! We were wearing good walking shoes! I spoke French! The bar was open for Dad to go to the toilet! No danger came upon us whilst we were walking! To me the most important thing was the good weather! It was cold, but it was not freezing, or raining, or snowing! I then realized we had lots to be grateful for. I apologized to my family for my complaining.
I think Dad literally fell in his bed that night and he looked so ill when he woke up.

Once back in London when checking in to the hotel, I told the clerk that we needed rooms with bathtubs. All Dad wanted was to soak in a hot bubble bath. Mom ran the bath for him and he told us all how wonderful it felt to be in the tub. We were watching the TV when there was a loud knock at the door. I answered and the guy told us that whoever was in the tub had to get out as it was leaking into the room below. I knocked on the bathroom door and explained to Dad that he needed to get out due to a leak. Again no complaint, he just did what he was asked right away.

During the night, my Mom had to call the paramedics and Dad was taken to the hospital. Dad came back to the hotel and by this point I was sick/ill. I remember spending my last week in England lying on the sofa. Dad was on one, I was on the other and we laughed as he said "We will never forget this experience will we?"

Little did we know that he was going to suffer with cancer again. Little did we know at this point that just 7 years later, he would not be able to enjoy New Years Eve. However, I am so very grateful that we celebrated the ones we have in between.

An amazing thing about this story is during out walk in France after our long walk, we saw a street sign which read "RUE DE SUFFREN" (I do have a picture of us at this sign. I am pointing to it with a stick and Dad is laughing. I will post it soon.)

"We love you Dad"

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Dad's little house

This was Dad's home when he came to visit us last year. We didn't leave him here in the middle of nowhere LOL. We bought some property in Fillmore (approx 100 miles away from where we live) to ride our 4 wheelers and go have fun. We leave this there but for Dad's stay we decided to bring it home. We are really glad we did as Dad was able to have peace and get his rest.

It was fully 'kitted' out for him. He had a TV and radio and games and books and it was heated. He really loved it. He spent most of his time with all of us but when he wanted to go for a nap he would do so.

One morning, whilst I was still in bed, I thought I could hear my Dad calling for my Mom. I heard a very faint voice "Val, Val". I thought I was hearing things but when I heard it again, I knew it was for real. I realized the voice was coming from outside. I opened the door and saw Dad lying on the snow covered ground on his front. It had snowed very hard in the day before and it was so cold. I didn't think to put any shoes on and ran outside in bare feet. Dad had slept in 'his little house' and he slipped when he was coming into the house. I picked him up off the floor and helped him in the house. I won't ever forget this memory. My little heart was breaking as I saw him lying there so helpless. Years ago he would have jumped to his feet and told everyone he was fine, but this time, he just couldn't.

I am just so grateful for the knowledge I have that one day, we will see him and live with again when he is free from pain and suffering.

"We love you Dad"

Monday, December 29, 2008

Missionary Monday

Dad took this picture of me (Dec 2007). He offered to clear all the snow and ice off the car but I was so worried about him falling. I thanked him for offering and told him I would do it.

He loved to drive to the library and the grocery store and I was always reminding him to be sure to drive on the right. On this occasion he wanted to go to the Temple. I asked Mom if she wanted to drive my van and she just smiled.

Dad could literally be known as a taxi driver. He has spent much of his life driving around. He loved to drive but more importantly, he loved to help others. One memory comes to mind.
It was Christmas time and I don't remember the exact year but probably late '90's.....

Missionary Mondays will include memories of how Dad loved to share his beliefs with others.

Dad had a very good friend called Kelvin Spencer. He lived in Bilton and Dad would visit him on numerous occasions. Dad was always trying to reactivate him and get him going back to church. Kel would offer some very sincere prayers.

One evening we took Kel to a family Christmas party in Kirkella. I believe it was his brother's house. On the way back to his house, we were all laughing and joking. Dad was driving, Kel was in the passenger seat and Jared and I were in the back. Dad was laughing so hard and was driving a little too fast for the weather conditions that we went right off the road into the field. Kel thought it was hilarious and because he was a little tipsy/drunk, he had no clue that Dad was driving a little fast and blamed the other drivers :)

Dad mentioned that story for many years. He knows how very lucky we were because if there had been a wall there we would have smashed right in to it. Kel was a wonderful man. He always treat us all really nice and had lots of goodies and soda pop for our visits. Dad told us how once they were sat in a Priesthood meeting and Kel took a can of pepsi out of his bag and opened it and started to drink it. That really amused Dad. They came to visit me when I lived in Somerset and Kel made a wonderful chicken curry. I asked Dad why he never cooked anything and he reminded me of the meat pies he once cooked whilst Mom was in the hospital. I told him to leave Kel to the cooking :)

Kel died of cancer in 1998. He was always very good to my Dad, as Dad was to Kel. I know it's going to be a great reunion for them both.

