Monday, October 24, 2016

Friday, August 26, 2016


Valentines Day 2015. 
 Today my beloved Grandma slipped away from us. It is bitter sweet because she was so miserable without her true love. Knowing they are reunited takes some of the sting but I will miss her terribly. She stopped being able to understand me on the telephone so I have not been able to talk to her as much recently but I was able to spend some hours with her yesterday and talk to her and hold her hand. She has been a powerful part of my life and I will count myself blessed to have known and loved her and have her as my grandmother.

When I think about Grandma, I will always think about the ways her hands felt.  They were soft with little calluses at the tips. She would grab your hand and pat it and squeeze it tight. Always. The last night that I got to hold her hand she still had an iron grip. She pulled me in tight. It made me smile when she started getting manicured nails at the age of 89 because they obviously made her uncomfortable because she said she couldn't work hard enough with those nails on.  Grandma deserved to have pretty nails.  She deserved to rest a bit but resting is not what Grandma did best. She hated being taken care of because it meant that she wasn't the one doing the care-taking.
February 2008
Grandma worked hard all her life.  She didn't know how to sit still.  She didn't know how to stop moving, supervising or how to stop serving.  I don't think she hated anything more than she hated her age forcing her to slow down. When I visited her at the assisted living she wanted to "take me a on a tour" even though I had been there multiple times. She made the rounds of the hallways saying hello to everyone, seeing how they were feeling and introducing me to everyone. She told me quite seriously that she was feeling so much better that she wasn't quite sure what her role was anymore at the assisted living. She thought they might consider putting her on the staff because she could definitely help some of these people. She needed a mission, a directive. She liked to be in charge.

Grandma was a problem solver and she loved fiercely.  Grandma was a collector and rescuer of people.  It didn't matter if she knew you for five minutes or a lifetime. She loved you and she wanted to solve your problems. If you weren't eating right, living right, or anything in your life was out of alignment she desperately wanted to take on your problem and fix it for you. She had her family and then she also had the vast group of people who became family because she loved them, served them and took them right into her home and heart. She changed people's lives.

It didn't matter how she was feeling, she wanted to sit at your bedside and have a minute by minute accounting of your bodily functions and food intake and then she would rearrange your kitchen. She would have given the shirt off her back if you asked her to. It didn't matter if you were her worst enemy or her best friend and you called to say you needed help. She would have dropped everything and come running. She was as genuine as it comes and she was a double edged sword. She never said anything behind your back, she told you to your face.  I think Grandma's love language was problem solving. There was no issue too small or any hurt that she didn't want to bandage, mend and encourage you to "buck up" and get on with things. She grew up on a farm during the depression and World War II and she wanted to straighten every bent nail, rescue every last crumb and fix every last hole. Nothing was beyond hope.

Grandma could materialize a full meal out of the ether.  It didn't matter if you showed up unannounced, she had a full dinner with four side dishes ready to be pulled together, a mysterious watermelon would appear from nowhere just for this occasion AND the meal would be nutritious according to Grandma's dietician standards. I REALLY wish that I had inherited this magic skill but it remains elusive to me. Breakfast at Grandma's house always had to have orange juice and milk lined up together next to a plate with something from every food group, a poached egg, crispy toast cut on the diagonal and two kinds of jelly. Many of my favorite memories are of she and I sitting in the two barstools in her kitchen while she chatted with me attempted to cajole me into trying new food and I ate bits of the four course breakfast she had prepared. Grandma was always exasperated with my picky eating habits and yet she never stopped making me a massive breakfast. She would sit with me for as long as it took and she would share stories about her life. Often these stories revolved around her diethetic internship in Boston (a highlight of her life) and the many horrors that could possibly befall me if I didn't learn to eat right. I have several favorites that I could probably recite word for word.
Dancing December 2010
Grandma knew how to make things happen.  From the time she was young, she was going places and changing the world one corner at a time. She worked hard to help support her family from a young age. She would deliver milk with her brothers early in the morning. She was a car hop at the Bluebird CafĂ© in Logan. She took jobs in Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston during college and she really inspired me to try internships in different cities when I was in college. She worked both full time and part time as a dietician at many hospitals. She loved her work and enjoyed helping her patients.
Working in LDS Hospital- second from the left
Her work did not stop when she was at home. She was constantly in the middle of community and church activities. She was a planner. She loved events. From the gold and green balls and mutual improvement association events to the years and years of young women girls camp that she planned. She was always involved in some sort of group or plan to do something big. I can't count the number of family activities and dinners she planned and executed. My brothers laugh at me because I always want to set the table complete with place cards for big dinners. It is from years of Grandma having me make place cards for Thanksgiving and prepping a little presentation to go with dinner. I can't set the table for dinner without thinking about Grandma. She always wanted "a little skit or something" but she never quite got the family of thespians that she wanted. She is definitely going to be disappointed that nobody will be doing a little skit of her life during her funeral.
Wearing Grandma's wedding dress at her 50th wedding anniversary July, 2001
There was always a random relative that she wanted you to meet or visit. She was a maven, a connector of people. I'm pretty sure that her address book was the original social network. Every vacation, road trip or work trip that I have been on she has encouraged me to look someone up, surely they would have a free room for me! Apologies to any of my extended family. I am not nearly as friendly and good at looking up distant relatives as my grandma was.

