Mom Would Know

10 05 2015

Olan Mills

I wish I blogged more.

It’s one of those things, though, that is kind of like saying, “I wish I had a cleaner house,” or “I wish my book was all edited.” You can wish all you want, but unless you do something about it, nothing will change.

Here is my attempt to change into something I’d like to be better at. And even though I’m sure I’ll cry through the entire writing of it, I will persist.

My mom passed away in December, after battling brain cancer for over three years.

She was 67, much too young to be done living.

I am 37, much too young to be without a mother.

But, alas, we don’t get to choose when people die. (When that occurs, it’s called “murder,” and that is a very bad thing.) Even though I’m too young to be without a mother, and mom was too young to be done living, it still happened. So I trudge along as best as I can without her.

That doesn’t mean I don’t miss her. I miss her every day.

That doesn’t mean I’m unhappy, either. I am very happy.

But there is the space in my world that she used to fill, and it’s empty now. No, it’s worse than that–it’s a vacuum. Things get sucked inside of it. Things she told me and things she taught me and the way her laugh sounded–there’s a black hole there, and I have a memory, an imprint, but it’s just a whisper. A shadow. A wraith I see in my peripheral vision, but when I turn to see it fully, in color and three-dimensions, living and breathing . . . it’s gone.

When someone has cancer, you supposedly prepare for this sort of thing. You know that damn cancer is eating away at the person you love, and so you store up everything possible: stories, pictures, smiles, hugs, kisses.

And I did do that.

But, as the old saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know.

I didn’t know I didn’t know the special trick to a certain recipe. I didn’t know I didn’t know how this or that relative is connected to me. Or the way to fix a quilting issue. Or the way to parent a stubborn child.

“Mom would know.” She’s only been gone six months, and I probably think that phrase twice a day. Things that before I could call her about and she could tell me in less than thirty seconds.

Shoot, she’d even be able to tell me what it’s like to lose and grieve for your mother. She lost her own when I was just a teenager.

Sweet Colby talks about her several times a week as he’s saying his prayers. He’ll look at me for confirmation. “Oh, Grandma’s in heaven. Grandma feels better.” I’ll reassure him that, yes, she is in heaven, and, yes, she is all better now. “Oh, Grandpa doesn’t have a brain.” (I always tack “tumor” on the end, but no matter how many times I say it he just can’t seem to remember.) And then he’ll say, “Grandpa’s heart hurts.”

That is my experience with grief thus far: the pain, the aching, the hurting. It doesn’t go away, either, although there are days when I feel it less than others.

But today is Mother’s Day, albeit very early on Mother’s Day, and so I am resigned to it hurting a whole ton. I will let it wash over me. I will allow myself to feel it. I will cry. And I won’t feel ashamed of my tears or try to explain them away.

I will hold my children close and tell them stories of my childhood, stories about their grandmother. I will laugh with them and cry with them.

And I will send a special prayer through Heavenly Father to my mom, to let her know how much I love and miss her.

But I’m pretty sure she already knows.

Something Happened on My Way into Wal-Mart

29 06 2014


Rainbow was my travel buddy yesterday in running a few errands. We hit the gas station, then were on to Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and the library.

On our way into Wal-Mart, there was a woman standing just outside the doors. Her cart held a few things she’d purchased, along with her purse. Her son, who looked to be about four, was standing off to the side, wearing green frog boots, and screaming his head off.

Rainbow and I stepped into the cart garage and I pulled out a cart, sanitizing the handle for good measure. We were just about to walk through the automatic doors when I stopped. “Let’s go and help that lady.”

Rainbow, ever game for whatever adventure arrives at her door, skipped along behind me as I walked back outside.

The boy continued to scream. His mother talked to him patiently.

I caught her eye and said, “Let me help. I’ll push your cart while you carry him.”

“Thanks,” she said.

The boy had passed over the threshold of reason and was completely beyond reach of any rational thought. He screamed for his car. He threw his car away. He screamed to be picked up. He screamed to be let down to walk.

Four can be so ferocious.

She scooped him up and we followed her to her car, stopping only a couple of times so Rainbow could pick up one of the cars he threw or scoop up a boot he had kicked off.

The mom, she was awesome. In complete control the entire time, despite her son’s incoherent sobs and writhing to escape her arms.

