Wednesday, October 23, 2013

making a mark

Warning:  This post may win the "longest post ever" category, but man alive, we took a lot of pictures. And don't worry, no more cliff hangers like yesterday :)

Last weekend I got to head up to Utah to celebrate this woman’s life with my family:2013-10-13 Logan 89947…and the mark she made on the world through her life and her marriage and her children and her values and her faith.

We also celebrated the life she lived with that great man up there above and the love story they had, and that they finally get to be reunited after 53 years apart.

Sadly I couldn’t bring everyone, so since Grace was due for a little extra TLC, she got to come along to be the “record-keeper.”  She was in charge of bringing all the news and reports back to our family here in the desert.2013-10-14 Logan 90117So grateful for that girl of mine!

And for my family who welcomed her so heartily.2013-10-12 iPhone 90400

We had an MFME breakfast to start off the day after they picked us up at the airport.2013-10-12 iPhone 90402
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Then Grace got to go on the Front Runner with her cousin to Ogden to spend the night over there…
While my siblings, parents and I had quite the reunion.
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Including the most gorgeous hike up Toll Canyon…2013-10-12 Utah 897732013-10-12 Utah 898162013-10-12 Utah 89789
…filled with beauty…2013-10-12 Utah 897962013-10-12 Utah 897972013-10-12 Utah 898002013-10-12 Utah 89801
(I love Fall with all my heart I tell you, I even like when there are smooshed leaves in the dirt.  We just don’t get enough of it here in the desert!)
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Along with that beauty we soaked in, we also soaked in deep, deep discussions about life and all it’s intricacies.
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My Dad even sat down to spew out some of his wisdom at the top.2013-10-12 Utah 89826
Love him.2013-10-12 Utah 898272013-10-12 Utah 89829
How did we get so lucky to get to call these two our parents?2013-10-12 Utah 898382013-10-12 Utah 89843

Just FYI, this smart, witty, talented, gorgeous youngest sister is available to date at this point :)2013-10-12 Utah 89847…I’m just sayin’…her blog is HERE.

We had a feast together that night, complete with pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that melt in your mouth.  I'll see if Saren will let me share the recipe for on Thursday :)
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As we prepared the food we went through my Grandpa's old journal, chronicling his love for my Grandma when they first met and how he tried so hard to earn her love.
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...and had more great decisions as we ate.
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We stayed up late, late, late talking and looking through pictures and finding out one of my brothers gets to have another baby.

Went to church together at my sister's ward en route to Logan where the funeral was.
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...but I only got pictures of the boys...

...and these pretty leaves Grace was working on some photography skills to catch.
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Once we arrived in Logan we got to hang out with ALL my cousins on that side of the family.  Every single one of them was there, but somehow we missed Patrick in this picture…2013-10-13 Logan 89922
Boy I love them.

Sooooo many memories with these people I tell you.2013-10-13 Logan 89919
The viewing was filled with memories.  I LOVE these old pictures my Dad’s cousin brought along we had never seen before.

My grandma is on the front left on this one:
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...and she's fourth from the left in this one:
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Dancing was her life when she was younger.

Here she is with her four young boys:
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This one breaks my heart wide open…I think it must have been taken not too long after my Grandpa died.:2013-10-13 Logan 89945Can you just see the anguish on my Grandma’s face?  Makes me tear up just to look at it.

Here are all these kids she raised up to be such good people…these are their missionary pictures:2013-10-13 Logan 89944They all served full-time missions and got college degrees…all raised below the poverty line through the help of that mother of theirs who worked her tail off for them and rationed out food and money to make things happen.  She was amazing.

Here they all are at the viewing.2013-10-13 Logan 89951
Here they are with their families (not very many of the grandkids’ spouses could come so these are just the parents and biological kids).

My Dad:2013-10-14 Logan 90093
My Uncle Chris:2013-10-14 Logan 90127
My Uncle Rawlin:2013-10-14 Logan 90094
My Uncle Kevin:2013-10-14 Logan 90128
And my Aunt Sherri:2013-10-14 Logan 90023

We met so many wonderful people at the viewing.
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So many cherished friends of my grandparents who had stories to tell, all hunched over with age and spilling out the sweetest stories and memories to share.

One of my favorites was the sweetest man who got tears in his eyes when he talked about how my Grandpa was his best friend.

Another favorite was Elder Cook (one of the apostles in our church leaders so it was really special to have him there), who came and told us stories about how when he was young he moved into the church area where my Grandpa was one of the leaders.  His own father (Elder Cook's) wasn't very into church-going but my Grandpa took him right under his wing and he and my Grandma made him feel so welcome to everything.  He sparkled with love as he told us a few stories and we held onto every word.