"We love you Dad"

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Lunch Time

This was one of the last lunches we had together at our house before Mom and Dad returned to England. The last week of their stay always was so hard on all of us as we knew it was going to pass so quickly.

Dad loved sandwiches. He loved salad cream. We had to go to the London Market downtown to get some especially for him as I can't stand the stuff......can you believe that before I moved to the US, I ate salad , DRY! OK maybe you can believe it ;) I now like dressing but my friends do laugh at the fact that I do not like cheese.....I love cheese in a cold cut sandwich but melted cheese and meat forget it! So no lasagne, cheeseburgers, and forget Mexican food as that consists of cheese! AND macaroni and cheese, well that has to be voted the #1 worst food of all time.

Dad loved Branston Pickle on his sandwich and onion, he could never have too much onion on his sandwich. He loved tomatoes. After our roast beef dinners on Sunday we use up the extra meat on sandwiches and Dad just loved roast beef.

All the other times they had spent with us, well I knew it wouldn't be long before I saw them again. This time I knew it would be my Dad's last visit here to the US. He really did well to get here this time. I know he did not feel like that long haul flight but he did it and the reason he did it was due to his love for us. I kept telling him (and for many months afterward) how grateful I was to him for making the effort.

I called my Mom as usual today and she asked my Dad if he wanted to speak to me, he told me that he loved me and that was so good to hear. To hear that was more precious than all the gold in this world. I had to listen carefully as he has no energy to speak and it is just a faint whisper but I heard it!!!!

I know my Mom won't like this picture! She does not like any picture of her and as I have said before I will run out of pictures very quickly when it is time to have a blog for her. :) I love her no matter what she looks like on a picture.

I asked my Dad if he was offering a special kind of blessing on his food.....hey and I didn't even make it! :)

"We love you Dad"

Saturday, December 27, 2008

A vacation to be remembered

One of my Dad's greatest attributes, and believe me has many is a giving heart. He never owned any earthly treasures (apart from my Mom, and he didn't own her but she is his greatest treasure) and always gave what he had. There were many occasions when Dad would give me money when I lived as a single parent. He would leave it some place in my home then call to tell me to look in this certain place :) He did so much for me with regards rides/lifts, watching my children, literally everything I stood in need of. I would always tell him that one day when I got rich I would pay him back big time.

Well years later, I am not rich but I am able to do things for my parents to help them and pay them back slightly for all they have done for me. One day I called my parents and told them that I wanted them to go for a vacation/holiday. I told them to choose where they would like to go and let me know the cost.

Dad had found out that he had his cancer and I wanted to do something special. Mom and Dad had been to visit us in 2006, he found out about his cancer in November 2006 and then we were planning a family trip to England to surprise him in 2007. I wanted him and my Mom to go somewhere together. I knew they would not simply go some place and forget the brutal truth about his illness but I knew this would be appreciated and they would go and enjoy it the best they could.

They chose to go to the 'Shanklin Beach Hotel' in the Isle of Wight. I heard so many times how much they really enjoyed this break away. They were always saying 'Thank you' and how grateful they were for this chance to get away. I am so grateful to Lance who has been so selfless in allowing me to help my parents enjoy time together. Of course I had to marry someone who was like my Dad who always wanted to help others.

"We love you Dad"

Friday, December 26, 2008

O Christmas Tree

This picture was taken Christmas 2007 at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, UT.

Lance had a camera and I had a camera. Mom decided to look at Lance and Dad was not sure where to look. ;)

Today in Great Britain and something I have been used to all my life was Boxing Day. I let Lance know when I married him and moved here that I would be celebrating the 4th of July so he needed to celebrate Boxing Day with me. He was happy to oblige. I am always amazed when I am asked if we have the 4th of July in England. I say "Of course we do, it is after the 3rd and before the 5th!" What can say I am my Father's daughter :) We always buy a family gift for Boxing Day and this year we bought a karaoke machine.

What a blast we have had. Our house has had a 'not too wonderful Mommy' lately. I have not wanted to do much as far as family things go. I have been rather emotional and I am telling you we have sang all day. It was so fun to listen to Natalie (our 18 year old) sing-a-ling-ling all day to all kinds of different music. My turn...........Abba "Super Trouper" was my song. Oh boy did I belt that out. We may audition for American Idol soon. :)

Suddenly, I thought of Dad (which is not unusual) and what a "Super Trouper" he has been all his life. I had my usual chat with Mom today. I was in my bedroom telling her I could hear everyone singing in the family room and how it had been the first day in a long time I actually felt like laughing, singing and dancing. She assured me that is what my Dad would want and expect me to be doing. Mom told me how it is getting harder for her. She didn't mean in physically caring for him but it is getting harder for her to watch him get weaker and weaker. Dad doesn't talk now but when he does, he says "I love you" and "Thank you". I made her laugh by talking about memories and fun things. I asked her why you couldn't appreciate parents when you are a teenager :)

Last Boxing Day we went to the 'Brewsters'. They live in Bountiful, UT. Craig was a missionary in England when I was just a toddler. It is always a treat when we go to dinner at their house as they set their table in good ole' England style. It spotts a bobby hat (Police hat) and a Winston Churchill figurine. Laurie cooks a beautiful dinner, she and her daughters are the best servers! My Mom always makes the trifle which is a big hit and Dad and Craig reminisce from years gone by. There will be a post for Missionary Monday with Craig's thoughts coming soon.

