Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bussing it to St. Mark's

When Jenna goes to school, I have taken the bus with her.  I normally have my backpack which contains my water bottle and a book.  Or at least I try to have a book – so I can read during the ride when Jenna isn’t with me.

Jenna and I have ridden the bus all summer.  We’ve gone in a variety of directions.  But we have always started out on the same bus that we have taken when she’s been in school.  Instead of continuing to our normal bus stop near her school, we have been getting off at the college and making a transfer connection to a different bus.

Just north of the college is a foot bridge that leads to the junior high across the street.  Jenna has always wanted to cross it.  I figured she’ll have the opportunity to cross it in two years – almost daily for the three years that she attends the junior high. My initial plan was to cross it with her, as I’d need to take a return bus home.  But this morning I learned that is no longer in my future.  She will either have to get off one stop before me, or cross at the light.  I think she will choose the bridge – which is what I would prefer for both of us.

 Jenna was so excited about being on this steep uphill bridge; it did make the crossing worthwhile.  But the side with the junior high is fenced in, and there is no slit in the fence and so we had to walk around and it took us more time than if we had just gotten off at the college and crossed the street.  Jenna apologized for my error.  But it was my error.  And it really was nice to learn about it now as opposed to when it’s full of junior high traffic.  And Jenna really did think it was cool to be on the bridge.  So it was fine.  I wasn’t upset about it.

We took a bus to the train station and transferred to another bus that took us to St. Mark’s hospital.  Before my mom passed away, I had driven to the hospital many times to see her – the same hospital I went to today, but for a different reason.  It was actually my first time riding the bus to St. Mark’s.  It was so different arriving at the hospital with a different form of transportation.

Instead of going to see my dying mother, I entered another part of the building that brings new life.  Up in the maternity ward is my sister, Kayla and her husband, Bill and their new arrival, BJ (not his real name – but I highly suspect that he is a “Bill Junior” as he seems to have had Bill’s sense of humor even while in the womb; and as their other two look like Kayla, I suspect BJ will not only act more like Bill but look more like him as well – kind of hard to tell right now who he takes after in the “looks” department) who’s been named after mom.

Roland’s office is located about four and a half blocks east and south of St. Mark’s.  I noticed that he hadn’t taken his phone, and grabbed it since he was so close.  Though I considered just keeping it as my phone has been flipping out the last two days and every call is broken and gets cut off.  I wondered if he had left it for me intentionally. 

I don’t like calling him at work through his work phone as I’m often redirected to the location in Phoenix – even with an extension.  Sometimes I am tempted to call the President of the United States just to see how much harder it would be than trying to get Roland at his work.  But that’s beside the point.                

While we were at St. Mark’s, Bill’s sister brought his kids to see their new little brother.  Anna lovingly held her new brother and smiled at him.  Gary, on the other hand, seemed freaked out and afraid.  I’m thinking it was time for a nap (perhaps he hadn’t had his Super Why fix)  He clung to Bill who wanted to take pictures and handed the camera to one of his nephews as Gary wouldn’t let go of his dad.  I noticed the time on the clock and asked Jenna if she wanted to go see her dad and come back later.  And so we left.          

The hospital and Roland’s office building are both on the same side of the street.  I told Jenna our two choices.  We could either cross the street, ride the bus down four blocks, cross the street(s) again or we could stay on that side and walk to Roland’s work.  We ended up walking.        

I didn’t remember Roland taking a lunch and wondered if he was at the nearby drive-in.  Jenna and I checked before making our way to his office.  I had her stay downstairs so we wouldn’t miss him if he got off the elevator.  I went from cubicle to cubicle not even knowing for sure in what section he was even stationed (he’s been relocated several times due to change of management and HUGE turn-overs)

I placed the phone on his desk and wanted to know if he’d be going to lunch.  He finished up what he was doing and met Jenna and I in the downstairs lobby and we went to lunch.  I should have gotten something for Bill, but just dumped the leftover fries in a bag along with half a shake and half a drink.  But he seemed grateful.

