Saturday, November 11, 2017

no pix, just text

Just a little check-in.  Things are well at the Corbridge home.  We have all been involved and going in our own directions, which seems to happen more and more each day.  I'm a little saddened by the thought of Grace leaving us and seeing Quayd and Zee so involved in their own lives.  It's crazy to even imagine that Doug and I might actually be alone some day.  We love being parents, even on the rough days.

I am dying to get the Christmas bins out and begin decorating for the holidays but will try to hold out for next weekend.  I like to have it done before Thanksgiving so that I can enjoy the holiday weekend with the rest of the family, instead of feeling a need to get it out and up and stay on top of the mess.

Thanksgiving plans for us are quite simple.  It will be our last Thanksgiving together with just us.  My mom asked us to surprise her and show up but I told her that this year was already planned.  I uninvited Alan and Jill and their family, simply because I have so much other stuff on my plate this next two months.  We may have a few drop in YSA students, who's families are far away, for dinner, but we are keeping it quiet at the Corbridges.  No big plans for Black Friday shopping.  Just to build a fire, hunker down and enjoy the family...and hope for snow!  I'm ready! 

Grace will be leaving after dinner and having thanksgiving dinner again at Ben's family's home in Idaho.  Then she will be joining his family on a cruise for the next ten days, where she'll sleep with his mom and he'll sleep with his mother was very concerned about that detail.  Quayd's been working and staying with Jason in Ogden and hanging with a mission roommate when he is home.  So, if I can tackle Zeej down, we will decorate this weekend thennwatch lots of Christmas movies in December together.

Today is Zaylee's birthday!  She's nine.  We've not seen her for two months, so we hope to drop in and say hello to her for a second, after Doug gets home tonight.  She is happy in her new life and for that, we are thankful. 

I'm reeling in the fact that it's been almost a year for my new shoulder.  It's still nowhere near what I'd hoped for, but I'm functioning.  I shake my head at the thought that my life has been so completely changed because of an accident.  Craziness!

Between wedding talk, holidays, our callings and life, in general, I'm thankful for Doug's breaks at work because some days, that's the only conversations we have until, "I love you, goodnight."  Life is wonderful. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Hello, November!

A little update on everyone...

Grace and Ben are full-speed ahead on planning their wedding.  They are moving forward and making decisions every day about their future.  She's matured more in the past six months than she has in her entire life.  It's fascinating to watch!  They are happy and ga-ga in love!

Quayd has been working with family in Ogden for the past week and will do so again next week.  He's enjoying having something new to do.  He's hoping that this will lead to a more permanent job.  I miss him when he is away... and then when he is home, I remember how loud he is!  I do love this boy!  More than words could ever describe!

Did I mention that Quayd had a birthday???  He's twenty?!  How did this happen?  And when did I stop doing birthday interviews and treasure hunts and instead saying, "Here's cash, where shall we go to dinner?"  Life is so different these days!  Between my foot and my shoulder and my calling, we are all learning to adjust!

Zeej is doing well in school and working hard.  She's been on lots and lots of dates and had lots of offers to be "official" (that's what we used to call "going steady") but she is determined to not do that in highschool.  However, most high school boys want to be exclusive.  She just wants to have a good time with lots for friends.  Last week, two very cute boys showed up at our door at 10PM with McDonalds fries and nuggets, just because.  I love watching her be "Friends" with them all!  Everytime Zeej is near my phone, she snaps a selfie.  I find the funniest pictures of her making faces and I keep threatening to post them online.  She laughs and doesn't believe I will.  This was taken today in the car.  Not one to be embarrassed by.  She's a beauty, inside and out!

Doug is doing his thing with the YSA and his Melaleuca business, as always.  He works and works and works.  I pray every day and give thanks for his good health and desire to provide well for our family.  Oh, I am blessed! I haven't snapped a photo of my handsome husband since September!  What's wrong with me!?

Liza and Buddy are loving being back in Arizona.  The girls are just as cute as ever!  They were darling for Halloween... One was a bird and one was a bee.  Birds and bees.  Get it?

 I love facetiming almost daily with them. Edie is going up and down their stairs on her knees and signs a few words.  She's says lalala when I say "luvvaluvvaluvvayou".  I think she's talking back.  Aylabelle is just my little joy.  I love her cute little versions of what they are doing each day.  She tells me their plans and is very matter of fact about "It will be okay." if it's not a spectacular plan!  Liza is continually creating projects with her and teaching her how to cook and clean and craft.  She's such an amazing mom, it blows my mind!  And Aylabelle soaks it all in!  What a team!

Quayd went to Arizona and spent ten days last month with Liza and Buddy.  They took in a Diamondbacks game and one of the players tossed the ball to Aylabelle!  She loved that!

EdieAnn likes chocolate cake!

 Kelly and I went to breakfast two weeks ago.  She may actually be officially divorced by now, even, if the papers arrived.  She is doing well and we had a very pleasant visit.

Dale is doing well in Hawaii and loves it there so much!  He's not got Willow with him, which is hard, but he is making a life there and doing well.  He will be 39 tomorrow!  How crazy is that?!?!?