Playing dressup with Grandma's old glasses accessories
Grandma would take me and my brothers ice skating. She could ice skate backwards and hold onto our hands. She would let me play in all of her clothes and jewelry for hours. My girls have spent hours rifling through her things and trying them on. She was a wonderful seamstress and an avid quilter. My home is filled with quilts she made for me over the years I was growing up. One Christmas she made every grandchild a quillow. (Their own personal size quilt that folded up into a pillow.) It was one of my favorite Christmas gifts. I helped Grandma tie many quilts for new babies, weddings and gifts. She even helped me finish and tie the quilt I took to college. She was horrified by the way I had cut 10-12 squares at once so that none of them were actually square and she said I sewed like a drunken sailor. It's true. I never developed her patience to do it right.  My bed is covered with the quilt that she made for Scott and I when we got married. Well after she stopped quilting by herself Grandma was in a weekly quilting group in Bountiful. I find it hard to fathom how many quilts Grandma must have contributed to the world.

She loved being a great grandmother and my kids have been so blessed to know her and be loved by her. These last few years of taking my kids to spend time with her in St. George have been very special for all of us. I was constantly finding her cuddled up with them reading or teaching them a game. She was always taking us on a walk to the park or planning a picnic at the splash pad, suggesting outings for us and keeping us moving. She would tell my kids to let me sleep in the morning and then purposely wake them up so that she could be with them and she let them get in bed with her and Bockum at night to watch tv and snuggle. I think it is a rare opportunity for kids to develop a relationship with their great grandparents and not only have my kids known Grandma, they love her deeply and know how much she loved them and knew them to the core. Seeing my kids with her has brought back a lot of special memories of my own childhood with grandma.
December 1981
Grandma would let me sleepover when I was little. She kept a special pink silk pillowcase just for me. We would go over to her Dad's (my great grandfather's) house and she would hustle around his house taking care of things while I ate graham crackers and talked to Grandpa Bergesen. Many of my first memories are of Grandma helping her Dad. She would help run Christmas parties at his house and help in his garden and make sure his house was clean and that he was well looked after. Grandma told me that from the time she was young she was always her Dad's helper.
Grandma with her Dad- Great Grandpa B at college graduation
Grandma and I would play board games together and always played a few rounds of this crazy "Straw that broke the camel's back game.) When I took bubble baths at her house and all of the bubbles had died away she would add hot water and use an egg beater to whip the bubbles back up. She would take me to the Daughter's of the Utah Pioneers Museum where she volunteered as a docent and let me see all of the things tucked away in the basement. Grandma taught me to love my ancestors. She has done thousands of hours of genealogy work.

