Monday, February 27, 2006

Dad & Matt

Matt and I at the Freiberg's after dinner. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 19, 2006

February 19, 2006

Hectic day at church today. I had the kids alone for most of it, Erin wasn't feeling well. We did the routine (visited the Wolff's and the Melchins).

Matt has taken to pulling his blanket over his head (his whole body in fact) in order to fall asleep at night. It's quite funny. He gets into his crib, lays down and pulls the covers over his body -- then he pulls them right up over his head and tucks the blanket in under his head on the other side. When I say goodnight, he looks at me from under the covers and smiles.

Stake conference is just around the corner -- it's hard to believe. I've been busy making preparations for the Internet broadcast (been investigating the possiblity of doing a wireless broadcast from the stake center to the Royal Oak chapel).

Exciting times.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Eulogy of Isabella Hendry Wolff 1915 - 2006

Our Birth is but a sleep and a forgetting
The soul that riseth with us, our life’s star
Has had elsewhere its setting
And riseth from afar
Not in entire forgetfulness
And not in utter nakedness.
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home.
Isabella Hendry Wolff was born October 13, 1915 in the Hendry home, south of the temple here in Cardston, where the Seminary building now stands. Her older siblings were Melvin who died in infancy, Wilby, Margaret, Mable, Roszella, Hazelle, and Merlin. Her parents were Adam and Mary Ann Hendry. Isabel was a name frequently found in her father’s Scottish pedigree. Mother was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the newly built temple. Her older brothers and sisters were baptized in the waters of Lee Creek. Grandpa Hendry came to Canada from Utah in 1888. He saw the beautiful green hills and magnificent view of the mountains near the Canada US border in the Carway/Boundary Creek area, and proved up a homestead there. This is where Mother grew up, spending the summers at the ranch, and the winters in town where she attended school. At that time, the main Custom’s House was at Twin Lakes. South of their ranch was “The Gate” to the border. Mom was told that an American Indian was stationed there to keep tally. He wasn’t educated to read or write, but he could draw anyone who passed through if a likeness was needed for the records. Many people travelled by on their way across the line, and hospitality was extended to all. They had food to share and a barn to sleep in. Mother said her father Adam was a kind, honest, hard-working man whose handshake was his bond. Grandma Hendry had come to Canada from England after a short stay in Idaho. As a young girl she worked for several families keeping house, tending to children, milking cows, churning butter, and later nursing her mother through a terminal illness. Her mother, Eliza Crooks Perrett was the first woman buried in the Cardston Cemetery. Grandma married soon after her Mother’s death, at age 19, and put all her “work experience” to good use. Grandma Hendry was a real lady, well-mannered, genteel, and soft spoken. She taught mother to dress tidily, and always carry a clean handkerchief. When mother wrote about her mom in her journal she could have very well been describing herself. I quote: “Mother was always busy, she was a real homemaker. Her home was neat and clean and reflected her ability to sew and cook. The personal touches she added were original and thoughtful. Even though she was not forward or pushy about things she still had the courage of her convictions and championed what she knew to be right. She always supported us in all that we did. Mother had beautiful blue eyes with dark bushy brows and gray hair. She had a nose that was prominent, a family characteristic- any Englishman would call it a nose of breeding. Mother’s clothes were like her – always in good taste.” (end quote)

Isabella’s brothers and sisters were very important to her. As the youngest girl she inherited hand-me-down dresses and shoes from her older sisters. She always blamed her bunions from wearing shoes that were too tight. When she was able to, she purchased the best clothing and footwear she could afford. She certainly had a sense of style.

Mother said that being the youngest girl in her family, she was well taken care of and enjoyed a happy childhood. She and Evelyn Pilling Bohne liked ride their horses over the beautiful hilly country and pick berries. Mom remembers fondly one trip the whole family and their friends made, by horseback and wagon to the timbered area near Old Chief. The menfolk cut down logs and the kids hiked, rode horses in the mountains, swam in the icy water, and camped out. I’m sure grandma was kept busy feeding them with meals cooked on the stove they hauled along for that purpose.

In the summer, mother would help raise orphaned, or “pet” lambs as she called them, to be sold in the fall to help earn money for school clothing and books. The one time of year the girls would receive a new dress was July First. This was a very special holiday with fireworks, festivities, and a parade. Grandma Hendry would handsew for each of them a “Dominion Day” dress. Mother and dad taught Robb and I the importance of living in this wonderful country of Canada where we can enjoy the freedoms preserved for us by the men who fought in the World Wars.
Mother attended her church meetings in the old Tabernacle in the First Ward. She writes: “I always thought the arched stained glass windows were beautiful. I particularly remember at early morning Conference the sun shining through the coloured glass and reflecting on the congregation.” She was very sad when the decision was made to have it torn down.