I am moving better.  I can now wash my hair with both hands if I prop my arm against the shower wall.  I'm eleven months out in two weeks from my new shoulder.  I am extremely cautious and fearful of falling again.  I never want to do this again!  Relief Society is my life... every day.  EVERY day and I love it.  This calling is not one that I would have ever thought that I could say that I LOVE, but I do!!  I love the sisters in our ward, I love the opportunities to serve, I love my counselors and secretaries, I love our ward council, I love being busy.  Denise said today, "Well, you were just saying, "I need something to do.  I need a project now that I'm healing a bit." and you got your something to do!"  She's right!  It keeps me busy every day and I could not love it more!  What a wonderful opportunity to serve!  I am blessed!

Life is so good.  It's not perfect.  No one's life is.  But, we have been so blessed and I am loving every day!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017


Our fall has been spectacular.  Doug and I took a drive up Logan Canyon the day before Dad passed away and it was just breathtaking!  The colors are phenomenal this year.  I do love fall!  I love decorating my home for fall, I love the fall colors outdoors, I love fall foods!  It's just the best time of the year... until Christmas.  (wink-wink)

Here are a few pix from our home. I've not done a bit of editing on any of them, but if I wait to do that, it might not happen.

Instead of keeping the trunk closed with pumpkins on top, I opened it up and filled it with some fall goodies.  I like it and am thinking that there needs to be some Christmas decor inside this year instead, as well.  Christmas decorations are literally a month away!

The mantle with my old windows and fall looking shot of the Logan LDS Temple, which we love! (The temple and the painting.)

October Tablescape.  It looks much better at night with candles!  Another post.

I wasn't amused when I plugged in my brand new strand of spooky glittery garland and the lights did not work.  I bought it last year after Halloween, so my own fault for not checking then.

My chalkboard is probably one of my favorite things in our home.  I LOVE it!

This is my cluttery, eclectic, only spooky part of Halloween decor.  The EEK! and the eerie pumpkin bells in the haunted house candle holder.  

Uber-talented Natalie made me this cute vintage witch banner.  I adore it!

This bouquet of roses and sunflowers were given to me by Annie the day before she left.  They are perfect fall colors!  They were sitting next to Dad on the cabinet.  Zeej and Grace informed me that I needed to put Dad in a better place until we take him to his gravesite in NC.  They have also taken to the idea of taking Dad for drives with us, like to Sonic, the grocery store or for rides around the neighborhood.  We are a bit on the twisted side, I realize, but Dad would get a kick out of it.  He never was one for sitting around very long. (I know... but remember... everyone has their own way of greiving, right?)   Seriously, though, he is now in his next to final resting spot until we get him back to NC.

It's been a wonderful fall but it's coming to an end very quickly as the wind has blown the leaves off the trees and the rain has begun.  Bring on November!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

for real!

In the middle of Dad's death and all that went along with that, Grace came home with an announcement.  Ben proposed and she said yes!  She's sporting quite the beautiful ring, which he had custom made for her and it's so Grace.   They are quite excited about it all!  Grace just floats around smiling all day and looking at her beautiful hand!  They are planning a winter wedding and I am trying to wrap my head around this all!  Being a new Relief Society President and planning a wedding at the same time is going to be interesting!  Here's a few pix of the future bride and her beau.

Ben waited two extra weeks to propose because the ring was being custom made but still wasn't ready.  So, he bought her this beautiful ruby promise ring to propose and she patiently waited another week until the real ring was done.  I love the promise ring as much as the engagement ring.  I really need to get a photo of the real one... but that would require her being home for a second, which does not happen very often these days... she's either working or with Ben.  Imagine that!

Congrats to Ben and Grace!  They make each other very happy!

Thursday, October 19, 2017


My sweet friend, Annie is moving away...far away.  This has been a hard one!  Annie and I connected the minute that we met each other on our very first day in Young Womens together.  We'd never even seen each other before that moment.  BUT.  As time passed, we soon discovered that we had crossed paths many times in the past twenty years.  Annie was at one of Liza's bridal showers.  We both had been at many social gatherings through the years and we know so many of the same people.  She's about as shy as me.  So whenever the two of us went anyplace together, it was always a lot of stopping and talking with mutual friends.  Her husband, Corey, was one of Buddy's Sunday School teachers when he was a teen.  Crazy how we had crossed paths and sadly, never connected before we did two years ago.

We have been called Thelma and Louise.  Our Bishop sees us and says, "Here comes trouble!"  The Sonic employees call us trouble.  We are known by our husbands as trouble.  And the funny thing is that we never get into trouble...Well... except the time we brought bales of hay into the cultural hall at church and the time that we... well, maybe we did do a few things to deserve the title. But, we did clean it up!  And the girls in YW always teased, "Do we need to separate the two of you?!" because we did giggle and talk a bit.  Oh, how I've grown to love this kindred spirit and oh, how my heart aches that she is gone! 

Her husband got a fabulous offer to leave USU and go to Cornell University to do his magic there!  AND best of all, Ann's family are from the NY area, so she will be close to them for the first time in almost thirty years.  So, who could not be happy for them!?  I prayed for them to get this job, knowing that it would mean they would leave us.  The girls adore them.  Quayd just loves Corey.  Doug thinks they are more than amazing.  They will be greatly missed.

