Remembering My Father


Digging out the basement,
Shaking hands with every two by four,
Pounding nails,
Sawing boards,
Building cabinets.

Teaching me to tie my shoes,
Held and manicured by me.

Baiting a fish hook with worms,
Reeling in a trout.

Holding a book,
typing family histories,

Holding mine in the hospital before he died.

I miss you, Daddy.
Remembering you on Father's Day.

In good hands
My father and I

My father & mother in our front yard.
Carol held by mother
Rell & Sally
Colorado Springs, Colorado

It's Been Crazy Busy Around Here

Black Forest Fire Evacuations Hit Close to Home

In my last post, on June 12, I wrote about the Black Forest Fire here in the Colorado Springs area.  We could see the smoke from the fire about ten miles from our home.  We were never in danger, but many that we know were impacted by this devastating fire.  14, 280 acres were burned, 509 homes were destroyed, and 28 were damaged.  The fire also caused the death of two people who were unable to escape from their home.  For days, there was an ominous, heavy feeling in the air that surrounded us.  The air felt heavy and dark.  Not a lot of smoke seemed to drift into the part of the city where we live.  It seemed to be pushed to the north of us with the winds that came with the dry, hot air.

On the evening of June 12, my husband's daughter and her family evacuated their home and headed to our home with their cars loaded with those items they felt most important to take with them when their address fell under the category of "voluntary evacuation" status.  Just prior to their evacuation, our next door neighbors' son and his family evacuated to our neighbors' home.  Our neighbors' son lived deeper into the forest than our daughter.  By morning, we learned that his home had been destroyed.  

On Wednesday evening, June 12, I think we all felt that the evacuations in the fire area was a precautionary measure.  There was a sense of the conflicting emotions of denial and doom that seem to hang about us in the air.  It is hard not feel some anxiety and helplessness when surrounded by those who have been evacuated from home.  As we sat in the living room talking, I suddenly laughed when I glanced at my step-daughter's shirt.  "Interesting choice for fire evacuation wear," I said as I looked at her shirt.  

Laughing, she said, "And guess what song was playing as we drove off?  It was a song I used while I was training to run called Light 'em Up."  We did get a laugh out of that, and it helped to laugh.

When the official fire updates came on the news, we all gathered together in our small guest room to watch the updates on the small television in that room.

Grandson Caleb points to the map for Grandpa Jim to show where the fire is located.

We all piled on the bed so we could be close to each other while we listened to the news.  We have a large room with a large t.v. in the basement, but we chose the small bedroom where we could all be together to listen to the news.  During this time, I was struck with how grateful I was that we had moved to a location closer to our children so we could be there for them.

On Thursday morning, Thia and her family went back to their home hoping that "voluntary evacuation" orders would be lifted.  That afternoon, we all were shocked to hear that their home was now on "mandatory evacuation" orders.  They were soon back at our home.  Finally, on Friday afternoon, they were allowed to go home.  Thankfully, their home was not impacted by the fire in any way.

Unfortunately, this was not the case for neighbors' son.  Their home that sat on five acres was totally destroyed.  The Denver Post published a photo and a wonderful article about our neighbors' son on Saturday.  (Click on the last part of the previous sentence to see the photo and read the article.)  As you can imagine, the fire suddenly became very personal to us as we watched this wonderful family display great grace and courage in the face of devastating loss.  

The Colorado Springs Fire Department produced a fascinating video documenting how they approach protecting a home that is threatened by fire.  Click on: How firefighters are protecting homes in the Black Forest Fires  to gain a new respect for the professional nature of these heroes.  

Father's Day

On Father's Day, the family gathered again at our home to celebrate one of the greatest fathers ever: my husband.  Truly, he is a wonderful father to his own three daughters and to my five children.  Throughout his career as an educator, he was a father figure to thousands of others over the years.  

This year, all three of Jim's daughters and all ten of his grandchildren came to our home to celebrate the day with us.  We also were happy to include our new next door neighbors the Boone family in our celebration.  Since Steve and his wife were out looking for a home to rent or buy, only Gary and Janie and their two granddaughters were able to join us.  
Our Neighbors
Gary and Janie
It was so great to have a houseful of people.  I always love that.  

Load up your plates

Living in a patio home means that we no longer have a large private backyard when we entertain the family.  That didn't stop us from setting up a table in our new back yard.  It might be small, but that makes it all the more cosy!
Grandpa Jim with his beautiful grandchildren

Grandpa Jim with family and friends.