Mom’s parents taught her good work ethics. She believed that any job worth doing, was worth doing well, and she impressed that on me several times over the years. If she felt inadequate or incapable, she went by faith, and got the job done.

Mom and dad had a simple wartime wedding ceremony in 1941, at the family home in Cardston. Her best friend Trix McMillan had married dad’s brother, Dr. George Wolff, and that was how she became acquainted with dad. After a honeymoon fraught with flat tires and a breakdown on muddy roads, they made their first home in Mediciine Hat where I was born. They then moved to balmy Vancouver which mom enjoyed, but she yearned for the Prairies. When Grandpa Wolff was ready to retire he asked dad if he wanted to run Wolff and Son Machine Implements, and they settled back in Cardston for good. Robb was born during the coldest winter on record and our family was complete. When I started to go to Primary mom became more involved with the Church. She taught in various organizations and was a councilor in the Second Ward Relief Society with Thora Jensen. She and Sue Smith were Visiting Teaching Companions for several years.

Mom was a great hostess and entertained for family birthdays, and all the holidays. Rodeo time was a highlight of the year. In the early days it was an outdoor event with friends and neighbors participating in a branding competition before the Rodeo began. It was lots of fun for all the families to get together. As a Rotarian, dad was involved with the Parade and always showed his support by entering an antique car or two. Mom and the sisters would cook a big backyard fried chicken picnic and it was such fun to all be together. After dad passed away mom missed him so much, and especially at this time of year. She was not one to dwell in the past and adapted her life accordingly. When they moved up to the westend of town, from their creekside home, she began attending the temple. Dad joined the church after being friendshipped by some wonderful people, and gaining a testimony by reading the Book of Mormon. This was an especially happy time for mom. She has always been a prayerful individual and a woman of great faith.

She knew when it was time for her to leave her home and the garden which she loved, and join with friends and helpful staff in the Chinook Lodge. Robb and I knew it wouldn’t be home without mom, but it was the right thing for her. She has enjoyed this past year, lonely for family to come down and visit her, but participating in the activities in the Lodge and grateful not to have to cook and look after a big home. She still did her own washing and ironing, cleaned her room and had a flair for decorating. The past few months she became too ill and tired to “do for herself”. She said she knew she was sick because food just didn’t appeal to her. Mom was appreciative of friends, family, the handi-bus drivers, and the Chinook staff right until the end. When Christmas came she couldn’t rest until she had a little something for everyone.

For mom’s 90th birthday last year we had a surprise celebration in July. We presented her with a book full of tributes written by many of her posterity. The cover of the book was made from the dress she wore for her fiftieth wedding anniversary. She was very touched by all the sentiments and kind thoughts expressed by loved ones far and near.

Mom was blessed with a long healthy life. Now she has gone to join my dad, almost exactly nine years since his death. She is at peace after suffering with debilitating health problems this past couple of months. Her last words were Good Night. She was so appreciative of the tender care given her by the nurses and Doctors, they seemed to sense what a great lady she was. It is so hard to lose a mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend, but we are strengthened by the great legacy she has left us.
No man is an island, entire of itself.
Every man is piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away, Europe is the less, as if a promontory were,
As if a manor of thy own or thy friend’s were.
Every man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind.
Therefore do not send to know for whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
May we be ever mindful of each other and follow mother’s example of always looking for the good. At the end of the day may we reflect on the words of one of her favourite hymns – Have I done any good in the world today, have I helped anyone in need? ……… Doing good is a pleasure, a joy beyond measure, a blessing of duty, and love.

As I was walking down the golf course hill one morning last week, I saw two colts frolicking in the pasture. I thought, mom would be so pleased, she always felt sorry for a horse penned up all by itself. She said horses are sociable creatures and very unhappy when they are alone. Mom will be no longer be lonely as she has joined her beloved companion, for time and all eternity.

Given by Judy Hawthorne (daughter)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Isabella Wolff (1915-2006)

Grandma Wolff passed away early Saturday morning (about 3:00 AM).

She's been in and out of the hospital since moving into the seniors home, and this week when mom and dad went down it was a little bit different. I wasn't surprised when dad said she may not live too many more days. Just before Christmas, she was admited to the hospital, and I felt strongly that we should go down as a family and see her. We put the kids in the car and went to see her. She was so pleased to see us, especially to see little Hannah. I'm really glad we did that.

To be sure grandma Wolff comes from solid stock! She lived to be 91 years old (her sisters Mable and Rozella also lived into thier nineties). She's lived 9 years without grandpa, and as I type this, I feel such happiness for her to be reunited with grandpa. She was ready to pass on, she told dad as much and asked that he give her a blessing to release her.

