Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Grandma Quigley

Grandma Quigley died on Thursday. She had been struggling with her health for a long time and Granddad passed away in 2000 so it's been hard for her to be alone. The family finally put her in a home about four years ago because she had dementia and needed more care. They found a wonderful home in Provo and she was happy there. In November of 2005 when I flew to the states for Kasen's birth, I was able to fly to Utah to visit Ariana in Provo. Ariana took me to the rest home to see Grandma. Grandma was having a difficult time that day and I am pretty sure she couldn't figure out who I was. But, it's funny how her personality was still the same. Her whole life she spent putting on nice functions or dinners for friends and family. She was always a gracious hostess and although her mind and body were not functioning properly, she kept that personality. We were sitting in the dining room with the other residents and Grandma kept commenting on how nice it was that we had such a good turnout for this dinner. I remember looking around and thinking that there weren't all that many people there and not only that, it was just the regular dinner for the fifteen or so people that lived in that wing of the nursing home. Grandma took us down the hallway to see her room and the shadow box that Ariana had made for her. When we came back, she stopped at the doorway of the dining room and got everyone's attention. She thanked them all for coming to the dinner and most of them politely and gratefully replied, "You're welcome." It was kind of funny.

At the end, she just decided to stop eating and drinking and was put on hospice. Her children were able to get there in time to say goodbye with the exception of Mom who is on a mission with Dad in the Dominican Republic. Wednesday night, her boys gave her a blessing and released her to death if that be her wish. Within about eight hours of the blessing, she was gone.

I know that Grandma is happy to be back with Granddad and to have her memories back. It's got to feel good to be released from a tired, worn out body. She was 92 and knows more people on the other side than here. She was always an incredible hostess and I imagine she is in her element with a big welcome party in her honor with her family and friends that have gone before. Mormon funerals are awesome because we understand that and when a good, long life is over, it's more of a celebration of that life and a family reunion for those left behind. I was having a little pity party for myself yesterday because I really wanted to be there. We were able to get Skype working and I was able to see some of the family for a few minutes but we didn't do it soon enough to realize they needed a newer version of skype in order to enable the video for more than one call. The audio was fine but if we wanted to do video, it could only do one. I decided it was more important for Mom to be able to see it from her mission in the Dominican than to have both of us be able to listen. The funeral director said he would put the service (audio) on the internet and we can hear it later. I am looking forward to that.

Anyway, yesterday wouldn't have been so bad but all kinds of ridiculous things happened that one at a time, would have been just challenging but instead, I wanted to go to bed and pretend I didn't have responsibilities and that my husband was home so I could have that luxury. (Christian is gone for two weeks and is currently in Kiev.) When I finally got the "fires" put out, the family that we've been babysitting for four days sent home and my kids in bed, I was able to call Mom. We talked for hours and it was good. Unfortunately, that put me to bed at 2 am and I am a morning person. I don't do well on three hours sleep. After I got Jesse driven to work this morning, I came home and crawled back in bed.

It's spring break and we are taking a little trip to Rust, Germany tomorrow. We are staying until Friday or Saturday. There is a theme park there called Europa Park and the kids are excited about this. I know I need to get ready to go but instead, I am writing for a few minutes.

I am so grateful for good friends, family and the gospel. I opened a Facebook account a few months ago which kind of seemed like a silly thing at first and maybe a waste of time, but I wanted to keep up with what my teenagers were doing and know who they were talking to, etc. I am finding that it is good for me too. I really have made some wonderful friends in my life and met the nicest people. The Facebook account has been a good way to stay connected. I posted that it was hard to be away from family during the time of Grandma's funeral. A lot of my friends reached out with little words of comfort. This helped me more than I want to admit and reminded me that I am never alone.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Our Family

We are in Germany again with the military. We are in a little village called Rüdesheim am Rhein. It is in the wine valley above the Rhine river just under an hour west of Frankfurt.

Christian is flying leer jets with the army doing VIP missions. He always wanted to fly and got his private pilot's license while we were living in Hawaii. He then was accepted into flight school and started flying Blackhawk helicopters in 1988. It has been a challenging life with wars and deployments. We've been through four long deployments and he was in Panama for the "festivities" there, Kosovo and of course, Iraq. When we came to Germany four years ago, we did the math and figured we had been separated about a quarter of our marriage. (This counts shorter deployments and schools he has had to attend.) It is amazing we had so many children.

Germany has been a good assignment for him. He has been home more than ever before and only had to deploy for short stints since coming here. He will be going back to Iraq this fall but only for five months or so (of course during the holidays again). He transitioned into fixed wing aircraft starting with the C-12 when we came here. Now he is in the leer jet which is a Beechcraft on the civilian side.

We have nine children. Ariana (26) is married to Alan Dupré. They both graduated from BYU and live in Maryland while he is going to medical school at Bethesda, currently finishing his second year. They have two children, a boy and a girl. They've had some extensive medical problems but have good insurance and are getting the support they need.

