Monday, April 28, 2008

The most important interview I've ever done

As a journalist, you pray for good interviews, important interviews that will lend themselves into great stories.

This weekend however, I had the most important interview I've ever had to do. It was the one where I had to capture my mom's life and wishes and loves onto a few pages of note paper as she prepares to leave this world. And since my dad died four years ago at age 61 of cancer, (mom is 63 and is dying of cancer), it is up to me as her oldest child and as the one who she trusts to write these things, to capture her marvelous life for the rest of my siblings including a brother who is currently serving a mission in Guadalajara, Mexico.

We planned her funeral, and we spoke of the things she wanted to still be able to do. But most of all we spoke of love; her love for her family, her husband, her fiends and her life. And God. Although she feels a bit cheated, she loves him and begged us to make sure my brother - if he comes home - gets his tail right back out to serve the Lord diligently and faithfully for the rest of his two years.

We refused to speak of regrets or sadness,..... other than that wrenching angst that was ripping at our hearts because we loved each other so fiercely. What she doesn't know and she would chastise me if she did know is that I do have regrets.

I promised my dad that I would take care of her and I promised my brother that I'd do everything I could to make sure she was around when he got home. So the only regret I have - and I know it is an irrational one - is that her stage four stomach cancer was stronger than I was.

And quite simply, sucks.

I have maybe 48 hours left to do my interviews - the most important interviews I will ever do - but I have to admit,...even though hers is a great one about love, faith and laughter, this is not a story I wanted to have to write so soon.

I love you mom and dad.......

Thursday, April 24, 2008

FLDS versus LDS - A tale of two religions

For those of you who have been watching the news and may have wondered what the difference between the FLDS and LDS religions are, (thanks to my cousin in Georgia - love you Rita!) here is a simplified visual comparison....
Some Mormon women sing...

Some Mormon women dance...

Some Mormon women write scary stories....

And some Mormon women have lots of money and really great hair...

I know hundreds of Mormon women. They do all kinds of different things and live all different kinds of lives.

This woman served as a leader in the Mormon church. She recently spoke to teenage girls worldwide. She encouraged them to stand up to peer pressure, strengthen their families and serve others.

None of the Mormon women I know look like this...

None of them are marrying off their teenage daughters and -- although some may joke about wanting a sister-wife (preferably one who is really fat & ugly, does bathrooms and changes diapers) -- none of them really want to share their husband with anyone.
Some Mormon guys can throw a ball...

Some Mormon guys yell at the ball...

Some Mormon guys make scary movies...

Some Mormon guys have a lot of money and really great hair...

I know hundreds of Mormon guys. They do all kinds of different things and live all kinds of different lives.

This is one of the leaders of the Mormon church. Last Sunday he spoke about honoring women, especially mothers, and gave advice to husbands and children about how to treat the women in their lives.

None of the Mormon men I know look like this...
The Mormon men I know are honest and hard-working. They don't cheat, smoke, drink or gamble. And TRUST ME....the last thing any of them want is another wife.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Wide World of Email

I talked to my grandma the other day and had to chuckle just a bit.

She is the one for whom I have so much admiration because she tells anyone and everyone that she is going to keep on living as long as the Good Lord allows her to keep on living. There is too much good in life to miss out with something as pesky as death. She intends to see the Second Coming and expects the rest of us to enjoy the show right along with her - packing her sunglasses, popcorn and lawn chair in tow.

Pretty impressive attitude for a woman who is a spry 94 years of age.

Anyways, since she'd sent so many flowers to my mother in the hospital, she wanted to do something novel,.... something that would wow her in her hospital bed at Huntsman. That's right, she decided to send an email.

Now for those of you who are thinking to yourselves "huh?", let me share with you that a couple of years ago she fairly beat the answering machine I'd given her for Christmas to death when it "talked back and mimicked everything she'd said in a rather cheeky tone".

I had forgotten to tell her about the self recording memo feature.

So she sent my mother an email and this is the conversation that ensued over their speaker phone when she and my Aunt Jo called me later that night.....

Grandma - "Oh and, Stacy, I sent your mom an email. Will you make sure she gets it?"

Aunt Jo - "Don't you mean, Mother, that you wrote it and gave it to Ann to type out and send?

Grandma - "Why would I write it when I could send an email?"

Aunt Jo - "You wouldn't,... but in your case, you did write it so Ann could type it into her computer at work and send it to Stacy and Becky through email."

Grandma - "But I thought Ann sent my email....."

Aunt Jo - "She did send your letter, what you wrote to Laurel, via email."

Grandma - "So if I wrote a letter, where did my email go?"

Aunt - "Mother,...your letter was sent via email. Ann sent it from work to Stacy and Becky so they could print it out and take it to Laurel at the hospital."

Grandma - "Next time I'll just use the postal service. They are far less complicated and take less time."

That's my Grandma. She'll keep on living as long as she is allowed to live,....or until the postal service converts to electronic mail only.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wasn't bought with VISA but is still priceless

I have a ring that is priceless.