For the past two days, I have been their "moving agent".  I've spent two days at their home, as the movers and packers came to load their whole life into a giant Semi-truck. The emptier their home became, the emptier my heart became.  I teased Annie, "You choose the day my dad is cremated to leave me!?"  The timing was awful, but there would have been no timing that would have been good.  I remember the times I have moved away and left close friends... so excited for our new beginnings but so sad to say goodbye.   

Quayd has slept here at night to keep watch on the house until the movers were done.  The first night, he and a former missionary companion stayed up watching movies and playing X-box.  Last night, the girls slept over with him and they had a little game time too.  It's not something that happens much at home, so they loved it.  I've enjoyed being here and taking some downtime to blog and think about life.

We have face-timed several times a day as they travel across the country.  Today, they are in Ohio.  They are getting close.  My heart!  BUT, I will now have a reason to travel to New York! 

We've been uber impressed with United Moving Company, as they have packed and loaded.  I've enjoyed their incredible backyard view of the country club golf course.  THIS would have been hard to leave too!  We spent part of Sunday afternoon in the backyard and there was not a leaf on the ground.  Fall has arrived in all it's glory.  Corey and Annie are getting out before the Utah winter sneaks in!

I could not be any more thankful for the love and good times that I've been able to share with this wonderful friend.  Many friends and ward members have asked, "How will you get by without Ann?!?"  Truth is... I'm not sure myself.  But, I will celebrate their new beginning!  Life is good!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

my dad's tribute

James Clayton Bell was born on September 8, 1939, the son of Charlie Clayton and Mary Grace Locklear.  He was the first of three children, followed by “Sister Sue”, as he called her, and Bobby Ray, all born and raised in Pembroke NC.  He learned to work hard and smart in his childhood, following his dad’s example.  Buddy could have written volumes of adventures of his younger years, as a very wild and brave (or crazy) young man, including dangerous and very fast joyrides in his daddy’s cars (and even wrecking a few of them), making moonshine and burying it in the woods, and there were so many girls and women and friends, wherever he went.  He was good-looking, always well-dressed and had a million-dollar smile.  He was proud that he didn’t have to wear cover-alls to school and always wore shiny loafers, instead of work boots. Once he gave some of his gently used clothes to a boy who had outgrown his own tired and worn clothes. Dad said he felt so good when he saw the boy wearing them to school, looking so sharp.

His life was one big adventure!  His tales of his childhood and life long friend, David Paul, were insane!  It’s a miracle that the two of them survived some of the crazy antics they did together! 
James was known as Buddy Bell, all of his life. It was never “Buddy”, it was always “Buddy Bell”. In 1956, he moved to Baltimore to live with some of his Bell Cousins and met Ruby Brown, as he called her, “the most beautiful white girl” he’d ever seen.  He was walking along Pratt Street and Ruby was sitting on a porch stoop with friends.  Buddy walked across the street, introduced himself, and the rest was history.  Dad said that he and Ruby never left each other’s side from that moment on.  Several months later, they eloped at “South of the Border” in Dillon, South Carolina. In his words, “I didn’t want Mama to meet Ruby without us being married.”  He loved his mother. 

Ten months to the day from their marriage, Ruby gave birth to me, their first child.  Four years later, their second child, Ricky, was born.  Dad built a home on Clifton Street, next door to Grace and Clayton, with the intent of living there forever.  Clayton, at the time, owned several businesses in Pembroke, including the Pool Hall, a cafĂ© and the Produce Stand on the corner where the old Hardees is today.  Granddaddy’s produce stand was like the town Chat-N-Chew and what’s known today, as a convenience store, like a 7-11. I would sit on the top of the coke machine, listening to Dad visit with his uncles, Dewey, Buck, Chalmers and Carl Walter. Dad loved his uncles and aunts. 

Clayton taught Buddy how to lay brick and, together, they built a successful business.  Buddy was contracted to build the Mormon Church in Pembroke.  During that time, the members of the church befriended Buddy and his family.  He and Ruby were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the same morning that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  Their activity in the church was short-lived, but he was well-loved by the members.  Buddy also built the Mormon Church buildings in Greensboro and Winston-Salem.

Buddy wasn’t always responsible as a husband and father, but he did love his children.  When I was five, I “ran away” to see Granddaddy at the Produce Stand.  I walked from our Clifton Street home to Main Street, but, when I got to that busy intersection in town, I stood on the other side of the street by the railroad tracks, calling out for Granddaddy to come and get me because I knew I wasn’t allowed to cross the street.  I was in BIG trouble! When Dad got home that night, Ruby had already spanked me, but she didn’t feel it was enough.  She insisted that Buddy spank me too.  He took me to my bedroom, swatted my behind once and then lay on the bed and cried harder than I did.  That was the one and only time he ever laid a hand on me.  He told me years later that that hurt him more than anything he had ever had to do.

Buddy liked his women and his “good times”.  He was the first to tell anyone that Ruby was the love of his life, but, he was a rolling stone and she was never enough.  In effort to try to keep the marriage and family together, they moved many times to “start over”. Buddy moved his family to Baltimore in 1966 for a few years and then relocated to Miami, always, seeking new beginnings in greener pastures. The move to Baltimore gave us opportunity to enjoy being with Granddaddy’s Baltimore family.