Click here to read more about Boxing Day.

"We love you Dad"

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

These pictures were taken December 2008 in Hull England. Savannah was an angel and Samantha was a shepherd in the church nativity. I was told by a reliable (Non family member) source that Samantha sang all the carols really well. It is so hard on me being so far away but I do make the most of my phone calls.

This is Caitlin in Johannesburg, South Africa who was an angel. Jared told me she really was an angel too as she behaved so well.
It is the first Christmas Day in my life that I haven't spoken with my Dad. He barely speaks now. I know he has a prayer in his heart for his family.

My message is short and sweet. I am truly grateful for the Savior who was born many years ago who came to redeem us. That through him we may live eternally one day.

I hope you have felt of his spirit and love this Christmas season.

Oh holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
Oh night divine, Oh night when Christ was born;
Oh night divine, Oh night, Oh night Divine.
Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Behold your King.
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

"We love you Dad"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Christmas Eve Treasured Memory

This picture was taken last Christmas Eve (2007) at Tom and Duane Young's home in Salt Lake City, UT. Duane, Tom, Karen and Mike Young, Mom and Dad.

The Youngs have been very good friends of our family. Mike served in the England Leeds Mission and Dad stayed at the Young's home when he first visited the US in 1975. They invited Mom and Dad to their home for their Christmas Eve family dinner. Again, Dad was not feeling well but NEVER ever let his friends down. Another of his sayings was "My word is my bond." If he said he would do something, he did it. No questions asked. When they came home that night, they both told me what a wonderful time they had and how great the dinner was.

One of my most treasured memories I have of my Dad occured on Christmas Eve in 1993. Unfortunately, I was at the beginning of a divorce at the age of 25. Natalie had just turned 3 and Kayleigh was 18 months. We lived in an apartment/flat. Dad came to visit us and it was not out of the ordinary. He came over almost every night to visit us, basically checking that everything was okay. This night, he asked if he could take a bath and I said of course he could.

Dad came out of the bathroom cleanly shaven wearing his pajamas. I looked at him and he simply said this: "I hope you don't mind love, I would like to stay the night. I can't bear to think of my daughter and grand daughters alone, especially on Christmas Eve."

We hugged each other and I went to bed that night again thanking God for blessing me with the most wonderful Dad in the world. I pondered then as I do now all the fabulous things my Dad had done for me and my family and basically anyone he came into contact with. I know he wanted to be home with my Mom that night. I know he wanted to be home with my brother and sister that night too but he thought about my situation and knew all would be well at home if he did what he did. What a legacy to pass down to his posterity.

When Natalie and Kayleigh woke up on Christmas morning, Grandad told them that Grandma had called him to let him know that Santa had dropped off all their presents at their house and we were to go over there as quickly as we could. We got ready and walked/ran over to their house (which was very close). Mom had everything taken care of. Gifts, warmth, big hugs and a lovely breakfast. (More details to follow in tomorrows post ;)

All the gold in the world could have been given to me that Christmas and it wouldn't have meant to me what that memory did and still does today.

~To me, this is what Christmas is all about. This is what being a Father/Daughter is all about~

"We love you Dad"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

All I want for Christmas......

This picture was taken December 2007 at Gardner Village in West Jordan, UT.

Can't you just tell this couple are in love? After being together over 50 years that love has never faltered. I think of how they have been such good examples to me and how different my life would have been without them.

Just look at the clear blue sky. It was a beautiful day! Have you ever had one of those days you wish you could re-live? This would be one of mine for sure. We had such a nice time just walking around and going into all the cute little shops. Click here to read more about Gardner Village.

I LOVE this picture. We had a wonderful day shopping. Shopping was never Dad's favorite thing to do but he did anything that my Mom enjoyed doing. He would prefer to go shopping with her rather than stay at home and not have her by his side. He literally rolled his eyes and shook his head when we went into the shoe shop. I believe between Mom and I we are talking about about 150 pairs of shoes.

