I’ve been listening to your daily journal and you said you’d call 12noon Utah time! But then you called 9:30am our time! I’m glad we finally caught each other at 2pm. Yes, please send a message early on your Monday morning once you know your schedule so I/we can plan.
Since you didn’t get last week’s email from me, did you happen to get the email/article/picture I sent about Jaren Hall and the double overtime? Really moving story and picture.
Ben, you said you do read my epistles, so here is another one!
Monday 19thNormal stuff for me – 630am dog walk, then weight workout, client, piano lessons for Jacob and Ammon. Did a test run of Ghanain Jollof Rice. Total fail. Gave it to the chickens. They loved it.Lynette visited Grandma in the afternoon:
When I visited she didn’t want anything to do with me. She had no idea who I was. She was in the Commons room and I sat down by her and every time an aide would walk by she’d wave them down and point to me and say ‘this lady needs help.’
Tuesday 20thGorgeous morning for a walk. Light rain, thunder and lightning above the mountains, golden clouds. I’ve attached a video. Sure do love our little slice of heaven here.I picked up your 6’1″ cut out to have available for family events. When Eliza noticed you standing in the living room she barked at you for 5 minutes! Then she sat down and watched you. See video and picture. I didn’t tell anyone I was getting it today so I got to see people’s reactions. It was funny! Wish I had a hidden camera to capture it for ya!
Tried another batch of Jollof Rice. Better, but not quite there yet. Followed the instructions of “let it burn on the bottom for a genuine smoky flavor” (haha- it’s totally true though!)Led Group Therapy at the CJC. Took the Impala for its weekly run. Jacob carpooled to swim practice. Ammon went to Cub Scouts with Dad. I went to visit Grandma in the evening. Here’s my text to my siblings:
Arrived at mom’s at 8pm and 2 aides were with her in the bathroom getting her ready for bed. She saw me and gave me a big smile. She was able to use her walker from the bathroom to her bed, but was ready to not be moving anymore by the time she got to her bed! She tried to talk to me, but I couldn’t understand anything she was trying to say. I put on the classical music channel on the TV and she closed her eyes, enjoying the music and was in between sleep and awake.
Wednesday 21stMornings are getting darker for our daily walks. Chillier, but not freezing. I picked up 3 fallen peaches from an unattended tree. I’m done processing peaches, but it sure is nice to have some fresh ones on the counter to snack on. Had some clients this morning and an intro training about Play Therapy – way cool stuff. Dad went to our accountant to finish off our 2021 taxes. We filed an extension because Julles couldn’t quite figure out how to do the oil wells. TurboTax doesn’t include that in their program. Gee I wonder why? Our accountant did all the numbers and filing with the oil wells and we ended up getting a refund. Going to turn it around and do another oil well!
Lynette went to visit Grandma this afternoon
Mom’s very sleepy today. Frailness in her voice. Expressionless face for the most part. She held my hand for a while. She tried to talk but I really couldn’t understand. I told her tomorrow is her sister’s birthday. She tried to ask if we were going to send her a card. I said she died 4 years ago. She was surprised. Aunt Dawna would have been 100 today. I told her I loved her before I left. She tried to say something back to me but I couldn’t make anything out.
I drove the swim carpool. Dad took Ammon to the flag football playoffs. After swim, I was able to get Jacob dropped off at YM at 7:10 then caught the last 30 minutes of Ammon’s football playoffs. They didn’t win, but they had fun! (See picture)
Earlier in the day I made another batch of Jollof Rice and took it to the combined Young Women/Young Men activity which was about missionaries and missionary work. The adults made and brought various foods from around the world. There were stations to 1) learn how to sew a button on pants 2) iron a shirt 3) write and address a letter. The leaders also had letters for each youth to open where they had been called to labor. Sam was at Marching Band practice, but I brought home a plate of food, and his “mission call”. See attached videos.
Thursday 22nd (Aunt Dawna’s 100th birthday)Morning walk. Clients. Dad took Ammon to choir practice while I drove swim carpool.
Mom was in her wheelchair in her room after lunch. She’d open her eyes once in a while and look at the ceiling back and forth and close her eyes again. She had a grin on her face most of the time. I read to her for a while from my book. After about an hour had passed she started opening her eyes more and seemed to be talking to angels for a minute and then closed her eyes again. She gradually got more awake and started asking me questions about getting ready to go and what time the program is tonight, etc.She asked where I was going to sing with the choir and where I’d be. As I was getting ready to leave, she was bright-eyed and wanted to know where we were going to sit for the program tonight and “need to hurry and get there early so we can get a good seat. I should be dressed up more than this, don’t you think? Mother will be there too.”