While living in Baltimore, Buddy started a band.  His cousins, Jackie and Jimmy Huggins, would spend hours and hours, at our home, at night, singing tunes from the Beatles, Eddie Holly and Elvis.  Buddy had taught himself to play the guitar and wrote many, many songs.  He was a natural at guitar and singing. He loved to perform.  He was anything, but shy!  He wrote a song called, “Little Children”, about how children grow up too quickly.  I would cry every time he sang it. Again, I never doubted his love for us.  But, Buddy’s free spirit, as wonderful as it was, was possibly his biggest challenge, making it difficult for him to stay close to home and family.

Buddy made everything fun and/or funny!  He would gargle in mercurochrome, making his teeth and tongue and mouth as red as could be, and then sing and roll his eyes and pretend to be Joe Cocker, screaming, “I get by with a little help from my friends!” He loved to make us laugh!  He would play practical jokes, often, hiding things to spook us.  Once he left a nickel on the floor to see who would pick it up first. When I did, he said that he’d been waiting for me to do that and gave me a dollar.
In 1969, we moved to Miami and were soon joined there by Uncle Bobby, Aunt Lillian and her family, as well.  Clayton and Grace would make many trips to Florida to spend time with the family for the rest of their lives.

Ruby did her best to protect me from the “Grown-up” things that were happening in my world.  But, there was no secret that the marriage was not a happy one.  Dad would be gone for days.  We always knew that he was coming home because a dozen roses would arrive shortly before he did. In Florida, Dad was gone more than ever and things really began to change.   

Buddy and Ruby bought a home in North Miami in 1969.  They had big hopes for their future in that home, but within a year, they moved again…this time to Ohio, to be near Ruby’s sisters.

In Ohio, things seemed better.  “Uncle Buddy” was the favorite uncle of his 7 nieces and nephews.  Every weekend, all the cousins would come for Friday night sleepovers. Dad would make Chef Boyardee Pizza for dinner and pancakes every Saturday morning.  He would play games and stay up late with us!  When he was there, he was 100% there!  We had such good times.  His brothers and sisters-in-law so loved him and his great sense of humor. 

As a child, I remember Dad always siding with us, whenever Ruby was upset and enforced her strict rules.  She’d say, “You can’t leave the table until you eat all of your eggs.”  She would turn her back and Dad would stuff our eggs into the milk carton or throw them away when she wasn’t looking.  He’d always put his finger to his lips, wink and say, “Shhhh, don’t tell your mama.”  He was just a big kid himself!

One night, when I was twelve, Dad came into my bedroom in Ohio, sat on the side of my bed and just bawled and held me. He asked me how I would feel if he and Ruby got a divorce.  I said, “No, Daddy, that would be awful.”  He didn’t say another word and it was never mentioned again.  In my mind, Dad always gave me what I wanted. I had said “no” to the idea, so that was the end of that. I didn’t realize when they told us that we were moving back to Miami and Dad was going ahead to find us a home”, this was the beginning of their divorce. Dad went to Florida in the spring of 1971.  We followed when school ended and he never moved back home again. 

During the next years in Florida, Buddy’s life went another direction. His life took turns that no one would have ever expected.  His choices brought him many momentary pleasures, but nothing of lasting value.  During the next thirty years, he married and divorced a few times, fathered another son, and learned some hard lessons in life.  We have taught our children that “the Choices we make today determine our Happiness tomorrow.”  Dad’s choices, at this time, left him with a much different tomorrow.

However, this was Buddy Bell and he was one of the few people who could come out of a federal penitentiary and say that he, actually, enjoyed his time there. He could make friends anywhere with anyone.  He did not judge people by color or religion or status. He loved people!

It was while he was away that Dad learned to be quite proficient at leatherworking.  He made purses and wallets for each of us and we will always consider them our treasures.

No one could tell a story like Buddy Bell! He could find the good in things and make you laugh about anything! He had an amazing sense of humor and a gift for gab with anyone!  I remember, as a young girl, walking through the store.  Dad stood and carried on a full conversation with a mannequin, like it/she was talking back to him! People stopped and watched him, just staring. He even shared a piece of popcorn the mannequin, putting it right into her mouth! People thought he was crazy, but, I thought he was great! 

After the birth of our first son, Dad came to visit us in Utah. My husband, Doug, was in awe of his ability to made everyone feel like they were special.  Aside from the passing of Granddaddy, Grannie and Uncle Bobby, there were only a few contacts during that time. Whether he called me daily or every few years, I’d pick up my phone and hear Dad’s sweet southern voice, “Is this the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world?”  I’d say, “Dad!”  He’d respond, “I love you so much, Darlin’.”  Every. Single. Call.

Dad could not sit still!  He was always on the run. When Uncle Bobby was in the hospital, we woke up and He was antsy to get to the hospital.  We’d drive the distance, get inside and five minutes later, he’d say, “Let’s go.  We’ll come back later.”  We’d get back to Grannie’s and he’d be ready to get back to the hospital. We went back and forth over and over like that for three days.  He was definitely a mover and a shaker!

When our daughter, Liza, got engaged, she insisted that she wanted to meet her grandfather before her wedding.  I had not heard from him in several years and had no way of contacting him. A few phone calls and three days later, Dad called and announced, “If my granddaughter wants to meet her granddaddy, then I’m gonna come out and meet her.”  Two days before Liza and Buddy’s wedding, Dad and Aunt Sue came out for five of the best days of my life. 

