Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dear Santa...

Nathan is going through that in-between stage of not knowing if Santa is real or not. About a month ago he told me he thought it was the parents doing all the work. I didn't say too much, in case he was testing me. Today he panicked that we hadn't had time to go and visit Santa. I told him that he could always write a letter and mail it to the North Pole. So, he got right to work on his letter, put it in an envelope, addressed it to Santa Claus in the North Pole, put a stamp on it and mailed it off. I hope Santa & his reindeer know how to get to Italy!

(You may have to click on the picture to see it better.)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Saying goodbye...

Debbie's funeral was last Friday in Moab. It was bitter cold last week, the town experienced the most snowfall in one day since 1973... the year I was born. We thought that after 51 years of teasing Debbie, she had finally paid us back.

It was hard saying goodbye, but even harder was seeing the house without her in it. She had always been there, my whole life, just sitting in her chair. Whenever we would come and visit, she would wait by the window for hours. Mom would actually try hard to hide the fact that we were coming into town, because she would get so excited and it was hard to wait that long. We would always honk the horn really loud when we drove up and then a ritual, as we came into the house, of spanking kids and making lots of mischief. It was sad to go home for her funeral because the house just wasn't the same without her in it.

The morning after we arrived home, we went with Paul & Mary to the mortuary. Paul made Debbie's casket and Mary made the lining inside. It was so beautiful, they did the most amazing job. What a sweet service to do for Debbie.

Elaine and I brought a couple of our favorite pictures of Debbie and we displayed them with the flowers and programs outside the chapel.

The service was beautiful. Harrison & Nathan cried the entire time, they had a really hard time with it. They were pallbearers and Harrison said it was the hardest thing he'd ever done in his life.

Karen was not able to come home from Italy, but she wrote these sweet words to read at the funeral:

Debra Kay Cozzens, born March 13, 1958, passed peacefully from her home on earth on December 7, 2009.

When Debbie was born, her father rejoiced – she was the first girl born in a long line of Cozzens boys! It didn’t matter to him when they diagnosed her with cerebral palsy – he just adjusted life to fit her needs. He built a box for her to stand in, helped her ride a horse, float on Lake Warner in a canoe, and made sure she took part in--or was at least was able to see--as many things as possible.

Debbie didn’t like motorcycles, loud noises, snow, football, Santa Claus, or anything else she thought was fake. But the things she loved were many – and simple: she loved balloons, ice cream, root beer, cats, dogs, collecting cups and containers, high adventure television shows, baths, and babies. She loved kids who played where she could see them and kids who got into trouble! She loved bumpy rides in her little red wagon when she was little, and bumpy rides in the car when she grew up. We will never forget her big smile as she looked to the door and shook her hand indicating it was past time to give her a ride!

She will be missed by her dear angel mother who took such good care of her – feeding, bathing, changing, turning, and entertaining her around the clock, day and night. She will be missed by her beloved father – her knight in shining armor, her partner in crime, her entertainment director, and her constant companion. These three together taught us by example how to have pure love, charity, compassion, kindness, empathy, and patience. And, even though she could not speak, she taught us all great lessons that we could not learn from anyone else. Thanks Debbie, because of you, we are all better people.

Debbie, we will miss your smile and your laughter. We will miss giving you rides, stealing your socks, and making you laugh. However, because of the knowledge of the atonement of Jesus Christ and the teachings of the gospel that we have, we know you are in a much better place now, rejoicing with grandparents who adore you. We know you can now run, skip, play, and dance. We know you will be one of our guardian angels, helping us from the other side with missionary work – and helping us be better people so that we can all rejoice with you again after this life.

Elaine's son Jason just got married and we were able to meet his cute new wife Sara. We really welcomed her into the family by making her sing a sad song with us sisters & nieces for Debbie. She was so sweet to oblige.

After the service we went up to the cemetery above our house. We even had police escorts that blocked off all of the streets (I don't see them do that anymore, at least up north where we live).

