Saturday, December 31, 2011


Last night, as Dad was surrounded by his family, his Spirit slipped away from his body and ended his journey here on earth.  He was peaceful, we were peaceful.

As we try to put into words our feelings about Dad and his battle against the Deathstar, we wanted to let you all know that his memorial service will be Thursday, January 5th, in West Jordan.  As we finalize details we'll make a formal announcement.

Two years ago for Dad's 60th birthday, Mom had a brilliant idea of asking all his family to write him a letter, sharing their favorite thing, or memory about Dad.  We would like to invite anyone who would want to, to do the same.  We will add them to his book.  We think it will be an awesome way to share with his grandchildren now and in the future what a wonderful Husband, Father, Brother, Son, and Friend Dad was. 

If you feel so inclined, you can leave a comment, email them to me at, or write one and bring it to the memorial service.  We will also have the notebook with paper and pencils at his service where you can write one there if you wish!

As I read through the blog yesterday from the beginning I was again struck with amazement over how many lives Dad has touched.  We are truly grateful for each and everyone of you.  Thank you for your constant expressions of love and support.

Love to You All!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Still Funny

As the final days of dad's life play out here at home, I've been thinking about my dad.  Abbie and I sat here reading all of the posts from the blog we started nearly 10 months ago.  One of the reasons dad wanted a blog was so that people knew that even in the face of death, he was funny.  I thought I'd share a few of the funny moments we've had with dad the last few days.

Dad at Zoo Lights with the grandsons
a few weeks ago.
Last Friday, on dad's birthday, one of the last truly coherent days we've had, Mel, Abbie and I were sitting in the bedroom with dad.  That morning we had reminded him that it was his birthday.  He was excited and was looking forward to the family coming to visit that night.  Abbie was just getting over a bad cold and still had some left over drainage.  She had blown her nose a few times during the morning, but during one particularly productive blow, dad opened his eyes rolled his head over towards her and said "Be careful, you won't have any brains left if you keep blowing like that."  Don't worry dad, Abbie has plenty of brains.  :)

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in dad's bedroom talking on the phone with my mom.  She was complaining about her boss and a situation at work.  I complained back about my boss and a similar situation.  When I got off the phone, dad turned to me and said, "Why are all men idiots?"  I laughed a little bit and reassured him that not all men are idiots.  Yesterday morning, dad was unusually alert.  Though he can't talk and wasn't opening his eyes, it was evident that he was aware of what we were talking about in the bedroom.  At one point during the conversation, I repeated that all men are idiots.  And Abbie, who was sitting on his bed, retorted, "Not all men are idiots." To which dad, raised his eyebrows and rolled his eyes.  He even gave us a half grin.  Apparently, dad believes all men are idiots.

Dad hasn't been eating or drinking for a few days.  He is neither hungry, nor thirsty, and has a difficult time swallowing.  Yesterday he seemed uncomfortable and asked for water.  Using the small mouth swabs we have, we swabbed the inside of his mouth with water a few times  This didn't seem to provide the relief he was looking for.  And then I had an idea.  I went into the kitchen and got a small cup of Diet Coke.  I brought it into the bedroom and dipped the swab.  "Want some Diet Coke?" I asked.  He raised his eyebrows and whispered yes.  After a few swabs of soda I said "This is the best idea I've ever had." To which dad raised his eyebrows and shook his head yes. 

After surgery dad told us that St. Peter hands out Reece's Peanut Butter Cups at the gates.  I hope he has a can of Diet Coke as well.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support us through this journey.  Your thoughts, prayers, emails, texts and phone calls help to sustain us.  We love you.


Thursday, December 29, 2011


Dad in his new birthday shirt
Dad was born December 23, 1949.  We were lucky enough to celebrate his 62nd birthday last friday night.  The whole family came up.  It was a very fun mad house with 11 adults and 5 grandsons running around in my parents apartment. 

Earlier that week Dad had another stroke, so he had pretty much been stuck in bed.  With a lot of man/girl power, my siblings got dad moved into his wheel chair and brought him out to the front room so we all could celebrate together. 
Crew telling Grandpa about his drawing

We started the evening with Dad's favorite dinner... hamburgers and beans.  Then Dad got to open his presents.  His grandsons gave him cards, drawings and Sawyer gave Dad an imitation Monet that he painted this summer.  It's awesome.  Dad was lucky enough to get gift cards to his favorite places to eat... McDonalds and Red Robin.