During Dad’s wedding visit, he spent every spare moment at my dining room table, reading every word, studying each photo in great detail from almost forty scrapbooks that were a record of my entire life from birth to the present.  His eyes filled with tears, as he witnessed the experiences of my lifetime, and of my children’s, for his first time. Dad acknowledged, “I’ve missed it all, haven’t I, Baby?”  I believe that this was one of those moments in his life, where he knew that life was catching up with him, how much he had lost because of his choices and, most of all, just how important family is.

That few days was incredible.  The night before the wedding, we gathered in our living room with his posterity, all eyes on Dad, as he told story after story of his life until the wee hours of morning. (Some of the stories, Doug and I weren’t sure we wanted our kids to hear!) We were all belly-laughing, as he talked about David Paul, Uncle Bobby, his “college” experiences, fast cars, women and outrunning the law several times. He was larger than life, yet, a gentle man.

For almost three decades, Doug’s conservative, Mormon family, had heard stories about my Dad’s wild and crazy life.  I wanted them to meet my dad, so we hosted a dinner for over fifty friends and family at the church. Doug’s family were not sure what to expect. Doug’s youngest Brother, Danny, touched my heart, when he said, “Ya know, Soph, I gotta tell ya, I was a little nervous about meeting your dad. After all these years, I expected to meet “Guido the Gangster” but instead, he’s just a big teddy bear.”  Danny could not have spoken truer words.

That week with Dad was magical for the five of my six children who had the opportunity to get to know him some.

After the wedding, his old habits reappeared and we didn’t hear much from him, until a few years later, when he was diagnosed with throat cancer.  After his surgery, he was told that his days were numbered.  His health was deteriorating rapidly and he wanted us to have one last visit to say goodbye.  Because he was not strong enough to make the trip to Utah, we decided that I would visit him instead.  Dad wept and said, “I can’t believe you would come all this way to tell me goodbye.” 

That five days were five of the happiest days of my life.  Dad was weak and tired, but, he never complained.  He stayed wrapped in a blanket in my rental car, as we drove from cemetery to cemetery in the cold rain. I walked in the rain, reading headstones and then he would tell me stories about the people I mentioned.  When I asked him about a woman named Roxanna, he took me to a cemetery that was out in the middle of a field.  I love working on our genealogy and this woman’s name had baffled me for years.  She was listed under nine different names, but always connected to James Locklear.  When I walked through this cemetery, I found the headstone of Roxanna Monroe, Dad’s grandmother.  He saw my excitement and got out of the car, in the pouring rain, and walked out to where I stood by her grave. 

Dad, then, recalled that he’d come to this cemetery when he was a little boy, almost seventy years before, to clean these headstones.  We stood there and wept together, as he said, “Baby, these are our people.  I can’t believe this.  We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for these people.”  He had made a connection with lives gone before us and again recognized the importance of family.  It was a beautiful moment that I will cherish forever.

Dad had decided that he would have no more cancer treatments and he was nearing the end of his life…what he called “Plan A.”  It was a tearful morning when we said, what was to be our last goodbye, on Kent and Ronda’s doorstep before my return to Utah.

Immediately at home, I gathered my family to share all of the details of my trip.  Liza was fascinated and insisted, “I want to go too!”  We called Dad and told him that Liza and I wanted to come and see him again.  He began Plan B,  chemotherapy, that next week!  Six months later, Dad was cancer free when Liza and I had the time of our life, visiting him again and connecting deeply with our southern roots and our wonderful family, who we lovingly learned to call “our people”.  We loved every second of our time together!  Dad was slowing down, but, Liza grew to adore her grandfather more than ever.

A few months later, Dad even flew to Utah for Thanksgiving.  My youngest three children, now old enough to appreciate the time together, were able to make a connection with and adore him, as well.  As I decorated my home for Christmas, he sat watching and repeatedly said, “You got it all figured out, Baby.  It is all about family, isn’t it?” 

He sat in my kitchen for two days, watching, as I cooked and prepared our Thanksgiving meal.  Dad made no secrets of the fact that he didn’t not like many of the ingredients he was watching me add into my Thanksgiving recipes.  On Thanksgiving, as we gathered for our feast, Dad tried every single thing on the table and said, “Darlin’, I’ve eaten at some of the finest restaurants in the world and I’ve never had a better meal than this.”  He ate the leftovers until they were all gone, and once he was back home, he called, wishing he had some more of my cranberry apple salad! 

That was Dad.  He just made people feel good.  He would tell strangers, “Did anyone ever tell you how beautiful you are?”  Many times, I saw him offer restaurant servers, “I have a $50 bill in one hand and a $20 in the other.  You choose and you can keep the change.”  The server would choose and Dad would always say, “You chose the wrong one” and give them both.  He was generous and kind.  He also loved to propose marriage to servers.  He’d say that the minute he saw her, he recognized her as the one he had been dreaming of all his life, then he’d propose. He’d make the plainest Jane feel like a million dollars with his complements, and could find something beautiful in everyone.