“This is it,” she said when we reached a white sedan. “Thank you so much.”

I patted her on the arm and gave her a side hug. “Hang in there, Mom,” I said. “You’re doing a great job.”

I’m not sharing this because I think I’m such a great person. I’m sharing it because after I spent five minutes helping a complete stranger get through a situation I’ve been in many times myself, I felt really good. Like, clicking-my-heels good.

Apparently I should serve people more often.




These Kids . . .

24 06 2014


. . . just celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. (Pictured here with their favorite child.)

They make the hard work of marriage look easy, and their complete dedication and tenderness toward each other makes my heart happy.

I love these parents of mine.

Mom and Dad

Happy anniversary, you two!

Mindy Gledhill Concert

27 05 2014

Eden, my own Eden, just turned twelve.

That’s right. Twelve.

The age of ear piercing and the Young Women program. The age of sassy and sweet. The age of obedient mixed with obstinate. The age of eager and resistant at the same time.

I love that girl.

For her birthday, I took her to see Mindy Gledhill in concert. We met up with my cousin and her daughter and had a fabulous time.

DSCN3047Mindy is an “indie” pop artist, meaning she isn’t carried by a big label. (I think that’s what it means, anyway.) The concert venue was the upstairs of a little church. There were probably only about 50 people there. It was awesome!


On her albums, she records multiple tracks and harmonizes with herself. When she performs live, the guitar player on the left harmonizes with her. It was super cool. Eden loved Mindy’s dress, sparkly tights, and converse. It was so fun watching her perform.


And, especially for Tami, the set list:

Shadow Children

Whole Wide World

All the Pennies

That’s What Love’s About

I Take Flight

Pocketful of Poetry

Little Red Bike

Oh No!

Picture Show

All About Your Heart

Trouble No More

Remember When

I Do Adore



And, as an encore, the band did a cover of Love Fool by The Cardigans with Mindy on keytar!


After the concert, we got to meet Mindy and take a bad cell phone picture with her. (I can’t get it to upload for some reason. Sorry.)

Great concert, great memories!






Hey! I’m posting something on my blog. Crazy!

30 03 2014

I know I have been in absentia for months, and so very few people even read this blog anymore. But that’s okay.

It’s okay because I love to blog (even though I haven’t done it much over the last two years) and so I’ve got a space to write my thoughts. And my thoughts lately have been centered around the gospel–aka the Good News.

I’m a Mormon. Actually, in communicating with a new friend, I designated myself as a super-Mormon. (Now accepting mock-ups for costume ideas! You know you want to.)

The reason I decided I’m a super-Mormon is because it’s not just a Sunday thing for me. It’s an every-moment thing for me. So most of the written-in-my-head blog posts center around the way the gospel is changing me in every day situations.


I recently joined a gym. (And, no, there isn’t anyone there who I’ve seen do a split like that one Rainbow is doing at the park.) I didn’t really want to, as I’ve never thought of myself as a “gym” person, but the friend I used to walk with in the mornings got a new job that conflicted with our walking schedule. The Zumba class I had been attending at the church was also discontinued. My friend’s job started in the fall, and as the holidays rolled around I realized I had pretty much not exercised for months. I could tell by my energy level that something needed to change.

I was actually “walking the mall” when a guy stopped me and finagled me into taking a tour of the gym there. He was very charming and a good salesman. I walked away with a two-week temporary membership.

As I went to the gym the first few times, I realized it was a whole different animal than walking in the safety of my neighborhood (and several layers of outerwear). Besides feeling incredibly awkward just because, you know, it’s me, and I’m generally that way, I also found myself watching the other people there. I found myself comparing myself to them—I’m weaker. I’m faster. I’m bigger. I’m smaller. It was seriously messing with my head.

I didn’t want to do that. Fast forward to my adult religion class that same week. We were having a discussion and one man commented how he felt like he wasn’t as good as all the people around him. Our teacher, who has known this man for years, demurred. He pointed out that comparing ourselves to other people is not the way Heavenly Father wants us to live. But how do we combat this tendency? He had us turn to Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46.

It reads: “Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.”

