Sunday, December 26, 2010

Another Christmas without Dad

Hello Family & Friends,

Another Christmas gone!  I have been reflecting on the last Christmas I spent with my Dad.  It was 3 years ago.  He didn't feel well but he wanted so badly to come over to the States to visit us.  I am so glad he made that decision.  It was the last time Lance and my children saw him. 

I then reflected on Christmases past.  We never had a 'bad' Christmas.  Every Christmas was fabulous.  Looking back, I am in awe at how many presents we received every year. Money didn't flow in the SIMS household, but love, happiness and joy did.  I am just really glad Santa was so good to us WINK;)

I think my Dad was more excited than anyone.  The joy in his eyes as we would open our presents.  The anticipation of the looks on his children's faces was almost too much for him to bear.  He couldn't wait until we saw what was under the wrapping and see us smile, laugh and even jump up and down.   Every year, there would be an apple and a satsuma in our sacks.  Dad would tell us he put them there every year for us.  This was one thing from his childhood that he remembered.  He was always grateful for the smallest things.  You could literally give him a Snickers Bar, wrapped or unwrapped and he would be so very grateful for it. 

Dad would often tell us how he was always grateful for the coloring books his Mam and Dad used to give him for Christmas.  If he was lucky he got his own box of crayons.  Most of the time, there was one box to share between all the kids.  He never complained.  He was always so grateful.

I used to (and still do) love watching Mr Kruger's Christmas.  Seeing Mr Kruger smile for joy when the little girl asked him to 'come sing with us'.  I cannot watch that movie without thinking of Dad.  He taught me the real meaning of Christmas. 

I am looking forward to 2011.  How exciting for a new year to begin.  2010 brought lots of happiness, lots of trials and heartache.  What a blessing our Dad has been in our lives.  We wouldn't be the people we are without him........dread to think of what life would have been like without his love, his example, his kindness, his unselfishness.......etc!  (There are lots of etc's :)

Happy New Year to all of you!

We love you Dad ;)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy 71st birthday in Heaven, Dad

Happy Birthday in Heaven, Dad !

Dad would have been 71 today.  JUST 71!  I used to think that was 'so old' as a child but now I am older, it is so young :))  Many say time heals and things get easier as time passes.  Not for me.  The more time that passes, the more I miss him.  I wish I could hear his voice! I wish I could see him! I wish I could talk with him!

Without a doubt, I know Dad is in a wonderful place.  I know he is free from all earthly cares and pains.  I know he is with all his wonderful family and friends who have passed on.  I know he is teaching his fellowmen the teachings of Jesus Christ and his gospel.  Really, who would want to come back to earth to go through all what we do if you are 'living' like that? 

Of course, as humans our instincts are those of 'wants' and 'needs'.  I want my Dad. I need my Dad.  He has helped me so much in my life that I wonder how I can possibly carry on.  I often find letters and postcards that he sent me.  Lance passed me one today that had ETTE on it.  Lance asked me what that meant!  I smiled as I told him my Dad would often say to me "Endure to the End".

I know Dad has passed his test.  I know he is in a wonderful place.  He is not in a grave buried feet under.  His mortal body is there awaiting the resurrection.  His spirit was never buried in there.  His spirit is as free as a bird. 

I often wonder how it feels to him to miss us, his family.  I KNOW he does.  I know he will be looking forward to the day when we shall see him again.  I often wonder who will be the first in our family to meet him.  I often wonder why he had to suffer like he did.  I often wonder why he couldn't be cured of his cancer.  Many people fight cancer (and my Dad was a fighter) and live.  I do a lot of 'wondering'.  My mind always comes back to the fact that Heavenly Father needed him!  Needed him to exercise his knowledge in what we know as the Spirit World. 

As I was thinking of Dad today on his 'birthday', I thought how the world was a much better place for him being here.  He gave to many his time, talents, testimony and love, to name but a few.