Grandma Wolff (a likewise grandpa) was the consumate host. An excellent cook, and very welcoming to all who entered her home. I never hesitated to offer grandma's place to any of my family and friends who were looking for a place to stay while in Cardston. She was so accomodating.

In her late seventies, after being married for more than fifty years to Harvey (who didn't join the church until only a few years before he died), grandma decided it was time for her go to the temple -- even if it meant going without her husband. Not long after this, grandpa was baptized. After grandpa died, my father acted as proxy for my grandfather, and grandma and grandpa Wolff were sealed together in the Cardston temple.

Grandma lived alone for nine years -- she's not alone any longer.

Erin Turns 30

Erin turned 30 this week (Feb 8, 2006) and Lara helped me organize a surprise party for her. I started planing it about a week before and managed not to blow the surprise (although a couple of times I had to make a clever recovery).

Mid week, Erin decided she was going to oraganize her own party (just for family) at the same place and time as the surprise party. Despite my initial concern, it worked out well -- I didn't have to make up any reason to go over the the Friebergs, and Erin arranged for her own babysitter.

We had about 12 couples over and spent most of the evening sining karaoke. Erin was really surprised. People had a fun time -- everybody sang except Jeff Shipley and Sean (who were both legitimately sick and could barely talk).

I managed to get some Crave cupcakes, which were in fact very good (even after Dave Maller tried to convince me that they were just cupcakes). Lara went to Costco and got a bunch of appetizers. All in all, the party was a success. Happy birthday Erin. I love you.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Erin and I went to Matador to celebrate her 30th birthday last night. I bought her 30 roses (this is perhaps only the third time I've bought flowers for her in 9 years of marriage).

I stoped by to pick up some cupcakes from a trendy bakery in Kensington called "Crave", but they were closed because they were sold out. They must have some pretty good cupcakes.

Gracie's eye is healing very well, she's been really brave this last week. She goes in for her follow-up visit today.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Gracie's Eye Surgery

Grace had eye surgery today.

More than a year ago, Erin noticed that when Grace moved her head in a certain way, her left eye wouldn't track evenly with her right. On a routine visit to the doctor, Erin asked if there was something wrong. The doctor referred Grace to a specialist, and the specialist confirmed that one of the muscles in Gracie's left eye was weak. Erin was told that this was fairly common, and that it was easily treatable. She was also told that there was a chance it may affect her ability to learn to read, or there was a chance it was totally benign and would have no effect at all.

In early December (2005) co-incidental with Hannah's arrival -- Gracie began to have a hard time going to school -- especially riding on the bus. She stayed home from school on several occasions because she was too upset about going to school. Whenever I would probe her about her troubles at school, her only worry was that she couldn't read very well, and that she was unable to complete her "homework".

Just before the Christmas break, I paid a visit to Mrs. Jantzen and discussed Gracie's situation with her. Mrs. Jantzen insisted that Gracie was progressing normally, and that her difficulties at school were limited to the coming/going on the bus. I became quite certain that the weak muscle in her eye was not causing her trouble at school -- despite a nagging feeling that it was somehow detracting from her overall wellbeing.

A few days after meeting with Mrs. Jantzen, I was at the Health Resource Centre. I had been visiting with the guys, and after Bernie inquired about the kids (as he always does) I mentioned that Gracie was having a difficult time at school. For some reason I also mentioned the condition of her eye -- and right away Bernie asked a few questions: "does she fall down allot? does she have mood swings? does she have a difficult time concentrating/focusing on one task?" I answered affirmatively in all cases. Bernie explained that about the same age, his son Paul was diagnosed with the same condition. Paul underwent the corrective surgery, and his balance, mood and focus were improved dramatically -- like turning on a light switch. He strongly encouraged me to take Gracie in for the corrective surgery.

Having this discussion with Bernie made me feel so certain that Erin and I ought to do everything we can to help Grace feel comfortable at school. After leaving HRC, I called Erin from the car and told her how strongly I felt that we should be doing everything possible to manage Gracie's situation at school, and that in part, this would mean getting Gracie in to see the eye specialist again.

Erin called to get the appointment with the optometrist, and not two weeks ago Gracie went to the Alberta Children's Hospital for an assessment. The optometrist confirmed (again) that she had a weak muscle in her left eye. At the end of the appointment, the optometrist noticed Dr. Astel (the eye surgeon) in the hallway, and asked if he could see Gracie at some point. Dr. Astel said that he had a free moment right then, and with that Gracie was in with the surgeon. He also confirmed her diagnosis and asked if we would like to schedule the corrective surgery. Erin said that she would like to discuss it and get back to him. When Erin told me about the outcome of the appointment, I told her that I felt we should do it. Shortly after Erin called back to advise Dr. Astel's office that we would like to schedule Gracie for the surgery -- the booking clerk responded that Dr. Astel had just had a cancellation, and that Gracie could be booked for the following Thursday (less than a week away). Erin accepted.

