We have now served one year of our mission in Prudentópolis. We hope to keep our family and friends who are far away informed about our lives, the places we go, and the people we meet. What a different experience it is being senior missionaries.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Two Weeks in Utah
April was a memorable month
filled with special moments. After receiving an e-mail stating dad’s health was deteriorating rapidly, and noting that he probably had only 2 weeks to live, I e-mailed
Sister Cordon asking her advice – knowing she had also had this experience. The
reply was to get a ticket home on the first flight out of Brasil. It turns out
that I also needed permission from the Area Presidency.
Dad - much healthier at home
than he was at the hospital.
I actually had to
gamble on getting permission because I had to be on a bus to Curitiba to catch
the flight before the final permission came through from President Costa. So I
booked a two week stay with flight insurance, then John and I hopped on the bus
for the 4 ½ hour ride, and we were very glad when President Cordon said I had the permission needed. It took a day of travel. I flew through São Paulo and Dallas, Texas in an
overnight flight to Utah where Phillip picked me up at the airport on Saturday.
A little down time from school!
We had a lot of special McKinney
family moments. We were able to have a dinner at James and Chelsea’s where we
had good food, great visits, and terrific hugs and I got to meet and hold
Abigail for the first time. What a doll. We even played a few games. Olivia
also had a special birthday and baptism. It was memorable to have all the children and grandchildren together.
Nine special spirits - aren't we lucky!
When I first arrived
Ryan was working with mom and dad to help make sure their finances were all in order.
He had to return home & work knowing that he wouldn't see dad again in this world.
I will never forget him giving dad a hug and telling him that he would try to
be like him.
I was able to stay at Mom and Dad’s home for the duration of
my stay. Jeri had chosen to take time off work to care for Dad at home no
matter what the time frame was. She is an unbelievable care giver – so kind and
compassionate as well as competent. She didn't get much sleep as she monitored
his care 24 hours a day and tried to make his life as pleasant as possible. Mom
was such a trooper as dad was moved from bed to chair and finally to a hospital
bed in the living room and the hospice people became involved.
Dad spent a lot of time in this chair. James & family visit!
I was also very impressed that all of the grandchildren were
able to check in with dad, one way or another. In our family, Daniel had flown
in the week before me for a brief visit while dad was still alive. He really
didn't get to do much since Dad was in the hospital and in a lot worse shape
than after he came home and was in Jeri’s care. Jeremy and family were able to
Skype with dad and he was miraculously able to hear them and reply. Shaliese
came with her kids as did James and Chelsea. Deborah was able to come spend
time at their home while AJ, Cami, and Phill had been here all along.
Grandpa Skyping with the Oklahoma McKinneys
The boys talk to Grandpa Smith
Allie and McKenzie and their spouses were so kind and helpful – what a trial
for Regan to have to stay home because of finals at school. Jennie who came
nightly to visit was able to bring her kids. Jill was probably really grateful for the week she spent with mom and dad
when her foot was operated on. And so excited when Tia flew in. Tia was so helpful in many kind and thoughtful ways – I learned a lot. One thing that so impressed me was the way she added a really personal touch when she edited the obituary mom had written. All of Jeri’s kids have always been close to
dad - dropping in often. Corinne and her children were at the house before the mortuary came to
take dad away.
Jackson and Kennedy at
Grandma Smith's bar.
Shaliese had loaded her two kids in the car and made the drive from Texas in one long day to be able to visit with us and participate in visiting dad and staying long enough for the funeral. She was a real trooper since Jackson had picked up the stomach flu that Mike had the day they left and was not feeling well the whole time they were in Utah. She, Kennedy and Jackson stayed a few days at Grandma Debbie Sermon’s home while Shaliese took her intense 24 hour turn at not being well. They were later able to stay in the bunk room at Grandma Smith’s home. They liked it so well that they were able to return again in May with the whole family to stay again.
Mom fixed breakfast everyday!
Because I was at the house I had an opportunity to see many special moments. Deanna Rassmussen, her husband, and family came repeatedly to bring food, treats, and love to mom as her visiting teacher – what empathy and care – from a woman with a large family who was in school full time and taking her finals. I didn't have a hard time returning to Brasil because I knew she would be there to continue to look after mom.
A windy cold day - but the grass was green!
Dad was pretty much confined to bed for the last few days
but when Jeri noticed the weather was pretty good, we were able to dress him
warmly enough to go out and see the great job of lawn care that had been
provided. Ryan was so inspired to hire a crew to do the cutting, trimming, etc.
so that Dad wouldn't worry about mom.
Jeri talks dad down the ramp
Then he followed through by getting some
women to come in to help with housework. JaeLeen was scheduled to fly in on Friday. She let us know that she didn't need dad to hold on waiting for her to come. I think that thought, the lawn service, and mom’s loving comment whispered into dad’s ear that she
didn't want him to be in pain anymore were the things that made it possible for
him to finally leave us.