A friend of ours, Heather Baldwin who remembers my Dad as 'her Bishop' when she joined the church wrote this about him on her Facebook Status -

Happy Birthday in heaven to John Sims. A wonderful Father, Husband and Bishop. My thoughts go out to his Bride Val and to his children' Michael, Maxine,Rebecca and Jared. Thanks for blessing my life with your presence and for the help, years ago, and do you know what? I probably do owe you that tenner :)

What a HUGE blessing to have such a wonderful Father.  Not just for earthly life - but for the eternities. 
Families ARE Forever :)

We love you always Dad!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Open House for Mom

Hello Family and Friends,

Well again it is almost time for my Mom to go back to England.  I cannot believe how quickly three months pass. 

We would love you to come and visit with us.
Sunday June 27th at 6:00pm. (Open House style)
Refreshments will be served and Mom will be making her famous British Trifle. 

Please e-mail me at for our address.

We would love to see you!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Reunited after 42 years

Today is Father's Day!  This is the second without Dad.  Some days life just seems so hard to cope with the fact that I won't see Dad anymore.  Of course I know I will see and live with him in the next life, but I often get selfish when I think "I want him here now."

Saturday was a fabulous day for us.  I arranged for Jerry Bott and his brother Jeffrey, to come to our house along with Ben Tolley and his wife, Karla.  Jerry and Ben are heroes to us, the Sims Family.  They were the Missionaries who taught my parents about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and ultimately baptized them. 

Ben and Jerry (sounds like ice-cream uh? :) hadn't seen each other since 1968.  We have been fortunate to see Jerry on several occasions but the last time I saw Ben, I was just 7 months it made us both feel old when I told Ben we hadn't seen each other for 42 years.  That is how long it had been since Jerry and Ben had seen each other.

Here are some pictures of our happy occasion.

Ben and Jerry - first meeting since they were Missionary Companions in England in 1968

Cake to celebrate after we ate lunch - Lance's choice
Strawberry, Key Lime Cake

My choice - Chocolate Turtle Cake

Ben, Max and Mom, Jeffrey and Jerry

Ben and his lovely wife, Karla

Jeffrey and Jerry.  Can you tell they are identical twins?  I was asking Jeffrey questions thinking he was Jerry :) They let me on a secret - They part their hair on different sides.  That will help when they are together :)
They both went to England on their missions. 

Ben, Mom and Jerry.  Dad was here in spirit. He would have LOVED this reunion if he was here.

Just for fun, thanks to my great friend Chris,(whose family were baptized by these great guys also).... here are pictures of Ben and Jerry when they were in England 42 years ago :)

Elder (Ben) Tolley at the back - Violet, Tom, Steve, Simon and Chris Stansfield

Elder (Jerry) Bott on the left and the Stansfield Family

I thanked both Ben and Jerry for ALL they had done.  It is because of these great men and the examples of my parents that I KNOW I will see my Dad again. 

We love and miss you Dad!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

So happy Mom is here visiting just now.  This past Sunday was Mother's Day here in the US.  Dad often commented how the US and the UK celebrated this day differently but Father's Day - always the same.  :)

Words cannot express how I feel about my Mother.  I love her immensely. I am so grateful for all she has done for me.  She was my Dad's earthly treasure and thankfully will be his eternal treasure too.  We cannot take anything but our knowledge and family with us.
I have been able to tell this visit more than the last just how much she really is missing Dad.  They days and nights are hard and lonely.
Thank you Heavenly Father for blessing me with such wonderful parents.
"We love and miss you Dad"

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Our cruise to the Southern Caribbean

I promised my Dad that I would look after my Mom the best I could.  His only worry of dying was leaving behind 'his Val.'  He didn't worry about dying or earthly posessions or his kids.  He just worried for his wife.
I would love my Mom to move to the US but I know she won't and I have had to come to terms with that.  I know I could look after her much better if she did.

I earned an all expense paid cruise to the Southern Caribbean from Stampin' Up! Last year the incentive trip was to Hawaii and Lance had I had a fabulous time. He suggested I take my Mom on this trip. We are going to have an awesome time this week.
Here is a picture of the two of us when we were at the Salt Lake City, UT airport.

