Saturday, February 8, 2014

Leona Dies and the Letters Stop

March 25, 1980

Dear Perry,

Was really happy to hear from you. I'm glad you have some children living there near you. Not many of you know how to stay alone like I do. I went to church Sunday. The first I've been out since last November, and not many people have been here. I've been alone nearly every minute of the time. It did seem good to go back to church. That is what I miss. I haven't gone to many partys and things like the rest of you. I've always felt too much in the way at those things.

We had some rain and snow last night, but it is all gone. It just got cold again. That will be nice for you to come to see your children and mother and sisters and we will be happy to see you if you come out this way. I haven't had the flu this winter, so I guess it paid to stay here alone. Lots of love to you. Aunt Thelma

[From Perry's journal]

April 4, 1980: Mother died on this day.  The sequence of events of this spring vacation all seem rather singular in their significance.  At first I had not planned to go to Utah for spring vacation since I had been there so recently.  But Hazel called and said she would like me to meet a teacher friend of hers and had, in fact, even called her and asked if she wouldn’t like to meet me.  So, with this added inducement, plus a desire to see my children again, I decided to go. . . .

I arrived at Hope’s and Grant’s just as they were having breakfast.  I walked up beside Mother and put my arm around her.  She was so pleased.  She always had that beautiful, loving smile.  She said how I looked just the same as ever, even had “the same sweater on.”  That made us all laugh.  It has always been beautiful just to be in Mother’s presence.  I have said several times that, as a child growing up, I seldom remember her saying, “I love you.”  She was certainly never ostentatious about it.  But I always knew I was loved--of that there was never any question.  I have often pondered on how love was so effectively communicated.  I knew it by her calmness, her gentleness, by her constant doing.  I even knew it by her silence.  I knew it by her smile, by the touch of her hands, roughened by hard work.  When those rough hands touched me, gentleness and pure love was perceived in my soul. Mother had been looking forward with eagerness to my arrival.  It was indeed good to be with her for a few days.  I also went out and spent some time visiting with Dale, Carolyn, and children [in Salem.] On Friday morning mother got up and when we asked how she felt, she said, “Not very good.”  This was a very unusual response.  She said she had not slept well and that she was cold.  We thought she must have the flu because Hope had just had it.  Consequently, we bundled her up, put a heating pad on her back, and sat her in the big chair in the front room.  Soon she said she felt somewhat better.  But still she complained slightly from time to time, so we gave her some juice and put her back to bed.  She became weaker in the afternoon, so Grant called his doctor who agreed to stop by the house on his way home.

When the doctor arrived, Mother was unconscious and her body very limp.  The doctor said her heartbeat was very rapid and felt that it was pointless of putting her through the trauma of rushing her to a hospital and subjecting her to numberless tests.  Upon questioning, he said he thought it was not likely she would live through the night.  The doctor left and Hope and I went into the front room and talked about calling the rest of the family.  While Hope and I were discussing this, Grant came into the room and said, “Hey, she’s already gone.”  We rushed back to her room.  I tried to find a pulse.  There was none.  No breath.  Her life was gone.

I have often thought how typical Mother’s passing was of her personality.  She never wanted to put anybody out, to be any extra trouble.  She was always so thoughtful of other people.  It was as though she had said, “Perry is here now.  All of my living children are here.  Now, now would be a good time to die.”  And she did, as convenient to others as she could make it. . . . We had a beautiful funeral, the same ward building where Dad’s was held just eleven months ago, and where I had attended church with them.  All of my children came to the funeral.  Linda and Marian drove all the way from California with their children.  Harriet and Craig came from Modesto.  Renee and Cara Lee from Roosevelt.  It was wonderful to see them all together.

April 17, 1980

Dear Perry,

Leona with 4 of her 6 children, Salt Lake City
Even a life spent well and departed in peace leaves its mourners. Judging by my present experience with lingering sorrow, I cannot help but think of your most recent loss with deepest sympathy. I remember your telling me that you could not write of your "Angel Mother" so deep was your love and respect for her. Those unframed feelings must, nonetheless, meet you at many unexpected moments these days and may leave you with a sense of the ultimate loneliness. I cannot conceive of the cumulative loss you have suffered this year but can tell you that our hearts are with you. Our prayers are that comfort and peace may fill your life once more.

Perhaps you will appreciate this verse from Edna St. Vincent Millay. She titled it "The Wood Road."

If I were to walk this way

Hand in hand with Grief,

I should mark that maple-spray

Coming into leaf.

I should note how the old burrs

Rot upon the ground.