He asked me if he could take Jenna with him to the DMV as he and Kayla just purchased a van that still needs to be registered.  Their kids call it a bus.  Jenna’s actually excited about it because they will have room for her in addition to their three children.  She normally has fun with Bill and usually delights in his overly-done sense of humor.

I actually ended up leaving shortly after they did.  They may have still been in the parking lot actually.  But Kayla looked really tired and I could sense that she wanted to rest more than she wanted to visit.  I’ve actually had an obnoxious dry cough that seems to worsen when I talking, and so it worked out for both of us.   
 I hadn’t planned on returning home alone as I naturally figured that Jenna would be with me; therefore had nothing to read.
From the train station I have three options on returning home.  Instead of transferring back to the 41 (which is the route Jenna and I had used for getting to the train station) I decided to take the train to the next stop and wait for the 35 which gets me closer to wear I live.  

Now i am home writing this post, frustrated by a stuck shift key that keeps giving commands on my word that i have to go back and correct.  (That cap is one example.  It was also underlining and bolding – but the caps don’t seem as correctable – even on a different computer.  I was able to change the font size.  But I had to copy and paste this part)

Now that this is posted, I will go to the other room to wait for Jenna and the kids (who will be staying with us for a couple of days) I don’t know when Bill will be dropping them off.  He may try calling, but I can’t guarantee there will be a connection. It's been almost five hours now and I haven't heard from them.  Roland is home now.  Perhaps I should use his phone to find out where my daughter might be.

According to customer service, I’ll be receiving my new phone in just a few days.  That sounds unbelievable to my ears.  I’ll be surprised if it comes on Saturday or even Monday.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Walking in Heaven

I don’t know when mom became an avid walker or how many years she and Pam Sanders had walked together practically every weekday morning.  I know that Corey was still in high school and driving because many times mom and Pam would end their walk at the high school and take the car.

            Once, as they were leaving the parking lot, a security officer from the high school pulled them over to see their ID – wondering why the car was being driven off the high school grounds during school hours.  I guess he figured out that they weren’t high school students. They laughed about the experience of being pulled over and stopped by a diner on their way home. 

            The girl behind the counter started to ring up their order.  I don’t know what they ordered, but evidently it was available at a senior price.  Neither one of them were of age at the time, but took the discount as they had been offended that they had gone from high school teenagers to senior citizens in the matter of only a few minutes.

            They didn’t always do the four miles.  Some days they would only do two.  Mom was in really great shape physically and sorely missed her walks when she had broken her bones one year and her leg was in a cast.

            I didn’t pay much attention to when mom and Pam got back into their routine or when they had stopped walking due to Pam’s ailing health – which seemed to come and go but lingered more as the years passed.

            Pam volunteered to assist with my wedding and worked in the kitchen and fixed plates for any guest who happened to the open house. 

            She and Jenna became fast friends when Jenna was two and three years old.  I remember giving her a picture of Jenna and she was thrilled. 

            As Jenna got older, Pam’s health deteriorated. I did not see much of hear or even hear much for that matter.  My own mom had her good days and bad days after she’d been diagnosed with dementia.  Pam seemed to have disappeared from her mind along with so many others she had known 40 – 50 years.  I stopped by a few times just to see how Pam was doing, but I never did see her again.  Her health had gotten worse.

            Today I heard that she had passed.  I don’t have the details.  I am hoping that I will be able to attend her funeral.  That makes how many that I’ve gone to in less than a year? 

            Corey posted a thought to facebook that perhaps the two of them are taking a walk right now.  What a nice thought.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Devastation of Adolescence and Experiencing Peter Pan Syndrome

         When Jenna was two and three, she insisted that Roland stop calling her the baby.  “I am a big girlr” she’d inform us (actually I don’t remember the exact pronunciation; she said it as one syllable, but it sounded like she had an extra ‘r’ at the end.)

         When she started to go through adolescence, she no longer wished to be a big girl.  She wanted to be like her hero, Peter Pan – without having to move to Never Never Land.  Becoming a woman was something she was NOT looking forward to her.

         Two years ago I started a post which I did not attach to my blog.  It was the day when I bought Jenna’s first bra.  The very idea was just too devastating for her.  And I told her that I wouldn’t tell any family members – and because I have family members which read my post, I didn’t post about it – I had made a promise.

