Tag Archives: death

Well Done, Faithful Servant…

This past week I attended a graveside memorial for a close family friend, LaVon Anthony. My folks met her in the 80s when I was but just a minion of a person. She lived in the trailer court a hop, skip, and a jump from my childhood home on the west side of Logan. As a young girl I remember her wit and straight talk. She never had kids and was married for only a few short months years before, so my sister and I kind of adopted her as a “fill-in” grandma. I have many fond memories of having dinners with her. We loved when she’d come over and we’d both shovel in the food in hopes that she’d stay around to play a game of “Hand and Foot” with us. She’d never let us win… that wasn’t LaVon… she was competitive no matter how many digits were in your age… but that’s why we loved her.

In the 90s after she’d returned from serving her 2nd church mission, she even lived with us for a while until she was able to secure an apartment behind the tabernacle in Logan… and then when they demolished those apartments years later to build a parking lot, she moved into Williamsburg Retirement Home where she lived out the rest of her days.

I could relate to her more as I aged. A single woman without kids trying to make it in a lonely world full of families. She’d often lament that no one would bother to attend her funeral so was adament she wouldn’t have one. She worried about money running out before she passed and was often wondering where that would leave her with no kids to take care of her.

My mom got the call 2 weeks ago Sunday that she was found in her apartment in Williamsburg slumped over the bathtub, dressed for the day, her bag packed waiting for a brother-in-law to pick her up to watch general conference. She’d had a stroke and was transferred from Logan Hospital to an Ogden Hospital and once stabilized transferred back to a skilled nursing facility in Logan to live out the remainder of her days. Mom and I went to visit her the evening she arrived at the facility, flowers in hand, not knowing what to expect. She was asleep when we arrived, so we gently woke her. Her eyes remained closed for our visit and I’m not sure if she knew who we were… her left side was paralyzed and the one word answers she was able to give seemed slurred and sometimes incoherent. It was not the LaVon I always joked around with, the LaVon who would come back with the wittiest reply even at 93 years old.

Mom turned to look at me and mouthed “she’s gone,” the person we knew and loved had moved on… her body was just here until it could pass into the next stage.

Through big fat tears rolling down my cheeks, I felt prompted to wish her safe travels and the happiest of reunions with her dear parents and siblings who had passed before her. I let her know I loved her and she was able to reply with a “love you.” We said our goodbyes… LaVon passed away the next night. I went to her graveside memorial on Wednesday, a 2-1/2-hour drive each way for a 30-minute service, I went because I told her I would be there, and I hope when it’s my time, childless and spouseless, someone does the same… because they care.

Safe travels, thou good and faithful servant. I hope they play a mean game of Hand and Foot in heaven too…

LaVon with Corbin and Madre at her 92nd birthday dinner…

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FYI Lindsay… BoBo said he wants to go live with this guy who has a goose coming out of his book!


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How Do You Want To Live Your Life?

I had the honor of attending a funeral this past Friday of a man who passed way too young. He was only 36, a husband, a father of 2 beautiful young girls, a son, a brother, a friend. So many titles, and so many people left behind to deal with the loss of someone who seemed to bring light and hope to whomever he knew. I never had the chance to meet him in life, but he was my Aunt Blythe’s (or Katie as we call her) son, and so through her I felt like I knew him… or at least I knew of the selfless way he chose to live out the rest of his life when learning just over a year ago that he had terminal cancer. The dreaded C word that shatters lives and extinguishes the joy of all it passes by. Yet, Paul… he who was the direct recipient of such suffering, chose differently. Instead he went to work. He spent time with his family. He made efforts to ensure that his young daughters would have things to remember him by when he was gone. He recorded reading books to them, wrote to them, and spent as much time letting them know how much they were loved, even in spite of feeling the effects of the ravaging scourge he was dealing with… and from what I’ve learned from my aunt and the sweet talks given about him, he did it all with a spirit of joy. He didn’t waste his time sitting home feeling sorry for himself, which would definitely be my first inclination.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life this past week and the idea that we may not have a tomorrow to procrastinate the 50 things we have always been meaning to do.  Life is fleeting and I can’t be sure that there will be a tomorrow for me to get up the motivation to do this or that.  There may not be a tomorrow to tell my family or friends how much they mean to me… that I do love and appreciate them (words that have never come easy to me).  The time to do that is now and every day.  Maybe it’s because I haven’t been blessed to be a mother, but I tend to get caught up in myself day in and day out.  It’s a very selfish life I lead.  I don’t spend near enough time tending to the needs of those around me.