Yes, though Grief should know me hers

While the world goes round,

It could not if truth be said

This was lost on me:

A rock-maple showing red,

Burrs beneath a tree.

Please accept our sympathy and our love, Shirley and Guy [Hartman]

May 3, 1980

Dear Perry,

We were out to see Aunt Verda a few days ago and she told us that Aunt Leona had died quite some time ago. I know this letter is very late, but I still wanted to write you and express my sympathy with you at this time. I am sorry I didn't know sooner.

She also mentioned that Uncle Ashel had died. This leaves no men of the Manwarings in Vernal and Aunt Thelma is alone there.

I am sure that you miss your parents and wife very much, but the knowledge that we have of the Plan of Salvation enables us to rejoice in their continued progression and helps us to live so that we can eventually join them.

It is always difficult to make an adjustment of any kind, and I am finding for myself that keeping busy is the greatest cure for grief. I suppose you are still teaching school and that you are staying in your home, at least for the present, even though it is probably very lonely. Church work is a boon to us who are alone as well as a link to those who have gone on before us.

I am able to go to the temple occasionally on the bus, since I have no working car, and find myself even now looking over toward the men's side to catch a glimpse of Ray since we always went together. There is not much to say. I wanted to let you know that I feel with you. "And glory shall be added upon their heads for ever and ever" is the way I feel about Ray. Affectionately, Laura Cottam [Perry's cousin]

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Gene Dies

[Entries from Perry's Journal]

August 16, 1979: On this day the footings were all poured for the wall and the end posts set.  What a day!  For days I had been working on digging the footings.  I would work for an hour or so, then come and lie by Gene’s side for a while, rest and hold her hand.  Always I kept the windows open so that I could hear her call or hear the phone ring.  I had hired a man to help me on Saturdays and after his own work.  He needed the extra money.
I finally found a cement company that could deliver in the late afternoon when my man would be here and I arranged to have Linda come and be with her mom because I knew that once we started pouring cement I could not stop.  When the truck came, the driver said he could not cross over, or within twenty feet of the cesspool.  He had to call his office, and I had to agree to pay $500 if necessary to pull that huge truck out if it went in.  What a scare!  I could only hope to stay as far from it as possible or to straddle it, and I wasn’t even sure where it was.
While we were pouring the footings, Linda came and called me saying that Gene was sick, vomiting, and was calling for me.  I came in, dirty as could be, cement all over my shoes, helped Gene as much as I could, comforted her, helped her wash out her mouth, gave some medication, and then rushed back out to the work.  I hoped Gene didn’t feel slighted.  I was so glad to get that truck off the property and back onto the street with no mishap.  What an anxious, stressful experience.  I would never want it repeated!  Ever! 

August 19, 1979: . . . I got all the column blocks laid up yesterday.  I wheeled Gene out on the front porch to look at them today.  They all look so stately and nice.  But Gene could barely appreciate it.  She doesn’t feel well at all.  I wanted her to see and enjoy this much of our plans completed, and maybe she did more than she could show or express.  She is so weak.  I have to carry her to and from the bathroom.

September 9, 1979: . . . . The total wall has cost about $2,000.  And it is all paid.  I just have some finishing up and cleaning up to do.  Then I will do the fence.  I wish Gene were able to appreciate it, but my dear love who has been with me in so many building projects, put up with and endured so much while we tried to provide for our dear family, is slipping away from me.

September 17, 1979: We took Gene to the hospital on this day.  She was so sick.  The doctor suggested we bring her by ambulance as she was so sick that I doubted that I could get her in the little Datsun. . . .  At the hospital, The doctor took me aside and suggested we put her in the hospital.  He said he admired me but felt I had done all that could be humanly expected.  I felt I had too and didn’t see how I could do more or give her all the care she needed.  And I was still trying to hold down my job.
The whites of Gene’s eyes were yellowing as is also her skin--the eyes especially.  The doctor said the cancer is affecting her liver.  How long, Oh Lord, can this go on?

Some of the family in attendance at Gene's funeral
September 21, 1979: Linda, Marian, Warren, and I have been taking turns staying with Gene.  Also the Relief Society sisters have volunteered to come in and help.  Her skin is all orange-yellow.  Tonight Warren and I administered to Gene.  I felt the time had come to ask for her release from this world if it was in harmony with the will of the Lord.  I discussed this with Warren when he came in.  Linda was there too. Gene had not said anything at all for that full day nor hardly a word for several days, and I didn’t think she was even conscious, but I asked her if she would like to have us administer to her.  She immediately responded, “Oh, yes.”  This quite surprised me.