Grandma was very proud of her pioneer heritage. I'm pretty sure that there wasn't a person who ever spoke to Grandma without getting a lesson on Charles C. Rich. She would sit at the big table she used as a genealogy desk and pour through black and white photos with me and tell me stories while I colored with her highlighters as messed with her office supplies and typewriter. Grandma was a great storyteller. She wrote dozens of histories of her family members and ancestors. She was a good writer. It is a deep regret of mine that I could not manage to help her get her own life history self published before her death. I have it. I will finish it. I promise Grandma. I've got it recorded, I've got the pictures with all of her notes. I swear I will do it. She definitely would have typed it up herself except her computer wasn't cooperating.
Serving a mission in Nauvoo, Illinois a highlight of Grandma's life
Grandma was always trying to learn how to use her computer well. She mostly wanted to use it to keep in contact with her vast network of relatives and friends and to do genealogy work. One of my favorite conversations with Grandma was when she called to tell me that she desperately needed help because she was "trapped in the damn google" and she could not GET OUT.

Grandma and I spent years re-decorating a dollhouse that belonged to my aunts. We went to stores getting carpet and wallpaper samples for each room, made tiny furniture and sewed curtains. She never balked at my big ideas or said we couldn't try something.  She was never irritated when my ideas would spiral into side projects like new heart shaped pillows for my own bed. When we were done decorating, she would let me climb the tree in the backyard and would be bring me snacks and lunch to eat while up in the branches. She loved Halloween costumes (as do I) and I wore many of the costumes she had made for her kids and for herself. I spent hours digging through the costumes and decorations in her crawl space.

Grandma was a wicked leg wrestler and threw me, my brothers and cousins like rag dolls when we wrestled her as teenagers at a family overnight trip. We had been scared to wrestle her because we were quite sure we were going to break her hip. Never underestimate her strength.

Grandma's love for her husband was the mainstay of her love for her family. Nearly 65 years of marriage did not dim the light of that love. She was constantly trying to do something to take care of Bockum. A few years ago when Bockum (my pet name for my grandpa) was in the hospital, Grandma told me she could be without him because they could not walk without each other anymore. They didn't use canes so they leaned on each other.  They had become so inseparable that they could no longer even walk without each other.

A few years ago I had a hysterectomy and then wrote some of my feelings about the process on my blog. She called me after reading my post and we had a long talk. She told me that she didn't even realize she had been carrying around the pain of her own fertility struggles for 50 years and that she had just had a good cry for herself and for me.  It was a problem she couldn't fix for me but I don't know if she ever knew how healing it was to connect to her that way. It was a pain she had never been allowed to talk about freely and didn't even know that she felt. She understood both my pain at the struggle and the intense joy and fulfillment I had gotten from my children and family. She had felt them both for herself and then again for me.

Second only to her love of family and the gospel was Grandma's love of country. Grandma was deeply patriotic and a well educated student of history. She was always halfway through some thick tome about either American history or the gospel. She had a real sense of civic pride and followed politics closely. She always volunteered in her local voting precinct and she loved to vote.

Grandma was a bit of an infofile and watched the news and read the newspaper religiously. Grandma always had an envelope full of articles that she had cut out for different people to read. She tracked the weather more closely than most meteorologists. She was always interested in science and the way the world worked. She would always attend grandparents day with me and my brothers all the way through highschool and she made sure that she got to go to chemistry or physics class with us so that she could pepper the teachers with questions. She was a lifelong student and always wanted to know more. I'm certain that there is an interview process happening right now on the other side of the veil and I think that Grandma is asking most of the questions. She is probably supervising a few things that need to be straightened out. I have no doubt that she went right to work. Sergeant Grandma will never be totally at rest.

June, 2016
To Grandma from the song that she always sang to me.- "Just one more thing I say unto you- you dream of me and I'll dream of you."

Friday, June 24, 2016


My Bockum- September 16th, 1924- June 24th, 2016

I have one grandfather and he was amazing. To call him my grandfather sounds a bit funny to my ear because as most people know, he was my Bockum- a nickname I chose for him before I even have memories. He was very special. As Adalyn said today when I told her that he had passed- "Life will never be the same without him."

