There Is Joy

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June 2003, Wayne and Joy

On Christmas day I received word that my beloved Aunt Joy had just passed away. My first mournful thought was for the sadness it would bring to the holiday. However, as I  visualized the relief from pain and all discomfort of mortality, I pictured the pure joy of Christmas in heaven.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” We often associate joy with Christmas for all of these reasons, but now the connection of Joy and Christmas will have more meaning to me.

Aunt Joy was a delight and always greeted me with a smile. I don’t ever recall her talking about herself, heartaches or disappointments so I didn’t ever think about them until several years ago. It was possibly the first Christmas morning without our children at home. I don’t know why, but I was particularly missing my grandparents who had both passed away. I’d never been to the cemetery at Christmas time, but decided I wanted to leave a flower on their grave. Just before I approached my grandparents grave, I noticed the sweetest little Christmas tree I have ever seen, decorated with homemade ornaments. I stopped to admire it and realized it sat at the head of my cousin’s grave. Karen Rose, daughter of Wayne and Joy Rose, born December 20, 1952 and died three days later. She was buried on Christmas Eve.

Karen Rose

2015, Photo credit: Sharon Rose Crockett

I can only imagine the death of any child would be heartbreaking and losing a baby at Christmas time must add to the distress. With tear-filled eyes for their sorrow, I also yearned to know my cousin. I studied the headstone for information. I quickly covered my mouth to quiet my gasp as I realized our traditional Rose family Christmas party was held every year on the day she passed away. I’d never before linked the two events together and couldn’t recall it ever being talked about. I wondered if anyone else besides Wayne and Joy had made the connection. I envisioned how hard it would be to have a highly anticipated annual Christmas party on their mournful day—yet I could never remember a year when Aunt Joy and Uncle Wayne seemed sad or gloomy. My memories were only of the excitement and joy of the day.

2015, Photo credit: Scott Rose

2015, Photo credit: Scott Rose – Thanks for sharing. I had no idea this many people participated.

 

As a child I knew Wayne and Joy had a tradition of taking their other children on or around Karen’s birthdate to the grave to decorate a small tree with homemade ornaments, but this was the first time I had actually seen it. I was tenderly impressed that after all these years my uncle and aunt, now in their late eighties, still carried on this tradition with their family. For sixty-three years, they’ve celebrated her birth with a Christmas tree and focused on their knowledge that they would someday reunite with Karen. What a brilliant gift it is to realize that long awaited reunion between a mother and daughter is happening right now.
Karen wasn’t the only child that left a void in Wayne and Joy’s hearts. In May, 2006 their son Randy was killed in a car accident at the age of fifty-two. Our Heavenly Father has given us a perfect present through Jesus Christ—who made it possible for families to be gather together, not just at Christmas time, but throughout all eternity.

Karen Rose(2)

2015, Photo credit: Scott Rose – What a great family and awesome sixty-three year tradition. I’m so fortunate to be an extension of this family. Thanks for sharing.

Aunt Joy adequately lived up to her name, bringing happiness to those around her. We will miss her and I appreciate her example of making a joyful life despite her heartaches and disappointments. There is joy when I think of the reunion she is having with loved ones who have previously left this earth to return to their heavenly home.

Death brings serious and abundant contemplation which floods the mind with memories. I remembered a poem I had heard several years ago which touched my heart. I searched for and found the poem I wanted to share with the intent to bring comfort to my family and others who may be mourning the loss of a loved one this season. It’s reassuring to know the spirit lives on and consider the joy of Christmas in heaven.

Christmas in Heaven, written by Wanda Bencke

I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below,
With tiny lights like heaven’s stars reflecting in the snow.
The sight is so spectacular- please wipe away that tear,
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear,
But the sound of music can’t compare with the Christmas choir up here.
I have no words to tell you of the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me, I see the pain inside your heart,
But I am not so far away, we really aren’t apart.
So be happy for me dear ones you know I hold you dear
And be glad I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

I can’t tell you of the splendor or the peace here in this place.
Can you just imagine Christmas with our Savior face to face?
I’ll ask Him to lift your spirit as I tell Him of your love,
Then pray for one another as you lift your eyes above.

Please love and keep each other as my Father said to do.
For I can’t count the blessings or the love He has for you.
So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.
Remember, I’m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year.

First kiss

June 1979, Uncle Wayne our marriage officiator.

Thank you Uncle Wayne for letting me share this story. You are extra special to Mark and I, because you legally joined us together as man and wife. I still remember the advice you gave us, which in part is why our marriage has been so strong. You and Aunt Joy are a great example to us. I’m thinking of you and each one of my Rose cousins—I love you dearly and look forward to giving each one of you a hug.

There is joy when I think of Aunt Joy’s first Christmas in heaven.

