Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Saying Goodbye

I am standing in the middle of a room, feeling raw emotions that leave me empty of thoughts.  Finally, I begin to think again.

Where is my Grandpa?  Where is the giant I have known all my life, anxious to discuss life, ask questions, and mentor me at every juncture of life?  

I haven't seen my grandpa for several months, even though family members told me his health was declining.  My mom flew down to visit him, a sister's family took a weekend trip, and cousins flew across country.  I stayed home.  I deliberated.  I thought about him as I had known him, and prolonged the goodbye until now.  Even now, goodbye is elusive.  He doesn't recognize me, looking beyond me with blank and pain-filled eyes.  Goodbye wasn't possible before:  I wasn't ready, and he was fighting to stay.  Goodbye isn't possible now:  I am here, but he is fighting to leave this life.  I just hold his hand, thin and long, and allow the memories to rush over my mind.

His place is at the kitchen table, drinking carrot juice and eating sprouted wheat toast, asking me about my work and what I am reading.  When I was a child, he asked me about school and ballet class, focusing on the one-on-one conversations that I would expect with every visit.  As a teenager, I was dragged to a health food store as a first stop on a grandpa-granddaughter outing.  We stayed there for 3 hours while he became best friends with the owner, and had his cooperation with signing a health bill for congress at the end of a conversation.  In college, he wanted to hear about every class, every thought I had.  I called him from my apartment throughout the years, giving him updates and waiting for counsel.  I didn't always look forward to it, and sometimes complained about it afterwards, but now I wish I had one more chance to listen to his wisdom.  He understood then what I value now--he was my grandfather.  He understood that I had enough "friends", he took the greater role of a teacher, leader, and mentor.  In a family that was spread coast-to-coast, he filled the role of Grandfather and Patriarch to each of us.  That is what I realize I need to tell him in my goodbye--that I'm grateful I had a Grandpa, and that I really did listen and tried to follow the counsel he shared.

Unlike me, he had always been listening and learning.  If I read a book that I enjoyed, he would read it too and want to discuss it, ranging from The Secret Garden to Fahrenheit 451.  His appetite for learning never stopped, insisting on being read to during road trips.  We worked our way through Mere Christianity while driving to Zion National Park, stopping at least once a page to discuss the ideas and how these applied to our lives.  Is it any wonder that I listen to audiobooks and want to discuss everything I read?  Learning kept him young and alive, even at 91 years of age, and I find myself wanting to learn as much as possible in all different subjects.  This is what I need to tell him in my goodbye--that I am just realizing how little I know, and how much I want to keep learning.

I think of this now, while I sit next to him, trying to formulate thoughts that follow a sequence or pattern.  I jump from memory to memory, smiling at scattered images from my life.  These images are what I want to write about, but my grandpa gave specific instructions for me:  I am to write his obituary.  My mom suggests I begin now, since these are the final days of his life.  We are staying with my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Dave, where my grandpa has been staying the past several months.  The writing is difficult and a day of work yields one paragraph about his birth and childhood.  It is too little, too chopped for the man I know as Grandpa Great.  How do you synopsize life in a sentence, a paragraph, an obituary?  Can I write anything about a man that was both grandfather, tutor, mentor, and teacher?  And I know he was that and so much more to others.  I can't write all of that in an obituary, but I do need to tell him in my goodbye.

I'm realizing more and more that the goodbye may not be for him at this point...maybe it is for me.  Maybe it is good for me to realize just how much I've inherited and learned from my grandpa.  I think I took it for granted that he was amazing--and I feel like my children are getting shortchanged by not knowing him, or having his influence.  And it is here that I finally realize that I am more like my Grandpa than I ever knew, and that my kids will know him because they know me.  They will listen to audiobooks with me, or if I am really like him, we will read books out loud in the car and discuss the theories and ideas.  I'll talk to people about The Book of Mormon the same way he did--as something he wanted to share because it was the best and most important message he could share.  His memory will be with me when I go running, or work on an important goal, or make fun family time a priority.  At some point, I'll explain to my children that I do all these things because it is a legacy passed down from Grandpa Miller.  And instead of saying goodbye, my girls will say hello to their Grandpa Great when they see him in the life beyond this one.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