The last time that I saw Dad, there was a sadness about him.  He realized that his life was winding down and that, although he’d experienced quite the life, he had also missed out on so many of the things that really matter. He’d lived a big life, but not the one he could have had. He had loved, but not always the right people in the right ways.  He’d had fun, but he’d missed the joy.  He sat, twiddling his thumbs (which was a habit he inherited naturally from his mother) and staring off in deep thought. There was an emptiness that could not be filled and he knew it.

When I think of Buddy Bell, I don’t think of the sadness or the things that he missed out on or chose not to have in his life.  I think of the good times, of the laughs and the love when we were together. He was not always there, but when he was, he was the best father that I could imagine. Buddy Bell lived by his own rules, and sometimes that didn’t go well for him, but he made the most of whatever life brought. Perhaps he lacked self-discipline or perhaps he lacked faith. He knew how to have a good time, to be a good time, to give others a good time.  He never found exactly what he was looking for, but, he did make a difference to so many who knew and loved him.  We may never know or understand this, but it is not ours to understand or to judge.  He was a son, a father, a brother, a husband, a friend. Buddy Bell was my father.  To know him was to love him.  To be his friend was to be his family.

It's my belief that when we “graduate” from this life, we will be met by loved ones and continue to learn and to progress. We carry with us the love and all the knowledge we gained in this life.  I hope that Dad will, with eyes wide open, finally, capture the value of family and service and the love of Christ.  I think that in this last few years of his life, he was beginning to realize that.  It might have been too late for his physical body to act on it, but, in his heart, I believe he knew.

He did not have all the joy in life that he could have had…BUT! In spite of his weaknesses and addictions and challenges, he blessed me and many who loved him with good laughs and good memories.  I hope that we can all remember Buddy Bell for the good that he did in his life.  I will, forever, think of him with love and gratitude. I pray that we can see him thru God’s eyes.  He was a child of God, a son of a Heavenly Father who loved him, unconditionally.  I pray that we can see him through the loving eyes of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who makes all things right, who atoned for our choices, good or bad. That’s how I choose to see and remember my father.  I adored him. 


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

family ties continue beyond the grave

I have not had the time to sit down and share my thoughts until today.  This entry began on October 9th.

On Monday morning, I received a phone call at 5:30AM, which I knew could not be a good thing.  It was my cousin's wife, telling me that I needed to call the hospital.  My father was in the ICU and no one could get any information about him except me because I was listed as his next of kin. I called the number immediately, which was a direct line to the ICU.  When I said who I was, the nurse immediately said, "Let me let you talk with the doctor."  The doctor took the phone instantly and said, "Miss Sophia, I have some bad news to tell you about Mr. Bell."  These words could not have come as more of a shock.  

The doctor then explained to me that, the night before, Dad had been eating in the dining room of his retirement living center.  He choked.  They administered CPR repeatedly, but Dad was non-responsive.  He was on full life-support and had no brain activity.  He explained that Dad would not recover from this.  (We discovered over the next twenty-four hours that Dad had apparently had a heart attack, which caused him to choke on the food he was eating, but he passed instantly from the heart attack, not choking.)  I was in total shock.  After answering a few of each other's questions, I conference called my cousin, Ronda, who was on her way to the hospital.  I insisted that the doctor remove him from life support immediately because Dad had a DNR and would NOT have wanted to be kept alive like this.  The doctor told me that he would give us time to think and discuss it and that when Ronda arrived at the hospital, we would visit again and decisions could be officially made.

Two hours later, the doctor came back into the room and they called me again.  Ronda said that Dad looked pretty bad.  I had been texting back and forth with Ronda and her daughters, who loved my dad like no one else on this earth besides me.  They were all there, gathered together, surrounding Dad. Ronda put the phone by him and I was able to tell him goodbye, not that his mind was able to comprehend, but I knew that his spirit was lingering near.  The doctor honored my wishes, instantly, and three minutes later, all life support was removed.  Dad lived for just over an hour on his own.  I was in complete shock.

I posted this on FB and instagram about my dad.  That hour wait gave me time to think about what I would say. Immediately, I had phone calls from North Carolina and Baltimore family, some that I have not heard from in years, some total strangers.  Close friends dropped in and out all day long. There were so many decisions to be made.  Kent and Ronda and their girls met that night and called me several times throughout the day.  We decided that Dad's body would be flown to Utah and cremated here.  Our local mortician has been wonderful and treated me like I was their own family.  

Dad's body arrived and they prepared him for a private viewing for Doug and I.  The family had him prepared for me to see him.  We had been forewarned that he looked pretty rough. BUT, by law, I had to ID him before his body could be cremated. I was very nervous about seeing him.  Not because he was deceased, but, because Dad was always so handsome and well-kept and I didn't want to have a bad vision of Dad whenever I think of him forever.  When Doug and I arrived at the mortuary, Dad looked wonderful. He did not look like Dad because he was so thin.  SO SO thin.  And he has a goatee and moustache, which I have never seen or imagined.  I could not get over how much he looked like my brother, which was the biggest surprise.  At 78, Dad still had a full head of jet black hair and his face looked so good.  