         I understood the devastation.  She started developing early.  And although the two bumps were rather small at the time – they just seemed to stand out more when she wore tee shirts.  Roland and I both agreed that it was time to do something about it – though I personally haven’t ever been aware of one developing at eight or starting off third grade wearing bras (training bras – but still)

         She gets her early development from her father’s side.  Unlike Jenna, who has always seemed be ahead of her peers both academically and *physically, I was a late bloomer.  Unlike many of my friends who were wearing bras before junior high school (some as early as fourth grade), I don’t think I got my first bra until midway through 7th or 8th grade.

At age 12 and 13, I was probably where Jenna is now – though I was always skinny and flat chested.  In addition to another early development, Jenna’s body also seemed to be going through a chunky stage.  Her belly and chest nearly resembled that of a sumo wrestler.  (Just what every girl wants to hear, right?)  But just as skinny girls can balloon out (which I did by the time I hit my mid thirties) chunky girls can lose the weight (my second daughter-in-law was quite chunky between 8 and 14.  You’d never know it now)

With tears in her eyes Jenna said she didn’t want to wear a bra.  I understood.  Early developers were probably teased even more than the late bloomers were.  She said that I was lucky that I didn’t have to wear a bra in elementary school.  I think she’s right. 

We had gone shopping for shoes and pants as well.  Jenna had her heart set on getting some high heels.  At that time she was wearing a women’s size 5 ½.  At least according to the shoes that she selected.  She paid for them herself and wore them to the mall.  

I was amused at watching her clicking down the aisles in shoes she had obviously never experienced before – but felt proud to be wearing as a children’s pocket book dangled from her arm.  

My little girl is no longer little.  She is blossoming in all directions.  She’s becoming a young lady though she would like to remain a little girl.

Today Roland is taking Jenna to the dinosaur exhibit at Southtown Expo.  He had invited me to go along, but I think Jenna really needs some alone time with her daddy.  And perhaps I need some alone time with just me.
It would be fun to go just to take pictures – though I can give the camera to Roland just as easily.  I hope they have a fantastic day together.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Trading Treasures and Wheelin-Dealin’

Randy has always been charismatic.  Often he has conned others out of favors based on his charm.  One time in fifth grade, someone dared him to wear a dress onto the playground.  Of course Randy needed incentive and said he’d do it for five dollars. 

Randy wore the dress for the entire recess – but there had been a commotion about it.  Roland was called in and learned all what was involved.  Randy ended up having to give back the money on Roland’s orders.

When the boys were older, we had a family home evening on the talents.  To each boy we gave 20 dollars and told them to go multiply. 

Randy purchased 20 candles the following day.  He took his 20 candles from door to door and sold his one dollar candles for three dollars each.  And he would use his profits to purchase more candles until he had doubled his money and had made 40 dollars with the twenty.

Jenna was a cute baby.  People would melt whenever she would smile.  Many thought she was so cute, they would give her money – mostly elderly looking grandparents, but there had been a few that were obviously not old enough to be grandparents.  I remember hoping that it wouldn’t last – as it somehow felt inappropriate when she became older. 

Like Randy, she has charm and charisma and is somewhat of a wheeler dealer.

My Jenna left the house with a bag of rocks – most of them had been given to her several years ago by the neighbor next door.  She came home with a bag of toys.  Some surprised me.  In her collection were two bracelets, a bendy flower, a care bear, two plastic animals and a Barbie.  She had gotten the care bear for her cousin, Anna.  But why on earth would she want a Barbie?  We had given those up because she never really enjoyed playing with him.  She said she got it so she would “fit in” with her seven year old friends.

The thing I have been most surprised about is how much time she has spent playing with Barbie and combing out Barbie’s hair.  And this morning she brushed her own hair.

Okay, who are you and what have you done with my daughter?  Jenna’s favorite Disney princess is Merida.  Merida has unkempt hair – or so it seems.  Merida is not typical of girly stereotype.  She admires Merida for not giving into pressure.  And there she is on the couch combing her Barbie and setting her down so that they can both watch television together.  Interesting.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Joe Boxer Made Sock Sorting Easier

I’ve seen three socks and five socks in a package entitled “mix and match” I remember purchasing two five packs of the same prints so that I would have mates.  Selling socks by odd number seemed more foreign to me than mismatching.