So Good They Can't Ignore You

In the past week, I finished reading So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport.  (Blog:  Study Hacks)  I've read his other books, which I love and want to blog about, but this one book is remarkable and I had to start here.  In the past five days, I've told 15 people about the book, insisting on writing down the title and author for them because I can't imagine their lives without this book!  I ran into a  friend whom I haven't seen for a year, and within two minutes of our saying hello, I was recommending this book as a must read.  Did I find out about the wedding or the new home of my friend?  Sadly, no.  But I made sure that he knew the merits of this absolutely amazing book.  (I'm hoping this story shows just how awesome this book is, rather than pointing towards my sad abilities to re-unite with old friends)

So Good They Can't Ignore You is about learning to work the right way, rather than finding the "right job" or even the "perfect job".  It debunks the theory that you should "follow your passion", thereby creating a job that is blissful and tailor-made.  Instead of constantly seeking for this elusive perfect job, Newport outlines steps to become proficient and well-sought in any field.  It explains the concept "career capital", and how you must build up rare and valuable skills in order to gain control over your work.  The book teaches the importance of enduring strain (something we don't naturally love, but need to experience if we are to gain mastery in any subject/skill).  I could write pages about each of the facets that I loved, thereby writing the book again.  Instead, I'll simply give it this recommendation:  if you have a desire to enjoy your job, and have a purpose in your day-to-day work, you must read this book!

One note:  this book is not written about being a stay-at-home mom.  However, I couldn't help but apply the theories and lessons to my job as a Scholarship Advisory AND my greater work of being a mom.  And in the past week, I've become more excited about my role as a mother, a benefit I didn't foresee.  So, if you are working in a standard "job" or a stay-at-home mom, this book is helpful on both fronts.

Just in case I see you soon, you may want to prepare yourself for this question:  "Have you read So Good They Can't Ignore You?"  Until then, happy reading.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Temple Square #2

Here are more pics of our day at Temple Square.  We met up with my cousin Star, and her kiddos:  Darian and Alani.  Alani is 2 1/2--right in between my girls!  They loved having a cousin their own size to run and play with.

Whenever we go to Temple Square, we get at least one picture of the girls attempting to dive into the fountain.  They are always disappointed that I stop them.  

We have never lived close to our cousins, and we all wish it was otherwise. 

                                        Summer, Star, (Noel in background:-), Me, My Mom

Darian and Star

We love our cousins!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Temple Square

The girls love Temple Square, and I especially love it during May when the tulips are in bloom.  We made a day out of it, and the girls were pretty good sports about having their pictures taken multiple times.  I borrowed my sister's camera (again!), because it is so much better than my own and I love being able to capture their expressions that get blurred with a simple point-and-shoot.

The girls love, love, LOVE the temple!  They call it "Jesus' house".  Noel even walked up the giant stairs on the east side of the temple and knocked on the big doors.  When nothing happened, she said, "Mom--why isn't Jesus opening the door?"  I love her faith and understanding that the temple truly is the 
House of the Lord.  

Every once in awhile, Noel slows down enough to give me sweet hugs, a kiss on the cheek, and says, "You are my mommy...I love my mommy!"  She is very adamant about the "my" part, it must be part of the 3-year old stage claiming your territory and possessions!

The smile that steals my heart!  Juliet is our tenderheart and imp all wrapped into one.  She gives giant hugs, wet kisses, and teases her big sister all day long.  

                                              No child has ever loved rocks more than Juliet.

Grandma Joy helped us all through the afternoon, which is probably why the girls were such good sports about taking so many pictures.  They love her and are always asking for the next adventure with their dear Grandma Joy. 

Finally, Jules just laid down and called the day.  And even then, I had to snap one more picture.