Daddy and Daughter
Trista, Thia, Trinette, and Jim
Father's Day was not sunny always throughout the  day.  The sky kept threatening rain.  In the afternoon, we all rejoiced because it finally rained.  We needed that rain for the drought and for those fighting the fire.  When it rained, we all moved inside.  We are happy with how well our new home accommodates a large group.
The grandchildren sit & talk & check their phones

Grandpa opens his gifts

Son-in-law Nathan fixes our noisy fan

By the end of the day, Grandpa Jim and I were both exhausted but happy as we watched the last of our visitors drive away.  As he often says as family and grandchildren depart, Jim again said, "I love to see the headlights, but the taillights are even better."  We smile knowing that nothing is better than being surrounded by family.  We miss them when they are gone.  The house seems suddenly so quiet and empty, but at our age, we also know that we need our space, our solitude, and quiet.  It is good when this quiet is broken with a smattering of times of gathering together. It was truly wonderful to have Thia's family with us during the evacuation.  It was the icing on the the cake to follow that time with a Father's Day celebration.

Health Update

Today, Thursday, June 20, Jim and traveled to Denver to consult with a GI specialist  at the University of Colorado Hospital.  I had been referred to this doctor at this facility because of a suspected sphincter of Oddi dysfunction due to chronic pain and elevated lipase levels.  After a very thorough analysis of my medical records, and after speaking with me at length about my episodes of pain, the specialist determined that he would rather not put me through an ERCP to check for this particular dysfunction at this time because the risks at my age of developing serious complications such as severe pancreatitis, diabetes, organ failure, and/or death were too high.  AMEN to that!  I am very much in agreement to his recommendations.  My lipase levels need to be higher before we go down that road.  Less risky explorations need to be done before we go to the more extreme testing.

So, tomorrow, I will be having a EUS and a EUS-FNA instead. There are some risks, 1% for pancreatitis, and 5% for a flare-up of abdominal pain, but I can take those risks.  The procedure is done by endoscopy, this will be my tenth endoscopy, but this time, the endoscopy will be a bit more detailed and intricate.  I am not looking forward to going through this, but at least I know what to expect and have certainly been through many endoscopies before.  

I hopefully be bringing you all a good report filled with good answers next week.  Send your prayers my way. I am sending my thanks to all of you in advance for your support during this time.  

Crazy Busy Summer So Far

Summer ~ Fun Times With Family

Summer Kickoff

Technically, it wasn't yet summer when we began our summer kickoff of time with family by meeting my sister and her husband in Santa Fe, New Mexico over Memorial Day Weekend.  Suzanne and John traveled from San Diego to explore new territory to them with us.  We spent most of the time relaxing and catching up with each other, but we managed to eat a lot of wonderful meals, and we of course we did some shopping.  All in all, it was just a great time of being together.

Sunset Viewing
via the rooftop of the La Fonda

20th Anniversary

After spending several days at the wonderful La Fonda Hotel in Santa Fe, I was surprised when my husband booked us a room at another wonderful hotel a few weeks later.  He chose the Brown Palace in Denver as the site where we would celebrate our 20th anniversary.  He managed, as he always seems to do, to get us an absolutely amazing room.  We were greeted with complimentary champagne as we checked in.  
Here's to many more years to come.

Father's Day

A week later, it was Father's Day.  We invited all of Jim's children and grandchildren down to our house to celebrate.  It is always great to have our home filled with children.
Daddy and Daughters
Trista & Thia with Jim
Jim with all three of his daughters
and all but one of his grandchildren

4th of July

Before we knew it, the 4th of July was already here.  Does that mean the summer is half way over?  I hope not.  I am enjoying all the good this summer has brought way too much to have it half over.  The heat has been horrendous, but time spent with family and with my hubby has been priceless.  

My two sons made the trek to Colorado for this year's 4th of July celebrations.  We missed not having Keicha here in Colorado for the holiday, but it was great to have the boys with us as we all celebrated at Amy's house in Erie, Colorado.  We actually began the celebrations on July 3rd because that is when everyone rolled into town.

Jon, Samantha, and Atticus all came from Boston, while Ryan and his new friend, and our longtime family friend, Sheridan, came in from Utah with their Brady Bunch crew of five children.  The brave souls made the trip across Wyoming in a motor home.  Ryan brought his three children, and Sheridan brought her two boys.  I hear the trip was a blast.