Warren anointed and I sealed the anointing, blessing her for her devoted life and service, honoring her for living a life in her youth so that she recognized the gospel when she heard it, bringing thereby her whole family into the Church.  I then blessed her that if it was the Lord’s will she might be released from this world to join those many good and noble ancestors who had preceded her, that she might rejoice in their presence and they in hers, that she might go on with the message of the gospel among those good people as she did among her family here.  I implored the Lord that not for my sake did I ask it, that I did not ask to shun any responsibility, that I would carry on as long as he willed, but for her sake only did I ask it that she might be relieved of the pain and suffering of this disease which had progressed to such proportions. Upon conclusion of the blessing, Gene gave a very clear and audible “Amen” so we knew she heard, understood and gave her concurrence to all that had been spoken.  Linda and I were both weeping.

Memorial Day 1980 at Gene's grave
September 27, 1979

Dear Perry & family,

I'm sorry Gene had to be taken from you. I know how you will miss her, but remember the Lord was kind and didn't leave her suffering too awfully long when she got to the point she did. He left her with you a lot longer than the doctors gave you any hope for, and I'm sure that He will bring you all the comfort you need at this time if you put your faith and trust in Him.

I know, Perry, it will be a lot harder on you after the funeral and the kids all leave and you are there alone. But the Lord takes that first bitter sting away that always comes with death. Remember, there are a lot harder things to face in life than death, so may His comforting spirit be with all of you.

I'm not sending flowers, so please take this and put it on something you will need more than flowers that wilt and die. I hope all the kids will be protected in their traveling to you there and when they all return to their homes.

May the Lord bring you all the peace and comfort you will need at this time. I know what it is like to be left alone and you can get busy in the church again now that all the care you had to give Gene and your dad is gone. Rest in the fact that you took good care of them, and now they are a lot better off than us that still have to stay and suffer. May the Lord bless you all. My love to all, Aunt Thelma

Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's Hard to Give Up Hope Completely

[Entries from Perry's Journal]
May 24, 1979: . . . I have been doing a lot of thinking lately.  We have been thinking that Gene’s case is hopeless and so it appears.  But it is hard to give up hope completely.  I desire that she live, yet I do not desire that she suffer.  Such a conflict.  If I only knew what to expect.  The doctor said she could develop another disease.  She could throw a clot, or she could just continue to waste.  It is so difficult.  I pray that the Lord will grant me strength.  I must not let myself get down.  On the way to work, I found myself singing:

There’s crowds and crowds
Of sunbeams shining for you.
And in a little while
The clouds will break
And heaven will smile.

When days are gray look up and say
The skies will surely be blue.
We all have troubles more or less
Yet there’s worlds and worlds
Of happiness
Behind the clouds for you.

Such a quaint little song.  I remember hearing it on my grandmother’s old victrola over fifty years ago.  I don’t know if Gene can hold out until school is out.  She is so weak and in so much pain.  The children all call.  What a blessing to have such loving, caring children.

Harriet, Craig and family, November 1980
June 4, 1979: Harriet has been here since the 23rd of May.  I surely appreciate her.  She is such a cheerful person.  She is a great help not only in domestic needs, and being with Gene, but she is an emotional support to me as well.  I sometimes feel that I should protect her from such harsh realities.  That is when I think of her as my little girl.  Then I see that she has become such a mature young woman.  Gene feels this conflict too.  The other day she asked me how long Harriet was going to be here.  She said “Harriet is too tender of heart to witness all this.”  I tried to explain that Harriet was a grown woman now and that she wants to help.

June 13, 1979

Dear Perry & Gene,

Seems like time flies by so fast. It hasn't been too long since we saw both of you, but here it has been over a month. Surely hope that you are feeling a little better, Gene. We think about you often and pray for you. I suppose we all have our trials--sometimes we wonder if we can endure them. But through the help of others and our faith, we know our Heavenly Father blesses us.

Dee calls Hope quite often to see how your mother is making out. The other night when he called, Hope was playing the piano and your mother was playing her guitar. That will be good for her and take her mind off from her burdens.

Wish we could see you at our golden wedding open house, but we know that is impossible. But we wanted you to have an announcement just the same. Love Dee [Elmer's brother] and Mary

June 19, 1979

Dear Perry & Gene,

It seems a little odd not to add your dad and mother, but when your dad got so bad, I'm glad he didn't have to stay any longer. And I know there was a lot of his own family there that were happy to see him come.

I'm sorry Gene is so bad. I hope the pain doesn't get too bad. It has been warmer today, but yesterday when Wayne and family left at 10:00 am it was cold. I had to turn on the heat. When we have a warm day, the wind blows and turns all cold.