Bockum loved his family. He had a powerful testimony of his savior Jesus Christ and of the gospel. He was fiercely stubborn. He was proud of his legs. He even passed away in his favorite white bermuda shorts. He made excellent fudge and peanut brittle. He loved to dance. He got pedicures in his later years and even got his toenails painted. He loved Dr. Pepper. He asked me to make sure that there is a top hat and tap shoes on his casket. He was always happy to see me. He always made me feel loved. He sent us Two Dollar Bills in the mail. He got them in bulk from the bank. He touched the lives of countless people and I was so lucky to have him for the last 33 years as my Bockum. Of all of his accomplishments, Bockum was most proud of his family. He was father of three, grandfather (Bockum) of ten, great grandfather of nine and husband to his one and only. 

Family photo -Thanksgiving, 2009
50th wedding anniversary party- July, 2002 (I am wearing Grandma's wedding dress.)
December, 2015
My grandparents have been married for sixty-four years. Once a few years ago, my grandmother told me that they had been married for so long that they didn't know how to walk without each other. Neither of them used a cane or a walker because they would just lean together and walk. She said that if she had to go to the store without him she wouldn't know how to walk anymore. They really love each other. I was at their fiftieth anniversary party and remember the touching way that Bockum stood up and told everyone about their engagement and how my grandmother had "melted his cold cold heart." Their love has made me want to recreate that in my own life.
Their wedding day July 31st, 1952

Bockum was always involved in something. He loved to be a part of things. It started early on. He was a cheerleader, student counsel leader and editor of the school paper in high school. He made friends every where that he went and he was very involved with his community and friends throughout his life. From his days as a missionary, a bank trust officer who gave temple square tours on his lunch hour, an involved bishop of his ward, a temple worker, to being a member of dance groups, Book of Mormon study groups, pageant judging, walking groups, sunning himself and "solving the world's problems" every morning with his friend Ralph and getting involved with civic responsibilities and making sure people got out to vote. Bockum never suffered for a lack of activities, friends and hobbies. When I helped him write his life history, I was stunned by the massive number of projects and groups he had been involved with and with the vibrancy with which he remembered all of the people he had met and worked with. He filled his 92 years on this earth well.

What I know best about Bockum, is what it was like to be his granddaughter. He rollerskated and tapped danced with me. He took me on my first date to a fancy restaurant, brought me flowers, opened every door and gave me some advice to make sure that I knew how a lady should be treated. Today, before I even know that this was his last day, I put on the locket that he gave me for my 16th birthday. It is engraved with my name and the date. Bockum came to all of my performances and activities growing up.  He came to as many of my children's activities as he could for as long as he could and then he spent time snuggled up with them reading to him and chatting away at him. 

Bockum kept me in constant supply of Avon Bubble bath and every flavor of Avon chapstick ever made. When I went to his house as a kid he always had something special set aside for me and would slip me the Avon chapstick of the month, tiny sample bottles of perfume, homemade candy, Barbie Dolls (I had a pretty epic collection sponsored almost entirely by Bockum), bags of wintergreen lifesavers and goldfish crackers. As an adult he even mailed me bags of lifesavers at college, made sure I had a steady supply of pomegranate jelly and knitted hats for my kids. If you somehow missed ever getting a jar of his epic homemade pomegranate jelly, it is truly a loss. He even had custom made labels I designed for him.

Bockum made me a lifetime supply of mashed potatoes or "Bockum potatoes" as they are known in my family and he never stopped being mystified that I don't like gravy. Why ruin those beautiful potatoes with distraction? He was a wonderful cook and he even made me, my highschool friends and all of our dates a huge multi-course dinner before one of our high school dances because I was proud of his cooking. 

Bockum and Grandma let me have sleepovers at their house and he would take me on rides in his old white convertible that didn't have seatbelts and had pillows in the back. I tape recorded his snoring because he always said he didn't snore and I wanted to prove that it reached epic decibels. In reality I found his snoring comforting, I always knew he was just in the next room and felt protected like there was a noisy dragon in the house ready breathe fire if necessary. Bockum would let me plunder the house searching for his secret stashes of candy and snoop in his top drawer where he kept his handkerchiefs. He let me mess with the little blue flashlight he kept in his bedside table to shine on his watch in the middle of the night.