So one way for us to have confidence in the presence of God is to have charity towards all men. As I continued to ponder this idea, I remembered one of my favorite scriptures in Moroni 7:47-48. It says: “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”

I don’t have much of a problem comparing myself to people at church, but I realized this lesson was applicable in all areas of my life. As I pray for charity “with all energy of heart,” I am reminded of the pure love Christ has for each of us. When I slip into patterns of comparing while I’m at the gym, I pray for charity. It has helped me realize that none of us are two-dimensional. There is the seen, but the unseen is greater and deeper, like the way icebergs are: 10% on top and 90% underneath.

The noise of the world, the stuff that says you have to look a certain way or be a certain weight, tries hard to drown out the truth: we are all worth something. I have known this for years, but it gets buried much too often in the barrage of media entering my psyche every single day. My grandma had a little picture stuck on her bulletin board that I used to look at and try to figure out. It was a drawing of a boy who was scowling and it said, “I know I’m somebody, ’cause God don’t make no junk!”

I hold onto that as I head to the gym in my ratty workout clothes with my past-their-prime tennis shoes. I’m somebody. He’s somebody. She’s somebody. We’re ALL somebody, and seeing the 10% isn’t enough to pass judgment on anybody.

Be kind. To all the somebodies out there, including yourself.



Double-Double Your Enjoyment!

24 11 2013

I went to my annual writers’ retreat at the beginning of this month. As usual, it was inspiring and invigorating. I got a lot of writing done, but I also had the chance to take a few pictures.










This is Love

22 11 2013

Somebody had a birthday last week.


It was a most-anticipated event.


If you can’t tell.

Two hands!


My zany, sweet girl is ten. How on earth did that happen?


Something you need to know about Rainbow: she is persistent. Every day for the last six months, she has mentioned hamsters. Sometimes just in passing, other times in depth. She researched hamsters online, she checked out books about hamsters from the library, she cleared a space on the top of her bureau and put a sign there that said “This space reserved for hamster!”

Guess what she got for her birthday.


I’m not an animal person. I like dogs, but I’ve told my kids we aren’t getting one until everyone can go to the bathroom on their own (and we’re not there yet). To me, a hamster is just a big mouse.

But look at that smile. I’m willing to put up with a squeaky hamster wheel and a vague “pet” smell for that–especially when she has positively assured me she will clean the cage whenever it’s needed.

Happy birthday, dearest Rainbow!

My Mom Goes to Funerals

16 11 2013


I read this piece from NPR the other day. (It’s short and worth the read.)

It made me think of my mom. She goes to funerals more than anyone else I know. Seriously, I was thinking about it, and I’m positive she goes to more funerals in a year than movies.

It’s a quiet thing to do, a caring thing. And showing people she cares in quiet ways is one of my mother’s hallmarks. She takes cookies when someone has a missionary farewell. She writes thank you notes and birthday greetings and Christmas cards. And she always goes to the funeral.

A lot of times, she doesn’t even know the person who died very well; she goes to support the people who are left behind.

And that, to me, is a perfect example of what Deidre Sullivan said. “In my humdrum life, the daily battle hasn’t been good versus evil. It’s hardly so epic. Most days, my real battle is doing good versus doing nothing.”

Thanks, Mom, for always showing me it’s worth doing good.

Halloween 2013

1 11 2013

Time for a photo dump! First, the pumpkin patch:


This is in the beginning, when I had the color setting on “electric.” Eden found this pumpkin with an eye in it.




Bow ties are cool.


The lady pirate–I made her the belt and we deconstructed the striped button-down shirt into the overshirt she wanted. She’s got some sweet striped leggings on, too, but you can’t see them from this angle.


Colby was super-sonic in this rocket (which I scored at the thrift store for $5).


Rainbow is obsessed (and has been for at least six months) with hamsters. (She’s been wheedling both her dad and me to get her one for her birthday.) So this was my attempt at a hamster costume. I don’t think anyone guessed. Despite it looking rather like a bear with a growth on each cheek, she was pleased with it.


Zack wanted to be the 11th Doctor (from Doctor Who), so I tramped around town looking for a bow tie, suspenders, and a tweed jacket. Do you know how hard it is to find a boy-sized tweed jacket? Let me tell you: difficult. But I found this one at a thrift store and (ba-dum-bum-ching!) altered it myself. I’m not much of a tailor, but I feel like it turned out all right.


Shortened the length, shortened the sleeves, moved the button and made a new buttonhole, moved and small-ized the pockets . . .