This takes me back many years ago to when I bought a pair of shoes from "Furmans" in Saville Street, Hull, England. I decided after I had bought them that I didn't really like them so I took them back. The sales assistant told me I couldn't have a refund even though I produced my receipt. I asked why and she said their policy was no refunds. I told my Dad about this and he said "Come on love, I will get you your money". We went into the shoe shop and my Dad explained how I had not worn the shoes and was wanting a refund. Again the assistant told us we couldn't have a refund. My Dad then asked for the Manager. The Manager came over to us and he too refused the refund. Dad sat down on a chair and told the Manager we would not be leaving the store until we received our refund.

There was no sign in the shop nor on the receipt stating that refunds were not issued. I sat down next to my Dad and the Manager knew we meant business. He then told us he was going to call the Police if we did not leave the store. I told the Manager to go ahead and call the Police as we weren't leaving without our refund. The Police arrived and had a word with the Manager and then with us. Within minutes the Manager came over with my money.

This experience taught me a great deal. It taught me that I had a Dad who did not back down. I had a Dad who wasn't afraid to stand his ground. I loved him for that. That was a memory he didn't forget. He would often ask if I remembered the experience. I said "Yes I do and will never forget it".

Thank you my sweet, dear Mother for all you are doing for Dad. My heart breaks to think of how you feel at this time.

May God bless you both

"We love you Dad"

Monday, December 22, 2008

Missionary Monday

I know you cannot see the picture very well. I will change it but wanted to be sure to post today.

The picture was taken at the MTC in Preston, England in 1999. Jared was leaving to go on his mission to Johannesburg, South Africa for 2 years.

There was a meeting that we were invited to where the Missionaries who were already at the MTC (Missionary Training Center) sang "The Armies of Helaman". I played the piano. Everytime I have heard that song since then I have thought of Jared.
When we said our goodbyes and there were many tears, we went to Burger King for lunch. I remember I couldn't eat anything......see Jared was my best friend at this time and the thought of not seeing him for 2 years was unthinkable.
Three weeks later when Jared was leaving for South Africa (He had to spend 3 weeks at the MTC) my family went to the airport to say goodbye to Jared before leaving for South Africa. This time I did not go. I had already said Goodbye and I could not do it again. I couldn't bear it.

Jared had been a very good friend to me all his life. Ever since the day I left him in the toilets on Savoy Road. (Long story, but at least you know I went back for him :) We had so much in common. I just loved spending time with him. He was the one who got me into football. He was the one who got me into listening to groups such as Metallica and Rush. There are far too many memories to write in this one post. There are so many I really wouldn't know where to start.

Jared was really good about writing whilst he was in South Africa. I used to receive a letter at least once a week. I was much better at writing to Jared than I was Michael. This was mainly due to the fact that I was much older and I had an appreciation for how wonderful it was to receive letters at this point.

It wasn't as easy for Mom and Dad to go to pick Jared up when he was finished due to the fact he was in South Africa. We went to Manchester airport to pick him up. We were all so very excited to see him.

Dad was very proud of both his sons for serving missions. It was something he always wished he could have done. He missed them both very much and would tell us all the time :) He was very good with his letter writing and kept them up to date with everything that was happening at home.

Jaz, do you remember when Dad asked that young lad where your bike seat was in Hull Station? :)

"We love you Dad"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My heart is breaking!

I had my post for today all planned out but when Rebecca sent me this picture, I just KNEW I would have to change it and post this today.

This is the very last picture taken of our Dad. It was taken in Aug '08. Sienna was just 3 months old. Dad always loved his picture taken and was not camera shy at all. After this picture he didn't want anymore taken. Shortly after this was taken, he started to go down hill and has been bed ridden since September.

My little heart is breaking! This is sheer torture for us as a family. Knowing that our Dad is suffering and that our Mom is literally worn out, but just like him, there are no words of complaint. They do what they have to and need to do.

We are told that we suffer trials for our own good. I know that this is not only a test for my Dad but his entire family too. His body is so weak but his spirit is so strong. He has been such a good example all our lives.

Look at the picture again at the top of this post. On the wall you will see my Mom's favorite picture of him. I have to say how very grateful I am that I have such wonderful parents. They have been such a wonderful example to their children. We are truly blessed to have them in our lives. We cannot imagine our lives without Dad but even more so we cannot imagine not seeing him ever again. Thank goodness for the knowledge we have that this life is not the end. .

Most of you know that music plays an important part in my life. I am a HUGE fan of 'Kenneth Cope'. Most of you will know who he is and some will not. I have listened to and loved his music for many years now. He has the most amazing voice and the lyrics and music are awesome. I have been listening to his album "Greater Than Us All" and even sang John (my son) to sleep this evening. A sincere 'Thank You' to Kenneth for sharing his talents with us. Kenneth has a new website coming soon - You can sign up for the monthly newsletter. I actually met and chatted with him at Deseret Book Store in Cottonwood Mall back in 2002 when I bought one of his signed copies of "Hear My Praise". I know Kenneth won't remember, but I sure do :)

Please keep our family in your prayers. For those of you who are praying for us. "Thank You".