Melanni Shareen (25) married Murray Chunn and they also have two children. They are doing really well and just moved from New Mexico to Gainesville, VA. They have both been busy with education and raising their little family. They are only 45 miles (an hour and a half in good traffic as they have to go through the DC beltway but MUCH better than clear across the country) from Ariana and Alan so a couple of weeks ago the cousins got to meet for the first time. I wish I could have been there. They also have a boy and a girl. They're so excited to live close to family and have already gotten together three times.

Christian James (23) went on a mission to Oregon and is currently in his second year at BYUI. We are so proud of him. He set a goal to pay for his mission by himself and he did that. He is such a good big brother. He has grown into a fine young man and is doing well. He is actively serving as the family home evening "father" for his FHE group. It has been a good experience for him. We really miss him but know that he is where he needs to be right now.

Jesse John (21) is our little miracle. He was born with a lot of challenges. He has autism and has had developmental problems. He is childlike in many ways. He is such a sweet boy that everyone that gets to know him loves him. He graduated from Wiesbaden High School here in Germany and is currently working at the commissary as a stocker. He loves his job and is very responsible. He wants to go to school later with the money he is socking away. Mom and Dad wanted to take him on their mission to the Dominican Republic but that did not work out. He will be able to serve a service mission once we are in a place closer to a mission home where he can have the advantage of living at home with his family and being able to go in every day. He could go here in Frankfurt but it is a little too far and I am not sure I feel comfortable with the train changes at the station so we will wait until we come back to the states. He has always been a spiritual barometer for the family. When we watch things that get a little too "scary" or he feels the spirit leave, so does he. What a great example to all of us!

Rebecca (19) is finishing a dental assistant program in Arizona and plans on coming back to Germany to work for a while and take some classes here in the evening. She has decided she wants to go on a mission but that's over a year away so....we'll see. It won't hurt her to prepare herself. She did one semester at BYUI and got accepted into the Red Cross dental assistant program so she took time off to do that. She is on the winter/summer track with her brother so she doesn't start again until January. We are looking forward to having her come home, not only because we miss her but because I need another chauffeur!

Richard (17) is graduating in June. He has enjoyed playing football and now is in track but he has the worst case of senioritis I have ever seen. Graduation can't come quickly enough for him. He is anxious to get on with his life. He has been a good leader in this ward and has been teacher's quorum president and now assistant to the bishop in the priest's quorum. He has been a good leader for the young men here and they look up to him. We have a nice group of young men and NO eligible girls for dating. (That could be why he is anxious to get to college, along with finally being able to get his driver's license.) He is such a good brother to his siblings. I have been impressed with how nurturing he is to Whitney. It is nice to hear him tell her when she looks nice or that she has done a good job doing something. I don't think that I was as nice of a teenager and as thoughtful of others as my kids have been. I am so lucky. Richard is excited about getting ready for a mission.

Whitney (16) is a Sophomore. Right now there are only three girls active in the young women's and our girls are two of them. Let me say that it was a big deal when she turned sixteen and we are going to have to fight the boys off with sticks! She is in track and very fast. We also found out that she is very artistic. She is a fun girl and a good friend. She misses Becca alot. Whitney has a bubbly personality and is happy. She is turning into quite the missionary too.

Lyndsay (12) and Collin (10) are going to the German schools and are "sprechening" Deutsch. They are in the fifth and sixth grades which for Germany is high school. That has been a big challenge but rewarding. They are doing well and are great about getting home and getting homework done without any prompting from me. They would not consider going to school with their homework undone. I shudder to think what the teachers do to the kids when this happens. Lyndsay just started Young Women's and Collin is active in cub scouts. They love these programs because other than Sunday, it's their only contact with Americans. It's fun listening to them speak German with their friends. It was a difficult choice to make to put them into these schools and has been a lot of work but it is finally paying off.

We have had a great experience getting into the German culture. It has been such a rewarding experience. We have made many friends. We have been welcomed into the community and it is going to be hard to leave when we finally decide it is time.

I am busy with church and helping kids with school. I am learning German and have worked hard at it but I am far from fluent, quite far actually. It has been a lot more work than it is probably worth and I wonder what in the world I will ever do with it when we get back to the states, but I will keep plugging away. Maybe by the time I leave here I will be able to conjugate a complete sentence correctly, without writing it out first and looking up articles. As it is, during a conversation I just plunge right in and I am sure the poor Germans squirm when they hear what I am doing to their language. I am trying though. I am in a German class with a bunch of Muslim women, mostly from Turkey and Afghanistan. That has been interesting. I also teach piano to my children, one little American girl and three German children. That has been fun.

Although we have had a lot of challenges and been far away from family, we have been blessed to have a lot of good experiences traveling over the years and meeting good people. We have lived in Utah, Nevada, Washington state, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Alabama, Panama, Virginia, Colorado and Germany. We had moved 24 times when we got here this time. I've had two of my children "solo" but have had a lot of support from friends and family.

I will try to post some pictures of our family but this might take a while. I've been on Facebook for a long time and it took me months until I put my one picture on (and even longer before I realized there was a place to tell about myself. After quite a while I was finally listed as "married"). My girls have great blogs and they are teaching me how to do it.