We would pick apricots, cherries and rhubarb. Bockum would let me help him bake bread in the morning. If Grandma went out, we would watch his Soap, Days of Our Lives, together. I still vividly remember some of the "highly informative" things I learned from Days of Our Lives like what to do if you wander out of the bathroom in your towel and accidentally fall off of a cliff with your worst enemy who was also wandering about in a towel. He also let me watch Dallas with him a few times and when I showed him how to watch the remake of Dallas online a few years ago, he was ecstatic. He would always tickle my feet while we talked or watched something together. Bockum is responsible for my love of the movie "Singing In The Rain" and we watched it together last month. His feet were tapping the whole time. 

Bockum always danced with me from the early years of dressing up in my Grandma's square dancing petticoats, to helping me practice for my contra dance class in highschool to my wedding. He knew that I should marry Scott before I knew that I should marry him. Bockum knew before I had even dated Scott. Bockum said he was "most impressed with Scott's hairy legs." He'd never seen such hairy legs. High praise?

Bockum helped me (or possibly instigated) campaign to get my ears pierced for years. The second that my Dad finally said he just didn't care anymore, I was on the phone with Bockum. (Not exactly permission but close enough right?) Grandma and Bockum took me to the mall and fast as possible to get my ears pierced. He also took my oldest daughter to get her ears pierced. He loved Beauty Queens and pageants though he was NOT especially impressed with some of the more modern day pageants. He would take me shopping at ZCMI. 

I went on trips to Parowan to visit Bockum's parents with just my grandparents. I would get the whole back seat to myself and we would stay in the Motel 6. Most of my best memories of my great grandparents are because Bockum took me with him to Parowan. Grandma and Bockum also had a timeshare at a condo in Snowbird and I have an image of me and my brothers sharing one murphy bed with my grandparents in a murphy bed about two feet away telling us to stop giggling all night.

Bockum would take sheets to put inside his sleeping bag when we went camping and when the whole family went to Cherry Hill (waterpark/campground.) He made awesome dutch oven recipes. I wish I had inherited a bit of his cooking skill. When he babysat us overnight with Grandma, he would sneak upstairs during breakfast to make our beds for us complete with hospital corners. Even if your bed was made, he would fix it for you. He is the one who showed me how to do hospital corners and have the pillows properly fluffed and tucked in. When I brought my family to stay with him these last few years in St. George he was always up early waiting for my kids to wake up and he would tuck them into bed with he and Grandma at night when they were all tired so that they could watch old shows together. These two girls love their great grandfather very much. He cultivated a special relationship with them and they really got to know him well these last few years. I doubt there are many children who have gotten to know and love their great grandpa like that.

I got advice from Bockum when my husband and I decided to adopt and I peppered him with questions like when he knew that his children were definitely his. He told me about holding each of his children for the first time and the immediate love that he felt for each one. He was so right, I felt that same feeling the first time I saw my daughter. She was exactly what I knew she would look like, as if we already knew each other. Bockum loved being a Dad and a grandfather and he gave me insightful advice and encouragement when I was struggling to bring kids into my family. The first time he met Asia and became a great grandfather, he was so excited to come over he was actually shaking.

When I was pregnant great grandchild #2, Bockum fasted a prayed that she would be born on his birthday. He got his wish. We made them both eat smash cakes with no cutlery on her 1st birthday and his 86th and gave them matching bibs. He was a good sport and he really loved a party. He loved being a grandfather and great grandfather. 