         They actually work out perfectly for Jenna, who doesn’t pay much attention to whether they are even the same length or color.  I think she started a fad when she wore her mismated owl socks that I mention in this post

         So I’m sorting socks this morning and since the Joe Boxer socks can be mated with whatever I decide that I can mismatch whatever other socks I can’t find mates for.  I tried to make mine match but took all the left over printed socks and mated them by length and didn’t worry about the print.  I put all of the foreign pairs into Jenna’s drawer.  And she’ll not even care.

         She decided to turn the mismatched solids into sock puppets.  I caught her drawing on an outgrown sock (very white and clean) with a marker and decided to give her most of the solid ones I’ve had around for some time but have still not found mates for.  

She had quite the creative and artistic mind.  When she was three, she decided to make knee and elbow pads out of socks.  Her mind never stops thinking of ways to invent and recycle.  I LOVE my little girl.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Accepted as Part of the Family

I don’t know when the boys had lost touch with their mother’s family. Roland supposedly had her number on file, and the boys would constantly ask, “When can we see Aunt Judy again?”

I figured it should be up to Roland to provide the number, put in the phone call, make an effort to get in touch. It took me two years to realize that if the boys were going to get in touch with Aunt Judy, they would have to come up with another source.

I knew we wouldn’t find her under her maiden name and asked them one night to provide me with the first and last name of her husband and then we would look her up. I was surprised that there was only one Van Ball in Layton. I called Judy and introduced myself and learned that her father’s funeral had taken place only three days prior. She took down our name and address and sent out three programs (one for each boy). Even though the family had been out of touch, the three missing grandsons had still been named as honorary pallbearers.

Aunt Judy said that the family did an annual barbeque each year and would call us back with the details. It was the first time I had met the Walden family. What a great bunch of hospitable people! It was fascinating being in their presence.

At that time eight of Roland’s late wife’s sibs were living. Not all of them made it to the barbeque. I think that there were six or seven families there – or a few members from each family anyway. All of them are scattered in Wyoming and Northern Utah.

The boys were treated like celebrities. Well, I guess we all were. Aunt Judy took a million pictures! Not just of our family, but each family. And then all the kids. And then all the adults. And Roland and I had been asked to join in the adult picture – though neither one of us are Waldens. Okay, he had married Deborah Walden and would still be married to her if she had not passed away.

I was so impressed with how they embraced and accepted me and Jenna and made me feel like we had belonged to them for decades.

After that Aunt Judy always sent presents to Jenna for Christmas and her birthday. I thought that was so wonderful of her to accept Jenna and dote over her – even more so than she had with the boys.

The boys were actually able to see their maternal grandmother a few times before she passed. We didn’t make it to the funeral as we had gone to Roland’s Uncle Mike’s just the week before. Driving to Arizona in January wasn’t actually a big deal. Driving north to Wyoming seemed like it would be quite a treacherous journey that particular year. We prayed for the family's safety.

Though we did not make it to grandma’s funeral, we did attend funerals and weddings of other family members. Deborah’s oldest brother’s only daughter got married. I took Jenna to the luncheon that none of the rest of my family was able to attend. Later her mom passed away. I think all six of us went to that funeral. Or perhaps Randy and Tony were both out of the country at the time. I don't remember all the details.

We attended the wedding reception of Uncle Joey’s oldest. Roland told me that he and Deborah had each of their children within a few months of Joey and his wife. Joey and his wife came to the wedding receptions of all three of my boys. Joey, from what I understood was the most social of all the Walden children.

One of Deborah’s older sisters, Sandy had had cancer in addition to some other health problems. It actually didn’t come as a huge surprise to hear about her passing. I took Jenna to Aunt Sandy’s funeral. None of the men in my family were able to take the time off and Roland had asked if I would represent the family.