We love and miss you Dad and wish you were here with us.  We know!  we know! are happy! :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dad's best handwriting

I have been waiting in anticipation for the Marriage Certificate from my first marriage to arrive.  I had ordered it online as I need it for the British Embassy to complete my passport renewal.  It arrived today.
I arrived back at work after my lunch and opened my mail which I had picked up from home.  I was so happy to see the certificate had arrived. 

I started to cry as I looked at the certificate.  My Dad was the Registrar at my wedding.  I never even thought about the fact that it would be his handwriting. This is his best handwriting too.

My $50 was worth paying to have this.  What a treasure. :)

We love and miss you Dad

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Easter Music

I was asked to play the organ at church today. The last time I played was November 2008 when Dad was getting really sick.  I basically asked for my release from this calling as I was so emotional and was sobbing whilst playing.  It truly was a blessing that I had played for so many years and knew the hymns really well.

I had no idea what the hymns would be until I got to church so had no chance to practice.  The hymns were:
# 134 I Believe in Christ
#191 Behold the Great Redeemer Die
# 200 Christ the Lord is Risen Today
#198 That Easter Morn

As General Conference falls on Easter this year, there is only this week and next to sing Easter Hymns.  I could sing them anytime of year.  It is great to sing of a Risen Savior.
I was familiar with all of them and each one has a special meaning and really strengthened my testimony of the Resurrection. Life seems to be getting harder without Dad in it.  I miss him tremendously and my heart aches that he is not part of my life.  Of course, in spirit he is and I feel his presence daily.  He taught me so much about life and the gospel. 

It is very reassuring to know that we will meet again and that we will live together eternally.  There is no doubt in my mind that he passed the test, that he won the race and that he is doing what he did best here on the earth - Missionary work. 

I am so very grateful that I was born into such a wonderful family. I treasure my memories and look so forward to the day when we will be re-united.

We love and miss you Dad

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Special News for a Special Occasion

Hello Family & Friends,

Today as I was looking into our glass cabinet (pictured above),  and reflecting on my wonderful parents a fabulous idea came to me.  I will share that in a moment :)

Today is Mothers Day in England and so I began to think of my dear Mother and all she has done for me.  Part of my life now is our daily phone call.  I love chatting with her and hearing how her day is going and due to the time difference, how her day has gone.  Then I began to think of my dear Father.  It is impossible to think of one without the other.  My Mother was my Father's life.  He did everything he could for her.  As you will have read before if you are a follower of my blog, he didn't like to be apart from her.  If he went somewhere, he ALWAYS wanted 'his' Val to go with him, even if it meant going to the petrol (gas) station.

The items in the cabinet above bear special meaning:

Top Shelf: A picture of my parents on their wedding day, March 31 1962 (They would have celebrated their 48th Wedding Anniversary this year! :)

Second Shelf: A ceramic cat on a chair - This belonged to my Nana Plaskitt. I will treasure it always.
A word framed art - It reads "Today well lived makes every yesterday a memory of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope."
My Dads glasses - To remind me of how Dad always looked out for the needs of others.
My Dads watch - To remind me of the countless hours he helped me and others.

Third Shelf: Word Art - "My Mother did not tell me how to live......she showed me".  "It's not where you've been that counts, it's where you're going."
"We must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope." 
A Clock to remind me that time will pass and we will all be re-united again.

Bottom Shelf: Photographs - My Parents at the Salt Lake Temple when Lance I were married in 2002.  My Dad in his early rugby league days. My Parents ourside St Columbas church where they were married.  Picture taken in 2007.
Natalie and Kayleigh, our daughters.  This picture is to remind me of all my Parents did to help me when I was a single Mom. (Picture taken in 1997)

Finally, the red and white walls painted in honor of my Dad in 2009 (year of his death) to remind me of his love for Hull Kingston Rovers, his beloved rugby team.

Now onto the surprise........Our son, John (named after my Dad) will be 8 years old in 2011.  Today it was decided that John will be baptized in the Hull 2nd Ward in England in honor of his Grandad who was also baptized there in 1968.  It is so difficult living so far away from my family so we thought this would be so wonderful.