As I left, I took her out to the Commons area and she looked around the room and asked, “Where did Mother go?” I told her not to worry and said that she’d be back. So interesting that I could actually understand some of the things she was saying in the that 30 minutes whereas most of this week I couldn’t understand anything she was trying to say. I also haven’t heard her talk about her mother lately so that was interesting to me. Oh, and one of the things she said while looking around the room was “So there’ll be the 3 of us there then?”
From me:I arrived at 7:45pm and mom was in the living room area in the recliner, but nearly falling out. When she saw me she nearly cried and reached out to give me a hug. “Oh, thank you for coming! I don’t want to leave you!” I moved her up in the chair and I began to have a nearly coherent conversation.“I feel like my brain is gone. What do I do about that?”There’s nothing we can do about that here on this earth. It’s time for your body and brain to rest and for your spirit to move on. You can leave this body behind and do all the things you love again – sing, play piano and organ, dance with no pain.
Her eyes opened wide, “really? No pain? How do I do that? [go on]”When your sister Dawna or your husband Henry comes, just reach out your hand and they will show you how to go.
Pause. “Hmm. I’m not ready to go.”I understand. I hear from others it is hard to leave the body behind.
“Is that so?”
“I am so tired”
Yes, you would be with all the angel visitors you have been having the past month. They have everything ready for you.
Mom’s eyes were closed and she smiled and nodded contentedly. We cycled through this conversation a few times with a few variations, and then her speech became very garbled.
I had one of the CNA’s (Alyssa) come help move her to the wheelchair so we could get her ready for bed.
As Alyssa (a CNA) was helping get mom ready in the bathroom mom said her usual, “thank you so much”. Alyssa replied, “thank you Grace for always being so kind”
After we got her in bed and situated mom asked, “where will I wake up?”
Here. (Though I wanted to say, ‘in heaven’)
Mom patted my hand and said again, “I don’t want to leave you. You girls have been so good to me. Thank you for everything you’ve done. How do I go again?”
You just reach out your hand to Dawna or Henry when they come.
She closed her eyes and mumbled something about “Ready for a ride in the car”. Friday 23rd
Beautiful morning walk with Eliza Doglittle as usual. No doggie friends at the dog park. Everytime we get close to the park she pulls and pulls, and when we get there with no one there she gets sad 🙁
Dad went to Fairview again with Dave Lewis and LaMont to keep working on the platform for the yurt. Another week’s worth of activity in one day for dad. He came home exhausted again. Dave Lewis got him a Mountain Dew from the gas station, but it was DIET. Dave took it back into the station to exchange, but the gas station ONLY had DIET of ALL sodas! Gross, and I don’t even drink sodas.
In the afternoon Jacob had a swim meet. While I was doing my internship the past year I wasn’t very good about getting him registered in time for the meets. He didn’t do as many in 2021 as he should have. I challenged him to do an event that he hasn’t done yet. He picked the Butterfly 100 Meter (or 4 laps). Butterfly is the hardest stroke because you have to pull yourself up and out of the water while keeping your arms straight. His swim heat had 2 high school kids and 2 Jr. High kids (he was one of those). I was a lane timer for the high school kid, but was watching Jacob as much as I could (wasn’t allowed to take video behind the starting blocks because of “Safe Sport” rules.) When I was comparing the fast high schooler who had massive shoulders with Jacob, I was really impressed with Jacob’s form and the strength building in his broadening shoulders and he’s not even 14 yet! (He’ll be 14 November 3rd).
Jacob also did the 50 meter freestyle and shaved 4 seconds off his last time from July’s swim meet.
- 50 M freestyle (front crawl) – 30.4 seconds (8th place for 13-14 year olds)
- 100 M butterfly – 1 minute 20 seconds (3rd place for 13-14 year olds)
Sam had a detailing gig that bailed on him. He was bummed. James left for Fairview to take a turn helping with the yurt. He also took a 1 man hiking tent to sleep there overnight and help all day Saturday.
Saturday 24thSam left at 5:30am to go to the Welding lab to work on his power wheels project. Then at 9am he went to marching band practice until 5:30pm. He had a 12 hour day at the school on Saturday. As dad (Dave) would say, “it was just a half day”.
Anthony borrowed the Prius to drive to St. George with Gracey. He asked Gracey’s dad for her hand in marriage. In a private room he asked Dan (her dad), “I want to marry your daughter.” Dan gave a long pause and asked, “what are your plans for the future?” Anthony told him he plans to attend MTECH (vocational school) in the fall and start the machining certification to do precision laser CNC work with metal. Anthony already knows CNC for wood, but the metal work is much more in demand with higher pay. Dan said, “That’s good, but you should also start your own business.” Dan is the CFO of some large company.