An Unforgettable Christmas

Christmas can be a magical time, when wishes become a reality. This was definitely the case for our family in 1991. Mark literally slept in a coma through Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and Father’s Day. He missed out on additional celebrations such as my birthday and our twelve year wedding anniversary. Although he was awake for Independence and Labor Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving, all those holidays were spent in the hospital. After eight months, our wish was for Mark to be home for Christmas.

The preparations started in October as we realized Mark was going to be wheelchair dependent. We knew some home modifications would be necessary. My oldest brother, Mick, designed an addition off the back of our home, complete with a ramp for the new back entrance. A large bedroom and bathroom was drawn up to accommodate Mark’s equipment and new needs for care. Fortunately for us, my dad and brothers who are experienced in construction were willing and capable to do the job. My dad, who is an excavating contractor said, “You can’t add a room without a basement.”

Top: Left - Don breaking ground. Right - Steve, Mick, Dad preparing for footings. Middle: Left- Dad. Right - Steve and Mick pouring the footings. Bottom: Left - Steve and Dad. Right - Mick, Steve and Dad pouring the cement floor.

Top:       Left – Don breaking ground.                    Right – Steve, Mick, Dad preparing for footings.
Middle: Left- Dad trying to escape.                        Right – Steve and Mick pouring the footings.
Bottom: Left – Steve and Dad w/cement floor.    Right – Mick, Steve and Dad w/cement floor.

Mark was far from better and still needed extensive therapy and care, so I worked on establishing a “day- patient” schedule where he’d be at Western Rehab all day for therapy and I’d be able to take him home to care for him every night. At the time he wasn’t able to feed himself or take care of any personal needs. Mark’s doctor, Joseph Vickroy, and the rehab team of speech, occupational and physical therapists, suggested that I spend several nights in an apartment-like room located in the center unit where Mark had been for six months. They felt it was important for me to understand the responsibility of caring for Mark before they released him.

I thought the request was trivial since I had spent every day with him and fed him most meals anyway; however, I understood their concern and agreed to do it. I spent several nights there and took complete responsibility for him. Our two children also spent a few nights there to understand what life would be like to have Dad at home.

Because my dad and brothers were building this addition after the hours of their normal work day, it was not completed in December as we’d hoped. Despite the unfinished construction, we wanted Mark home for Christmas. His care was physically difficult without the assessable bathroom, but well-worth all the effort to have him finally home. Since the new bedroom wasn’t finished and our regular bedroom wasn’t big enough for all the equipment now needed for Mark, our queen-sized bed had to be replaced with a single-sized hospital bed. At night, after I transferred him into bed, I would raise it as high as it could go and place an air mattress on the floor in the only space available — which meant my legs were tucked under the bed. Worried that Mark might forget I was there and use the controls to lower it, I would unplug the bed every night. This sleeping arrangement made for many jokes. I often said as I unplugged the bed, “You are now out of control.” With a smug look on his face, he teasingly exclaimed, “But, I’ve got the top.”

Our living quarters were especially cramped and difficult with the construction going on. The sounds of saws and hammers could be heard until late hours into the night, but with the excitement of having Mark home we hardly noticed. I am filled with gratitude for my dad and brothers who worked tirelessly to make our home fit our needs for our new circumstances.

Top: Left Don knocking out the brick wall into the new addition Bottom: Left - Chris, Katie, Dad and Mick nailing the top floor down. Right - Chris and Katie painting our the new room.

Top:       Left and Right – Don knocking out the brick wall into the new addition.
Bottom: Left – Chris, Katie, Dad and Mick nailing the top floor down.                                                                    Right – Chris and Katie painting our the new room.

 

Chris Chipping, a friend and former employer of Mark’s, did the electrical wiring for our new addition while another friend, Walt Fisher, did the plumbing. It was a crazy, busy and noisy home with construction going on for five months until the addition was completed. However, the acts of service and love from family and friends made the Christmas of 1991 unforgettable. Our world was turned upside down that year and after eight months of living in a hospital — it truly was the merriest of Christmases to have Mark finally home.

Finished room in March. Christopher, Mark and Katie.

Finished room in March. Christopher, Mark and Katie.

Our trials were lightened and my caregiving responsibilities were made easier once the new bedroom and bathroom were completed. We were blessed by many skilled hands and a lot of hard work who were definitely making our Christmas wish come true.

There Are Angels Among Us

Last year I wrote Traditions Make a Family CloseAll my life we’ve had a huge Christmas party with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Tonight the traditional party went on. Family and friends make the holiday special. I dedicate this song to you—for you are the angels among us.

Who are the angels in your life? Below are some of mine.

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 Live Nativity

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and… sharing the gift of talents 

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With technology talents can be shared across the states!

Technology makes sharing a special talent across the states possible!

