Saturday, February 7, 2015

One Year.

Some days it feel like it has been an eternity since this dreadful day last year. Other days my emotions are as raw as the day he passed. But, in reality it has been one year since my Dad passed away.

I have learned and grown so much in the last year as a woman, a daughter, mother, wife and person. I have learned what really matters in life. I have learned more of my Savior and his love for me and my family. I have also come to accept his atonement more fully in my life and recognize his tender mercies.

I have learned that people grieve in so many different ways. Some wear their feelings on their sleeves, some are guarded and hide their feelings, some eat their feelings and the list could go on and on. Most therapists/people agree that you must go through the five stages of grief before you can fully move on.

1. Denial and Isolation:
Somedays I still feel in denial. I imagine it is my subconscious way of guarding myself so I'm not an emotional mess all the time. I was there when he died, I was there when he was buried but someday's I'd rather pretend his passing was a bad dream we will all wake from soon. There are days I walk through my parents front door and I think he's going to be sitting in his chair waiting to greet me. I try calling him or sending him text messages all of the time. Even after his funeral I thought to myself, I can't wait to get home and tell dad about all of the people I saw today and what a great service it was. What a dumb thing to think of, it was his own funeral!

2. Anger:
This is the only step I really don't agree with. Some of you may challenge me and say that I really haven't grieved yet because I have yet to be angry. I want to explain why I'm not angry. Who could I possibly be angry with? My dad? What's the point? I am not angry with any of the medical staff that tried so hard to save his life. I know they did everything they should have and more. I am not angry with God, how could I be? He gave me an amazing gift. He gave me the chance to have Steve Rhodes as my father for 27 years. How could I possibly be mad at that? I knew someday he would die, I was just hoping it would 25+ years later. I am sad that my children won't know their Papa in the way that most children get to know their grandparents. I am sad that he won't be there when my younger brothers graduate from college/Doctorate school or get married. I'm sad that he won't be there to greet future grandchildren into this world, and be there to watch all of his grandchildren grow into the amazing adults I know they will be. I am sad for the other experiences and memories we won't get to share with him in person but I'm not angry. I just don't see the point.

3. Bargaining:
This is one struggled with for months. As a medical professional I questioned myself over and over if I missed a sign that he would go into cardiac arrest 20 minutes after seeing him for the last time. Was he hurting and I missed the signs? It took many hours on my knees praying but I was reminded time and again that his death was part of God's plan. I didn't miss anything and in order for his life to have even attempted being saved, the circumstances couldn't have been better. Co-workers saw him collapse, and they started effective CPR immediately. The medic crew was there within minutes and transferred him quickly to the hospital, where he received the best possible care. I know everything that could have been done, was done. He was essentially gone when he collapsed and everything that happened after that was for our benefit. Giving us the gift of goodbye was just one of the tender mercies from Heavenly Father my family has experienced since he passed.

4. Depression:
This one should be a given and I know that all of my family members have gone through bouts of depression at different times since his passing and all in different ways. He was a huge part of our lives. How could we not be occasionally depressed he isn't with us physically anymore?

5. Acceptance:
This one took longer then the rest but I am at peace, and I am accepting of his death. While the pain is still real and I still experience sadness, I know with all of my heart that for whatever reason God needed him more then we did. It was part of His plan. I know that "The Lord giveth and the Lord Taketh away."

Through out this experience my belief in God the Eternal Father and His son Jesus Christ has been strengthened a million times over. As I think about the experiences I've had, I am reminded of the poem "Footprints in the Sand." It is about a dream where a person saw two sets of footprints in the sand. One set belonged to them and the other to the Lord. Scenes of his/her life flashed before them. At the end of the poem the person asks "why when I needed you most did were you not there for me?" To which the Lord replied "When you saw only one set of footprints it was then that I carried you." Never in my life have felt that presence of God stronger in my life then I did in the hospital room as my Dad took his last breaths. I knew he was there with my family carrying us through this difficult trial.

God is real. He knows you. He knows your needs, your fears, your sorrow, your pain. He loves you and will never forsake you in your times of need if you will come unto him. He sends an invitation to partake of his glory, to be washed free of your sins and live forever with him. Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned is to be the person you would want to be if you were about to meet the Lord. You never know what the next moments will bring. My dad's example of living his life according to the will of God and knowing he was prepared to meet his Savior is such a blessing to me. I am thankful for God's plan. For the knowledge it gives me that I WILL see my Dad again. I am grateful for the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that he suffered for me, he carried my burden's, he has felt my grief, my sadness and pain and because of Him, I can have the chance to live in his presence again.