I wore it last night to a concert and wearing it again reminded me of just how valuable it is.
It turns my finger green every time I wear it. It has to be resized by pinching it and is slowly losing it's ruby luster because the paint is wearing off after only four uses. It is admittedly the gawdiest thing one could ever put eyes on but it is the story on how it came to be in my possession that gives it its value.

This last Christmas, I found my seven year old rummaging through couch cushions, doing odd jobs for pay and hunting the streets and parking lots for coinage. I didn't think much of it since his older brothers had been earning money and keeping track as part of a good natured sibling rivalry. He has always wanted to be one of the 'big boys'.

But on the last day of school before Christmas vacation, he came to me and begged for a loan explaining that he needed to get something special at the Christmas Market being held at his school. I smiled and pulled out a couple of dollar bills wondering what his latest urgency might come home in the form of. A pack of sports cards? Another toy car? One could only wonder.

But that night under the tree appeared a small brown sack meticulously decorated with childish scrawl amongst some other rather hastily wrapped presents. I thought nothing more of it until Christmas morning when he proudly set the brown bag on my lap and waited with anticipation for me to open his gift. I noted with interest that his small face seemed to hold a mixture of angst and excitement as I picked up the bag.

Inside was a black velvet box housing the monstrosity I mentioned before. I looked at my son and seeing his need for acceptance for his offering, I wrapped my arms around him and told him how much I loved his gift.

He then pulled his little body away relaxing a bit and gushed, "I am soooo glad. I saved my money all year for the Christmas Store but when Anthony moved here and didn't have any money for his family, I gave him mine. I couldn't buy the big presents I wanted to buy you and Dad."

Antonio (Anthony) was a Latin boy who had just emigrated to the states. His family had very little money and what they did have, they'd spent on entering the country legally. My son had wanted to make sure that Anthony and his family had a good Christmas and so had sacrificed the fruits of his labors to ensure that end. He'd then worked overtime and scrambled to have enough to buy something for me and his dad.

After realizing the sacrifice of my small child and the angst he'd been through trying to provide a nice gift for me, my ring suddenly had more luster than the Hope Diamond. It represents the love of a son, a child's simple faith, the pureness of charity toward those less fortunate and all that is right in the world.

And to me, his mother, that makes my ring priceless.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tag,...It's your blog

I got "tagged" by Tristi Pinkston.

Maybe it was because I am new to blogland. Maybe it was because I am one of the newer ones to the LDS Storymakers Group. Maybe it is because I am still starry eyed towards all of them and she wants to humble me even more.

I personally think it is because I have nagged her constantly ever since she so graciously offered to help me get this site up and going and as I am still dabbling through it at the rate of a hibernating sloth,... putting in all the links and posting all the comments will keep me out of her hair.

Although the woman is a saint, I have to admit that if I keep bugging her, thoughts of canonization will fly out the window and her inner Lizzie Borden will take over.

So as an olive branch I have linked Tristi's blog 7 times (for luck and good wishes) and do as the rules require......

Here’s the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog, some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.
4. Let them know they are tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

The weird, the wacky and the weal, oops,...I mean the real facts about me:

1 - I moved fourteen times in the first 17 years of my life living in California, Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, Illinois and Utah. My favorite? Hum,.....the beach in California, the Arch and 4th of July fireworks display over the Mississippi in St. Louis, the lightening bugs and downtown in Chicago, going to school with my cousins and Casa Bonita in Denver, the desert in bloom and my family in Phoenix and the mountains and living out my dreams with the love of my life in Salt Lake. How's that for cheating?

2 - I love the color green - any shade - except chartreuse which makes my thighs look fatter than they already are.

3 - I love icy cold glasses of milk - so icy there is ice crystals in it, strawberries and m&ms because I can eat a handful and get my chocolate fix without going into a diabetic comma.

4 - I have an apostle in my heritage, my grandfather's cousin. His name is Delbert l. Stapley. I also have General Robert E. lee and Pochahontas hanging somewhere in those family tree branches too. The Indian heritage is easy to spot,'s right there behind the blue eyes, blond hair and a quickly wielded tomahawk when one of my sons or my husband practices the fine art of idiocy.

5 -I am the oldest of six children; 4 boys two girls. My youngest brother is 20 and 1/2 years younger than me which makes him almost exactly four months older than my oldest son. I lived Father of the Bride part II and I'm pretty sure the joke "How do you know it's a Mormon wedding? The bride isn't pregnant but the mother is" was written about us.

6 - I began my career as a public speaker at age 18 when I was invited to guest speak with Bruce Lindsey, a local newscaster, and some well-known national author whose name I can't for the life of me remember. My mom was paralyzed with fear that I would embarrass the family name but I quelled her angst when I sat down to write my speech the night before and ultimately ended up signing more programs than the author had. Even Bruce shook my hand telling me how impressed he was with my writing skills. It wasn't until twenty years later that I finally realized what a big deal it had been and then got nervous.

7 - I got approved for gastric bypass surgery today and will go under the knife in two to three weeks which means that one day I will be able to wear those chartreuse pants and not look so horrible after all,...then again,... maybe not.