"We love you Dad"

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fish and Chips

When people ask what I miss most about England, I obviously say my family. The next thing I miss is FISH AND CHIPS. Not particularly Bob Carver's fish and chips however.

Next to Dad's favorite dinner of stew and dumplings, fish and chips was next. When I visited England in May, I went to York with Mom and Dad and Dad and I decided we would share our fish and chips. We were certainly glad we shared them as they were AWFUL. The funny thing is Dad and I never forgot it. We talked about it pretty much all the day and then afterwards.

I always look so forward to fish and chips when I go over to England and our favorite place now is the fish and chip shop in Portobello Street. Dad used to always talk about rugby with the owner when we went in.

Michael lives in Whitby, North Yorkshire. Whitby is a seaside resort and they cook fresh fish caught right there in the sea. Lance was amazed at the size of the fish when we went to visit. The large plate was not even big enough for the fish.

We took Mom and Dad to 'Skippers' for fish and chips when they came to visit us. Dad looked at it and asked if it was goldfish and chips :)

"We love you Dad"

Friday, December 19, 2008

Families can be Together Forever

This picture was taken between 1980-1982. Dad was the Branch President of the Hull North Branch at the time.

I know those of you have been following this blog will know I am just sitting here sobbing right now. When I saw this picture, I said "Oh he looks so young, and so healthy and he has so much hair and it is so dark :)

Whilst Dad was Branch President, he did his very best. I remember him visiting many of the members regularly. As always, he wanted to make sure everyone was well and happy. He didn't have a car back then either. He would ride his bike for miles to go to visit people. We lived in Mersey Street at the time and most of the members lived on Bransholme/Sutton Park. Way back then, just like now, we just never heard him complain. Everything he did, he did with a good heart.

I mentioned in a very recent post how I want to have my Dad's glasses and his watch. Click here to read that post. I think I should also ask for a suit. It will remind me of the countless hours he spent serving God and his people. But then, I would need a pair of his jeans and a t-shirt as it really didn't matter what he was wearing, he was always serving God.

We really have been blessed with a wonderful Father. Michael, Rebecca, Jared and myself are really going through the hardest thing we have had to endure in our lives. I must mention our dear Mother here. What a wonderful husband he has been to her. What a wonderful wife she has been to him over the years and continues now to do everything she possibly can for him.

"I have a family here on earth, they are so good to me

I want to share my life with them through all eternity.

Families can be together forever

Through Heavenly Fathers plan.

I always want to be with my own family

And the Lord has shown me how I can,

The Lord has shown me how I can."

"We love you Dad"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What a cutie

This is a picture of Sienna (Gary's and Rebecca's youngest).

Sienna is Dad's youngest grandchild. She was born in May 2008 and I was very fortunate to have been in England for her arrival. She is so cute. I never saw her eyes when I was over there as she was always asleep.

Dad was always happy to welcome a baby in our family. I often think how he unfortuately will never see a great grand child. Unfortunately, he knew Sienna the least. He was ill when she was born and she has not got to play and enjoy time with him like the other grand children have. She never got to receive the daily chocolate bars (milky ways) nor the drives in the car or the swings in the air.

What Sienna will have is a life where her Grandad will always be talked about. A life where she will learn all about his sacrifice, his love, his honor and his name. She will hear many stories that will make her laugh and she will look forward, as we all will to the time when we will be re-united never to suffer pain or trials anymore. In our church when a baby is born, they are given a blessing and I am so happy that my Dad was always worthy to give us blessings. What a wonderful thing Sienna can always think about.......she was the last baby that Dad had the privilege of assisting in her blessing.

Using Sienna's name, here are more words to describe Dad:

S - Sacrifice : Dad has sacrificed so much in his life. Above all has been his time. He has always put everyone before himself and has sacrificed much.

I - Inspiring : Dad is a very inspiring person. He has studied and read and prayed about many things. He is an inspiration to all.

E - Example : Dad has been a great example throughout his life. He has always tried to live his life the best he could.

N- Nice : Dad is REAL Nice. Many people have described him as a very nice man. He always taught us to be nice to one another.

N- No Frills: Dad has always been a 'no frills' kinda guy. Monetary items were never important to him. It never mattered to him that he really didn't have money or wordly possessions.

A - Amazing : Dad truly is amazing. He has done more in his 60 odd years than most people who live to be in their 90's.

"We love you Dad"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Having fun

This picture was taken in August 2007 just after one of Dad's many appointments at Castle Hill hospital.

I remember the day when pay phones were a part of every day life. Many times I stood outside in a line of people waiting to use it. With the convenience of cell phones now, pay phones are no longer really necessary.

I have mentioned this in a previous post but I really do miss hearing my Dad's voice. He always had a joke, always asked how everyone was doing and would never fail to ask if there was anything he could do for us. I never took those conversations for granted. I looked so forward to our daily chat. It is amazing how much you miss something as simple as a phone call.