The first order of business was to set up tents so the kids would have a place to sleep.  It was threatening rain as Samantha and Jon joined Sheridan and Ryan at setting up a tent.  Grandsons, led by Parker set up the second tent.  I should have timed them.  Eagle scout Ryan vs. Parker who is currently working on his Eagle badge.  I wonder who would have won. 

 Regan lends a helping hand by driving in a stake with a croquet mallet
Hannah watches all the activity

Jon wonders what kind of bird he is observing.
Ryan sends Parker for a bird book that he has in the motor home.
"How is this supposed to help?  This is Birds of Utah."

Amy set out snacks for us all to eat before dinner.

There was furry of activity as the cousins, ecstatic to see each other again, set up the croquet set, and put out the corn hole game.  Playing these games kept everyone busy until dinner.

We opted out of going to the Erie fireworks display which was held at the golf course.  It seemed like too big a hassle to eat and get everyone over there in time for the display.  Besides, it was determined that the best place to watch the show would be on top of the motor home parked in front of Amy's.  

Jon helps Mason up to the top of the RV.
Next comes Bridger.
So on, and so forth until all eight kids are on top of the RV.  
They decided it was dirty up there.
It wasn't very comfortable either.
Plus, they weren't sure they would be able to see the fireworks from there after all.
One, by one, they all came down safely.  Thank heavens.

That is what every kid waits for on the 4th of July.
That is when the fireworks begin!

This year was a bit odd.  There were fireworks bans throughout the State of Colorado for obvious reasons.  So, what do kids do when the sun goes down when they can't shoot off their own fireworks, and the town's fireworks show is late starting?  Why, they play kick the can of course!

Grandma Sally had to go out and show them how to play because they had it all wrong.  Then Jon, modeled how to play by being It.  Unfortunately, he was It all night long.  Those kids seem to run faster than he does.  

All in all, it was a fabulous night.  We laughed, and talked, and watched the kids play.  What can be better than that?

The next day, the actual 4th of July, we all went to Boulder to see what was happening on Pearl Street.  No, we weren't trying to be the entertainment, but I guess we probably were.  
The kids are holding son Ryan up.

 The kids played in the water on Pearl Street to cool off.
Hannah getting cool while wearing her festive headpiece.

After spending a little time on Pearl Street in Boulder, some of the adults and all of the kids went to Grandma Sally's hotel to swim in the pool.  There are no photos of that activity because Grandma Sally was back at Amy's fixing dinner.  Pulled pork sandwiches, a mountain of potato salad, and grilled corn on the cob was on the menu for those who are not vegetarians.  Those who are vegetarians, had veggie burgers, veggie dogs.  Veggie corn dogs seemed to be enjoyed by all the kids whether they were vegetarians or not.

We all only had a few days together, but it was a very special, fun time.  Grandma Sally and Grandpa Jim headed back home on the morning of the 5th.  Jon, Sam, and Atticus headed to Colorado Springs to spend time with Sam's mom.  Ryan and Sheridan, being the brave souls that they are, or as Jim said in need of a mental evaluation, took off to Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Granby in the motor home with seven kids in tow.  They added Amy's two kids to the mix of their five.  I spoke with them tonight; it has been raining, but somehow they managed to bed down all nine of them for the night last night in RV.  Tonight they plan on having the boys sleep in the tents.  They say they are having a ball.  

On Saturday, Ryan and crew head back to Utah.  On Sunday, Jon and Sam will take their Atticus and Amy's two children to Utah to spend a few days.  There, they will have more cousin time while they visit their Grandpa Barry and their great-grandparents.  

The best part of summer is when family gets together.  We have been blessed to be able to spend some wonderful time this summer with family.  

Thinking of My Dad

I'm in Utah staying with my daughter.  My granddaughter is downstairs making a Father's Day card for her father.  Since my father is no longer living, I no longer have the opportunity to tell him how important he was to me, or how important he remains in my life.

A Tribute To My Father

A Photo of My Father
A Peace Rose from My Garden

The day I was born, my father had to drive my mother to the hospital and then leave for Denver so he could be processed into the army.  At age thirty, he was drafted.  Uncle Sam still needed men, so despite his age and the fact that he had a wife, a child, and another child on the way, he was called up and shipped out.  He liked to say Hitler gave up when he heard my father had joined the army.  In truth, he never went overseas to fight.  He spent his time stateside working as a clerk.  He missed the first year of my life.  I'm sure I missed a lot not having him there also.  I've always loved this photo taken when my father came home from the service in 1946.