Dad, Jacob & Ammon took your Caprice and I took the Impala to the Wings and Wheels event at the SF airport. I parked on the street next to the industrial complexes, but dad took your Caprice into the event parking lot. The parking attendant immediately asked, “Are you selling the Caprice?” The attendant said it should go to the car show event. 🙂 We got there in time for the air acrobatics show. After 30 minutes Ammon was whining and wanted to go see other stuff. Jacob and dad stayed to watch more airplane acrobatics. The Gail Halvorsen “Candy Bomber” Foundation had a STEM “Fun Bus” with flight simulators inside. Ammon tried a simulator on a laptop for a few minutes, but couldn’t figure it out. We went to see some more exhibits. Dad and Jacob left about 11:30, but I had Ammon stay with me. We watched the drag racing warm-ups, the RC flyers, wandered through the car show, ate from the Waffle Love food truck (shortest line). Then Ammon wanted to try the flight simulators again. This time there was someone there to help kids work the controls. Ammon stayed there for nearly 2 hours. I had my camping chair so I just sat outside the bus in the shade and people watched while reading. He would come out every 20 minutes or so really excited. He figured out how to switch plane profiles and was starting to help the other kids around him.
The grand finale they had a WWII plane with a Rolls Royce V12 engine do some fly-bys. The announcer would say, “imagine this sound duplicated x100 going over Germany with the Allied forces. Now here’s an explosion of what one bomb would sound like.” The pyrotechnics people had a barrel full of gasoline that exploded as the plane flew over. They did that twice. Pretty amazing! During this grand finale Ammon said he was done and started to walk away. When he realized he didn’t know where the Impala was he got really frustrated!
At 8pm we had an impromptu 18th birthday party for Ryan. When June kept asking him what he wanted to do, or eat, or anything he replied, “Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.” Last week he blew a tire on his car and June bought 2 new back tires. Sam found in trunk of your car a shredded tire, so we had Sam put that on the kitchen table with a bow. June went and got Barry’s Drive-Inn and a cake from Macey’s. We convinced him to come upstairs to the kitchen to come get food (a feat in itself). We sang Happy Birthday over a shredded tire, fast food and a chocolate cake. Perfect birthday for Ryan!
Kalani (CNA) said Grandma was in her bed most of the day today. However, Grandma was having a grand time talking with all her angel visitors.
BYU football game started at 8pm vs. Wyoming Cowboys (unranked). BYU won 38-24 (they are still #19). In history, it was this same team in 1969 that had 14 black players who were kicked off the team because of their protest against an upcoming game with BYU and church policy regarding blacks and the priesthood. If you want to know more (black14.net):
The Black 14 is a story of fourteen black student-athletes from the 1969 University of Wyoming (UW) football team who were unfairly kicked off the team for requesting to participate in a peaceful protest planned by the Black Students’ Alliance (BSA) during an upcoming game versus Brigham Young University (BYU).
Three years prior to the 1969 football game between UW and BYU, the Cowboys won 31 of 36 games, had played in the Sun Bowl and the Sugar Bowl, and were ranked #12 in the UPI Board of Coaches Poll.
Leading up to the BYU game (October 18, 1969), seven of the 14 African-American players were starters. John Griffin was the leading receiver and his cohort Ron Hill led in kickoff returns and scored Wyoming’s first touchdown in college football’s centennial year. Joe Williams, Tony Gibson, and Ted Williams were the top four rushers. Tony McGee tackled the Air Force quarterback for a loss seven times in UW’s come-from-behind win at AFA. Early that week, the BSA announced plans to protest UW’s participation in the game against BYU.
This protest was in response to a tenet held by the church that owns BYU, stating that African-Americans could not ascend to the priesthood. The BSA release stated that using university facilities and student monies to host BYU sanctioned that tenet. Upon approaching coach Lloyd Eaton to discuss how they might show solidarity with the Black Student Alliance, wearing black armbands as a symbol of protest, the 14 Black players were kicked off the team. He based this punishment on his team rules: 1) scholarship players could not participate in demonstrations, and 2) they could not form factions within the team.
Realizing these rules could be unconstitutional, UW withdrew the rules the following week, but players were not reinstated. Their story was covered nationally, including an article in Sports Illustrated. The Denver Post carried an editorial asking whether football was more important in Wyoming than human rights.
ESPN article on Saturday:
BYU on Saturday night will recognize members of the Black 14, a group of former Wyoming players kicked off the team in 1969 for wanting to protest a Latter-day Saints church policy that prohibited Black men from becoming priests.
Black 14 members Mel Hamilton and John Griffin will serve as “Y Lighters” and be honored before BYU’s home game against Wyoming. In 1969, Hamilton, Griffin and 12 of their Black teammates requested to wear black armbands for the BYU game as part of a protest by the school’s Black Student Alliance against the LDS church priest policy. Wyoming coach Lloyd Eaton kicked them off the team.