Hug your loved ones a little tighter.
Take more pictures, even if it isn't a special occasion.
Whatever happy means to you, find your "happy" and embrace it. 
Forgive, life is to short to hold grudges. 
Serve others and be accepting of the service others give to you. 
Be kind to one another. 
If you love someone, tell them and tell them often. 

Daddy, enjoy spoiling your grandson before you send him to me in a few more weeks. Give him lots of hugs and kisses, teach him how to wave under his chin, to play peek a boo, to give the worlds greatest bear hug, to work hard, and how to be a kind, loving individual. I hope you are enjoying your time Gramps, your brothers, and the Duke himself. Until we meet again. I love you and miss you everyday!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dad's Birthday Balloons

March 2nd would have been my dads 61st birthday. It was a somber day around our house but we tried to make the best of it. We had a few people over for dinner and dessert just like we have always done for his birthday. I made the cake he had requested just a couple of days before he passed away and we enjoyed some family time. This year we added a new tradition that we will continue each year on his birthday. We sent birthday balloons to "heaven." We wrote messages on them and sent them up into the air.  

These little kiddos were pretty proud of their balloons and couldn't wait for Papa to catch them.

The big launch:1,2,3 "Happy Birthday Dad/Son/Papa/Steve" 

And up to Heaven they went.

Although it was very cold the snow stopped falling just long enough for us to launch the balloons before starting again. It was a perfect moment. 

After we could no longer see the balloons we ate dinner and this delicious cookies and cream fudge cake I made. It was so good! 

I enjoyed some snuggles from this sleepy little cutie.

and so did Nana.

Happy birthday Daddy. I hope they had John Wayne movies (or better yet the Duke himself), NASCAR, and Chocolate cake present at your party in Heaven.  I love you and miss you more than words can express. xoxo.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My Daddy.

It has been a very long time since I have posted anything and I apologize. We had a great trip to Utah the end of December for Nicks brothers wedding, a wonderful Christmas, and Makenna had an amazing 4th birthday. After all of those happy times the most unimaginable thing happened to my family and our family is forever changed. On February 7, 2014 dad very unexpectedly and suddenly passed away at only 60 years old. 

The morning he passed away he woke up as usual and hadn't given anyone any inclination he hadn't been feeling well. He went about his morning routine, and kissed my mom goodbye and told her he loved her. We have been living in their home while Nick has been job searching and I was up getting ready for work so on his way out the door he told me "Have a good day Reb, love you." I stated the same and out the door he went. Little did we know that would be the final interaction I would have with him in this earthly life. 

There was fresh snow on the ground. It looked so beautiful out and I happily went off to work. Before our change of shift report was complete at 7:15am an intercom page rang overhead "code blue, ER room 4", I asked someone to double check the code sheet to see if I was on the code team (I am 9 times out of 10 so just assumed), one of my co-workers stated "of course you are." I told them I would be back as soon as I can and I ran down to the ER. 

The whole code team got to the ER before the patient arrived while putting our gloves on and getting things in place we got a brief report that stated a 60 year old male, went down while shoveling snow at Ellensburg cement, his co-workers saw him go down and started CPR at the scene, he is currently in V-Fib." I then asked "what is his name? My dad works there." Someone then said "Steven Rhdoes." My heart stopped, and I felt as though the whole world had collapsed around me. I must have turned white as a ghost when I said "that is my dad." 

Moments after we all realized who the patient was. I was helped out of the room and asked to give as much health information I could give about him. Then through the ambulance bay came my dad. He was laying on a stretcher with a bag and mask to his face and a paramedic pumping his chest. The moment I saw him I knew things weren't going well.

As quickly as I could pull myself together I called my mom, and my siblings and told them to get to the ER right away. Through my tears and sobs I explained what I could. I'm sure I sounded like a basket case. The next two hours were a blur. The team stopped and restarted CPR multiple times and he wasn't responding to their efforts. After almost 2 hours of continuous CPR and many medications later they finally had a faint, steady pulse. An echo-cardiogram was preformed and there was no good news to be said. He had very poor blood profusion. It was as if blood was just sloshing around his heart and not pumping to the rest of his body. During his whole ER visit the ER doc had been in contact with a cardiologist at one of the hospitals in Yakima 30 miles away. She had done a very good job explaining what she knew and gave my family the option of sending him to Yakima to the cardiologist or to keep him there and being with him as he passed. She explained that there was so much damage already done to his brain and heart, that he was essentially brain dead. It was clear the medications and ventilator were the only things keeping him alive and there wasn't much more to be done. She also stated that he would likely not survive the trip to Yakima. 