(Thursday night) I've never had such a heck of a time getting one letter written. Makes me think of Mildred. It takes her forever to get a letter answered. I guess that is why I never hear from her. I've got the water going trying to get some of the lawn watered. It hasn't been watered for a week. The wind blew for days and yesterday I washed. When I do that and water, those two jobs make my leg where I can't go any farther. Today I ironed and cleaned up my house then laid down for an hour before I set the water going. I can finish it tomorrow. Bruce cut it for me today. Now I've taken all I can for a day so I'll stop and watch a TV show.

I hope all is well with you folks and pray the Lord will grant you all with the blessings you need. My love to you all, Aunt Thelma [Elmer's sister]

2911 Claremont Heights Drive
[Another entry from Perry's journal]

August 6, 1979: I had B & R Tree Service come and remove one oleander and two bottle brush and one rock willow in preparation for the wall and to make a new front entrance.  I can hardly believe I am tackling this big project with Gene in the condition she is in and needing so much help.  Yet I must do something active, constructive to help get my mind off my troubles.  I plan to work only a little at a time.  I can do something--how much I don’t know--but it will help me and I can still stay close to Gene.  It almost hurt to remove those bottle brush.  Gene and I put them in so many years ago, watered and tended them.  How things can change.  Sometimes it hurts.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Elmer Manwaring Dies

Gene & Perry at Corona del Mar,  May 1978

[Entry from Perry's journal]
January 22, 1979: It has been 6 days since Gene has had any pain medication.  Last Friday, the 19th, she went shopping with me and Harriet.  I pushed her in the wheel chair through the mall.  When she would get out of the wheel chair to shop around, I would sit in the chair.  It worked out very well that way.

February 14, 1979

Dear Linda,

Just want you to know I truly did appreciate that beautiful birthday card you gave me, and the Valentine box of candy just made my day. And this Valentine's Day I'm still enjoying them!

Thank you, darling, for remembering me. I appreciate your thinking of me each day too. It helps to make each one of my days "special." I love you very much. Your Mom

[More from Perry's journal]
May 6, 1979: My birthday!  My father died on this day.  I was at priesthood meeting when Bishop Ohman came and called me out.  Gene had called the church after getting the word from the nursing home where he had been for only 6 days.  His passing was quiet and peaceful.
I came home, called all the family, and the funeral home, got things going, then I had to go back and teach my Sunday School, Gospel Doctrine, class.   Somehow the lesson seemed to fit with what had just happened.  I told them about my father, how true to the gospel he had been, how hard he had worked, how willing he was to do anything for his children.  I recalled once when I was quite young, it was early spring and a cold wind was blowing.  I came home from school and walked out into the field to see where my father was plowing.  But the sun was getting low and the wind was colder.  When I came to my father, he immediately saw how cold I was, and he took off his jacket and put it on me.  Few experiences I have ever had have made me feel so warm, comfortable, and loved as that one simple act.  That, to me, symbolizes his life.
Gene is quite weak.  I told her all the family would understand if I stayed with her rather than flying up to the funeral.  But she insisted on my going, and she will fly up with me.  She is strong spiritually though weakened physically.  We had already flown Mother up when we had to put Dad in the nursing home.
On Saturday the 5th I came by the nursing home to see Dad.  I had just been to the hospital with Gene.  She was too weak to get out of the car so she waited while I went in. Dad was very weak.  He could barely whisper.  He asked about “Mama.”  He said he wanted to come home.  How it hurt me to tell him that I could not bring him home, that he needed to stay here where they could give him care and help that I could not give.  How it hurt to know that I did not have the physical ability to care for him any longer the way I had done for the past three years.  Then I leaned over and whispered softly in his ear as I stroked his head and told him how much I loved him, how much all of his children loved him.  Then I enumerated a few of the many, many things he had done for each of his children, starting with the oldest and down to me again.  He didn’t try to speak any more.  He seemed at ease and at peace.  That was the last time I saw him alive.

May 12, 1979: Gene and I flew up to Salt Lake earlier in the week and Dad’s funeral was held on Saturday the 12th.  Many, many relatives and friends attended.  The chapel at the old Hillcrest Ward was filled.  Gene was not feeling well at all.  Her brother, Dick, sat by her.  I was on the stand.  During the service, Dick had to help her out where she lay on a couch during the rest of the service.  It is so sad, so sad to see her in this condition.  But there is not grief for Dad.  He filled a full, complete life.