. . . and added elbow patches (which is naturally the best part).




Here he is with his sonic screwdriver, trying to light his TARDIS pumpkin.


And it worked!


Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween!

Tender Mercies

30 10 2013

Back in 2005, Elder Bednar gave a great talk in General Conference called “The Tender Mercies of the Lord.” In it, he described small and simple ways the Lord blesses us when we need it most. Since then, I have looked (and found) in my own life many ways the Lord has blessed me with tender mercies.

Last week was a chain of tender mercies, one right after another.

Here’s what happened:

  • My home teacher came over and gave me a priesthood blessing.
  • I had a five-hour rehearsal and my kids followed directions and went to bed on time. (Except one. You should have read the text Eden sent me about it . . .)
  • Eden had some VERY particular ideas about her Halloween costume. We had gone to Goodwill on Saturday, but she was dissatisfied about everything we looked at. On Monday morning, I went back as a last-ditch effort to find what she wanted. I had combed through the children’s section and was about to head home when I had the thought to check in the adult section. I said a prayer (partly because of previous item: five-hour rehearsal the night before, and I was tired) before diving into the skirts. And I found exactly what I needed. Not only that–it was the right tag color to give me 50% off! Seriously, folks. I almost started crying right there in the store. Rejuvenated, I slid over to the men’s section and found a perfect shirt to deconstruct for another part of her costume. Also 50%. I think I smiled clear until that afternoon . . .
  • . . . when I was really stressed due to a concert I was playing in Seattle. Timing-wise, it was tricky. Figure out dinner for the kids, write directions down, pack a dinner for me, pick up kids, get dressed, relay all information, drive to Seattle (not my favorite thing to do), find a parking spot, find the venue. It all worked. I left on time. I got a text telling me Colby was successfully picked up. And I was able to breathe.
  • My friend picked up my kids from my house, drove them to Seattle, and sat with them throughout a two-hour classical music concert, just so my kids could see me play in an orchestra. That is friendship, folks.
  • The next day, I got to spend some time with my bestie who happened to visiting from Scotland (yes, you read that right). We ran errands and laughed and just talked continually. One of the errands was to pick up my sewing machine, which I had taken in to be serviced. Once home, I went to work making Eden’s pirate costume pieces. There were some tears (from her, not me), but it ended up coming together to the point that she smiled. I’m calling it a win.
  • Wednesday, Zack, Rainbow, and I headed to Seattle in the morning for infusions. This is where I felt I was rolling in the miracles. Zack got a fantastic nurse and had his best poke EVER–no yelling, no fainting, and in on the first try. Rainbow’s went the same way–no tears, no fainting, and in easily. This might seem like a little thing, but their dad was out of town and I was extremely concerned that it go over well. Later on, another friend came to visit us, bringing fun gifts, goofy socks, and the talent to suck Jell-o through a straw. The kids loved having the extra attention, and I loved having an extra adult around while I took kids with I.V. poles to the restroom or went on snack runs.
  • Thursday was party day. I am not a party mom. My kids know they get one “friend” birthday party when they turn eight, and that’s it. However, Eden somehow talks her way around my anti-party-ness when she points out it isn’t for her birthday and promises to plan the whole thing. So I spent the day trying to put my house back together from several days of dropping things on the floor and falling into bed. A friend called and said, “I know yesterday was stressful for you. Can I help get ready for the party?” I told her to come in a couple of hours, then spent that time sorting and sifting through the various detritus that accumulates as a natural byproduct of entropy. (Or having children.) She came and vacuumed, swept, dusted, and did my dishes. Twenty 11- and 12-year-old kids screamed through and destroyed it all several hours later, but the weight it lifted off my shoulders was not insignificant.
  • Friday morning, I said good-bye to my friend from Scotland after a quick, cozy visit. And that night I crashed.



Smiles all around.

One of my friends said today regarding miracles: “They serve as much-needed reminders in the midst of our struggles that God is aware of us and loves us, that no matter how hard the path we’re walking, we aren’t walking it alone.”

I am so blessed to have such wonderful kids and so many friends who willingly reach out to help me. I’m humbled by the generosity of so many and know that God is aware of me. That’s completely amazing.

Now who’s ready for Halloween tomorrow?