As a family we prayed, cried together and then made the hardest decision any of us have ever had to make. We made the impossible choice to spend his final moments with him and to turn the medications and ventilator off. We knew he would have only wanted life support on long enough for everyone to say goodbye. After all of our local immediate family arrived the medications were slowly turned off, and my dad very peacefully went to live with The Lord. 

Although it was the most awful day there were many blessings that occurred in order for all of my family to be there and say our goodbyes. If he had not been outside shoveling snow someone may not have found him for over an hour if he was inside the office. The two men that saw him go down performed effective CPR, were quick to act and the cold helped preserve his heart. Although it was traumatizing to be at work and on the code team that day, if I hadn't been there my mom would have had to find out from the sheriff who was sent to her house to tell her the news. 

I am so grateful for my friends and co-workers, the paramedics/emt's, and his two co-workers who all worked so hard to save his life. I will be forever grateful that their efforts allowed my family to spend his final moments with him. I am also grateful for the love and support that was shown to me and my family.

His funeral was this last Saturday. There were over 600 people in attendance and I know hundreds more who attended in spirit. The falling snow made a majestic atmosphere at his graveside service as he was given his military honors and taps was played. The whole service was beautiful and was a perfect tribute to him. 

For those of you who weren't able to attend the service I want to share the memories and remarks I made at his funeral service:

Growing up my siblings and I loved to fight over who got to be dad’s helper and who got to spend time with him. We fought over many things like who got to help him feed cows, ride in his old red truck, take trips to the dump, or ride his 3 wheeler with him. I vividly remember many fights with my brother Mitchell over who would have the “privilege” of removing Dad’s smelly socks and shoes at the end of his work day. Neither one of us liked his smelly feet but for whatever reason it was a daily fight and we found it an honor to do so.

Some of my favorite memories with my dad include, camping at salmon la sac and ensign ranch, many Easter weekends with the extended Rhodes family, and several Memorial Day weekends with the Barkley Family spent in Ocean Shores, day trips to the Teanaway, Summer family vacations and seeing my dad in his favorite roll as a Papa.

As a teenager my Dad drove me to one of my softball tournaments in Port Angeles. Dad took it upon himself to turn the 4 hour drive into a torture-fest  by making it a Willie Nelson sing-a-long marathon. For those of you who have heard my dad sing you know he can't carry a tune in a bucket. When referring to Dad's singing mom calls him “Johnny one note.” He tapped his hand kind of to the beat and he sang the same note loud and proud for 4 hours! Although the singing was terrible, the laughs we shared and the conversations we had that drive are priceless, cherished memories.

My dad was the world’s best cheerleader. I don’t think that he or my mom missed a single home game of any of our many sporting events, nor a single choir or band concert. He was always our biggest fan! Dad was a quiet, reserved man until you got him on a football field, wrestling mat, Softball field, tennis court, or a quiet auditorium. His cheers were always heard over all of the others. He didn’t care that people weren’t supposed to cheer in tennis; he did it anyway, as loud as he could!

 I loved watching the relationship Dad had with his Mother whom we lovingly refer to as Gram.  There wasn’t a day that went by that he and Gram didn’t talk on the phone or visit with one another in person. Whenever Gram would come to our house whether it was for a Sunday dinner, or a big party somehow through the chaos they always seemed to find each other and enjoy a quiet conversation that was just theirs. He loved her so much and told her every day. My last memory of the two of them together was one of my favorites. It was super bowl Sunday, just a few days before he passed away. It was the first time Gram had ever watched a football game in its entirety and Dad was happy to tell her all about it. We all got a kick out of Gram and dad cheering together. They had the best time and I’m so thankful that is a memory I will have of them forever!

My dad was a devoted and faithful husband. As many of you know, he was perpetually early for everything and my mom is perpetually late, for everything! They would usually compromise by meeting in the middle and being exactly on time, which in my dad's opinion was late. It made him absolutely crazy but, in the words of Brad Paisley “He didn’t mind, waitin’ on a woman.”  In the 30 plus years my parents have been married they didn’t share one, not one single fight, not even over being late. My Dad always kissed my mom every time they greeted or departed one another 4 times. I never asked why 4 times, but it was always 4 sweet kisses on the lips. They loved to hold hands while walking and still lovingly refer to each other as “my sweetheart” and Dad often talked about how beautiful my mother is and wondered how he got so lucky to have her in his life. I am so blessed to have such an amazing example of marriage to emulate in my own life.  