Amy explaining to Dad our gift
Dad checking out his lottery tickets
Ever since Dad's cancer diagnosis and strokes earlier this year, he's been constantly asking us to take him to Idaho so he can buy lottery tickets. When we'd shake our heads and ask why, he'd always respond, "I'm feeling lucky."  We've always found this humorous and a bit ironic.  One day at the beginning of December as I was driving around with Amy, we started to talk about what in the world to get Dad for his birthday.  I told her of my crazy idea of getting Dad lottery tickets from Idaho and wherever we could.  And since I'm the idea-girl and Amy's the details-girl; she went for it.  We posted on facebook and with the help of our friends across the country, and friends of friends, and our cousin's wife's brother's in-laws (I know it's sounding like a country song)... we received over 33 tickets from- Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virgina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Washington, California, Idaho and Minnesota! 

You guys are amazing.  Seriously.  We were overwhelmed by the response.  It was so fun to open the mail box each day to see who else made this crazy birthday gift come to life.  I know in situations like this people want to help but there isn't always something tangible to do... this was tangible and you delivered.  We feel really blessed!
which of Dad's llamas does it look like?

So we found a talking card that said, "We have 3 wishes for your birthday" on the front and then when you open it, the voices scream, "ONE MILLION DOLLARS."  It was perfect.  Amy helped Dad open it up and explained to him what we did.  He thought it was really cool. 

We then ate llama cupcakes (they reminded me more of the Cadburry Egg commercials where they put bunny ears on a lion... I'm allowed to say that because I made them), but Dad liked them, as you can tell by his best smile and my nephews recognized them as llamas, so that's something.

Dad's best smile

Before bed, we scratched a few tickets.  And did so again the next day, and the next day, and the next day. 
Our first winning ticket

Christmas morning... another winning ticket
I'm now feeling like Dad; Lucky.  Lucky to have him as my Daddy.  Lucky to have been able to spend my 31 years of life here with him.  Lucky to be able to celebrate his birthday this year with him.  Lucky to have each additional day to spend with him on this earth.  And most Lucky to know that I'll see and be with my Daddy again in the future. 
I love you Dad!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas with my Papa

Last Monday (Dec 19th) I arrived at the Salt Lake International Airport.  I hadn't seen my Dad since I left in August.  When I left he was still working and getting around okay on his own.  I've talked to him at least twice a week since I left.  In my mind I knew that he's had some strokes and things weren't going all that well, but when you aren't there to see the changes, it's quite a shock.  Dad cannot support himself at all.  He's lost most of his ability to move his right leg and arm, and he has a hard time speaking. The week before I came, he was able to get out via wheelchair, but within a couple of days he was stuck in bed.  I spent most of my time sitting with him in his room watching Gold Rush, A-Team or NCIS.  A few of the days he slept a majority of the time - other days he was pretty awake and making jokes. Most of the time he didn't know what day it was.

 December 23rd was his 62nd birthday.  We combined Dad's birthday and our family Christmas party.  Dad decided he wanted to come out so we maneuvered him into his wheelchair.  We had hamburgers & beans (Dad's Favorite).  We did the Christmas Program Dad makes us do every year.  My brothers gave Dad a blessing and then we had cupcakes.  Not just any cupcakes, Abbie produced llama cupcakes.

Dad spent Christmas Day sleeping & I kept him company watching lots of NCIS episodes.  The next morning I sat with him until I had to leave.  He's pretty much sleeping all the time and he continues to have complications.  I'm really glad I got to spend that time with him.  Thanks to my siblings for letting me monopolize him while I was there.  I love you Papa!


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hospice Care

Last August, when I was at a work meeting, one of my faculty members sought me to out talk about my dad.  He wanted to know the latest on the Deathstar and how things were going with my family.  I have been amazed at the kindness of the people I work with.  His advice to me was this: "When the time comes, do not hesitate one single moment to call hospice.  They were so good to my mother as she passed.  Be sure to call them and get all the help you need."  I have always remembered that.

