Sunday, December 29, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Christmas has been wonderful, from the Messiah party to the cousins’ party to Christmas Eve, to visiting some of you on Christmas day, to the sledding party at the cabin and the after-party here, and even Nora’s adventure of the flat tire on her way home.  And the fun isn’t over yet, because there’s going to be a New Year’s Eve party here at our house Tuesday night.  All of you are invited, along with your kids.  Sharon and Nora are planning it, so contact them for details!  I still have a block of ariel fireworks left over from the fourth of July, so we can set them off!  If I bug out early and go to bed, at least I’ll be having fun with all of you in spirit!
         Last night Dad and I went to a fantastic party with my brothers and sisters at Bonnie’s house.  Everybody was there except for Ben and Monica, and it was lots of fun talking to them all, and catching up on some of the news.   Every year that goes by, we appreciate each other more.  It’s miraculous that we’re all still alive, for now, and I wish that could go on forever, but as Katie pointed out in a text, we came into our family one by one, and we’ll start leaving one by one. I’m so glad for the Gospel, and to know we’ll be with our families forever, Dad and I, and our siblings, and all you kids.  I appreciate that knowledge more and more all the time now.
         Dad and I spent yesterday morning working at the cabin, and after two hours, you couldn’t see that we’d done anything.  It will take a long time to get it completely functional again, but I’m planning to spend at least one morning a week there now, and Dad will put in plenty of time, too.  Hopefully it will once again be the great party place it used to be!
         Since 2020 is an even year, we’ll be having the big Allen family reunion this summer.  Bonnie has chosen August 8 as the tentative date, and we’re planning on the same park again. It’s impossible to find a date that will work for everybody (Barbara says we’re up to 281 people now) but hopefully as many of you as possible will be able to come.  And of course our own Ackerson family reunion will be the weekend before that, from Thursday, July 30, to Sunday, August 2.  Tom is in charge this year, and we’ll be at the Chalet.  There’s no stopping the fun!
         Love to all, Mom

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Sharon’s family arrived in Centerville right on schedule yesterday, in time for the ice skating, even.  Their drive was flawless!  Of course lots of us were praying for them, but their good planning played a part, too.  And we really enjoyed the wonderful party at Nora’s.  I was sorry to drag Dad away early, but I was really tired.  We sure had fun talking to everybody, though.
         Of course you’ve all heard the sorry news of Tina’s departure to Kitty Heaven yesterday.  Her decline started about three months ago when she seemed to be gagging a lot, and her breathing seemed raspy.  After two visits to Arcadia clinic, we realized she probably had something incurable, and maybe we’d just let nature take its course.  So we waited, day after day, week after week, while she got thinner and thinner, until she was just a bag of bones, and she struggled more and more to breathe.  Finally, yesterday morning, she gave me a look that said she’d finally had enough.  I understood.  We called Arcadia clinic, and took her in.   Dr. Pickett looked her over carefully, and said she had enlarged lymph nodes and fluid in her chest.  It could be some kind of lymphoma, or another cancer, or some other disease, of which he named several.  None of them could be treated.  We told him we had prepared ourselves for the worst, and we were willing to say goodbye to her.  But Dr. Pickett didn’t want to say goodbye!  He stroked her head for a while, and then he got papers ready for Dad to sign. We had our choice of a private cremation, where we got her ashes back in an urn with her name on it, or she could have a group cremation with other pets in an apple orchard in Spanish Fork.  Of course we chose the apple orchard for her.  Her spirit would be gone, anyway. 
         The actual process of sending her off was very sweet, and Dad was glad he stayed in the room to watch.  She got a shot to relax her, and then, a few minutes later, the final shot.  I thought I could feel her spirit leave.  It was weird that we got her on a summer solstice, June 21 of 2016, (Sharon’s birthday, too,) and she left us on a winter solstice.  You could hardly plan that!
         Scout and Sonia are behaving like cats just before Christmas.  Santa sure wouldn’t visit them if he had a chance!  They’ve been racing and fighting and trying to destroy the Christmas tree, until I sprayed it with febreze (blood orange and spritz aroma) which Sonia hates. Since then Sonia has been rocketing back and forth through the living room and kitchen.  (She told me her favorite Christmas song is “Rocket Around the Christmas Tree.”)
         Christmas is upon us!  Dad and I will be driving around visiting some of you on Christmas Day, if I feel up to it, (still recovering from that one chemo infusion), and on Friday we’ll have our sledding party in Pocatello.  Lunch will be at noon, and we’ll be having a potato bar, so besides bringing your leftover Christmas goodies, you might also bring one potato topping.  We’ll go sledding right after lunch.  There’s talk of a trip to Lava, either early that morning, or later in the day, so if you’re interested, check with Vanessa.
         So much fun!  So much family!  I love you all!  Mom

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Sorry I didn’t write a letter last week.  I couldn’t even sit, let alone type.  I was flattened so low I couldn’t even read, or watch movies, or barely talk to Dad.  I just existed, for a couple of days, before I started to improve.  So thanks for all your prayers.  I can barely imagine how bad it would have been without them!  The only idea that kept me going was my decision to never have any more chemo, ever.  I’m sure there are people who can handle it better than I did, but I feel like it’s going to take me weeks to recover back to where I was.  I’m not even afraid of my cancer, because my life is in the Lord’s hands, and when my time comes, He’ll take me mercifully–I’m sure of that.