My daughter Makenna loved her papa and Papa loved his Kenna Bug. She enjoyed being his helper especially outside in his garden. Makenna learned at a very young age that he was a sucker for her sweet smile and blonde curls. She knew that when she helped Papa she got paid in her words “big monies.” Little monies in her world are coins but Papa paid in dollar bills. She always seemed to catch him on days when he had only 5 or 10 dollar bills in his wallet. Makenna would often wave the hose around making a huge mess, pick up two sticks and a couple of rocks, move them across the yard where he would later have to pick them up himself and would then coax him into paying her $10. She had the papa system worked!

From the moment he held my sweet Mailey Anne for the first time they shared a special bond. She looked up at him with her giant brown eyes and he was a goner. My dad was her favorite person in the whole world. She said Papa before she even said Mama or Daddy and always went to Papa when Nick or I did something she didn’t like. Almost as if she had to tell Papa on us.  Every day when dad would come home for lunch she would climb onto his lap, eat lunch with him, and he was always happy to share. The day before he passed away while heading back to work after their “lunch date” as he called it, Mailey waved goodbye, blew him kisses and for the first time put the phrase “I love you Papa” together. He was so proud that he got the first “I love you” from her and told everyone he saw or spoke to about it for the rest of the day.

I am so grateful for my dad and for example he was to me. I’m grateful that he taught me the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and that through God’s glorious plan my family is forever. Although my heart is breaking and I miss him terribly, I know that his young passing, for reasons I don’t know at this time is part of our Heavenly Fathers plan. He led his life in a way that even my sweet 4 year old knew where he was going. In the moments before his passing Makenna looked at me and asked "What is Papa waiting for? Jesus is ready and he is waiting for him." He was a faithful servant of Jesus Christ and I know with assurity that he is in paradise walking side by side with our savior.

My testimony of our eternal family is that I know through God’s plan we will be reunited with each other again someday. I know when our time also comes to pass away, that if we live faithfully Daddy will be welcoming us into heaven with a giant, warm bear hug and what a glorious reunion that will be! My prayer and wish is that we will all live as he did showing love to all those around us. Please, let the three words “I love you” be the last words your loved ones hear you say, just as both my mom and I did from him. I pray that we can all use his life as an example and never let the opportunity to tell someone that you love them go by. I leave this testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love and miss you Daddy. Goodbye, until we Meet again. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Patch and Mini Cheer Camp

Friday was a busy day! First thing in the morning Makenna's preschool had a field trip to the pumpkin patch. Her teachers did such a great job putting the event together. They had so many fun things for the kids to do and everyone seemed to have so much fun! 
Hal the balloon man. He is so talented.
 Mrs. MacRae and Makenna
 Face Painting!

 Part of the fun was that all of the classes got to be together and we found Libby and Casen!
 Nana joined us at the pumpkin patch. We were so happy she came!
 Pony rides
 Practicing her Rodeo Princess wave!
 Scarecrow Kenna!
 Corn Maze
 Mailey was a little overwhelmed and wasn't thrilled about much, she didn't even want to ride the pony.
 Makenna and her buddy Reese. They have so much fun together!
 She finally got happy when she picked out a pumpkin!
 And she licked it.... weirdo!
 Reese and Kenna. Aren't they so cute?
 Our Family on the hayride!
 Dr Lundy sang songs and played the guitar with the kids. He did a great job!
 Eating pumpkin cookies and singing songs.
 "I'm a little teapot"
 "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"
 Mrs. Robertson and Makenna
 Friday afternoon Makenna attended a mini cheer camp with her friends and cousins. They had such a great time and they were so dang cute! They had a clinic in the afternoon and then performed during halftime at the high school football game.
Libby, Makenna and Avery. BFF's!
 My cute little cheerleader.
 Makenna and her cousins Addy and Skylee.
 Her assigned cheerleader Kristin. She was so great with the kids!
 Practicing her dance moves.
 "Hi Mom!"
 Here they come!
 Go EHS!
 "They are clapping for me!"
  She loved her big Cheerleaders! Makenna was mad when we went back up in the stands. She kept yelling "I want to go down there with the big cheerleaders! They need my help!" LOL!
 Libby, Kenna and Casen!
 Cousins Dailey and Skylee
 Kenna with her cousins!
 Our happy spectator!
 And the mischievous one...
It was a busy, busy but fun day! Makenna hardly made it out of the stadium parking lot before falling asleep. That's a lot of excitement for a 3 year old!