It seems difficult to write a narrative about this man who was my father.  I cannot be objective on the subject because I am his daughter and I adored him.  I thought he was terribly funny.  He was funny.  He had a dry wit and could think of the greatest puns.  He had the greatest sense of humor and told the best stories.  He always made me laugh.

I could listen to his stories forever as he drove through the beautiful mountain passes of Colorado.  He knew so much Colorado history.  He loved his native state of Colorado and taught us to protect her beauty.  We spent many happy hours camped along beautiful clear Colorado streams in the summer.  We were taught to always leave our campsite better than we found it.  We were taught not to leave a trace that we had been there.

My father was a reader.  He loved to read.  I learned to love to read because I wanted to be a member of his club.  Reading was such an important part of his life.  He could never understand people who didn't like to read.  He always had a book at his side.  As he got older and suffered from diabetes, he was so grateful for the lending library in Denver who sent him large print books on a very regular basis.

He also liked to write.  He wrote long letters to his children and his mother.  He wrote family histories.  He compiled family genealogy.   He wrote narratives about his childhood memories in Colorado Springs.  He had a large correspondence that he maintained with family members throughout the country who also worked on family genealogies.  I wonder if he would have written a blog.  I wonder what he would think of mine.  He submitted some of his writing about various topics to be kept in the archives of his alma mater, Colorado College.

Actually, Daddy never graduated from Colorado College.  He quit after marriage during the depression when he only had a few hours left to complete.  I don't know if he ever regretted quitting college with so few hours left to complete.  He went to work for the railroad and worked there his entire life.  He started as a clerk and retired as regional manager.  He was always grateful for the good life the railroad gave him, and the good retirement.  He followed his father's footsteps in working for the railroad.  His father was a telegrapher.  I am a railroader's daughter and have always loved the way my life was intertwined with railroad history and lore.  I love my memories of growing up riding on trains.

My father was a generous man.  He was one to always want to help those who might have a legitimate need.  The day before he died, we were gathered in his room talking to a nurse who was sharing her story of fighting cancer and how hospice was such a Godsend to many.  She told of her struggle to get well and to keep working.  We thought Daddy was not aware of what was being said that night.  When the nurse left the room, he said, "Mother, make sure you write a check as a gift to that nurse.  She needs some help."

Daddy was a strong Christian.  He had been a drinker, had a temper, and swore like a trooper when we were younger.  In his early 60's, he gave his life back to the Lord.  The transformation was obvious to all who knew him.  One of my favorite memories is remembering how mother would read the Bible to him every night before he went to bed in the last years of his life.  When he died, he was ready.  He kept saying he wanted to go and be with the Lord.

He was not a perfect man.  He scared off every boyfriend I ever had, or tried to scare them off.  He had a short fuse.  He was demanding.  I always said his bark was worse than his bite.

He worked hard.  He earned a good living and provided well for us.  He was not overly demonstrative.  He did not express his emotions of tenderness.  He was a product of his generation.  Men went to work and earned the money.  Women stayed home and raised the kids.  He expected good behavior out of us, and I lived in fear of disappointing him and bringing on his wrath.

Some of my most precious memories are of his final days on this earth.  I spent the last days at his bedside.  My sisters and my oldest son were there much of the time.  It was a blessing to be there and try to ease those last days that he spent in a body that had been broken down by diabetes and congestive heart failure.

I held those hands that I had always loved a lot of time.  I tried to memorize how they looked so I would remember all they had done for me throughout my life.  They had dug out a basement below our house.  They had remodeled more than one house that we lived in.  They had painted many walls and pounded many nails.  They had caught many fish.  They had held many books.  They had written many letters, memos, and narratives.  They had typed papers in the army on old fashioned upright typewriters and learned to write on a computer.  They had spanked my bottom on a few occasions.  They had been manicured by me when I was younger.  I loved to give manicures, and he was a willing subject.  I miss holding my daddy's hand.

I long ago forgave him of his shortcomings.  I've tried to live my life in such a way as to make him proud.  When I was working, I always used him as my role model on how to conduct myself in the workplace.

He was my daddy.  I was his Sally Lou.  I remember when he died that I was filled with absolute certainty that he loved me, that he was proud of me, and that seemed to be enough for both of us.
Graduation Day
B.S. in Business Administration
Mother & Daddy at My Side