Harrison and Nathan were great pallbearers, even through the tears.

All the younger nephews were pallbearers. My brother Dave gave a beautiful dedicatory prayer.

Debbie loved balloons, so Elaine ordered 51 balloons to let off after the prayer. It was a perfect thing to do for Debbie.

Nathan had been crying a lot during the service and at the cemetery, but nothing like the sobbing that he was letting out during the prayer. Finally I figured out that his fingers had been smashed underneath the casket when they set it down. Talk about adding insult to injury. Poor little boy!

Debbie will be missed dearly by her brothers, sisters, parents and all of the family.

Jennifer & Randy put together the programs. They did a nice job. This was the poem they included, "To Those I Love" written by Isa Paschal Richardson...

If I should ever leave you
Whom I love
To go along the Silent Way,
Grieve not.
Nor speak of me with tears,
But laugh and talk
Of me as if I were
Beside you there.
(I’d come—I’d come
Could I but find a way!
But would not tears and grief
Be barriers?)
And when you hear a song
Or see a bird
I loved, please do not let
The thought of me
Be sad, for I am
Loving you just as
I always have.
You were so good to me!
There are so many things
To say to you.
Remember that I
Did not fear—it was
Just leaving you
That was so hard to face.
We cannot see Beyond.
But this I know:
I loved you so—‘twas heaven
Here with you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Missing Debbie today...

My heart is aching as my sister Debbie passed away around noon today. She was one of the most special people in the entire world. She will be missed more than anyone can imagine.

Debra Kay Cozzens was born March 13, 1958. She was born with cerebral palsy, a very severe case. She wasn't diagnosed until she was old enough where it was obvious she wasn't developing normally. Once it was realized how severe she was, the doctors told my parents to put her in a home. They said that she would live a very short life, probably never to see her teens. She never walked or talked, but had a personality that was bigger than life and believe me... she knew what she wanted and knew how to get it.

When I was born in 1973, Debbie was 15 years old. I was the youngest of 7 children and there was a huge gap between me and Jennifer, my closest sibling (9 years). As our family grew up, Debbie and I were home alone for most of the years. She sat and watched as I got ready for dances, went to school and had friends over. She would get so excited about the most simple things. I remember feeling so bad for her that she couldn't do the things that I could, but she seemed to have a very happy and full life.

My dad has always doted on Debbie. He suffered a rare illness the year I was born that left him in the University Hospital for months. My mom actually went through my entire pregnancy and gave birth to me with only a friend by her side. When dad came home from the hospital, Debbie and I became his reason to live. We all had a very special relationship. I think my dad was able to understand a little more what Debbie went through, as he was now trapped in his paralyzed body, unable to move and had a very hard time communicating to others. He and Debbie bonded more and more over the years. The last few years it seems my dad has lived to make Debbie happy. Every morning he would drive his wheelchair into her room with a ton of her boxes piled high on his desk. He would run into Debbie and they would all fall, she would laugh and laugh!

Debbie enjoyed her 51st birthday last spring. She was around 40 years older than what the doctors predicted. The reason, in my opinion? Love, pure love. She had the love of all of her family. She was treated just like one of us (actually much better... as she didn't ever have to do any work!). When she screamed and yelled and acted like a brat, we told her to "shut-up", which I'm sure outsiders thought was appalling, but that was just life. We gave her rides all of the time and she loved it more when the brother-in-laws pretended to almost wreck, or go really fast. She would giggle and shake her arm like crazy, looking toward the window. That meant she wanted a ride. She wasn't denied much. She loved balloons, a lot. We always sent her balloons on all occasions and would always bring her one when we visited. She had a ton of Mylar balloons that we would take to the store once in a while and have filled back up with helium. I still think the people at the store think we are insane, bringing in these old, random balloons to fill up!