Aunt Katie, thank you for raising a son who was such an example to thousands, and thank you for sharing him with us this past year when it would have been justified to gather the family around and keep him to yourselves.  He’s certainly touched this tough old broad.  He’s an example that those of us still blessed to be on this Earth needed to learn from.  God bless you, Paul… and thank you.

You can learn more about Paul and his beautiful family, here, here (this link includes a beautiful video), and here… and to donate to his medical fund, here.


BoBo is pretty sure he’s a big boy now… no offense to the other 6-month-old babies or anything.

He’s also pretty dang cool… kind of like MacGyver, but way cooler.

Here’s Auntie Whitty Woo being really annoying… oh laws, I love the sound of my loud baby voice… NOT!

And no, mom… I wasn’t listening…



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The Cream Of the Crop…

It’s that magical time of year where the fairies who hate sleep rob us of an hour.  Once I get over the gravity of this situation, I rejoice in the longer evening light.  Sorry mothers trying to get your kids to bed early… I will try to rejoice in private.

I would be remiss if I didn’t pay tribute to the extended family members who have made their final heavenly journey over the last few weeks.  First, an uncle, Scott Nickell a week or two back.  Although, I didn’t spend near enough time getting to know him on this Earth, I do remember what a teddy bear of a man he was and how he always made me feel welcome and at home when I was in his presence.  That is not an easy thing to do when you have a socially-awkward chic with a stick up her rumpus… but he was so good at that.  His family and friends have been temporarily separated from a great man.  My thoughts and prayers continue to be with them that they are able to find peace and comfort during this difficult time of waiting to see him once again… but the next time will be on the other side of the veil and with a lot tastier chocolate!

The second loss was just this morning, a sweet cousin, Brenda Hillman Sewell.  A strong, fighter of a woman who battled and beat cancer three times before her big heart gave out.  There is one shared story I have always remembered.  When I was a kid, couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6, during my rebellious years of lying to police officers about stranger danger and getting into brawls with 50-pound turkeys, a 20-something Brenda and her brother Kevin were charged with watching my sister and I for a day.  I don’t remember the circumstances as to why they had to watch us, but I do remember the day.  They went out of their way to plan fun activities, shuttling us around in an oversized Crown Victoria from the 70s (or at least one that looked as big as that boat was in the 70s).  One of our stops was to McDonald’s drive-through for an ice cream cone.  My sister and I were giddy like the wind at the prospect of getting an ice cream cone at the Mickey-Ds.  We didn’t get out much on account of the fact I was grounded so often… you know… for lying to police officers and the like.  Ice cream cone in hand, that boat of a car pulled out onto the busy Main Street and we jetted on down the road to our next fun-cation.

On her side of the car, Lindsay had her window rolled down and was busy sticking her hand out the window pretending she could fly.  This was in the 80s long before there were booster seats and required seatbelt usage… you know… back in the days where no one cared if you slammed your head into the dashboard during an abrupt stop.  Concussions for everyone!  I was jealous of Lindsay’s rolled-down-window, so went about trying to roll down my side.  Turns out, the window roller on my side was either nonexistent or it was existent and I was too stupid to tell the difference between the window roller downer and the car door opener, so I chose the car door opener and swung my door wide open.  I then, of course, freaked out… did not attempt to close the door, but instead curled up into a ball on the floor while Kevin and Brenda were freaking out in the front seat trying to figure a way to pull over on a busy street to close the door so that they didn’t kill me on their watch.  Brenda was understandably shaken and I got a talking to… but then I remember her taking me in her arms as tears streamed down my cheeks and making me feel safe.  This was before she was a mother… and I knew then she’d make a great one.

Big hugs and prayers and thoughts and love to you, Hillman and Sewell families and all of the many friends and relations that were touched just by knowing Brenda.  God only takes the best ones way too soon.  I can imagine the reunion she was able to have with her sweet mother was a glorious day for the both of them.


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