We talked to John about it and we discussed what will happen.  John and I may fly to England a few weeks before the rest of the family so we can spend longer there and I can take him lots of places.  London is on the list :)

Uncle Mike : John wants you to assist in his confirmation and he knows you will never fly over here so he is coming there to make it easier on you :)  He also wants you to be the official photographer at his special occasion.  Before and after pictures :)

Uncle Gary : John would like you to assist in his confirmation.  (Can you please give your employer 17 months notice? :)

Grandma Val : John would like you to speak at his baptism.

Auntie Rebecca : John would like to offer a prayer and he is giving you 17 months notice :)

Alan Tong: John would like you to assist in his confirmation.

Helen Brown : We have heard all about your catering and cake making skills.  You too have 17 months notice.  We will pay you your costs plus all kinds of crafts from the United States of America. We may even throw in some Betty Crocker white cake mixes :)

Bishop Skelton: Please mark this on your calendar!  We would like you to assist in the confirmation. 

We are planning this in honor of John Sims.  Please plan on attending! (Date to be confirmed).  Please do not plan on having any babies on this day, going on vacation, being sick/ill or anything else that would prevent you from sharing this special occasion with us.  We will be traveling over 5,000 miles!

(Of course, we will have to have this cleared with the appropriate Brethren of the church and will let you know the decision. )

"We love and miss you Dad!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Not so good news :(

I have had a really rough day today! I had to go to see the Doctor and NOT so good news. The Nurse took my blood and I had to give a Urine Sample. Both of them did not look good. I have high blood pressure. I have had major stomach pains and lower back pain for a while now.

I have to go see a specialist for a colonoscopy. YIKES! So I have been majorly stressed about this not so good news. I realize that once I go and find out whatever there is to find out, that at least I can stop worrying not knowing what is going on.

As you know my Dad suffered with cancer and ultimately passed away due to this ugly disease. Now for me, there is a concern for cancer.
I went to several of his appointments when he had to have a colonoscopy and he did not like the "stuff" he had to drink in preparation for it. I remember once, he took a little sip and his face said it all (and he was not a wimp when it came to meds and pain). I said "Dad, just gulp it down". He passed me the cup and said "Here love, you try 'just' gulping it down." I got the message.

ow here I am having to go through that and I will be able to say "I KNOW EXACTLY how it was to have to drink that 'stuff'.
I will find out later today when this procedure will take place and I will let you know. Please keep me in your prayers.
Here's one of my favorite pictures of my Dad and I. It was taken at Hornsea Freeport in England. It was to be one of the last days we spent together.

"We love and miss you Dad"

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Year has Passed

Today marks the first anniversary of Dad's passing.  This year has been a real struggle, but it has been much more peaceful having the knowledge of a life after this one.  It is a real blessing to know that he is in a place free of sin, free of suffering, a place of peace.  Many of our family friends have passed away this year, including my dear Uncle Geoff.  Geoff is Dad's brother and I know that would have been a really sweet reunion.

My main concern this year has been for my dear Mother.  I cannot imagine the loneliness she has felt.  I truly love and miss Dad, but for her, it must be so hard.  Imagine being with your spouse for 50 years, and then they are gone.  My Dad suffered with cancer for 2 years before he passed and she had to watch him endure pain and discomfort to the very end.  I have thought of the time when my Mother has to leave this earthly life and whilst it will be heartbreaking for me, I know that I will be filled with peace, knowing that the reunion between 2 people who loved each other more than anyone I know will be beautiful. 

For those of you haven't been following this blog, I wanted to share with you the thoughts I shared at his funeral. 

What a glorious day this is! Thank you for being here to share this special time with us as we pay tribute and respect to our husband, father, grandad, brother, uncle and friend. A man who will be truly missed. A man who touched so many hearts, lives and souls.

I would like my Dad's brother and sisters to know that he thought the world of you your husbands, wives and children. He loved to visit you. I am glad that I got the many chances to visit with him. He often spoke about each of you individually with kindness, I might add. I would like to thank all the Macmillan and Marie Curie nurses. I think you do a wonderful job and I appreciate all you did for Dad.