Mom took the best care of Debbie, and has become the most Christlike person I have ever known. Taking care of Debbie was similar to caring for an infant. She would change her diapers all day, bathe her, get up sometimes 3 times a night (when Debbie cried) to turn her or give her a drink. My mom had to grind up her food and spoon feed her, give her medicine and brush her teeth. This process every day took nearly an hour for each meal. She combed her hair beautiful each day. Mom never accepted any help from anyone to take care of dad or Debbie. She has always done it on her own and never complains (I didn't inherit that quality from her, unfortunately).

Debbie loved her entire family, but I think she and I had a wonderful bond. Mostly I think it is because when I was home growing up, most everyone else was out of the house. It was pretty quiet and we got a lot of time to spend together. She knows lots of my secrets! After I got married and would move away, I would call to talk to mom every few days (and still do) Debbie always knew it was me on the other line (just from the tone of my mom's voice) and would scream and yell and giggle until my mom would let her talk to me. She would usually laugh so hard that she couldn't even hear what I was saying. The conversation usually went like this, "Hi Debbie. What are you doing? Are you being a good girl for mom today, or do you need a spanking (she loved violence of any kind, especially spankings)? Debbie, Nathan was bad today. He spilled his cereal all over the kitchen and we had to spank him (again with the violence, and sometimes lots of lying, making up things the kids have done while trying to make her laugh). Well, you be good for mom. Love you." Those were great conversations. I am trying to think of the last time I talked to her, I think on Friday or Saturday while walking in a store. People usually give me interesting looks when I talk the way I do! But, I loved every minute of it.

My sister Karen sent a message reminding me of the game I used to play with Debbie's socks. It started when I lived at home and we would be bored. Mom would either be out running errands or in the other room. I would pull off Debbie's socks and hide them somewhere. Mom would come in and get mad and try to find them. Debbie would just laugh her head off, because she would know where they were but couldn't tell. She would laugh harder when mom got closer, kind of like her version of "hot and cold." When I moved away from home, I would continue the tradition every time we visited. I would hide her sock right before leaving. Sometimes it would take mom days to find it. I didn't do it the last few years, as her feet were so crippled and sore and I was afraid of hurting them. But, that was a very fun game we played!

She also got away with a lot when I visited. My mom has the most beautiful old china cabinet and it is filled with precious antiques that should really never be touched. Debbie loves to "collect" things and acquire items of interest to her. She loves boxes, pitchers, cups, etc. She actually started looking like a bag lady at the end, with crazy piles of stuff in her room. When I would arrive for a visit she would always point to the china cabinet and laugh. I would give her beautiful antique vases and cups and then mom would get mad. She thought this was a wonderful game.

Going back to the fact that she loves violence, she loved it when people dropped things. She always would laugh and demand that people spank the culprit. She would watch intently when we did dishes and just wait for something to drop on the floor (which happened a LOT because it made her so happy). We always teased her for not helping us work. I was there for Thanksgiving a few weeks ago and we kept yelling at her for not even helping us cook and clean. She would just smile smugly.

She loved watching t.v. shows, although her taste changed through the years as she aged. She used to love the "A-Team", and other action-packed shows. She slowly moved into more mellow stuff that didn't scare her, like "Little House on the Prairie." She hated football, but would tolerate the Utah Jazz basketball team. My mom is obsessed with the Jazz and would usually feed her during the games. She may have thrown a fit a time or two, but maybe gave up after realizing mom would never turn the channel. Likewise, she hated news, but knew that dad would never change the channel when listening to Fox News.

The kids took the news hard today, they loved her more than anything else. Nathan and I had picked out a stuffed kitty for her for Christmas, one that meowed and moved when it sensed motion. We wrapped it up and put it under the tree for her. Every so often it meowed and we all blamed it on the kids, or whoever was closest to the box. She would laugh so hard. When Nathan found out today, he was very sad. He got this sad look and tears started rolling down his face. He said, "She will never get to see her kitty!"

Our kids are better people because of Debbie being a part of their lives, as all of are. She taught us invaluable lessons that will stay with us for a lifetime. They lived to spank Debbie, fight in front of her and make her laugh by doing anything they could think of. She taught them pure, Christlike love.