The latest death was a shock to everyone.. Joey Walden is a wrestling coach during the school year and a fisherman in the summer. He was on a commercial fishing boat in Alaska. He had told his comrades that he hadn't felt well and went to lie down for a while. A half hour passed when a member of the team went to wake him so that he could assist in pulling the nets. It was discovered that Joey had passed away in his sleep. 

They don't know the cause even though there was an autopsy. Today he will be buried in Wyoming. Joey is just a year younger than I am – and I would guess in much better shape.

We'd gone to the funeral yesterday. Pretty nice services. The boys' uncle was very well loved! There was a massive line for the viewing, and overflow into the cultural hall clear back to the stage. And that was just the people who were able to make it. I'm certain that there were twice as many not able to make it because of work or being out of town.

An angel sang "Be Still My Soul". Before the funeral services had even started, we heard her practicing. I cried both times. It was so awesomely beautiful.

The closing hymn was “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good” which is a sign to us all that Joey did just that. But he is on the other side now, having a reunion with two brothers, two sisters, mom and dad and countless others. Maybe meeting my family as well.

It was a wonderful service. He was an outstanding individual. I would imagine he still is.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Creating Memories With Two Brothers

            I remember how I enjoyed watching fireworks when I was younger.  I remember lighting sparklers with my dad and dancing around the yard.  Fireworks were reserved for July 4th (anniversary of our nation) and July 24th (anniversary of our state) and gradually that turned into weekends. 

Here in our part of west Valley, the fireworks happen EVERY SINGLE DAY IN JULY – or at least from the 3rd to the 27th.  Jenna’s enthusiasm shines for each holiday.  She’d been nagging Roland for some time to get fireworks whenever we pass firework stands or displays.  


Somewhere along the way (and I’m not really certain when) I outgrew the thrill of fireworks.  I get headaches from the smoke.  I have a hard time breathing when I am outside.  I’m no longer a night owl and thus not very fun parent.  But we try.  Jenna often feels bummed as she often feels like an only child.

I texted her brothers to see if any would like to assist with the fireworks.  Two of them answered.  Randy and Carrie came to the house and all lit all of the fireworks.  And while they were doing that, Tony called to see if Roland could bring Jenna out to where he’s staying.  Randy offered to drive her, and she will stay the night.

Thank you Randy and Tony for assisting in the memory-making department.  Happy Independence Day!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Comfort in a Mother's Voice

Kayla was not feeling well yesterday. In addition to being pregnant she had symptoms of a virus or a flu. Jenna and I took her children over to the school to have lunch (I actually drove Kayla's car with expired plates) and then to visit a friend. That gave Kayla three hours alone.

Our visit was quite brief with Kayla when we returned her kids and left for the bus. Jenna had even remembered to get her painting from last week. We were home for three hours when Kayla called us back.

Bill took her to the hospital as she was having contractions and Jenna and I stayed with the kids. I thought we were headed for a rather long night with them, and then I heard the dogs barking and saw Bill's car in the driveway. The contractions and labor had been a false alarm. BJ did not come last night.

I have given Kayla the option of leaving Jenna overnight. Usually Kayla has to think about it – but last night was a definite “yes”. She didn't even bat an eyelid. Said she had a pregnancy class at 8:15 this morning.

Jenna is not yet twelve, and legally is not supposed to be left alone. But I said I'd be back in the morning as close to 8:00 – and may have made it to Kearns before 8:00 if I hadn't taken the time to eat breakfast – or if I hadn't been too lazy to walk up to the MAX instead of waiting on the corner for a different bus so that I wouldn't have to walk. But the third transfer did make me fifteen minutes late.

So Jenna was with the kids for fifteen minutes – unsupervised and fretting. When was I going to get there? What if something horrible happened. The truth is I actually wasn't that far from the house. That particular route runs every 30 minutes and I had missed my transfer by 3-5 minutes. And so I called Jenna on Kayla's phone and she called me. And I reported:

“I am across the street from the Smith's where we sometimes wait . . .”

“I am now on the bus. We just turned into that neighborhood that goes around South Ridge.”

“We have just passed the snow cone place and are turning back onto the main street.”

So long as she could hear my voice she was fine. The panic had disappeared. How great it is that we can take comfort in another's voice – no matter how near or far.