My wonderful husband Lance, is on standby. If I can't get through this today he will come up and take over. I have to thank him so sincerely for all he has done to enable me to see my Mom and Dad during the years I have lived in the US. I have so many memories of the past 7 years alone. Thank you Lance.
I have had to condense my thoughts. With 40 years of memories it could have been about 8 hours so I had to squish it all into 10 minutes.

What comes to your mind when you think of John Sims? Having spent so much time with him in person, on the phone and through letters I can think of so many wonderful things. Dad was a person whose word truly was his bond. If he said he would do something, he would do it. The important thing here is he would do it with a loving heart and a caring soul. He would not complain nor wish he had not been asked. He truly loved and lived to help others. I asked him why he had taken a different way home one day and he said it was because he was looking for people who may need his help.

Dad loved to associate with everyone. It didn't matter what walk of life they were from he could strike up a conversation with anyone. He really lived up to the scripture in Matthew 25:40 "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Dad was never one to think of anything in monetary terms. He was happy with his life and money didn't mean anything to him. He paid his tithing without fail and Mom continued to do so right to the very end for him. He always thought about the homeless and those without. He wanted to help all who needed it and never thought about being paid for it.

Dad's sense of humor was something that will always make me smile and will help me get through the sadness that comes with this loss. He was known for his jokes and by the way he wanted you to know that if you still owe him the tenner you need to give it to my Mom. I am assuming for all the people he said that to, my Mom will be a Millionairess.

Missionary work was a very important part of Dad's life. He loved to talk about his faith and shared a message with all he came into contact with. He is a legend amongst Missionaries who have served in this ward and many others he came into contact with. He did all he could to further the work and spent countless hours with the Missionaries. I know he is now doing what he did best on this earth.

His love for reading was well known. He really enjoyed learning and one thing I wish I had a record of was how many pages/books he has read. When he would visit us he would always have books to read and when he had read those, we would go to the bookstore to buy more. In honor of this, I have decided to write a book about Dad. The title will be John Sims, My Father, My Hero, My Friend.

My Mom got salmonella, a form of food poisioning and was in the hospital for quite some time. Dad had to take care of us and my biggest memory of that was his cooking skills. I think that is when I grew to really love fish and chips:) We ate many sandwiches and beans on toast and on the Sunday we thought we were in for a right treat when he told us we would be having meat pies. When he placed them on the table, I raised my eyebrows and said "Dad these look a bit pale, they are not cooked." He replied " Ohhhh they are fine, besides we asked a blessing on them" I answered "Yes and I am sure they asked a blessing on the food at the wedding"

One of our famous memories was when I bought a leather jacket. I had wanted it for so long and being a single Mom at the time, I couldn't afford much. I ordered the jacket from a catalog company and was so pleased to see how great it looked when it arrived. On the day it arrived, Dad asked if I wanted to go out for the day with him and my Mom and of course I wore this fabulous jacket. It was a rather warm day and decided it was too warm for this jacket. I placed it in the trunk/boot of the car. The next day I realized where I had left the jacket and called Dad. "Dad I left the jacket in your car" There was a long silence when suddenly Dad confessed he had taken some clothes that very morning to DR Barnado's charity shop and YES my beautiful jacket which I had worn only once and for about 30 minutes was amongst the clothes he had dropped off. He told me he would go to the shop and let them know what had happened. Alas, not good news. The jacket was nowhere to be seen. Dad was convinced the jacket never even made it to the shop floor. A lesson was learned that day, apart from the fact I never left ANYTHING in the car again, that worldly possessions were really not that important, not important enough to follow through with the fact I wanted to scream at him. He taught me then that "if our family was alive and well then nothing else mattered" I now think it is time to get the leather jacket back :)

Dad suffered with Bowel Cancer in the early part of this decade. He had surgery which proved to be successful. A special memory for me was when I went to visit him in Castle Hill hospital. Usually I visited him in the evening due to my work schedule. On this occasion, I visited him just after lunch. As I walked into the hospital ward, I saw him just laying there and my heart was full. I reached for his hand and he had tears streaming down his face. He told me that just that very minute he had prayed and asked God to send him an angel to comfort him and as he said "Amen" I walked in the door.