         We’re trying to get into Christmas here. Nora helped us set up our tree, but then Sonia walked around it, looking to see if there was anything dangling from any of the branches. She remembers last year!  They were still kittens, and they had fun climbing up the middle, bending down the branches, and knocking off ornaments.  Maybe we’ll have to be content with just lights for this year, like a family with toddlers.  I’ve tried putting a few presents under the tree, but Sonia comes running, lands on one, and skids across the floor until it stops.  So most of the presents are flat, with bite marks. Scout’s behavior is a little better, since he’s still preoccupied with the mice and voules outside. I don’t think he’s catching any, but he patrols. No matter how deep the snow, he goes out looking for them. 
         Now Tina–well, I’m sorry to say her health is still on the decline.  She’s terribly skinny, (even though we feed her Urgent Care cat food at $3.00 a can) and she gags all the time.  Dad and I think she has some kind of growth in her throat, maybe a cancer.  It isn’t anything the vet can find and cure easily, and we’ve already paid for two office visits.  Dad suggested taking her in and having her put to sleep, but it was all talk.  Tina said she wants to do it her own way, on her own timetable. 
         We went to the court of honor for John’s 13 scouts on Wednesday night, and it was a great evening!  There was a live eagle!  (Awful, evil birds!)  The program only lasted an hour, and the refreshments were good.  What could be better?  I still remember vividly when John earned his own eagle, and it wasn’t very long ago.  Aaron was one of the 13, and Jacob took the other route, the “almost eagles.” 
         Christmas plans: (1) Tonight is the second performance of the Messiah at Tom’s Church at 7 pm.  If you look in the middle of the back row, you’ll see three nice-looking blonde singers: Me, Tom, and Bentley.  There’s a pre-party at Tom’s at 5 pm.  If you want to bring something, there’s still time.  Contact Kim.
         (2) Next Thursday, Sharon’s family will set out crossing the plains, hopefully to be here on time Saturday for the cousins’ party.  Ice skating is at 1:00 at the same rink, and we’ll eat at 5.  Contact Nora for a food assignment.
         (3) Christmas Day: Sharon’s family will be in Upalco at the Thackers.  Dad and I will visit some of you, if I feel OK.
         (4) Sledding in Pocatello!  More later!
         Life is still good!  Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Dear Kids,
         We had a fantastic Thanksgiving here, and I hope you all did, too.  And, of course, Christmas is upon us.  Dad and I are giving all of you Christmas money, like we’ve done for the last couple of years.  Either you’ll get it in the mail, or you have it already, or I’ll hand it to you today.  Let the fun begin!  Here are the Christmas events coming up, at least the ones I know about now:
         1.  This isn’t really a Christmas event, but the court of honor for John’s 13 eagle scouts (including Aaron) will be Wednesday, December 11, at 7 pm at the Cobblestone Ward, 960 East 1661 South, in Heber.  Dad and I are going to try to make it. John has worked really hard to help these boys finish before the deadline–probably harder than he worked himself to get his own Eagle.  Go, John!
         2.  The Messiah sing-in will be at Tom’s church on Saturday and Sunday nights, December 14 and 15, at 7 pm.  Nora’s family is coming Sunday night, and we’ll be having a before-party at Tom’s.  Nora and Kim are going to plan the food, so if you’re coming and you want to bring something, call one of them.  I’m not sure about the time, yet. Tom and Bentley and I are in the choir, and we’ll need to be at the church an hour early, so I’m thinking 5 pm or so for the party/dinner. 
         3. The cousins’ gift exchange will be at Nora’s house on Saturday the 21st.  Skating is from 1-3 at the same rink as usual, and we’ll have a pasta bar for dinner at 5 pm.  Call Nora for a food assignment!  With good luck, Sharon and Seth’s family will just be pulling in.  (Barring any blizzards in Nebraska or Wyoming.)
         4.  For Christmas Day, Dad and I don’t have any specific plans; we’ll probably drive around and visit some of you.5.  The after-Christmas sledding party will be at Vanessa’s again this year, on the 27th. We’ve outgrown the cabin sledding hill, and besides, it’s fun to hop in the car and go somewhere just after Christmas. More later.
         Thank you all for your prayers and concern about my cancer.  I’m starting chemo on Tuesday, so I had a port put into my chest last week.  (If you google iv portal, there’s a diagram). It sits just under the skin, and they use it instead of an IV to pump stuff into you.  And of course I’m going to have plenty of stuff pumped into me.  I’ll be having four treatments, two weeks apart, each of them lasting 48 hours.  To start each treatment, I’ll go to the cancer center and have a pump hooked up to my port.  Then, 2 days later, I’ll go back and have it taken out.  That’s all I know now.  I sure appreciate all your prayers, and I’m definitely going to need them!
         Lots of love, Mom