Now here is who I tag....mainly because I'm selfish and wanted to get to know them better.

1 - Janet Jensen
2 - Cindy Bezas
3 - Josi Kilpack
4 - Matthew Buckley
5 - Rebecca Talley
6 - Marcia Mickelson
7 - Jeff Savage

Tag,'re it!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Lest I whine

As many of you know, my mom has been battling cancer and spends quite a bit of time at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. She was recently checked back in due to some complications stemming from radiology. While she was getting settled in her room, I was at the pharmacy lamenting my life.

You see, I have psoriatic arthritis which causes me quite a bit of swelling and pain in my knees when storms abound - and as of late here in Salt Lake, its easier to count the days of sunshine than days without precipitation. As I was looking out over the valley at more stormy clouds, a gentleman with the biggest smile I'd ever seen illuminated even further by a backdrop of ebony skin, came and sat down next to me.

He said,"Isn't it a beautiful day?"
I looked at him like he was daft.

He proceeded to ask why I was there and listened patiently to my woes about taking care of a mother when my legs hurt so badly. And then not wanting to appear too shallow, I asked why he was there.

"I have cancer in both of my legs," he said, "and the good doctors up here are trying to save them so I can continue with my passion and coaching".

I truly felt like an idiot.

He told me that he'd been orphaned in Africa but had been blessed with a talent and a love for soccer. That had lead him to playing professionally for his country. But when his legs started aching and becoming weaker, he accepted a position here in the states to coach.

He then found out he had cancer and was facing amputation.

He was the sole provider for himself. He was not married and he did not have any other skills other than what he'd learned as a soccer player. He had taken the bus - a ride with transfers that had taken him over an hour - to get to the pharmacy at Huntsman to get his medications.

"But who will take care of you on those days when chemo has taken all you have or when this disease has won the battle for the day?"

He graciously smiled and pointed one long dark finger towards heaven. "The man upstairs. He has always taken care of me and He will continue to take care of me."

With that he picked up his prescription, blessed everyone with his big smile, offered his glad tidings and limped off to the bus stop.

Now as another storm rolls in, I don't think about the pain in my own legs. I think about this man with simple faith and a smile that shines brighter than any celestial star ever could.

And that image somehow manages to make the skies a little less gray.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Welcome, welcome everyone!!

I am forty.

I know that doesn't seem old but it does mean that I am part of a generation that is somewhat new to this stuff unlike my sons who can text and untangle javascript in their sleep. So now that you know I am forty, I want to pat myself on the back for having navigated the cyber world and found my way back home. For me, the self-proclaimed technophobe, that in its self was an accomplishment.

My son, Mitch, said it best when he likened me to the bumblebee who is "so big he can't fly but does so anyway because he's too stupid to know any better." I wasn't sure if that was a compliment or a grim reality but since I am a optimist, I took it as the former with the knowledge that reality at times ain't so bad either.

But since I am back, I want to formally welcome all of you, my friends, to my site and tell you about my plans. Other than general ramblings and slice of life snippets, I intend to put my journalism skills to good use and do features on some of my favorite author friends. There will be talk of writing, and life and religion and views. But most importantly, I want to put things on this site that are intended to uplift, inspire and hopefully to help you smile.

It is truly my pleasure to welcome you. So come on in, sit down and read awhile.....
And if you happen to have any, a bowl of strawberries (Costco has really beautiful ones - the California Giant variety this time of year) does help to make time all that more pleasant!

Unless you're allergic to them and blow up like a self inflating raft like my sister-in-law. In that case go for the diet Coke and chocolate. ;-) It's a much safer bet.......

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What about this Bloggin' thing?


To me, it fits somewhere in between the family car and my husband - love them when they work and causes panic attacks and fits of hair-pulling when they don't.

So I have to admit that when my publisher, all of my writer friends and instructors of the classes at the LDS Storymakers conference are telling me that I have to make peace with with my PC and embrace all the nifty promotional things it can do for me, I got stressed and ate a bowl of frozen strawberries.

This was life changing stuff.

I had naively thought that when my first two books, "The Santa Letters" and "Life is Tough - I Doubt I'll Make it Out Alive", hit the presses that my stress was over and I could put the strawberries back in the freezer. Not so.

That is when the real work apparently begins and so I had to make a choice Do I wave the white flag and look at my keyboard as the friend it is intended to be or as the foe who screwed up my first manuscript because I forgot to put page breaks in and massive quantities of text would mysteriously disappear making me think I'd gone crazy?

I now have a blogsite and so I'm sure you have correctly surmised that I was seductively lured into the twenty-first century. I think my computer has even lifted that temporary restraining order it filed last year when I threw my shoe at it.

That being said, I must also confess that as I write this, a bowl of frozen strawberries is also by my side to lend support and encouragement.

You will know if I have gotten the hang of this or not when you check back next week. If there is no new entries, it means simply that I could not figure out how to get back into my own blogsite. In which case, you can find me as a guest blogger on The Ink Ladies

Guest blogging I can handle since all I have to do is write an email to Marcia Mickelson and she will do all the work! Yeah for people like her......