Rugby League meant everything to Dad. This was the one and only thing Dad and I did not have in common. I was converted to football. I told Dad I could answer every question about football except one........How much Gum Alex Ferguson has chewed in his life. "This past May, I watched Manchester UTD win the Premiership Cup, Hull City get into the Premiership and England beat the US all with Dad. Every now and again he would say "Oh int this a load a rubbish. Nowt like rugby is it. That's a real mans game."

Whilst I was waiting for my connecting flight to Manchester in the US this past May, I overheard a guy on his cell phone calling his wife. I told him after his conversation how good it was to hear the British accent. We chatted for a while and this guy, whose name was Mark told me how the one thing he missed when he came to the US was Rugby League. I looked at him almost shocked and said "WOW you sound like my Dad, he says the very same thing. I told Mark how my Dad had played for Hull Kingston Rovers and he asked me his name. "John Sims" I replied. Mark answered, I remember him. I used to play for Bradford Northern. Johnny Sims, That guy was like lightening when he ran down that field. We talked about Roger Millward, Steve Mcnamara and Len Casey and I really did try to act like I had an interest in rugby. He was rather shocked when I told him I preferred Football.

Planning this trip to England this past May has been one of the best decisions of my life. We had so much fun together. I followed Dad round like a little lost pup. Every where he went I was right there with him. As usual, we went to visit many people.

I learned many lessons and good things from Dad. He taught us all well. His love for my Mother has been so apparent over the years. He didn't like to spend anytime apart from her.He lived for her. He couldn't have lived without her. Mom "Thank you so much for all you did for Dad. He loved you more than anything in this world. I know he joked around that you struck oil when you married him, but he knew it was the other way round. As you know Dad always asked me if there was anything he could do for me in every phone call. I used to tell him "the best thing you can do for me is to love my Mother" In all my life, I have NEVER seen anyone love his wife more. One who wanted to be with his wife every minute of every day and feel incomplete if he was not around you.

He would tell me that the best thing I could do for him was to take care of you when he was gone. I promised him I would and I intend to keep that promise. Thank you for granting him his last wish - to die at home. Had it not been for your caring nature and your unconditional love for him, that wish would not have been granted.

There are obviously so many more memories I could share about Dad and we really would be here for another 8 hours if I shared them. I could go into detail about the time he put shelves up and not long after I put the books on the shelf, it was hanging on one side whilst the books were on the floor in a heap. He locked himself out the house one day and I had to climb in the bathroom window. Good job that was 20 years ago and before I had 4 children.

In closing my remarks today, I would like to share my analogy of my Dad and Chess. He loved to play chess. It really was the only time he sat still. I remember him chatting with Uncle Gordon on the phone when Mom and Dad visited us last Christmas. Dad told him that I had just beat him at chess and that he had let me beat him. I said "No you didn't" and Dad said "Yes I did"......I told Dad he should be proud of the fact I had beat him, it showed I had a good teacher.

The pawn - I think of this piece as one of importance. Although this piece is the smallest it is the most powerful. One of Dad's famous sayings on the rugby field was "the bigger they are the faster I run". He never worried about wealth or possessions. He always wished he was taller. Although Dad was short in stature he was a giant amongst men.

The Castle/Rook - The object of a castle is to protect, be a safe place. Dad always protected his family and provided a safe place for us.

The Knight - Dad was our Knight in shining armor.

The Bishop - Dad was the Bishop of this ward

The Queen - He always referred to our Mom as his Queen. He loved her more than anything in this world and always wanted her to be by his side.

The King - Dad is the King. Dad's life was not a stalemate. It was not defeated. His body was plagued with a disease but his spirit lives on and one day we will be reunited.

I am so thankful for the many happy memories I have of my Dad. He will always be in my heart and forever in my thoughts

I love you Dad

"We love and miss you Dad"