May 14, 1979: Today is my father’s birthday.  He would have been 92 had he lived eight more days.  Gene and I made a sudden change of plans while in Salt Lake.  We decided to come back Saturday night rather than wait until Monday.  I could see that Gene was feeling just too poorly, and I was anxious to get back too.
I still had today off so I spent the time being with Gene as much as possible.  I also washed all of Mother’s and Dad’s bedding, mopped and waxed, and it looks very nice.  I took Gene to the Danson for lunch.  She had a pineapple boat with lots of fruit.  Sometimes I am actually quite hopeful.

May 21, 1979

Dear Perry,

Here are the things that needed signatures for you. Mother has been looking for some word from you. I think she is really lonesome for you. She keeps saying, "I'm wondering how Perry is." and "I wonder how Gene is." So even though the news is not good, it was still good for her to hear about you.

She is doing fine. She said she thinks she will never get rested. She is sleeping and eating good and can read some again now. Grant went and bought her a hand reader with a globe light attachment which automatically goes off when it gets hot. Mother calls it "magic."

So far I have not left Mother alone. I don't want her to get mixed up and wonder if she's alone. We love having her. Perry, I do wish things could have been different for at least a little while for you. We all send our love, Mother, Grant & Hope

Perry & Gene work on a project together to
reupholster some chairs, Winter 1978
May 25, 1979

Dear Mother,

Hope said you had a new reading glass. I am glad because I know how much you enjoy reading. I am sure Hope and Grant will keep you supplied with plenty of good reading material. I hope you will be able to enjoy doing a lot of other things too. You can visit with a lot of friends and family and just relax and sleep when you want to.

I have your room all cleaned up and changed around some. There is a lot more room in the bedroom now with just one bed in it. I hope to get the bedroom painted this summer. Your place is all ready whenever you want to come back, but I imagine you want to spend a lot more time up there yet. The summers in Utah are a lot nicer than they are here in Southern California. I know all of your other daughters want you to spend some time with them too. That must be nice to know that so many people want you to live with them. And remember, you have your place back here too. I am sending Hope some money from your account to help with the living expenses. So you can relax and know that you are helping out and paying your expenses.

Things are about the same here. Gene is about the same, but she doesn't seem to be getting any better. Linda and Marian have been taking turns coming in and staying with her. Next week Harriet is coming to stay for two weeks or so. That will just about take us to the end of school when I can be with her for the rest of the summer.

Perry & Gene at home, June 3, 1978
Sometimes Gene and I eat our supper in your room. We can open the sliding doors which allows a nice breeze to blow through, and we can see all of the beautiful roses. As Gene said, "It is just about like eating outdoors without being bothered with the flies and bugs."

I just about have all the business of the funeral taken care of. There are just a few more bills to pay. I am going to the hospital today and expect to settle that. Yesterday I took care of the doctor bill. You and Dad were very thoughtful in planning ahead so that there is no financial difficulty. I have been to the Social Security office. You should start getting a small increase in your check soon. So you just relax, enjoy yourself, and know that everything is all right. It surely makes me feel good to know that you are getting such good care with Hope and Grant.

Much love from us here in California. Perry

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Gene's Cancer Worsens

Gene, Mother's Day 1978
Sunday February 5, 1978

Dear Gene & Perry,

Hazel told me about Gene in a letter last night, so I called the folks here in Vernal and told them and they are all fasting and praying for her today that the Lord will grant her a blessing in the way He sees best. I know it can be very discouraging, but as your Dad always told me, "Don't get discouraged. That is the devil's tool." And I know it is hard to do sometimes.

I bawled yesterday. That old arthritis has got in my left knee so bad. This winter both knees are so stiff--made me feel real bad to have the other leg go out from under me. As long as I had one good leg, I could go and do what I pleased, but I haven't left the place since the Sunday before Christmas. And since it snowed, I haven't stepped off the porch. Yet I know my lot isn't near as hard as some others have to bear.

Hazel said your dad and mother were ok now. You have a man there in your home that really has faith and is willing to have the Lord's will to be done. I hope they can stay well. May you have peace and the blessings of the Lord with you all through this. My love to you all, Aunt Thelma [Elmer's sister]

Gene’s Testimony, June 6, 1978

I was walking through the back door to hang up some clothes today, and Father Manwaring stopped me just as I was about to go out the back door.  I could see he had something to say--something on his mind--and he said, “There were two people that I knew that their doctors said weren’t going to live anymore, and they’d given up on them--told them that they weren’t going to be able to live. One of them was an accountant, and the other one was a woman--I think maybe a relative of Grandma’s.”  He said that those two people did live, that they amazed everyone, and that they overcame the cancer conditions that they had--totally and completely amazed everybody. And he said that people do live even when doctors say that they won’t--that it can happen. And I said, “Yes, I know that’s true.  It does happen that people can be made whole and well again. Those doctors are so sure that some will not or cannot, can totally recover. I don’t know why these things happen; all I know is these things. Only the Lord knows when it’s time for people to be called home, or people to be told or shown that their lives will be extended here yet. I know that’s true.”