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Amy, thanks for your photography talent and for sharing your pictures with me.

Thank you Mom and Dad for a great party. You work hard for weeks to get ready. We appreciate you keeping the tradition and providing us with fun times which keeps our family close. You are definitely angels among us!

A Magical Adventure

In 1991, Mark literally slept in a coma through Mother’s Day, Memorial Day and Father’s Day. Not to mention my birthday and our twelve year wedding anniversary. Although he was awake for Independence Day, Labor Day, Halloween, his birthday and Thanksgiving, all those holidays were spent in the hospital for rehabilitation. We were overjoyed Mark would finally be home for Christmas. Last year I wrote what it took to get Mark home for the holidays. It’s one of my hardest, yet happiest Christmas memories so I wanted to share it again with a new twist.

Christmas MagicChristmas can be a magical time, when wishes are granted and this definitely was the case for us twenty-three years ago. After eight lengthy months of hospitalization, I was finally able to bring Mark home —  just in time for Christmas. He was far from better and still needed extensive therapy and care, so I worked on establishing a “day- patient” schedule where he’d be there all day for therapy and I’d be able to care for him every night at home. At the time he wasn’t able to feed himself or take care of any personal needs. Mark’s doctor, Joseph Vickroy, and the rehab team of speech, occupational and physical therapist, requested that we spend several nights in an apartment-like room located in the center unit where Mark had been for six months. They felt it was important for me to understand the responsibility of caring for Mark before they released him.

I thought the request was trivial since I had spent every day with him and fed him most meals anyway; however, I understood their concern and agreed to do it. I spent several nights there and took complete responsibility for him. Our two children also spent a few nights there to understand what life would be like to have Dad at home. We passed the test and Mark was discharged from the hospital.

Once we realized Mark was going to be wheelchair dependent, we knew some home modifications would be necessary. In October 1991, we started building a large room which would become our bedroom with a wheelchair accessible bathroom off the back of the house. Fortunately, my dad and brothers work in construction and they were willing to do the job. My oldest brother, Mick, designed the addition with a ramp for the new back entrance. If you’re blessed to have a father who is an excavating contractor, “you can’t add a room without a basement.”

Top: Left - Don breaking ground. Right - Steve, Mick, Dad preparing for footings. Middle: Left- Dad. Right - Steve and Mick pouring the footings. Bottom: Left - Steve and Dad. Right - Mick, Steve and Dad pouring the cement floor.

Top:        Left – Don breaking ground.          Right – Steve, Mick, Dad preparing for footings.
Middle:  Left – Dad trying to escape.            Right – Steve and Mick pouring footings.
Bottom: Left – Steve and Dad.                        Right – Mick, Steve and Dad laying cement floor.

Because they were building this addition on their own time after work, it was not completed in December. Despite the unfinished construction we wanted Mark home for Christmas. Mark’s care was physically difficult until the new bedroom and bathroom were finished, but well-worth all the effort to have him finally home. Our regular bedroom wasn’t big enough for all the equipment now needed for Mark. Our queen-sized bed had to be replaced with a single-sized hospital bed. At night, after I transferred him into bed, I would raise it as high as it could go and place my air mattress on the floor in the only space available — which meant my legs were tucked under the bed. Worried that Mark might forget I was there and use the controls to lower it, I would unplug the bed every night.

This sleeping arrangement made for nightly jokes. I often said as I unplugged the bed, “You are now out of control.” He teasingly replied, “But, I’ve got the top.”

Our living quarters were cramped and hard with the construction going on, but it was so worthwhile. My heart is filled with gratitude for my dad and brothers who made our home a place where Mark could live. Our trials were lightened by their skills and hard work. They opened up possibilities for our new circumstances.

Top: Left Don knocking out the brick wall into the new addition Bottom: Left - Chris, Katie, Dad and Mick nailing the top floor down. Right - Chris and Katie painting our the new room.

Top: Left and Right – Don knocking out the brick wall into the new addition.
Bottom: Left – Chris, Katie, Dad and Mick nailing the top floor down.                                       Bottom: Right – Chris and Katie painting our the new room.

Chris Chipping, a friend and former employer of Mark’s, did the electrical wiring for our new addition while another friend, Walt Fisher, did the plumbing. It was a crazy busy home with construction going on for five months until the addition was completed. But, after eight months of living in a hospital — it truly was the merriest of Christmas’s to have Mark finally home.

In 1991 our world was turned upside down, but I learned “a magical adventure awaits those who venture forth.” The magic comes from the love of God, family and friends with a lot of hard work sprinkled in.

Finished room in March. Christopher, Mark and Katie.

Finished room in March 1992. Christopher, Mark and Katie. Mark in our new queen-size adjustable bed.