After the viewing we headed to my Grandma’s house and had the opportunity to share all kinds of memories.  The spirit was thick as we laughed and cried together about that great woman.2013-10-13 Logan 89957
A few of my favorite memories:

--spending time with her at the Joy School
--how she taught us to work hard...she always had a project going for us whether it was cleaning something out or setting the table or picking apples from her apple tree
--even though she lost her memory the last few years of her life, she never got grumpy.  You could always feel her love so strong even when she would ask you over and over and over again who you were.
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After that we each got to take one of my Grandma’s very cherished puzzles she made and used in the Joy School for oh so many years.2013-10-13 Logan 89965
She was so particular about those things and kept the pieces all together for years and years and years.

Here are some of my brothers downstairs reminiscing.2013-10-13 Logan 89970
We found some old love notes she and my Grandpa wrote to each other.2013-10-13 Logan 899742013-10-13 Logan 89975
Heart-melters each one.  Made me so happy to know that they finally get to be back together.2013-10-13 Logan 89983

We went super-late-night to Wendy’s…have to have a pic of that because oh boy do I love to be with my funny family.2013-10-13 Logan 89988
Grace and I split off on our own after that and had a little mother/daughter sleep-over. 2013-10-13 Logan 89990
We had poisoned Twizzlers and all.  You had to be there to get that :)2013-10-13 Logan 89991Love her so much.

Logan is so incredibly gorgeous this time of year.  I couldn’t help taking pictures everywhere we went.

That “A” tower is where my parents got engaged when they went to Utah State:
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See what I’m talking about?2013-10-14 Logan 90020

The next morning was the funeral.
Complete with more great pictures:
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(My Grandma's in the middle)

...And more great visitors:
Elder Perry was in my Grandma's same class in high school.  He is four days older than her (91).  He was so sweet to drive all the way to Logan and spend the morning with us.  He's the one who brought up the "Make Your Mark" thing in his talk at the funeral.

He talked about how my Grandma "made her mark" in life.  Then he asked us all to think about how we were all going to make our own marks on the world.  I wish I had a recording of it because it was so incredibly powerful.

And the funeral was also filled with the most beautiful music from my talented cousins.  I'll have to figure out how to post a recording of that because it was pretty enough to make you cry.

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The cemetery was so beautiful we just knew our Grandma would want us to smile and enjoy it.

And record it :)
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Grace gathered leaves to bring home to each of her siblings.
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The church took care of such a great lunch for us.  We loved hanging out with my Grandma's sister who looks so much like her.
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Squishy ride back to the airport.
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Have I mentioned how much I love my brothers?
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We dropped everyone off at the airport...
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Then Grace and I continued our date for just a tad bit longer at Temple Square.
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Got some new "ornaments" for our "travel boxes."
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As I've said before, I LOVE the quote that says "If you allow your children to touch the temple, the temple will touch them."
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Grace "touched" a few other temples in Utah in a more creative way as we drove around:
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Yeah...there are a lot of them!
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A very kind lady stuck with us a while to try to get a jumping shot, but this was the best we could do:
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Love this place.
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We had a sweet tour guide who showed us into the conference center where conference was just held:
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Ran into a blog reader while crossing the street so didn't get to say hi HI!  She and her family are dots down there:
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Finished it off with a little dinner at the Lion House.
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And headed home to share pictures and stories and love with our family.

Phew, if you made it through all those pictures you are a champ.

So grateful for such an opportunity, and to be reminded to make my own mark like my Grandma did through all those 91 years of living life to the fullest through the ups and the downs that she was given.

So grateful for my faith in the Plan of Salvation and that I'll get to see her and my Grandpa again some day.


  1. Those love letters are some of the most beautiful things I've ever read. Thank you for sharing them.

  2. Thanks for posting about this! I am actually your 2nd cousin (my grandma is Ruth's sister, Beth. My mom (Mary Ann) is your dad's cousin.) It was neat to read about my Great Aunt's life and get to experience her funeral through your pictures and documentation.

    I always enjoy your blog posts by the way. :)

  3. This is just a beautiful post - one of my favorites. I'd love to be adopted by your cute, giant family!

  4. I love everything about this post! So glad you were able to have a good time with your family and celebrate your grandma's life. In other news, I have a little brother who could hook up with your little sister. Then I could claim you as family, right? :D

  5. Loved this post, and your commitment to family is so inspiring. Also, your 2 sisters rocking those colored tights makes me want to run out and buy some! So stylish!!!!