I cannot hear my Dad's voice now. He always makes an effort to say "I love you" in a whisper. That means so much to me to hear that.

I asked Dad to never say 'Goodbye' on the phone. I always want 'I love you' to be the final words I hear him say.

What a man!!!

"We love you Dad"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Somebody's watching me

This picture was taken at Pizza Hut in St. Andrews Quay. Hull, England - August 2007.

Today I had my yearly eye exam, I wore contact lenses for a while but did not really like them so it is back to the glasses. Due to the fact that I spend so much time reading and working on a computer, I guess I will need to wear them most of the time now. I chose a really nice Ralph Lauren pair and was very shocked at the cost of them. I figured they were worth it due to the fact that I really NEEDED them and it wasn't a want :) (Well that's how I justified it to Lance :)

I have been thinking back to how I used to have to wear my little pink glasses as a child. As I got older, the choice of glasses dramatically improved and I remember having eye exams and pretending I couldn't really see all the letters during the exam so I could choose a really 'cool' pair of glasses. It reminded me how Dad had told me during one of his exams, the optician asked him if he could read the letters in the box on the wall. Dad said "Letters! I don't even see the box" Of course he was joking, but it sure made the Optician laugh. I remember going to the Opticians. I cannot think of the name of the street nor the name of the Opticians but I do remember exactly where it was. I remember watching my Dad as he would hold the paper up to his eyes and think "What is he doing?" NOW I know exactly what he was doing.

A little while back, I asked my Mom if I could have two of my Dad's things when the time comes. The two things I asked for were his glasses and his watch. You can see the watch in this picture. Click here to see the glasses
I would like the glasses to remind me of how he could always 'see' the things people were in need of. His eyesight wasn't the best, but his focus was always on doing what was right, doing what was good and doing what was expected.
I would like the watch to remind me of the countless hours he spent helping others and especially his family. Nothing was too great to ask! He did everything he was asked (if it was good) and without complaint.

With these two things, I will look forward to the 'time' when I will 'see' Dad from pain and suffering and hear him say what I have heard him say for years........... "Hiya Love"

"We love you Dad"

Monday, December 15, 2008

Missionary Monday

This is a picture of Dad and my brother Michael. It was taken at Michael's farewell. He had received a mission call to the England London South Mission.

The year was 1983. I was 15 at the time and I remember Michael being so grateful he didn't have to get on a plane. His mission was 300 miles south on a train track. (For the record, he has never ever been on a plane.....I am hoping one day he will break his fear of a plane and come visit us. If not, Tracy his wife will just have to come without him. I keep telling him, he is safer on a plane than on the roads in Utah.)

Michael and I were very close before his mission. We enjoyed each others company and got on pretty well. I knew I was going to miss him and the thought of 18 months was too painful. (Elders and Sisters, at that time only had to serve 18 months. It changed back to 2 years (for Elders), shortly after Michael returned home.

We took him to the train to say goodbye for those 18 months. As the train pulled out, the tears flowed. For our Mom they flowed for 18 months. :) Seriously I remember when we got home, (we lived in Mersey Street) and she had a towel. Most people use kleenex/tissues. They weren't enough. She looked like she had done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson by the end of the day, her eyes were that swollen from crying.

I wasn't very good at writing to Michael. Guess who was? YEP, Dad! He wrote every chance he could get. There wasn't e-mail then. Simply snail mail and I can still see Dad now in my mind writing those letters. I used to think Michael would need an extra case when he came back to carry all the letters home. I will never forget one of the addresses, 26 Ruislip Close, Middlesex. I regretted not writing to him much and he reminded me several times in letters he wrote to me how I did not write.

18 months later (and it seemed like 18 years), Mom and Dad went to London to bring Michael home from his mission. They spent some time with Linda Lotfian (a gal he baptized) and her children. She became a very good friend of our family. We lost touch after several years and I wish we could get in touch with her again. Michael was on his mission when our Grandma (Dad's Mother) passed away.

Michael served a good mission and was a good example to his three younger siblings. I was so happy to see him when he got home. By this time, 1984, we had moved into a new house in Stanhope Ave which is where Mom and Dad still live today.

Dad always wished he could have served a mission. We always reminded him Missionaries only serve for 2 years and Dad has preached the gospel for the past 40 :)

"We love you Dad"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Love the Sun

This picture was taken in Las Vegas, May 2006. We were in a store and John decided to pick up a hat and insisted he had his picture taken before taking it off.

We always had lots of fun when Mom and Dad came here. We tried to do as much as we possibly could as we knew the time would pass so quickly and they would be back on the plane.

I was just thinking earlier today how we as a family used to walk all over the place. My parents were so fit and energetic. Dad used to run around all day, everyday. He loved being out in the sun and that is why he especially enjoyed his vacations here in the US , for the heat. He would sit in our garden and really did not like to be indoors especially when it was a warm day.

