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Ten Things of Thankful: Celebration of Life Edition

Yesterday I attended my uncle's celebration of life service.  My cousins and I have decided that we need to plan a get-together again soon where the requirement is that everyone show up alive. (I think that is known as a family reunion?!) 

Though a death prompted this weekend's gathering, it was so nice to see my aunt and cousins--relatives I hadn't seen since my grandmother's service several years ago.  

1. I'm thankful for the feeling of home.  Returning to the greenery of Oregon always does my soul good, and this time I also got to go over the mountain pass to Central Oregon.  

2. I'm thankful for the fond memories I have of traveling that route as a child, as "over the river and through the wood, to grandmother's house we go."  

Photo: Mt. Washington rises above the evergreens
Photo:  Black Butte
Photo:  The Three Sisters (Faith, Hope, and Charity)
Photo:  Snowy Mt. Jefferson peaks up behind Smith Rocks

Photo:  Sunset behind a pine tree and mountain

3.  I'm thankful for my uncle Bud.  I'll let my dad introduce you to him.  Dad titled this tribute, "My Big Little Brother."
Bud was one of the most famous people in out town of Sisters, Oregon.  Bud knew everyone and everyone knew and loved Bud.  A round boy, covered with freckles, topped with orange hair, and possessing an infectious grin accented with a joyful laugh.  
As an older brother, it was expected that I would look after Bud, keep his out of trouble, teach him the ropes, etc. None of this was necessary because the town adopted Bed as their own.  I was quickly relegated to the obscure role of Buddy's big brother.
I don't remember exactly when my little brother became my big brother physically, nor do I remember the moment I realized I was Dad's second smartest kid.  Bud just floated through life with little noticeable effort, collecting friends, helping people, seemingly just enjoying himself, others, and life.
Bud affected an aw-shucks, red-necked demeanor to hide his intelligent mind and loving nature.  His love of reading, especially the works of Michener, was a source of enjoyment.  He liked to watch drag racing, talk about cars, politics, the old days of Sisters, and philosophy.
He and his bride, Ellen, spent considerable time traveling in the Southwestern states and learning the Native American history and geology of the region.
Bud left this world today and has left a hole in the lives of his friends and family, each of us wishing we would have spent more time basking in the warmth that was my brother. 

Photo:  Uncle Bud, Grandma, and Dad circa 1984

4.  I'm thankful for my cousins.  Bud's oldest daughters and I played together when we were little girls, and I always enjoy times when we can reconnect.  I enjoy spending time with my other cousins, too.

Photo:  One of my cousins looks on in awe at my other cousin and me (a re-creation of an old photo).  

 5.  I'm thankful for games, food, and good times.  After the memorial service, we enjoyed lunch and a rousing game of Taboo. 

6.  I'm thankful for serendipitous stops when traveling.  Mom loves alpacas, and we just happened upon an alpaca farm that welcomes visitors.  Dad captured a great photo of Mom!

Photo:  Mom smiles while an alpaca eats food out of Mom's hand.  (It looks like the alpaca is giving Mom a kiss!)
7.  I'm thankful for the chance we'll have to visit my 99-year-old grandma this afternoon.  

8.  I'm thankful that today happened to be stake conference in my mom's stake, and that President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles happened to be speaking.  Before he started speaking, he had all of the little children in the congregation stand up and sing the song, "I am a Child of God." Though this was an impromptu request, the children sounded like they had been rehearsing for weeks.  

9.  I'm thankful for good counsel.  The president of the Portland Temple also spoke today.  He talked about how he has been fighting moss in his lawn for a long time.  He tried digging it out; he tried chemicals.  Nothing got rid of the moss.  Finally, he asked a master gardener what he could do.  The master gardener replied that he was approaching the problem all wrong.  What he should do is feed and strengthen the grass, and the grass will take care of the moss.  The speaker said, "Sometimes the focus on the negative aspects of our lives strengthens them."  We should seek to strengthen our spiritual "grass" and our negative "moss" will decrease.

10.  I'm thankful, as always, for John.  He volunteers to stop the car whenever I see a photo I want to take.  To adapt the words of a resident of my grandma's care facility:  John is my husband, and I love him very much.  

Photo:  John and I with youngest daughter

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How has your week gone?  Have you seen any cousins lately?

Ten Things of Thankful

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  1. Hey Kristi. Your Dad made a beautiful eulogy for Uncle Bud and I'm sorry for your loss. I've never been to Oregon but the landscape is fantastic. I'm sure your heart swelled when you got to go back. My cousins and I have tried for years coordinate a date for a get-together and sadly, we just can't seem to get everyone together. I, too, love that photo of your Mom. There's joy and laughter in her face.

  2. Oh, and the sermon lesson about the moss is a good one!

  3. Llama!! that's a llama, right? (hey zoe! lookit the llama)
    pretty stupendous photos of the mountains... so not like anything in southern New England!

  4. That really is a great photo of your mom.

    I'm sorry for the loss of your uncle and I hope the next time you see your extended family it's a happy occasion - exactly like a reunion.

  5. I am sorry to hear about the loss of your Uncle Bud. Sounds like he will be sorely missed.
    It is a shame that so often, we only gather family together when someone has passed away. We haven't seen Bryan's cousins since his grandpa's funeral almost 5 years ago. Ridiculous. When the grandparents were alive, we saw them at least every Christmas, usually more often than that. But! Earlier today I sent a message to those cousins and told them I would be in Ohio for a few extra days after 4th of July. One reason was to go around visiting people we never see. So it will be rectified.
    For my grandma's 90th birthday party, she wanted a party with her siblings and cousins. No one under the age of 77 was allowed to attend, and she told her siblings (some she hadn't seen in many, many years) that if they didn't make it to the party, they'd better not think about coming to her funeral. They all came. :)
    The moss lesson is brilliant. So simple but so true.
    Great photos of family and scenery!

  6. Great photo of your mom! And what a beautiful tribute to your uncle Bud. so sorry for you family's loss. It sounds like he was well loved.

  7. Aw, family and memories. I'm very sorry for your loss and what a lovely tribute from a brother. Love the photo of the mountain and the evergreen.
    Thanks for sharing and, as always, for offering descriptions so I can follow along.
    I am seeing my cousin this week, as a matter of fact, but only because she does my hair at her salon. All the cousins don't get together anymore, not since my grandparents both passed away. Sad really. I miss the old times often, but you can't go backwards.
    Sounds like you had quite the family time and hope your week looks bright.

  8. I'm so sorry for the loss of your Uncle Bud. It sounds like he was an amazing guy and one who everybody in the family got comfort and laughter from. I LOVE the photo of your mom with the alpaca and that you're all resolved to get together while everybody is alive. It's so true, that we too often get together once there's a hole in the family.

  9. PS I liked the moss idea and was totally expecting a different advice of letting the moss win... not sure why.

  10. I'm so sorry for your family's loss of - what sounds like - a wonderful man.
    I've noticed the same thing going on in our family. More often we see eachother at funarals, in stead of weddings or parties. Therefore, Henk and I are planning a party for the whole family, so we can make nice memories together.
    When we'll visit Oregon - one day, one day - we will certainly go to Sisters (there's a big Quiltshow every year I really want to see for myself) and will remember your Uncle Bud. And see that glorious landscape for myself too... Love the pictures, as always.

  11. Celebration of Life is the perfect phrase for a memorial service. My sympathy and prayers for all of Bud's family - filling the void his death created will take time.

    I, too, wish families would gather more frequently for reunions and reconnect. I rarely see my cousins, but then we were never very close.

  12. Sorry to be so late - but glad I finally made it. Really love number nine!


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