The Black 14 later formed a philanthropic organization to serve communities in need, and it partnered with Latter-day Saint Charities to provide food for communities. In 2020, the group delivered more than 180 tons of food in eight states near the homes of the Black 14 members.
BYU’s communications school made a documentary about the Black 14 and its work with LDS charities, which was shown to BYU coaches and athletes, and aired publicly in Provo, Utah, this week. Hamilton and Griffin have participated in several discussions and presentations at BYU’s campus this week. They will be on the field at LaVell Edwards Stadium for the first time since the 1968 game between BYU and Wyoming.
“It took me years to share my story, I was angry for 10 years,” Griffin said in a statement. “What we decided to do, and when Mel reached out to [former BYU quarterback] Gifford Nielsen, was to develop a partnership that dealt with giving back food to those who are in need. That relationship has grown into something pretty darn special. If you look at what happened to us in 1969, you could say now that it was a tragedy turned into philanthropy. That’s in essence what we’ve done, and we aren’t done yet.”
BYU president Kevin Worthen added: “It’s pretty powerful to say, we can get a lot done for our communities to help them but also help heal the wounds that have been felt in the past as we do service today.”Deseret News article:
…The University of Wyoming formally apologized to the Black 14 in 2019. Hamilton’s son Malik became a Latter-day Saint years ago.
“Never did I hate the people of the Latter-day Saint religion,” Hamilton has said. “It was a mission of mine to … speak out wherever I went to clarify we don’t hate people. We just wanted that one policy changed. And thank God, there was a revelation that changed it.”Sunday 25thStake Conference: 8am youth session dad went with Jacob & Sam. I took Ammon at 9:00 with me for Choir warm up. The youth had the traditional breakfast cereal at 9am, and to encourage them to stay and chat with others (learn how to talk to each other face-to-face!). James joined us for the 10am session. President Martin is so awesome. He mentioned in conference how the visiting Seventy for our last stake conference said that in every stake he visits he always gets an overall feeling for the spiritual state for the stake. The Seventy said, “Your stake is a very meek stake. This is wonderful because they are teachable.”
Those who were presented to be ordained to the office of an Elder: Ryan Seegmiller, Enzo Allred, Nick Nielsen (and another guy from our ward I didn’t know) along with others from our stake. With you being gone I miss having Enzo around!
I visited with grandma in the afternoon:
Mom at the dinner table tried to hush the people around, “shh, can’t you hear the music?” (But garbled speech) and she was conducting in a slow 4/4 nearly for the whole meal. She didn’t eat much (I was helping her), but she did drink all her water. Attached is a short video.
For Sunday dinner I made Texas Lasagna to use up the corn tortillas that nobody eats. I’ve had such rare experiences with good corn tortillas. Dutch Oven Cherry Chocolate Cobbler with left over 2 Liter of Dr. Pepper from LaMont and Kris. Sam was the fire starter and cook for the dutch oven outside. Even though I said 10 coals on bottom and 20 on top, when I went out there the top was stacked full of coals. Of course the top was burnt, but still tasted fine once we peeled off the top layer.
Anthony & Gracey came back from St. George and Anthony told us about asking Dan to marry Gracey.
Jacob REALLY wanted to watch another Shakespeare play, so we watched “Taming of the Shrew” with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It was 2 hours and Jacob said, that felt more like 45 minutes. He really likes Shakespeare!
Lynette sent another text in the evening about Grandma:
Tonight when Amanda and I went to visit Mom she was in the Commons area. She was crying. We came up to her, said hello and asked her what was wrong. She said, “I’m going to die. I don’t want to die.” We wheeled her down to her bedroom and Amanda and I each held her hands and pretty much had the conversation I think LaReita had with her on Thursday about how we can understand why it would be scary, but that it would be okay and she didn’t need to worry.
We assured her that she’s lived a good life and Heavenly Father and her parents are proud of her. She said, “I’ve tried to be good.” We assured her that she has served and loved others all her life. Going to heaen will be a eaceful and joyous experience, etc. She asked, “So I’ll be in a new world?”
After a while she said that she felt better and then she kept repeating the question “are you sure it will be okay?” At one point she said, “ok I’m ready then.” She expressed her love for both of us and thanked us for all we’ve done. The aides came in and helped get her ready for bed. I stayed for a few minutes and asked her if we could say a prayer together. She said that would be nice. As I started to pray she said, “I hear a bell ringing.” After I finished she went to sleep pretty quickly.
That’s all for this week. I really should rough draft each day so this doesn’t take me 2+ hours on Monday! All the images/videos were too big with one email and I can’t do a drive link to your missionary.org address, so I’ll be sending the rest in separate emails. I even shrunk the file sizes down!
– LaReita Berky (mom)