Month: August 2017

To Give Without Constraint

I think the ability to give without constraint or expectation is one of the greatest qualities we can attain in life. 

And that explains both of my parents. My mom and dad are two of the hardest working people and the best examples I could ever ask for. Together they put themselves through vet school and built a successful veterinary practice in Layton. In addition to the financial support it provided our family, it was a place that served so many in our community and their loved animals.

My dad wasn’t very happy when I threw him a big retirement party and made this plaque for the clinic (he’s more of a “fade off into the sunset” kind of guy) but I’m glad we did.

Two months after his second liver transplant in 2015 we were in downtown Kaysville taking family pictures (celebrating him being HOME and looking great!) and I thought it was odd when my dad’s vet partner Alan came to sign some papers on the hood of his truck. We came back to their house to a beautiful lunch and he and my mom told us the news that he’d just signed on the sale of his clinic. It was such a blessing he was able to do that and focus on recovering and savoring time with his family. 

October 30, 2015

As part of the sale, they told us, they’d set aside a chunk of money for each child. With the cutest smile on his face he told us “I want to give you this money so I can watch you enjoy it!” Nothing they have ever given has come with constraints or expectations attached. They viewed gifts as what they truly are, ways to express their love. 

That extra money was just the boost Luke and I needed to finish our basement after saving for years. We talked to our kids about how grateful we are and how we wanted to remember Papa and his work and sacrifice together. 

Together we built the “Papa Cal Library” under our basement stairs. A place we can always have, no matter where we go, to remember Papa’s example of always learning, always giving, and always being thankful. 

Two great years we were given since that transplant. Even though his health has deteriorated and the incurable side affects are taking over his body, we are thankful. 

The Papa Cal Library est. 2016

Madam Librarian Jetta got right to the checkout system.

I love both signs

On August 11, he was having a particularly good day. We made sure he came down again in our beautiful basement he’s loved enjoying with us. We watched Dallin’s play Little Mermaid, he stayed alert through the whole thing enjoying seeing his son so happy preforming on the big screen. Then we showed him the hand carved sign by Uniquely Jane we finally had made and installed in his library. We read stories to him, talked to our kids about how Papa always had a book in his pocket and his library checkout maxed. That brilliant mind may not be on this earth for long but I know that knowledge will go on to serve us on this earth and I believe in the next. 

No matter where we go this sign and stacks of books will always come with us to remind us all that this man provided. 


But for now, I’m mad.

Looking through posts from just a year ago and finding candid, typically beautiful moments with my dad scattered throughout has me grieving.

From one storyteller to another. #ourpapacal #rossluke #mybarber2016

From one storyteller to another. #ourpapacal #rossluke #mybarber2016

2016-07-27 18.11.31 1303964403812923673_mybarber2016

The Calvin Richards Scholars Club. Today’s field trip taught this long line of kids about Davis County history, outdoor safety, avoiding rattlesnakes (including a real live demonstration! ??????), how to identify plants and insects, and mostly how to keep going when you really want go quit. #ourpapacal #themanwhoneverquits #mybarber2016

2016-03-04 23.20.07 1199057440370294766_mybarber2016

My favorite picture I’ve been sent from the trip. It takes a lot to wear those girls out (especially the dramatic fake sleeper on the ground) but it doesn’t take much for my dad to break out a good book anytime. #laurelandava #spentlittleminnie #mybarber2016

Facing his liver failure head on is hard. Watching his body degress and his brilliant mind being taken from him is torturous. We knew it would be. We’re prepared, you could say. We’re tough, you know. We’re faithful, you better believe. But why?

I’ve written and shared how thankful we are for his life. For his organ donations allowing him 11 extra, priceless years. We are so grateful we got to celebrate his 60th birthday with him recently. I have shared about the many blessings we’ve received and the unity and love our family has gained from this trial. And that is all still true. But it does not make it easy.

A thought shared by many with the best of intentions about the heartbreak of a life ending prematurely is the notion that “They’re called to a higher purpose on the other side.” “Heavenly Father is sure filling callings with the very best right now.” I’m thankful this brings comfort to some. We all deal with trials and grief and pain differently.

To me, I see pain and sickness and death as a consequence of mortality. It’s what we signed up for. One thing you can count on in life is that it will be unfair and at times cruel. I do believe in a beautiful afterlife. I have a strong testimony of eternal families. I believe that my ancestors, my friends that have passed on, and my dad will all be doing important work in heaven. I believe they are still very involved in blessing our lives. I have some very personal experiences and faith in the resolution that will come after our time on this earth. And maybe when my heart softens past this stage I can open up about them.

But not right now.

I can’t think of a higher calling than being with your family on this earth. I see young parents taken early and wouldn’t dare devalue their work here by assuming there’s something better they need to get on to. Or when children die and babies are not allowed to join their family that desperately wants them. It’s heartbreaking and feels wrong. And I think my dad getting to stay with us longer and in good health to share his wisdom and knowledge, his genuine love, to teach and serve and read stories to his grandchildren yet to come would be a pretty important calling! The list of injustices goes on.

And somehow, in light of all that, the explanation I do resonate with is that we don’t get to choose. No one is exempt from the trials of this life. Ultimately and logically we all face the same destiny. It sucks and somehow the unfairness is comforting.

And maybe someday, years or eons from now, I’ll look back and realize the timing and the rightness in these things we don’t understand.

But for now, I’m mad.