Monday, August 18, 2014

A Week in Idaho

"Carry On" was the theme of Grandma's life.
She DID, and so will we!!!

Hey Elder,

It's been amazing to think that this week, our whole family has been sleeping under Idaho skies. :-) Kinda cool to think about!

We had a good trip up here, staying with N--- and company on Monday night. The kids played and played and played, and we stayed there until just before noon on Tuesday morning, so they could have more time together. It was really nice. We brought E--- with us, this time, since T--- had to work, and Bonny and E--- needed more time together.

We got to Granna's on Tuesday afternoon, and just hugged, visited and settled in. On Wednesday, I went over to Grandma's house with Granna, and just cried as I walked through the house, smelling all the old familiar smells, and thinking about Grandma and Grandpa together again.

I think Granna was really glad to have us here. She was stressing a lot about all the things she had to do, and so we tried to help her. It felt good to be here for her!

My sweet grandmother in front of a family tree quilt with photos of all her children and their spouses, and all 44 of her grandchildren.

Thursday afternoon, I was so blessed to have the privilege of helping the dress Grandma's body in her temple clothes. :'-) I was doing fine until I was helping to put Grandma's arm through her sleeve. As I held her hand, I was surprised how soft and beautiful her hands were-- they looked just the same as they always have, covered in her mother's ring, an opal (her favorite gem), and her wedding band with engagement ring. I just stopped, held her hand, and cried. It was such a sacred experience!

Thursday was Daddy's and my 22nd wedding anniversary! :-) We left all the kids, except Fiona, here at Granna's and went for a drive to Rexburg, where we lived when we were newlyweds, and where Morganne was born. A LOT has changed there! And yet, a lot of things are still the same. We had a nice dinner there, and enjoyed the drive and the fun little small town.

"The Original Eight!" My mother and five of her seven siblings
(My uncle, on the far left, is standing in for my aunt, his wife, who has already passed away.
Another aunt is in Russia, serving with her husband as a mission president.)

Friday night was the viewing, and it was such a WONDERFUL gathering!!! Soooo many of our cousins came-- almost all 44 of Grandma's grandchildren! And many of their spouses and kids, too. It was a party Grandma would have LOVED! :-D (I am attaching some pictures.)

The funeral was Saturday morning, and the place was PACKED-- mostly with family! :-) Before we all went in the chapel, we had a family prayer in the room where Grandma's casket was, given by Uncle S--. 

Most of Grandma's posterity

The funeral was everything Grandma wanted! She had it all planned out for years, and it was great to know her name was all over everything. (I'm including the program for the funeral as an attachment.) J-- made us all laugh, Aunt C-- read your letter and one from our cousin, Sister M-- T-- in her talk (It's the first time I'd heard it! Yes, I bawled!), and Uncle S-- said some wonderful words about the plan of salvation, and how important the Gospel is in our lives.

We were all doing pretty well, until the closing number, when we all stood up and sang "Carry On" together. It was a song Grandma had learned as a youth in the Church, and she had decided as a young adult, that that song would be the theme of her life. And it WAS!!! Everybody was crying, crying, crying. The Holy Spirit was so powerful, and Grandma's presence was so strong. It was AWESOME.

One thing J-- said really hit home with me. She said that both N-- and P-- had been talking to her, saying how they had been sad that Grandma's death might mean the end of our family togetherness. But then they both had the Spirit testify that it's now OUR turn to create something that wonderful in our OWN families! :-D

That has helped me sooo much! We truly will "Carry On!" 

Me with my gorgeous sisters 

G-- had to leave Saturday night, but W-- and his kids stayed until yesterday evening. It was so fun! A-- is still here, and Pa finally got back from Arizona last night, too! :-) We will go home on Wednesday or Thursday.

My brother and his kids with our parents

On Saturday evening, we got together with Granna and a few Keppners. And Daddy finally blessed our sweet Fiona. It was short and very sweet! :-) 

Russell and Fiona Temple

L. to R.: Russell's dad, Russell and Fiona, Russell's brother Karl, and brother-in-law Mark

This week, we will spend some time with the Keppners-- tonight we will have a family gathering at Grandma's. Daddy has been itching to spend some time with his Grandma/Granny Pike. She's our last Great-Grandma!

I love you, son. I hope you are doing well, and I hope that this letter doesn't distract you from the wonderful work you are doing. I know that Grandma Nielsen will be loving the missionary work she will be doing on the other side!!! :-) She is so proud of you, and so am I.

We all love you!!!

~The Mom

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