Yesterday morning I told Gracie that we were going to see the doctor again, and that he was going to look at her eye again. I told her that she would have to be asleep this time when he looked at her eye, and that I was going to come with her. She started to cry. I think she had a sense that this was something more than the fairly harmless visits she had in the past.

I took the day off work today -- mom and Cathy took Matt, and Gracie, Hannah, Erin and I drove to the Children's Hospital. Gracie cried on and off all morning; Erin was very reassuring.

We arrived at the hospital at 11:45 AM and by 12:30 we were in getting changed into her hospital gowns (Grace didn't want to put the gowns on -- she was starting to get quite nervous at this point). We were told that Dr. Astel was about 30 minutes ahead of schedule -- a pleasant surprise. After getting into her gowns and having her oxygen levels testes with a special clip that fit on her index finger (she didn't want to do that either) we went back to sit in the waiting room and Gracie watched part of a movie on a personal DVD player.

After only ten minutes or so, the nurse called for Gracie, and we all walked down the hall toward the operating room. Erin said good-bye and I put on a cap and gown so that I could go right into the operating room with Gracie.

The operating room was very bright, and had Mickey Mouse decals at Gracie's eye level. She was quite brave as she walked down the last stretch of hallway into the operating room and even while she got up onto the operating table. The calm ended when the anethetist asked he to lay down and put on the oxygen mask. Gracie started to cry and refused the mask. I held her as close to my chest as the anethetist could let me, and I tried to reassure her by telling her that I was there and would be helping. She still resisted the mask, until finally I put my hand on Gracie's head to steady her while the anethetist place the mask over her face. Gracie was very upset.

It only took about 20 seconds before the anesthetic began to work, and Gracie became limp in my arms. That was a very strange feeling. We laid her down on the table and I kissed her on the cheek and told her that I loved her and then left the operating room. That was really tough.

I don't really remember walking back down the hallway away from the OR toward Erin, but she was surprised at how quickly I had returned. I told her about the operating room, and then had a brief teary moment. We left the waiting room and sat in the chairs in the hallway just outside the waiting room doors. It seemed like more, but about 45 minutes later they told us that Gracie would be coming out of the recovery room and we could see her in the post-recovery area.

They wheeled her out in a hospital bed and she was very disoriented and sobbing heavily. She was in a lot of pain, and very uncomfortable. Her eye was quite swollen and oozed puss for about 20 minutes. She cried for about 45 minutes. I think the worst part of the experience was the uncomfort of the IV that was in her left hand. She wanted that out immediately. We were told that she could have the IV out if she could drink and retain fluid. The nurse brought some apple juice, but we couldn't convince her to drink it (which I thought was kind of strange because by this time she had been fasting for about 18 hrs.).

Nurse Fran saved the day. She came in, looked a Gracie and said, "Grace, there are some things we have to do. Dr. Astel said you have to drink this apple juice before your IV comes out." Nurse Fran picked up the apple juice and gave it Gracie, and she drank. I was kind of shocked. With that, nurse Fran removed the IV and things got better from that moment. Nurse Fran told Grace to continue to drink the apple juice. Erin and I tried to get her to drink -- but she wouldn't, she would only drink if nurse Fran would instruct her to. So, I went to get nurse Fran.

By 3:15 PM the operation was done, Gracie had calmed down and we were discharged from the Hospital. From the hospital we went directly to MacDonalds, then to Dairy Queen for an ice cream cone. We came home -- and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

I marvel that this morning we drove to the hospital, and this afternoon we left and Gracie (given her situation) is ok.

Yesterday Erin asked me if we were doing the right thing by proceeding with the surgery. Without thinking about it I rehearsed my "coincidental" conversation with Bernie, the "coincidental" meeting with Dr. Astel last week, and the "coincidental" cancellation that would see Gracie get a surgery scheduled in just over a week, and couldn't help feeling that it wasn't all that coincidental.

Tonight before bed we all kneeled down to pray, like we do every night and I gave a prayer of thanksgiving for skilled doctors and modern technology, and most of all the Lord’s watchful hand over our family. I prayed that Gracie would recover peacefully and quickly. Gracie knows that her prayers are heard – and from time to time in moments like these she’ll prompt me to ask for a blessing for her. While I was praying, Gracie leaned over and whispered in my ear "bless my eye". I stopped, and asked for a blessing on Gracie’s eye – and I’m sure of everything I said in my prayer tonight, that was the most sincere.