We had told the kids that it wasn't advisable for them to see him, so we'd left them at home.  Once I had seen him for myself, I sent Doug home to get them.  I stayed alone with Dad, while Doug picked up Quayd and ZJ.  Grace was out of town with Ben.  That gave me almost an hour and am so thankful for that time with him.  This gave me the closure that I needed.  That alone time with his body was necessary for me.  The kids were thankful, too, for a few moments to tell him goodbye.

I've written his life sketch, which was read at two services.  One was held at the Pentecostal Church in NC and at a "Celebration of his Life" here. I will post that in a separate post.

On Monday, evening, we hosted a dinner for Doug's family and a few close friends.  We ate all of Dad's favorites (Except banana pudding, simply because we had been given so so many desserts that it some had not even been touched yet.)  We served BBQ pork sandwiches and I made the Eastern NC style BBQ sauce, which is very different than anything they serve in the south.  Dad would have been very proud!  It was the best I've ever made.  I also made hushpuppies from scratch and Zeej fried them, at the dinner as we ate them, there at the dinner, so that they would be perfect like in NC! We had potato salad, southern coleslaw, deviled eggs and I made a crock pot full of cheesy grits and bacon.  Doug's family brought a multitude of other dishes.  We did eat!  Everyone loved the hushpuppies and grits, a first for most of them. I played the Beatles and 60s /70s music that Dad loved.  He would have loved this!

Doug's family have only met my dad once in our 40 years of marriage.  We were so thankful for their support, in listening to Dad's life story, and joining us as we celebrated his life together.  They didn't know Dad, but they gave up a night to be with our family.  It meant the world to both Doug and I, and the kids.  Liza joined us on FaceTime.  She was prepared to come but we made a plan for her and I to take a trip to NC together later, which made more sense.

We began with an opening hymn and prayer, then Doug spoke about Dad and invited the kids to speak, as well.  Quayd blew me away, as he shared that he didn't know his granddad that much, but that he loved the times he had been with him and then, missionary that he,is, he shared the Plan of Salvation and how grateful he is for the knowledge that families can be together forever, through the blessings of the gospel.  The girls shared their sentiments, as well.  Zeej shocked me with a story that I was unaware of.  Apparently, the last time we saw Dad, at Thanksgiving, almost four years ago,  Zeej had left a note on Dad's bed with a few questions.  She said that she didn't expect him to answer, but when Dad went back home, she went into her bedroom and found the questions, each one, answered in Dad's handwriting, lying on her bed.  I had no idea that this had even occurred.  What a gift!

It was a night that I think my dad would have been pleased with.  His family in North Carolina held a service, which I've not yet heard a lot of details, but got a message that it was wonderful.  We will talk more, after I am done helping a friend for the next few days.

Dad's cremains will be placed next to Grannie and Granddaddy's grave in North Carolina. I feel that Dad would want his final resting place to be near his parents and brother.  I feel good about that decision.

Dad was Dad.  I loved him so much, no matter what.  I'll share those thoughts in another post.  It's been a week.  I'm still struggling with the fact that he's gone from this earth.  Even with his cremains sitting in my den waiting to be put away until our trip, it's hard to imagine my life without him.  I will now have to get used to that fact. I am so thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge and peace that it brings to me.  

Monday, September 25, 2017

a day at a time... or a week at a time

Quayd went home with Liza last week.  He's been gone a week and I miss him terribly!  He'll be back for General Conference weekend, but it will be a long week without him!  He's having a great time with Liza's family and enjoying some time with one of his favorite mission companions, Dallin, who may or may not be talking Quayd into moving to Arizona too. (Say it isn't so!) (I'm not sure about all of my kids!  They love the heat! How can this be when their parents are such winter people!?)

Grace and Ben are going strong.  They spend every moment that they are not at work together.  He's a great fit for Grace.  They are inseparable.  This is getting serious!  (wink-wink)  We have enjoyed watching them grow together, closer every day.  Grace just walks around with a smile all the time.  It's fun to see her so happy.  Ben and Zeej dish it out to each other like they've been brother and sister for their whole lives.  Zeej really loves him.  He and Quayd are still getting to know each other but no complaints so far.  He's actually a good fit for our family, as well as for Grace.

ZJ was asked to Homecoming Dance by her friend, Chad.  There is not a day goes by that we don't hear some funny "Chad story".  Chad is a riot, according to Zeej.  Their day day included hiking, breakfast at Herms and bowling.  Their night date was at another of her good friend's home, where Will's little brothers dressed up and served them a formal dinner.  They had a ball!  I've been looking at the pictures and trying to wrap my head around the fact that she is dating and off to dances and such a beauty.  She is Zeej as always, hysterical and funny as can be, but always helpful and kind.  She's our baby and she is growing up way too fast!  It's strange to see them all becoming young adults, but, Zeej!!   We're not ready! YIKES!

Doug and I are keeping so busy.  Between his calling in the YSA High Council and my calling as Relief Society President, and the fact that Quayd and Grace attend a different Young Single Adult ward than Doug is assigned to, we are like ships that pass on Sundays.

Typical Sundays for us:
7:30 - 11:00 Doug has Stake Leadership Meetings and Ward meetings for his assigned Ward
9:00 I have Ward Council two Sundays a month
10:30 Grace and Quayd have their church meetings at the YSA
11:00-2:00 ZJ and I have our church meetings
2:15 I have Ward Correlation Meeting two Sundays a month
1:30-4:30 Doug has his church meetings
5:00-6:00 Doug comes home
7:00 Doug has Ward Prayer with his assigned ward
7:00 Grace, Quayd and Ben have ward prayer in their ward
8:30 We are usually all home!

