Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Update, July 21

Dad is sitting in his favorite recliner, answering questions for a reporter from the Sacramento Bee (Anita Creamer). He is talking about Mom and her love of music, and how that love of music affected those she loved. Now he's talking about her love of God. All of the questions about himself have been answered with a few terse sentences, but one question about Mom has called forth a seamless, fluid description of her defining characteristics. I love how much he loves her.

The reporter just left and now we're sitting in the family room listening to Bach, Orff, and Handel. Dad is closing his eyes and waving his hand to the beat of "The Harmonious Blacksmith". During my childhood, he would often invite me into his office, close the door, turn up the stereo, and simply sit back into his chair. I knew this meant that he had just had a special moment with some piece of music, and he wanted to share it with me. I remember when he first introduced me to Respighi's "Pines of Rome". The ground shaking with the fanfare, and Dad watching me, waiting to see if I understood the beauty of it.

Another memory: on Sundays after dinner, Dad and the kids would clean up while Mom went straight to the piano to practice. I developed the habit of laying down under the piano (it was a baby grand) and dozing off while she played. Whenever she asked if I had any requests, I always wanted "Arabesque #1" by Debussy. Somehow an association was forged between my mom and that song, so that every time I hear it I can feel the texture of the rug on my back, the piano is vibrating above me, and Mom is lost in her fingers at the keyboard.

Dad is doing well. He has been diligent at his breathing exercises, and he pushes himself to his limits each day. The daily progress is visible to us, his children, even though we are constantly with him.


  1. What a wonderful memory of your Mom. I can actually see you laying under the piano and enjoying the sound as it surrounds you! Thank you for sharing that moment with us. I am happy to hear that your Dad is doing so well. I know there is still a long road to go, but you will make it. I know you will.

  2. Dan, I'm so glad that your dad is doing so much better and at home. We're missing you here and had Kristen over to eat cupcakes in celebration of their sheer Canadian-ness. She gave us an update and I wanted to tell you we've been praying for your family and thinking of you.

  3. Kathy had a way of giving to others by sharing her love of music & many musical talents...When I was a child, My Dad played the piano for us...It remains a wonderful memory..That I hold onto after over 30 years since I last heard him play..I know that the memory of you Mom playing for you will last your lifetime...
    So glad that your Dad is doing better...
    Sending love your way...Dee St John

  4. Hi Family,

    I just signed up to follow your blog. I love seeing that picture of your family!! Your mom was one of the most classy ladies that I ever knew. I was so blessed to be able to see her at Zona's wedding reception right before she passed away. I walked in the room ane your Mom and Dad were the first ones to jump up and give me a hug. They always made me feel so special. I just wanted to say hello and let you know that I wish I could be there for the funeral. My Mom and Dad will be there to represent our family. I love you guys and I will follow this blog now to keep up.

    Love Brook

  5. Thanks for sharing your memories. It is evident, to all, the touch of your mother's hand in your life. Am grateful for this Monday to be touched by more memories of Kathy. Love you guys and we continue to pray for you and for your father's recovery.
    Marie & Mike

  6. I have wept through your posts, so grateful for the beautiful memories you have shared with all of us. Like so many others, I loved your mother for so many reasons, and was always in awe of her. Our families go back a generation; my parents also sang together as a duo in the Bay Area for many years, with your aunt Marjorie as accompanist. I was gone and married when I heard about the fairy tale marriage between Kent and Kathy. What an event! Now here we are years later. I have never loved a Stake President as I do President Wood and Kathy. They are my heroes. Kathy chose me to sing in the Temple Dedication Choir that she directed, and I often wonder if she knew what an important event that was in my life. To be chosen. ME. To know that she made the choice through fervent prayer. I needed that blessing so deeply at the time. My own mother passed away the night of the dress rehearsal, and Kathy was sensitive to that and could confirm to me that my mother was there with us as we sang in the temple, close enough to our prophet and his counselors to touch them. As your mother conducted those rehearsals, the spirit was so strong. Yet she was so real and so vibrant and so fun. I remember her stopping at one point and saying, "My bad, my bad.. Let's try that again." She just had a way of balancing humility, confidence, poise, love, humor, and all things spiritual. She had more reasons than anyone I've ever known to be arrogant, but that word would never describe her. Such a breathtakingly beautiful, talented, presentational woman might have been envied by others, but because she loved and cared so deeply, and because the light of Christ was always in her countenance, what prevailed were feelings of gratitude for the opportunity to know her. Her latest gift to us was teaching our son in Seminary. He is in the army now, and has been devastated by her death, as have we all. Our son, Ryan, died June 4th of this year. He was 23 and gave up his opportunity for a life-saving transplant because of the scarcity of organs. He had had already had 2 transplants, at age 5 and 14, and believed "it was someone else's turn." Losing him has been so very painful and difficult for me. Getting the news about your mother so shortly after his death seemed an unbearable burden, and I sobbed and sobbed that night. But since then, I have received such comfort, realizing that it is more than likely that Ryan and Kathy are laughing and talking and maybe working together, and sharing music together, and that Ryan will be learning great things from Kathy during the time we wait to see them both.

    The greatest tribute anyone can ever offer your parents is you. The children they raised. Your amazing qualities and ability to see your way through this grief with faith and with that same poise and testimony that made Kathy so amazing is a great gift to us all. We can bear this if you can. We express our love to President Wood, and pray for divine comfort to continue with all of you through this difficult time, and always. We so look forward to the services later today. Love and Gratitude, Becky Berg