Whilst Mom and I would be getting ready for the day, Dad would take John to the park or tell me which way he would be walking and we would pick him up. He loved making the most of the day.

I remember even at his house, he would go sit out in his garden and relax. The last thing I bought my Dad was a lounger from Asda. He kept thanking me for it. I actually knew that he wouldn't get to use it much :(

I look forward to the day when Dad can be free of his pain and trial and be back to his normal fit self. I look forward to that day more than anything :)

"We love you Dad"

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Lights at Temple Square

A year ago today whilst Mom and Dad were visiting us, we all went to the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert. It was absolutely amazing. The King Singers from England were the guest performers who were, in my Dad's words "Terrific". Click here to read more about them.

Dad really is not one to love singing, dancing and music but he really did enjoy this evening. I sat in between both my parents at this event and my eyes welled up on several occasions throughout the evening. I remember looking at my Dad and just wondering in my mind why on earth he had to be suffering like he was. We ate dinner at a restaurant previous to the concert and Dad really did not look well, nor did he enjoy his food (this was a very regular occurence). I just kept wishing for a miracle as I had done many times prior and would do many times afterwards.

I also looked at my Mother and wished I could make Dad well for her sake as well as mine. Little did I know to what extent she would nurse him and care for him. God bless her for all she is doing now.

After the Concert, we walked around Temple Square in Salt Lake City to enjoy the lights. Dad loved Temple Square. I knew it would be his last visit and we spent all the time doing what he wanted. We watched a really wonderful 'Nativity Scene' just behind the Visitors Center.

'Silent Night, Holy Night
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin Mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in Heavenly peace
Sleep in Heavenly peace.'

"We love you Dad'

Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Scottish Waiter - Paul

A Restaurant Lance and I and our children enjoy going to is "Wingers". We know the Manager and Staff very well at our local one in Riverton.

Every Friday evening, Lance and I go for dinner together. With our busy schedules, this is the ONE definite thing that happens each week. We don't always go to Wingers but that is where we decided to go this evening. It is only 5 minutes away from our house.

They serve the best "Fish and Chips". Not like the good ole' British fish and chips by any standards but the best I can find here. The waiter we always ask for is "Paul". He is from Ayr in Scotland. He is so funny and has become a very good friend. Our first visit to the restaurant when it opened was a great experience, one that 'sealed' our friendship. I heard one of the waitresses say "You better not sit them at Paul's table, you know how the Scots and the Brits hate each other. I specifically asked to sit at Paul's table. :)

We hit it off right away. We spoke about Mrs Bucket (Bouquet) in the TV comedy, Keeping Up Appearances. We spoke about Whiskey (well he is a Scot) ha! We spoke about Britain and the Queen. At this point, I no longer felt hungry but felt like ordering a few whiskeys :) The main topic of conversation was Football, English Football..... and we mentioned Glasgow Rangers and Celtic for a brief moment.

Every time we go to the restaurtant, we always ask for Paul. Tonight when we went, Lance ordered his usual Mushroom Burger and I ordered the Fish and Chips. When the Manager came to chat with us, I told him the fish was absolutely beautiful. Paul quickly answered "WOW you must have been in the States a long time" :) That got us laughing. I then told them both the joke about the Chinese Jews. Click here if you missed it.

Instantly Paul said "Oh, already heard that one, your Dad told us it". I smiled and thought on the many times we had taken Mom and Dad to the restaurant. Dad loved the steak dinner. He loved his food piping hot and that came hot on a sizzling platter. I then thought back to all the jokes Dad had shared with the waiters and waitresses.

Paul then carried on the conversation by asking how Rovers were doing. I told him I had no idea. Dad used to keep me informed with the scores but I now have no idea what is going on in the rugby world.

Paul is very impressed with me as I gave up caffeine for my Dad. I used to drink approximately 8, 320z drinks of Dr Pepper daily. Yes I know, that's quite a lot. I was totally addicted to it. Before Dad left for England he told me he would really prefer me not to drink it anymore. When I say I would do anything for him, I really mean it. I gave it up. Right there and then. It will be one year since I drank any caffeine on January 7th 2009. Dad is the only one I would ever give up my favorite soda for.

"We love you Dad"

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sisters, Sisters!

This picture was taken MANY years ago. I am not sure how old we were but Rebecca looks about 2 years old. The picture is so small but that is good as you won't be able to see me too closely :)

I know for sure it was taken in Bridlington. We spent so much time there as children. It could have been on a day out but more than likely would have been our yearly holiday. We always had so much fun together.

These past few months I have felt a bond so strong for her. She has had to endure many difficult challenges in her life, both physically and personally. I wish we could do 'sisterly' things but the 5,000 miles makes it quite difficult. We spend a lot of time chatting online and I always look forward to our chats.