Pierce, Gene & Richard, June 3, 1978
I took the clothes out the back door and hung them on the clothesline. I was thinking about my blessings and the happy thoughts that have been in my mind these past few days. I wanted to be able to express something like this to Grandpa Manwaring when I came back in the house. After I finished hanging up the clothes, I came in, and I patted Grandpa on the hand.  He looked at me, and I said, “I am such a blessed person, and I am happy, and I am so content and so happy and feel so truly, richly blessed of the Lord.  I can’t help but kneel and say quickly to my Heavenly Father, ‘Thy will be done.  I will go where you want me to go dear Lord. I will do what you want me to do.’ I know the Lord’s hand is over me and His power directs all our lives. So I know that whatever happens to me, whichever way that it goes, if the Lord calls me, if I go to the other side, it will be because He did call me. And if I stay, it will also be because the Lord wants me here on this side.  Whatever it is, it will be my mission continuing here or possibly on the other side. It’s got to be good, no matter what it is. I shall rejoice whichever it is because I know it will be the Lord’s will.” I smiled at Grandpa when I said that because I wanted him to know how happy I am, and truly how I feel so content and happy about my life and the way I feel right now.  Grandma even said, looking over from the couch, “He wanted to see you smile.”  And I patted his hand again. I smiled, and he said, “You bet.  That’s the way it is.”

Yesterday, when I was lying here, I felt very, very tired.  And I was hurting--I was hurting all over because I was so tired I guess.  And I was beginning to feel something of a desperateness. I was thinking, if I am getting sicker then I’ll start feeling like this. And if I keep getting sicker, I’ll be feeling more like this all of the time.  And I started talking to the Lord, and I was saying that it seems so--I don’t know exactly how to say this--it seems so important for me to feel good.  I mean physically--I think I mean a happy, spirit kind of good. I like to feel like that is kind of the identity of my personality; maybe that when I’m happy that’s the real me. Is that right, do you think? Well, anyway, I was trying to explain, as I talked to the Lord, it’s important for me to feel good. I know it is important for everybody to feel their best, and I think it is what the Lord wants us to be is our best.

Well, I want very much to feel my best all the time. I think that’s a real important ingredient of my make-up--that I’m sort of feeling on top of things and feeling my best.  And so I was explaining to my Heavenly Father that even though here I am in this particular condition, I feel that it is very important for me to continue to feel my best, and be all I can to have myself be feeling my best. I was saying, if it’s truly this condition that’s rapidly overtaking me and overturning me, then would it be impossible Dear Lord for me to continue to feel good? And everybody’s telling me how good I look, and how good I feel, and then I was coupling those thoughts with reflecting upon my patriarchal blessing which tells me in the very last paragraph at the bottom of the page that I would have vital strength and health to the last of my days.  And if this could possibly be, and that’s what I want to happen, and I’m praying and I’m asking my Heavenly Father to help me.  Could I have this blessing?  Could it truly be that I could even be well and feeling good and looking good and maybe even beautiful to the very end to the very last day ‘til the last hours?  And I thought that something intervened, so that I know that Heavenly Father grants me my blessing and told Heavenly Father that I’m living for them, as I needed so eagerly those blessings in my patriarchal blessing. I have always been so terrifically impressed with the patriarchal blessing that was given to me and eagerly, always eagerly, looking forward to the things that would unfold to me in my life.  And as I came through my life and watching those things that were promised to me truly come about and come to pass, I know if these prayers and if these blessings that I have asked for are worthy, then the Lord is going to grant them to me. He surely will.