Bishop Warburton hugs mom at the graveside.
This whole time friends and neighbors were in and out bringing
food and love and checking on mom and dad. The last visit was from Bishop
Kendall Warburton who stopped by the house on his way to work on the morning of
April 11th. He took one look at dad and mom and said, “I’ll be
back!” He went home and changed into a suit, and returned with his counselor to
give dad a blessing of release. That is all that was needed. It was only a few
hours before dad peacefully passed away.
Young photo for obituary
When Jill, Jeri, Jennie, mom, and I went to Anderson
mortuary on Friday to plan, they thought we would be looking at a date toward
the end of the next week for the funeral and were surprised at our choice of
Monday. However, mom was prepared and things fell into place as we planned the
program and had the newspapers print the obituary.
Jeri was again a real trooper as she finally returned to her
home for a few days before the funeral and pulled together all of the collected
photos to make dad’s slide show and give a talk on top of that. Jill did amazing things with coordinating all
the music and being able to perform at a time when most people break down
crying. She had helped gather together a book of cards, thoughts, and messages sent to and about dad. Ryan was able to distill gospel principles clearly in a very short
amount of time and helped outline our program into one that didn’t last for
hours as it could have with us all talking about dad. JaeLeen was great at
remembering dad and his personality. Jennie added a fresh perspective about
being the youngest that had me thinking and all of this while setting up her
new home with her husband away in Italy making a film.
We Love You, Dad!
Bowen in front of Grandpa's casket.
JaeLeen and I were able to pick out flowers for the casket
as well as a spray from all of us children at Sweat Pea. We arrived there a few
minutes before closing on Saturday afternoon … on the day of AF Prom…. and were
treated like royalty …. Even though the selection of flowers was depleted
because of prom and the manager had to come in special to have the arrangements
done for the viewing.
Mom and family were always most important!
Sheepman, Soldier, and Supervisor -only a job to dad!
Then I watched as JaeLeen pulled pieces of our memories of our dad from barrels in the garage and drawers in the home as well as pictures off the wall to tell a story of his life in a magnificent display that was set up first in the basement of mom’s home and then at both Anderson Mortuary for the viewing, and later in the 9th Ward Scout room for people to see as they waited in line to express condolences.
Dad's Life story & his scriptures tell a lot.
Jeremy and his boys were able to fly in for the funeral and
stay at the McKinney home. He helped mom and JaeLeen pull dad’s belongings from boxes,
barrels, and chests. While there he learned that Karissa’s car had broken down
in Texas on her way to drill and had to rent a car to return home. Mom
graciously offered to lend him the green car to help them out of a bind while
he and Karissa completed their semesters in law school. So he ended up missing
more days of school as he drove instead of flying home. [Since we were later able to purchase this car
from mom—he will return it to Utah so it can be used by others when he is able to replace the engine in
Dad was responsible for quite a legacy - can you imagine offering to feed all these people on fast day?
I was glad he was here to help arrange people for the photo
that Mom asked Shaliese to take. Jackson was still sick and clinging to
Shaliese, who likes taking photos of places more than people. Between the two of
them and everyone’s patience we got a pretty good impromptu picture of so many
people with the mortuary as a backdrop – just before we started the viewing.
It was such a privilege to have so many McKinney family members together at one time.
Thanks to James for taking this photo!
The funeral was tough for me. How do you fit 83 years of a
busy life into a 5 minute life sketch? The highlight for me was the grandkids
singing Love is Spoken Here. The men
singing “Mine is a home where every hour is blessed by the strength of
priesthood power….” with such power and conviction – just blew me away as I
thought “How true!”
The Smith name and tradition carry on!
Ryan gave a
beautiful blessing at the dedication of the grave.
The military rites were really touching.
The ward had made a special luncheon and allowed us to visit
with relatives. I haven’t mentioned how helpful and kind all of dad’s siblings
were. Reva and Connie both brought food and love to the house and there were
flowers sent in beautiful arrangements from them all. It was good to have a
chance to visit with them.
Mom, JaeLeen and I were able to drive to several monument places to get an idea of what was wanted for a headstone to be placed on the grave. With ideas in mind, and expressed to Shaliese, who was then able to design several options for mom to choose from, mom was able to order the monument quickly. The people at Nu Art Memorial Company in Salt Lake were then able to redesign or re-define the mountains of Timpanogos and the rocking R and make a beautiful headstone in time to be placed for Memorial Day.
I know I have left out many of the beautiful and touching
experiences that we had with dad – some because they were too close to the
heart to share and others because I forgot. I hope as everyone writes their
Smith Family News this month that the blanks will all be filled in. We were blessed to attend a session at the Mt.
Olivia - newly baptized
mple – mom, Jeri, and I. Then participate in the baptism of Olivia
before I flew back to Brasil.
What a privilege to be part of such a great family!