A Happy Life

Happy LifeA few years ago I stopped by my Grandma and Grandpa Rose’s grave at Christmas time to leave a flower. Before I approached their grave, I noticed the sweetest little Christmas tree I have ever seen, decorated with homemade ornaments. I stopped to admire it and realized it sat at the head of my cousin’s grave. Karen Rose was born December 20, 1952 and died three days later. She was buried on Christmas Eve.

I knew that my Aunt and Uncle had a tradition of taking their other children on or around her birthdate to the grave to decorate a tree, but this was the first time I had actually seen it. I was so touched that after all these years my aunt and uncle now in their late eighties, still carried on this tradition with their family.

I realized the death of any child would be heartbreaking, and loosing a baby at Christmas time must add to the distress. With tears in my eyes, I understood for the first time our Rose family Christmas party was held on the day she past away. How hard that must of been for them—but they never seemed sad.

For sixty-one years, they’ve celebrated her birth with a Christmas tree and focused on their knowledge that they would someday reunite with Karen. What a wonderful gift our Heavenly Father has given us through Jesus Christ—who made it possible for us to be reunited with family, not just at Christmas time, but throughout all eternity.

Thank you Uncle Wayne and Aunt Joy for your example of making a happy life despite heartache and disappointment.

Traditions Make a Family Close

1972 Rose Family Christmas Party. Grandpa's last with us. Top right corner.

1972 Rose Family Christmas Party.
Grandpa’s last with us – top right corner. I’m on the third row in the purple shirt. My oldest brother Mick and cousin Larry are missing. They were on LDS missions.

When I reflect on my childhood, it is the holiday traditions—not the gifts—which are memorable. At Christmas time we met at Grandma and Grandpa Rose’s house for a family party on Christmas Eve. During the gathering time we ate Grandma’s fudge and banana slush. When all arrived, the party began with one of my grandparent’s children and their family taking a turn presenting the Christmas story. Afterwards, all the children took a turn sharing a talent—singing, playing an instrument, reading a poem or telling a story or joke. All eighteen grandchildren were expected to participate. Some paired up and did things together. Then we sang Christmas carols and Santa and Mrs. Clause came to pass out their gifts. Grandma and Grandpa went to a lot of work to make it such an enjoyable evening.

1972 Grandma

1972 Grandma Rose passing out gifts

As the Rose family grew we switched the party to December 23rd to accommodate a larger family’s schedule.

The best gift they gave us was a close family and wonderful memories with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.

2013 Mom & Dad

2013 My parents with Santa, carrying on the tradition. Merry Christmas!

Now that my grandparents are gone — my parents, both in their eighties, carry on this same tradition with their children, grand- and great-grandchildren now totaling seventy-three people. Too large for a family picture. They go to the same work as my grandparents did to keep our family close and build wonderful memories for the new generation.

The Best Christmas Gift

December 25, 1985 Christopher 3 days old

December 25, 1982
Christopher 3 days old

My experience has been the best gifts are those you wish a long time for. We had hoped to become parents for three years before our first born, and only son, joined our family December 22,1982.

I remember the doctor coming into the delivery room whistling Christmas carols. He teased me that my timing was terrible — I had interrupted his family’s Christmas party.

“I’ve waited a long time for this baby! Now is the perfect time,” I said.  “I can’t think of a better Christmas gift.”

I related to the Christmas Story that year more than before. How did Mary ride that donkey being great with child? I literally felt her discomfort.

It was hard enough to deliver a baby in a sterile hospital with Mark, a doctor and nurses there to comfort and assist me. How dreadful the situation must have been for Mary, to deliver a baby in a stable with only Joseph there. Angels must have been sent to assist and comfort, but still, what a grim place to deliver a baby. The smell and the dirt along with the noises from the animals could only intensify the stress and worry of the delivery.

I can’t think of a better way to feel the true joy of Christmas other than bringing a baby of our own into the world. What’s more precious than the gift of a child? We learn so much from them and they are a gift that keeps on giving. Usually, they give joy and happiness, and when they don’t—we are growing and learning how to be better parents and how to love unconditionally—the way Christ loves us.

For several months we talked about the perfect name for our child who was going to be a Christmas baby. Christopher, meaning “Christ-like” or “steadfast for Christ”, was our perfect choice.

Since 1982, Christmas has been double the pleasure.

Mark & Chris 1982  1989 Building Dino

1991 Pinewood Derby  1st place trophyChildhood Highlights

1994 Comic Strip

1991, Pinewood Derby car wins 1st place.

1992, Comic is published in newspaper.

We appreciate Christopher’s artistic, musical, & handyman gifts.

2013 Christopher playing at Sun & Moon

2013 Christopher playing at Sun & Moon

2013 Christopher playing at the Farmer's Market

Happy Birthday to a wonderful son!