[Through 1978, Gene's condition worsens. Perry and Gene try to remain positive, but the cancer continues to spread. They go on several little trips to try and get Gene's mind off the pain. The following is an entry from Perry's journal:]

At Crater Lake, Oregon, June 1978

June 1978: Gene and I have had a beautiful trip to Crater Lake, Oregon.  We chose this place because we knew Gene would not be able to stand or bear a long distance drive in the car.  Here we could fly close.  We flew to Klammath Falls, then rented a car and drove to Crater Lake.  It is truly a beautiful place.  We rented a place at the Lodge and then later a cabin.  We drove around a lot, walked and took pictures--just being thankful.  We drove down along the Rogue River where there is much beautiful scenery, stopping occasionally just to enjoy it.  Gene got to feeling considerable pain on our way back to Klammath Falls.  We stopped and she took one of her pain pills.  This made her quite sleepy.  When we got to the hotel, I took her in and put her to bed and she slept for several hours.  I could do nothing but wait.  I read some and occasionally went out and wandered around.  I couldn’t concentrate on television, and didn’t want to disturb her.  Finally she awoke feeling better.  We had dinner and flew home early next morning.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Gene recovers from a mastectomy

August 9, 1977

Dear Laura,

I loved your letter. Thank you for writing to me and for coming over to see me. It always cheers me up to see you and your brothers.

I love you all so very much. Yes, I'm getting well now and feeling better every day. Love, Grandma M

Perry & Gene
August 13, 1977

Dear Family,

This will be just a few lines to let you know how everything is down here because I am sure you have all been wondering.

Gene came home from the hospital just one week ago today. She is really doing quite well--very well in fact. She is amazing everybody with her recovery. I am sure this is largely because of her remarkable recuperative attitude, her determination to enjoy life, and the blessings of the Lord through the priesthood.

Yesterday we went back to the hospital to have the sutures removed. It was an anniversary for us, 33 years since our first meeting, so from the hospital we drove over to Riverside and had lunch at the Old Mission Inn which is being restored. We thought it appropriate since we had lunched there together just after I was discharged from the Navy.

Of course, a whole flood of thoughts have coursed through our minds, mostly in thankfulness for life--every day, each moment. We have thought about a few lines from Thornton wilder's play "Our Town." One of the characters, Emily, is permitted to come back and view one segment of life:

Emily: Oh, it goes so fast. We don't have time to look at one another. . . .Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it, every, every minute?

Stage Manager: No. The saints and the poets, maybe--they do some.

I can say that this past week we have both been very sensitized to life. When Gene came home from the hospital, just one week ago today, she broke down and wept. (We both did.) And she kept repeating over and over, "Oh, it is so good to be home. Oh, my home is so beautiful." We are both enjoying "every, every moment." I have been right at Gene's side constantly not only to meet her physical needs but more important her deeper spiritual support. I have read to her, often at two o'clock in the morning, to help alleviate the pain. (The only pain pill she has had is aspirin.) And often, at her request, I have even sung to her. Most poignant have been the words from the hymn, "Lead Kindly Light." '. . . Keep Thou my feet. I do not ask to see the distant scene. One step enough for me.'

Yesterday evening Gene went and stayed briefly at Reymund Fast's wedding reception. You see, she really has spirit. And last night she slept the best she has since the surgery.

We are thankful to all of you for your thoughts, kindnesses and prayers. We are so glad Hope and Grant were able to take Dad and Mother. It was not for the reason we had planned, but it surely worked out for the best. We love all of you, Perry

August 23, 1977

Dear Linda & Eric,

Here is a copy for you of Dad's letter he wrote for everyone as a report after I got back from the hospital. I am so thankful for your dad and his devoted care of me.

I'm feeling better every day though sometimes it seems the days and especially the nights are going rather slowly. But I keep exercising and working with myself. Be seeing you. Love, Mom
Harriet Maria Taggart Goodrich
Perry's maternal grandmother

September 14, 1977

Dear Grandpa & Grandma,

Today is your sixty-seventh wedding anniversary! It boggles my mind to picture being married "happily ever after" for that long (as you two have) when I haven't even been alive half that long! It gives me something to look forward to because I know how much love grows between two people year after year--you're such good examples of that.

We've hung the big picture of Harriet Maria Taggart Goodrich (that Dad gave me on my 18th birthday) above the mantle on our brick fireplace. I've been waiting until I had a perfect place to hang it up, and now I've found it. It looks beautiful!

Take care of yourselves and give my Tippy dog a pat on the head for me! We love you very much, Craig and Harriet Lea

[Leora Edith Young Fast died November 10, 1977.]
Gene with her brothers, Richard & Pierce
at their mother's funeral

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Issues with aging parents

[Because of their age, Leona and Elmer left Salt Lake City and went to live with Perry and Gene in Claremont, California]

Craig & Harriet Lewis, (top left)
the newest married couple in the family
February 3, 1977

Dear Perry, Gene & Family, also Elmer & Leona

Was so good to get your nice newsy Christmas letter. Thanks so very much. I started to get cards and letters off for Christmas, but I got so sick with the cough and flu I had that Dee just told me to go to bed. So the only thing that got done was the tree decorated. If the neighbors hadn't been so good, we wouldn't have had much of a Christmas.