It was fun growing up with Rebecca. When Mom was pregnant with her, Michael was praying for a boy and I was praying for a girl. Rebecca loved the color "Red". Whenever we would need new shoes, she always used to choose red ones. I told her I would start calling her 'Dorothy' if she didn't choose another color. She had such cute chubby cheeks. The kind that you just HAD to squeeze. I remember Dad pulling us on the sledge. There was Michael, Rebecca and I. We lived in Anson Road at the time and it was so funny when Rebecca fell off right into the snow.

Whenever Mom told her that she couldn't do something, she would always say "Daddy let me can." I got rather teary when she had the role of Mary in the Nativity at Neasden Primary School. The one line I remember her saying was "I can't go on". She did such a great job.

I remember when we lived in Fortune Close and we were bored....don't ya love that word? I called the Fire Dept (999 - equivalent of 911 in the US). I pretended to be an old guy and put on a voice letting the operator know our house was burning down and they must come quickly. I told them 'my wife' (who was Rebecca) was upstairs and she couldn't get out. Rebecca let out some squeals at my command. Finally I put the phone down and we moved onto something else.

Not too much later, there was a knock at the door. It was a police officer. GULP! GASP! HORROR! I felt that lump in my throat and suddenly felt very SICK. My Mom invited him in and he asked if an old man lived in the house. (All I kept thinking at this time was THANK GOODNESS DAD IS AT WORK). The police officer knew there wasn't an old man who lived there, I think he was just making me sweat it out.

Rebecca and I were sent to bed for the rest of the night. I believe it was around 5:30-6:00pm. I couldn't believe Mom actually did that, but I thought it would be good not to be around when Dad came home. I felt bad for Rebecca as it was all my idea but she was 'the lookout' :) This was the ultimate punishment for me. I would rather scrub floors all night or get a good ole smack BUT to go to my bed was like being put in prison. I will never forget that incident. We got a stern talking to when Dad came home.

Obviously there are many memories but another that I always laugh about was when Rebecca went for an interview. It was a babysitting job after school. She wanted me to go with her as she was very shy and when the lady invited us in she asked what her name was. I spoke right up "She's called Rebecca."

Rebecca was just like my Mom. Very quiet and rather shy. I on the other hand was just like my Dad. Loved to meet people and chatted to them as if I had known them for years.

Dad would always tell us he had a favorite oldest daughter and a favorite youngest daughter. We were both so very close to him as young children right up until now. Rebecca did not cause him much grief as a teenager but I sure gave him many sleepless nights.

"We love you Dad"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Are there any Chinese Jews?

This picture was taken on August 2nd, 2007. We were celebrating Gary's birthday at China Red Chinese Restaurant.

Dad really did not enjoy eating out at this point as his stomach just felt so bad. However, he never complained and still came along with us and enjoyed the company. He still was cracking a few jokes and enjoyed being with his family.

Here is one of his jokes that I just always enjoyed listening to him tell. He put so much feeling into it and even added 'accents'.

"I was in a Chinese restaurant and I said to the waiter, "I have heard of American Jews, I have heard of Polish Jews, but I have never heard of Chinese Jews. Do you know if there is such a thing?"
The waiter looked puzzled and said he wasn't sure but he would go and ask.

A few minutes later, he came back and said "We have Orange juice and Apple juice, but no Chinese juice."

Oh to hear my Dad tell that joke was so awesome. I can hear his voice telling it right now. I don't have any regrets considering all the times I have spent with Dad, however, I really do wish I had recorded him telling all his jokes. It would have been so wonderful.

I wouldn't be able to listen to them or watch him at the moment but in time to come, I really would have loved to have seen him laughing as he told his jokes.

"We love you Dad"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do!

This is Dad's grandaughter, Caitlin. She is Jared's and Candace's daughter and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. She looks like she is having a great relaxing day. One that I really envy. Sun hat, drink at the ready and don't forget the phone. Obviously the sun is in her eyes, but it really looks as though she is winking. What a cutie! ;)

As I was looking at Caitlin and thinking of her name, some words shot right in my mind that describe my Dad.

C - Courageous -
A - Admirable
I - Incredible
T - Trustworthy
L - Loveable
I - Indescribable
N - Noble

Courageous - Due to the fact that Dad has known for a long time now about his cancer and knowing what the ultimate outcome is, what a great reminder of how courageous he really is.

Admirable - Admired by many, and mostly by 'his Val'.

Incredible - Have you seen the movie 'The Incredibles'? Well Dad really is Mr. Incredible

Trustworthy - Dad is THE most trustworthy person I know.

Loveable - He is loved by many and loved many.

Indescribable - The definition of this is: Cannot be expressed in words; beyond description; indefinite

Noble - Dad IS one of the noble and great ones.

"We love you Dad"