When things changed this week with my dad and Dr. Colman made the recommendation that we move to hospice care, I was very relieved.  But nothing prepared me for the amazing outpouring of kindness that has come our way in the last 24 hours.

Last night we had an assessment nurse come and visit to discuss the hospice program and admit dad into their care.  He explained that the entire goal of the program was to keep dad at home and to keep him safe, clean and comfortable.  He was incredibly kind to dad and explained that although it might feel like you have to give up some of your manliness - the whole program was designed to help him and his family feel safe and secure.  The nurse did a needs assessment and ordered some equipment to make things easier for us at home. 

This morning we had a wonderful visit from his assigned nurse.  She did a further needs assessment, took all of his vital signs, asked him about pain issues and explained more of how the nursing aspect worked.  We had another visit shortly after from the bath aide.  She will come in three times a week and help dad with showering and shaving.  She reiterated several times, as did all of them, that dad is in charge.  That whatever he wants goes.  He loved that.  :)

Shortly after we were visited by the hospice social worker and the spiritual advisor.  They were great.  At first it didn't seem like dad was really excited to see her but by the time she left, he asked when she was coming back.  She said to him to be sure to live everyday to the fullest and was very fun to talk to.  She also had some helpful things for mom. 

Next, the physical therapist came by.  He did a fall assessment for dad and did a few tests with him.  He will be able to continue physical therapy for a few more weeks to see if we can improve some of his independence and his walking ability.  They were very fun.  Dad kind of gave him a hard time, and he teased dad right back.  Before he left, he said he hoped to come back because dad was so much fun.

About an hour later, a very nice man knocked on the door with a delivery of equipment for us.  A wheelchair and other equipment was brought so that we have what we need to keep dad safe. 

Less than 24 hours after our first visit, we feel very taken care of.  Dad will remain at home and get incredible care.  I'm grateful for these amazing men and women who are so thoughtful and so kind.  They made dad feel at ease and still in charge of everything going on.  And best of all -- I feel confident that both mom and dad are going to get the support they need during this difficult time. 

Thank you all so much for your love, prayers, and support.  Dad loves visitors.  If you have a few moments and want to come by - we would love to see you.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Current Update

To all of our friends and family, I would like to thank you personally for your continued prayers, calls, notes, emails and support for our family. We have also been blessed with such good physical and occupational therapists that have been able to come to our home and help with David - especially teaching us about equipment we had no idea existed that would help David be so much safer. And thanks to Amy and her generosity, we now have that equipment for him and it all has made a difference!!
The past few days have been especially difficult for us. David has been falling on a regular basis the last few weeks and we have been trying to not only prevent those falls, but hoping to also prevent any serious damage to himself if he does fall. Sunday was a very difficult day. Amy, Abbie and I took David to Church, but he was extremely weak and it was only through the 3 of us holding him up that we got him and out.
But yesterday, while I was getting ready for work, David took a bad fall trying to go to the bathroom. He cut his head on a chair in front of the sink and fell flat on his back and cracked a hole in the bathroom cabinet door. Amy was able to get him up enough to get him into the chair. The cut was pretty superficial, but the bump left quite a knot on the back of his head. We had his primary care doctor check it out and he was cleared of any stitches or serious damage. Later that day he fell again, but last night David had another stroke that nearly paralyzed his right side. He was unable to speak clearly, use his right arm and he could barely drag his right foot. It was a scary thing to watch for Amy and myself. I could tell David was trying to fight through it, but there wasn't much he could do. He is unable to walk at all without help and it takes both of us to get him to the bathroom. This morning, he is speaking a little better and seems a little stronger, but not much.
Needless to say, he is now pretty much bedridden and after talking to his oncologist this morning, David will now be put on hospice care - which is a good thing in that it will open up a lot of services that will help us take better care of him. Of course, the bad thing is that chemotherapy and any other cancer treatments will not be continued and the disease will be left to run its course. The ironic thing is that the doctors don't believe the cancer is causing the strokes - it has been stable since the surgery/radiation treatments last Spring.
So that is the status as of today. David is not in any physical pain, which is such a blessing, and I'm not sure he understands all that is going on because of the questions he keeps asking, but we are trying to keep him safe and keep him comfortable. Please remember him in your thoughts and prayers. We truly do feel your support.
Love to all of you...