The world is a much sadder place today with out her sweet spirit. She will be missed more than I can even say in words. I loved her with all of my heart and I will miss her every day for the rest of my life. My only hope is that she is dancing and singing in heaven today. Today I have a testimony and believe in The Plan of Salvation. I am so grateful I will someday be able to be with her again and see her in her perfect body and let her say all of the things she has always wanted to say to me. I only hope she will never tell all of my secrets.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Exploring Indiana...

I will post something about the marching band, eventually, but to make a long story short... I ended up coming to Indianapolis to watch the band compete with only a few days’ notice. Rick was so sweet to use some company frequent flier miles in order to get me here. However, there were no flights out Sunday, when everyone else was flying out. So, I have had 2 days here by myself. After a very intense week completely immersed in marching band activities, it was a nice break to have a few days to myself.

On Sunday morning, my roommate (another band mom) left at 4 a.m. and drive to Chicago to catch her flight home. Rick rented a car for me so that I could go to church and drive around a little. The Indianapolis 3rd ward was so nice to me! I had a dozen people come and visit with me and one lady came over and got me during the opening song and said I shouldn't sit alone. I went over and sat by her and her mom. So sweet. The speaker told a story about Moab even, how ironic is that?

I hadn't ever been to Indiana (except for the airport, which I don't count) and I wanted to explore a little. So, after church I asked a few people where I could drive that would be pretty. I wanted to take a few fun pictures (I was getting so tired of taking pictures of marching band members!). They all told me Brown County was where I should go. After I got a great map, I headed out to explore the countryside. It was gorgeous! Here are a few pictures I took along the way...

I have a thing for a countryside with fields of corn, farms and old barns.

I took a little side road to find a covered bridge (I hadn't ever seen one before). This was an area I fell in love with and wanted to stay for a while!

I love running across old cemetaries.

One of the many covered bridges in the area.

I even got to drive across them.

And then, along the road I saw this antique shop. I'm a sucker for antique shops, especially when they have gorgeous old quilts hanging in front! I stopped and talked to the nicest man who ran the store out of his garage. I asked how much the blue and white Texas Star quilt was (hand stitched and in perfect condition)... $30! Sold.

His store was really cute. They really had great taste and a great eye to put things together.

Here are my purchases, the quilt and a $3 pair of old earrings I couldn't resist. (I didn't buy the gorgeous stool... I couldn't figure out how to get it on the airplane!)

Nashville is an old artist colony. It's very charming and has lots of little shops, Inns and charming places to eat. It is right outside of Brown County State Park, which has a gorgeous double covered bridge.

After dark, I headed back up to Indianapolis, taking my time until the Colts game started, so I wouldn't hit traffic.

There were a few times I had considered getting a scalped ticket (I figured I could get one single ticket fairly easily), but wasn't sure how I felt about going to an NFL game on a Sunday. I actually LOVE football lately, it's getting more and more fun to watch all the time. I also was hesitant because we had spent the past 48 hours in the Lucas Stadium for the Band of American competition. I didn't know if I wanted to have to park and spend all night in there again! :)

Even though I didn't have a team to cheer for, I thought I would go for the Colts since I was a guest in their town. The Colts ended up beating their HUGE rivals, the Patriots, in the last 4 minutes of the game. It probably will go down in history as one of the greatest rivalry games ever played. I can't believe I didn't go, but it was fun to be outside of the stadium and see the city all lit up in blue horseshoes. I went back to my hotel and watched the exciting game on t.v.

Every time we were downtown the past few nights, I didn't have my camera. I was happy to drive around and take a few photos at night, while everyone else in Indy was at the game!

Indiana is a gorgeous state and Indianapolis is a great city, especially at night. It isn't intimidating at all and the people are just so friendly. I have had a great trip. It was so nice to be here to watch Andrew perform in that stadium and was happy to be here for their last performance of this incredible year. Now I need to check out of my hotel room and head to the airport. I can't wait to see Rick & the kids tonight!