I arrived Friday afternoon, and thanks to a couple good pals (Melissa and Marie), Eliza was covered while Josh had to be at work, and the big kids were at school. It's always a whirlwind - getting ready for a trip. I tried to think of all the things I had forgotten to do/pick up/clean, but once I got on the plane, I just closed my eyes and looked forward to seeing Mom and Dad.
Marie, Mom and Dad picked me up, and I drove us all home. Lots of fun catching up on the news in the car. I casually asked, "How's Scouties doing?" (our family dog) I was met with a silent car. Poor Scoutie had taken a turn for the worse, and was vomiting and unable to keep her food down. Her arthritis had gotten really bad in her hips and her legs, making going up the stairs a struggle. Mom made the difficult decision to schedule her to be put down the following day. Never one to want a big fuss over things, she asked us not to tell the rest of the family - not wanting kids to rush to come up, or feel badly that they weren't there.
We've had Scout for 15 years. Mom had a dog growing up, and the sissies had begged and begged Mom to get a dog. Finally one day Mom went to Pet Smart at a dog adoption fair and saw HER. She was a light-colored little puffball - a border collie and german shepherd mix. She was mom's little baby for all these years, and Mom came to love her by serving her, training her, and keeping her safe and out of trouble. Her concern was always Scout's safety and comfort, and I think they were a blessing to each other. Mom will miss her most of all of us. I'm sad for her loss, and the lonely space Scout leaves behind.
And so, the trip quickly shifted to a somber and reflective occasion. We couldn't help but think of what it will be like when Dad and Mom eventually pass away, and we had several discussions about her wishes in that regard. I helped Mom dig a grave in the flower bed, behind the bench, and we talked about death and grief. Each person deals with loss and grief in different ways. With nine children, there is bound to be a variety of ways in which it is faced. We agreed that this would be an interesting and telling event to help us know the response and the needs of each sibling. We took lots of pictures, and saved a little lock of her soft fur.
I suppose I must be kept busy when dealing with loss. My mind immediately started thinking of a project we could do - an entertaining video slideshow, filled with pictures of Scout, and funny memories and inside jokes. We searched for photos of Scout, and I scanned them all so I could work on the project at home. Sweet Marie has such a big heart, and has been so instrumental in caring for Scout's medical needs for several years. I'm so glad she was there. She works at the vet's office where she was put down. Needless to say, this was different than any other procedure she'd helped with before.
After it was done, I took Mom home and then went to get my hair cut and colored. It was long overdue.
Afterwards, I asked Marie to come with me to run a few errands and go out to lunch. I was glad she agreed to go, and she was glad she went. The distraction from all of the memories and triggers at the house helped a bit. Mom and I buried her in the flowerbed, after petting her soft fur and paws and ears for one last time. "This is harder than I thought it would be," I said, with tears streaming down our faces.
Later that night, I went to the temple. It was so nice to be there with no tight schedule to keep or clocks to watch. They have a new temple video, which features my second cousin and his wife! It was very well done, and I'm looking forward to going again. The temple has such beautiful flowers!
Sunday I got busy with a project for Dad. When he was in High School at Clearfield High, he was Student Body President. He wrote his memoirs and a sort of history of the school, following his graduation. His 50-year reunion is coming up this summer, and he wanted to publish the memories, along with some scanned photos and yearbooks. I was really excited to help with this project, as we've been wanting Dad to get working on his personal history for our own sakes! It was really fun taking a trip down memory lane with Dad.
Most of the family came up for dinner: Spaghetti and meatballs, corn, cauliflower, salad, bread, and Creamies! So fun to see the little nieces and nephews and catch up with all the adults! We shared the sad news with the adults, and it was sweet to see each one say, "Oh, I'm sorry. How's mom?"
Monday we got to work in the yard, planting corn and beans, and pulling weeds. It always feels so good to be productive and help with big projects that take them twice as long to do. It's hard getting old! Mom said Dad got a little teary on an errand, realizing that I was heading down to Salt Lake later that afternoon. "Her trips are always so short." Mom said, "I can't tell you how much it meant to us to have you here." I love visiting, and hate to leave them.
Angie had a fun Cinco de Mayo party at her house that night (delicious food!), and got to see Josh's side of the family. Tim and Kellie came over, since we missed them Sunday, and we had a good catch-up.
I stayed with Stewart and Annette that night, and Annette drove me to the airport today. I'm just finishing this up, and I'm waiting for the kids to get home from school. I've missed them a lot. There's no place like home.