We got Harriet's announcement for her wedding. It was late coming--must have been delayed somewhere. We are so happy for her and hope they will have a happy marriage. Saw in the BYU paper where Colleen Peppers, who was queen for the 'Y' when Harriet was her attendant, got married. Her picture was in the 'Y' paper.

We are so glad that Elmer and Leona are doing so well. Just hope they can continue to enjoy good health and strength.

We had a granddaughter married on December 22. Venice, Elvyn and Kent came to the temple for the wedding. That was so nice of them. Then Elaine had her son come home from Chili off his mission to be home and go thru the temple.

Did your sons move home from Provo? Dee has tried to call and they keep saying the phones are disconnected. Sorry we didn't get to see them. We wanted to go and visit with them. May the Lord keep all of you well and performing the Lord's work. Surely do love all of you. Have a nice new year. Love Dee & Mary

[In the summer of 1977, Gene discovered a lump in her breast. It turned out to be cancerous. While Perry was helping Gene recover from the operation to remove the cancer, Leona and Elmer went to live with Hope and Grant in Spanish Fork for a short time.]

Perry with his mother, Leona,
Memorial Day in San Diego
August 12, 1977

Dear Perry, Gene and family,

Mother decided she needed to write to you herself this morning, so I decided I'd send a line along myself. We are getting along just fine so far. Dad is surely enjoying our vibrator chair. You might inquire into the Niagra Company down there if they have one. I know the chair helps my back and hips, so I don't think he just has a crush on it nor that he's praising it unduly. If he can find something that helps--why not? Maybe you folks or someone in the family can enjoy it after they're gone.

Mother is getting a vacation. Grant and I do for Dad. The only thing she still has to do that she doesn't want to always do is go to bed at 5:30 or 6:00 pm with Dad. He even likes it if we can go to bed then too, so we just try to read and not come into the kitchen or bathroom. All the relatives have been warned not to ring the doorbell after 5:30 so he won't wonder who's here.

He really is trying really hard to be a good sport and help himself as much as possible. I've been helping Mother--possibly more than she needs--but I think she can stand a little spoiling without expecting it from here on.

I made a mistake one day and complained about how tired I was and what a rough night I'd had. When Venice and Elvyn came that evening, Dad asked her to take them out to her place so we wouldn't have all the burden. I'd seen him looking morose and feeling grumpy all day and had wondered what caused it. So then I had to assure Dad that I often have sleepless nights and that I often have leg-ache and that it had nothing to do with him. I know how it is to have to be waited on and how sensitive one can be, so I shouldn't have been so thoughtless and am more careful now.

We've been having lots of company so that in itself is more excitement than is good for sleep--much as they are enjoying it and them. Uncle Ashel will come later as he's in the hay. One day of Thelma was about all I could handle as she orders me around for her. I don't think she does that with Hazel.

I hope you and Gene are able to rest and enjoy each other and that you, Gene, aren't too sore and miserable. I've had enough operations to know that none are easy and that when they happen to you it's the worst there is. So if it helps any to say that, then I can offer that much comfort. Although no one can really say, "I know what you're going through," we should have enough compassion in ourselves to show mercy and love and to give hope if we can.

We've been talking, singing, playing guitar, organ and piano and remembering words to more songs. It's been fun. Love to all, Grant & Hope

August 12, 1977

Dear Perry & Gene,

It is about time I gave a report of ourselves. We have been here about two weeks, and the time has gone by fast. We are both feeling well. Grant takes care of Dad, takes care of his exercises, etc.

We were sorry to hear about Gene. I was aware that she wasn't feeling too well but didn't know the seriousness of her ailment.

We have had quite a few visitors. I told Hope that most of them had been to see her and Grant, but she said not, and she wrote a list, which I am sending. The weather is nice, and we still can eat "three meals a day." One day Grant took us up in the canyon to what they call "the ranch." That was a nice experience. One time when we stopped, I counted the train cars that were going by on the hillside and there were seventy-one. I don't know how many engines it took, but that was quite a sight. Love, and best wishes, Mother & Dad

Gene, Perry & Renee
August 13, 1977

Dear Mother & Dad,

We miss you here--no busy activity from your end of the house, and when we walk through the door back there we feel a "pang" of lonesomeness. It was good to hear your pleasant voices on the phone this morning and to know you are having such a good time there with Hope and Grant.

With Perry and Renee taking such good care of me, I am getting well really fast and waking up so happy every morning. Best wishes to you both and love always, Gene