90 & 5
86 & 1
He always wanted to know what I was interested in, even when I was little. There was a never a time that  talked to him on the phone that he didn't want to know exactly what I had been doing lately and what all of my latest interests were. When I was three years old, I was obsessed with Carebears and he had a whole set of the stuffed bears made for me by a friend. I still remember being excited when I got them for birthdays, Christmas etc. I still have grumpy bear. The bear is purple because I liked purple better than blue. Bockum also loved purple. And Christmas trees. He was very proud of his purple Christmas tree the last few years. 
November ,1984
Christmas, 2014

Bockum and Grandma served a mission together in Nauvoo, Illinois when I was in the sixth grade. I believe it was one of the highlights of his life. My family was able to visit them on their mission and watch them in a play they performed in. I swear that there wasn't a single thing happening in Nauvoo that they weren't somehow participating in or involved with in some way. I remember that feeling of seeing them as people other than grandparents for the first time. He really loved the gospel. He studied the scriptures throughout his whole life and he made sure that each grandchild received a set of scriptures for their eighth birthday. He was not well enough to travel for my daughter's baptism last November so he made sure to have a set of scriptures delivered.

We loved to tease Bockum about water. Water was never his favorite environment but somehow some of my favorite memories of him involve being on the water- a trip to Lake Powell in 1988 where I repeatedly tried to coax him into the water and tried to help he and Grandma wash their hair in the lake. (Washing their hair involved a lot of yelling and splashing.) My brothers and I laugh about a boat outing for his 60th anniversary with Grandma when we tried to get him to float on the lake. There was a lot of yelling and splashing then as well. He put on his swimsuit to get in the pool up at Snowbird a few years ago (he mostly on the stairs) to swim with my little girls and prove he was a really cool great grandpa. I loved the fact that he tried scuba diving in our dive shop pool while he was in his eighties even though water scared him.

60th wedding anniversary- July, 2012
September, 2012
Lake Powell, 1988

Bockum with the halo brace he wore for a year- 2002.
The first time I thought that we were going to lose Bockum was during what Bockum called "the greatest test of his faith in Jesus Christ" which came in October, 2001, when he fell from a short ladder while cleaning his mobile home in St. George. His neck was broken (lacerated, but not separated) in two places—the lst and 2nd vertebrae. Christmas that year was very special for the family. We got to bring him home for a couple of hours and we didn't know if it would be our last Christmas together. He spent a year in the hospital during which he showed incredible perseverance for which I believe he was rewarded with another 15 years with his family and the opportunity to know his great grandchildren. Every year has been a gift to his family.

Bockum had a big, full life. I was lucky to be a part of it. This is devastating. I don't know quite what life looks like without him with us. I'm lucky to know that I will see him again someday.Until then Bockum, I will hold you close in my heart.

Friday, January 22, 2016


Tonight at bedtime, New Fish hit her chin on the granite counter top and was crying pretty hard. I held her all during reading time and she ended up falling asleep. I sat on the couch for a good fourty-five minutes before transferring her to her bed, just enjoying what will undoubtedly be one of the last time one of my children falls asleep in my arms. The feeling of a heavy, sleepy child has been one of my favorite things about motherhood. I still getting plenty of snuggle time with both of the girls. We read together and watch movies and there is plenty of affection and I will continue to enjoy all of those moments of little heads on my shoulder. There is still something special about a sleepy baby or small child falling asleep comfortable in their mom's arms. So I sat there tonight, just enjoying the feeling and ignoring the big drool stain down the front of my t-shirt. Some of these things I wish I could keep with me forever. I mourn all of these tiny last times even though each new age continues to be so much fun. My kids are so much fun right now. They make me laugh as they continue to grow into these intense little people with so many little desires in their hearts and opinions of their own. The first time they draw a person is replaced by the first sweet legible note they write and first steps are replaced by first piano performances and I love it all.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Dance Recital

 December dance recital was very fun. The girls were nervous to perform but they did a great job. It was very different from the tightly choreographed show that New Fish was in last season. No 25 pages of instructions on hair and makeup so that was a relief. New Fish has been taking jazz and ballet and Red Fish has been taking hip hop.

It was special that Mimi was able to attend. It is getting increasingly difficult for her to leave the house and the effort of coming was immense. I don't know how many more events my children can expect any of their great grandparents to attend and it pulls at my heart every time I think about it. My kids are so lucky to have had great grandparents in their lives to support and love them. Having six grandparents is an amazing thing. I pray every day that my kids will remember how loved they are and that they will remember the efforts that their family has made to support them.