  6. What a beautiful family you have, and you guys know what's most important. I am a convert to the Church and so I was not raised LDS and in fact, had no idea really how to create such a rich gospel environment and happy home my own children. I am so incredibly grateful for your willingness to share ideas and inspiration from your family - it truly helps me shape me as the kind of mother I want to be. Someday I hope to be lucky enough to meet you in person! :)

  7. I just text my husband to tell him I am famous and that I made a debut on your blog:). I would be the dots and the crazy lady who loves your blog. But seriously.... It has been a blessing to be able to read about your parenting tactics and to watch your example. Truely inspiring. I have tiny kids now and I need all the insight and encourgement I can get. So Thank you for your blog.

  8. What a nice post. I forgot that my dad was your uncle's (I believe Chris's?) mission companion back in the late 60's in England. Family surely is the most important thing. Thanks for sharing yours and the lovely pics. I love Logan, too, and this time of year.

  9. Really beautiful, and you are super blessed to have such an incredible family, honestly, most of us aren't so lucky! Your grandmother seemed like a wonderful person and helped to shape future generations.

  10. So many great pictures and while it's sad to say goodbye to our loved ones, funerals are such a great time to bring family together and remember what's really important. (at least in my family we have the saying that we seem to only get all together for weddings and funerals;)

    And I ADORE that temple picture you took with the red tree leaves in the bottom part of it - - - would love any way to get a hold of that to purchase or the digital copy to purchase and print on my own (for my home use of course).

  11. I really enjoyed this post. It reminded me of my grandma's "life celebration" a few years ago. She was born and raised in Mesa. Lived her entire life in Mesa. In fact, her original hospice care was outside of Mesa and she refused to go there because she wanted to die *in* Mesa. We found one for her in Mesa. :) Anyway, I love how you mentioned how many of your grandma's old friends came to the funeral. The same thing happened to my grandma. They read about her passing in the newspaper and so many of her old friends-- all the way back to elementary school-- showed up to celebrate her life. They each had a story to share about her. She was a spunky girl/lady her entire life and I have so many fond memories of her. I loved hearing stories from her old friends. There's something sweet about staying in a town your entire life and having so much history with the people there. Your grandma's life is an inspiring one. I love hearing about people who lived a good life and touched the lives of her friends and family around her. Thanks for sharing.

  12. How awesome to have two apostles there! I saw the picture you posted on instagram of you and Grace at the temple and figured you were flying out that night. I was flying out of SLC that night too and kept looking to see if I would see you at the airport! Yes, probably a little stalkerish! ;)

  13. Positively splendorous! Thanks so much for chronicling this for our family history!

  14. What a lovely celebration of your grandmother's life :) Also... the entire time I was looking at those delightful pictures, I kept thinking how much Claire looks like her. Is that just me?

  15. Hi,
    I am a reader from Spain.
    you have such a great and big family!
    I would really love to know, seeing how beautiful and toned you are, what diet to you follow and exercise, because after five kids you look very well? thank you in advanced!

  16. So glad you were there to chronicle everything and take such beautiful pictures. It really was amazing to have all the cousins together. Thank you thank you thank you!!!

  17. Thank you for sharing the photos and letters. I love them! Your grandmother was beautiful, and for all of the nice things you wrote, it sounds like she was just as beautiful inside. I am sorry for your loss.

  18. What a moving post. Your grandmother sounds really amazing. I love the "make your mark" motto. It's really inspiring. I am from a largish (well, four kids) family, and I feel so blessed and enveloped by love when I am with my family. I feel that in so many of your posts, but especially in this one.

  19. Oh, I also forgot to say that I love love love your dad's jacket on the hike! It just seems super cute that he's giving wise talks...whilst dressed in garb reminiscent of a wise Native American elder:)

  20. Hi Shawnie, So fun to see pictures of Logan, my hometown. What a wonderful celebration. Your grandma must of been simply amazing! Love jumping on your blog every now and again :) - Judy

  21. I love your quote about the temple and your picture of it under the one of Grace holding the chestnuts or acorns. I would love to buy a print of it to hang on my wall. Do you sell your images?

  22. Oh .. this post is so full and rich with love and nest warmth.. funerals with our understanding of the Plan of Salvation are some of the richest, sweetest family times in this life and it looks like you certainly had that experience as a family. Joy!

  23. My temple is the Brigham City Temple! It is a modern day miracle that sits smack dab in the heart of our tiny town. Each time I see it, it touches me!!!

  24. Lovely tribute to your Grandmother! Mine passed away recently as wwell! Love the picture of the close up of the SLC temple- would LOVE a copy as well!


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