Wednesday, February 22, 2012

My grandma

My sweet grandma Catharine passed away on Valentine's Day. She had a heart attack last summer and we were told she didn't have long. In her true fighting spirit, she rebounded and stayed with us until last week. It all happened very quickly and the whole experience has been very bittersweet.

Sweet in the fact that she was reunited with my grandfather on Valentine's Day after 27 years apart. Sweet in that I know she is happier now that she is freed from the physical limitations she experienced in her 93-year-old body. Her mind was sharp until the very end and she made remarks about how frustrating it was to not be able to do the things she wanted anymore. This is the woman who participated in bowling leagues and aerobics until just a few years ago! Sweet in the fact that I know she was ready for the next chapter and felt she had served her purpose on this earth. Sweet that she is in heaven keeping my niece Grace company until we are all reunited someday. 

Bitter only in that I will miss this woman dearly the rest of my days on this earth.

My mom has been remarking about how many tender mercies were granted in her passing. My parents had been on vacation the entire week before. Just having gotten home, my mom got to spend all of last Monday with my grandma driving around town and running errands. It was Monday night she fell ill and was taken to the hospital, and shortly after midnight, she died. My mom and aunt were able to be with my grandma in her final hours and they said it all happened quickly and peacefully. They say my grandpa just decided he wanted her home for Valentine's Day. I am so grateful she wasn't in a great deal of pain, and so grateful my mom was home and could be there.  I feel like her heart attack last summer was a blessing in that it almost prepared us for her passing. It gave me the opportunity to treat each visit after that as though it might be our last. It was emotionally difficult, but I am not left with regrets or "I wish I would haves…" I know she knows how much I love her, and for that I am glad. 

I am thankful my boys got to meet my grandma. Even though they may not remember her when they are older, it was special for me that she got to know them and vice versa. This woman was like a second mother to me and one of the most important people in my life. Jackson loved visiting her in her house, and for the past few months, in the retirement home. He always gave her a big hug and would tell her he loved her. I am so grateful for how sweet he always was to her. 

Just after Jackson was born

Fall 2009

We were fortunate to see her just a little over a week before her passing. We surprised her with a visit as she was eating lunch. When we were visiting her a few weeks before, I was prompted to bring my camera and take a few pictures. I think the Lord was kind and knew how much I would want and cherish these photos.

I brought her copies of these photos during our last visit together. It tugs at my heart each time I look at them. 

From my journal:

"I don't know how I can put on paper how much she meant to me and how much I love her. I've loved her as long as I can remember and I don't know life without her. I have always been so grateful to have a grandmother I was so close to. I loved growing up near her and having her in my daily life. I have countless happy memories with her and in her home.

...Every year on Halloween, my first stop would always be my grandma's house. She'd have a big silver platter with candy on it waiting on her table by the front door. When we had Jackson, I made sure her house was our first stop. It was a sweet experience for me and brought me a lot of joy.

Halloween 2009

My grandmother was an amazing woman and and example to me in so many ways.
Service, hard work, independence, charity, humor, and love to name a few.
What a blessing to have someone like her in my life.

I am so happy she is no longer alone and happy for the life she led and the memories I have with her. I will miss her greatly, and already do. It will be difficult to go to Idaho Falls knowing she is gone. I will be reminded of her by countless, everyday things. Things like grilled cheese sandwiches, petunias, Easter lilies, Jonathan apples, her empty seat at the end of the table this Thanksgiving, rhubarb, Logan, shrimp at every holiday, the flute, A&W cream soda, Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" painting, her ringing Santa, thunderstorms, tandem bikes, Christmas morning. My list could go on and on.

In her house on 25th street she always made it a tradition to stand at the door and wave goodbye as we drove away. I smile as I am reminded of this and am happy knowing that while we are waving goodbye for a little while, it is not forever.

 Grandma, I love you.

 Her obituary:

Catharine Harrison 


Catharine Wright Harrison, 93, of Idaho Falls, passed away Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012, at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls of heart failure.
Catharine was born Oct. 7, 1918, in Burley, Idaho, to Edgar Monroe Wright and Annie Luella Neilsen Wright. She grew up in Burley and moved to Logan, Utah, in high school. She graduated from Logan High School in 1936. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in child development from Utah State University.
On Sept. 18, 1940, she married Robert Bullen Harrison in Yuma, Ariz. Their marriage was solemnized in the Logan LDS Temple on Dec. 10, 1940.
Catharine taught second grade for a few years in St. Louis while her husband attended dental school. After Robert finished dental school 62 years ago, they moved to Idaho Falls. She later worked for Idaho Falls School District No. 91 in their Title One program. Catharine was a devoted wife, mother, and homemaker. Robert passed away Jan. 11, 1985.
An active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she served in many church callings. She was a temple ordinance worker for over 20 years.
Catharine served as president of the Idaho Falls Music Club, was active in the community concert series and was a member of the Idaho Falls Symphony. She loved music, playing the flute, gardening and cooking.
Catharine is survived by her son, James Wright (Belinda) Harrison of Cedar City, Utah; daughters, Joan (Kent) Whittington and Mary (Reed) Bowen, both of Idaho Falls; 14 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; a granddaughter, Grace Catharine Heinhold; and a sister, Ruth Carlisle.
Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Idaho Falls LDS Home Ranch Ward, 2051 S. Emerson in Idaho Falls, with Bishop Terry Orme officiating. The family will visit with friends from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Saturday at the church. Graveside services will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 21, in the Logan City Cemetery in Logan, Utah.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy heart

We got some great news today. We learned Jackson's heart is 100% normal and is absolutely perfect! You may (or may not) remember when he was born there were a few concerns with his heart. He had a murmur and the doctors were worried he had what they called a "narrowing of the aorta."  They ordered an echo to see what was going on and found a few things. He had two small holes in his heart and the echo showed one of his valves as "bi-cuspid," instead of "tri-cuspid." They explained to us that a bi-cuspid valve can stiffen up over time and cause problems. After the first echo, the doctors ordered a second echo because results were inconclusive on the narrowing of the aorta problem they originally ordered the echo for. The second echo came back and it was determined he did not have the narrowing of the aorta. We were told he didn't have this specific problem and that was all. Thankful, we took our new baby boy home and figured we would do as the doctors suggested, and monitor the bi-cuspid valve when he got older.

Fast forward to the present. At Jackson's 3-year checkup, I mentioned the bi-cuspid valve to the doctor. It had been on my mind because our brother-in-law is having surgery this week to replace his bi-cuspid valve with a mechanical valve. The doctor looked through the echo notes and discovered the second echo came back saying Jackson's valve was actually a TRI-cuspid valve, not bi-cuspid, like the first echo had stated. No one had happened to mention it to us back then.

I don't blame our doctor at all because he wasn't the pediatrician that gave us the results of that echo (he was out of town or something). Because the results of the echos were conflicting, our doctor ordered a new set of tests be done on Jackson so we could put the issue to rest.

Today was the day! 

Jackson got a new echo and an EKG. He thought the "stickers" for the EKG were pretty cool. The doctor came in and gave us the great news that not only did Jackson have a perfectly normal tri-cuspid valve, the holes in his heart were also gone. In his words, his heart is "perfect." What a relief! 

A bit frustrating that we have had this concern for his heart for the past three years, but such a blessing to have the knowledge now that he is ok. I am grateful we didn't just continue on in ignorance with this concern looming over us. Our prayers were answered and I am very grateful. And fitting, I think, to get such happy news about his heart so close to Valentines Day :)

Praying for more happy heart news in regards to our brother-in-law. We'd appreciate any extra prayers in his behalf.