Doug jokes that our Sundays, right now, are not a day of rest.  They are a day "different".  He's got that right! He teases that he has to go to work on Monday to get a break.

Speaking of Relief Society, I have to say, three weeks later, that this calling is quite surprising.  I have felt much support and love from the sisters in our ward.  They are wonderful.  It's crazy, the amount of time that this involves.  I have days that I spent five to ten hours managing things.  There's so much time spent on the phone and visiting.  But, the biggest surprise to me is that I have a love for these women, as though I have known them my entire life.  I truly, sincerely care about them and their lives, and I'm just barely meeting many of them for the first time.  I am enjoying the time getting to know them, I'm enjoying working with such awesome counselors and my secretary and our Bishop is amazing to work with.  So far, so good.  At least, I hope! 

I do love this ward!  It's incredible.  We moved two and a half years ago and our lives have changed so much since that move.  We would have never dreamed that life would have moved in so many different directions.  We love our home.  It's wonderful.  We love the neighborhood and the ward and it's members and the many new friends that we've made.  We love the opportunities that we have had to serve.  Really and truly... this move was our best ever.  It still feels fresh and new on many days and on others, it feels like we have been here forever because we are so comfortable and happy in our life.  We do know one thing for certain, our move to Logan was meant to be.  We have never been happier!

That's life for this week.  If I can blog weekly, these days, it's a miracle.  Life has never been so busy!  One would think that raising three little kids would have been busier, but not.  I do love our life.  Busyness, craziness and all, life is better than good!

Friday, September 8, 2017

another surprise

In the middle of the weekend before Quayd came home, I had, what I am convinced is my biggest shock ever!  Bishop dropped by on Saturday night with his wife to visit about Quayd’s return.  Then, on Sunday, we spoke a few times again about Young Women and Quayd and a few other things.  

Later that night, Bishop texted and asked if we could meet on Thursday night.  He’d already told me that he had an assignment for Quayd that night and I assumed that he meant that.  Then, after a few more texts, I realized that he wanted to speak to Doug and I.  Then, he asked if we could meet in a few minutes.  I asked Doug if he had any idea of what the Bishop wanted.  I was clueless.

Thirty minutes later, the Bishop appeared at our door.  We invited him to have a seat in the living room because the girls and Ben were in the den.  He handed me some cookies and said, they were “condolence” cookies.  I said, “Why would we need condolences?” 

He then went on to explain that he had known this and felt strongly about it for over two months, but that he had been fighting the feeling because he did not want to take me out of Young Womens.  He decided to "wait for the right time."  He said that he’d called and spoken with our Stake President,  earlier in the day, in lieu of all that we have on our plate right now, and this being the craziest time imaginable to do this, President Burns said that now was the right time, "Do it today!" and, he continued “Sophia, the Lord wants you to serve as the Relief Society President in our ward.”

I was too speechless to say a word!  I just started to bawl!  Doug looked at me with tears in his eyes.  I asked him, “ME?  There are so many amazing women in this ward, Bishop.  I’m a counselor, not a president.  I’m a great counselor!  But, I’m not a president!  He said, “You are now.”  And with that, we discussed it for the next hour and more.  Finally, he asked, “So, you haven’t answered me.  Will you serve as the Relief Society President?” 

I have never felt so humbled, so surprised, or felt so so so many emotions!  I’ve been a counselor to Relief Society Presidents, Young Womens Presidents and Primary Presidents for most of my adult life.  I’m a great counselor!  I do what I’m asked.  I’m creative and put my fun flair on things to make them over the top and wonderful.  That’s a gift that Heavenly Father blessed me with.  But, a president has so much more responsibility than making things over the top pretty and fancy.  The serious and more important responsibilities are theirs, such as welfare and compassionate service to those in need.  And this ward is filled with some of the most remarkable women I’ve ever met who could do this so much better than I could.  I was nervous, overwhelmed, scared to death, mostly humbled.

I am anxious to get to know and serve these wonderful women. We bought our home, moved into the ward and after only a few months, Doug was called into the Young Single Adults.  I attended with him in the YSA until I was called to serve in the Young Women in our home ward.  For the past year and a half, I have not spent much time with the sisters in the ward because I’ve been in YW.  I’ve tried to be with Doug, supporting him in his calling and honestly, I didn’t think that I could name ten women in the ward.  HOWEVER, I’ve driven around our neighborhood at 1AM for the past two weeks, looking at the ward directory and map, looking at photos of the ladies and I know a lot more than I thought, by name.  Now, I will have the opportunity to really get to know them as I serve them.  It will be a new adventure in our lives.  I’m just praying for the strength to be able to do all that is asked of me and to be healthy enough to give it my all!  

I spent the next two weeks on my knees!  I was literally thinking about selecting counselors and the Relief Society while we were at the airport picking up Quayd.  I actually texted the bishop from the airport and said, "What's wrong with this picture?  My son is coming down the escalator in a minute and I'm thinking about Relief Society!"  I had a wonderful experience and confirmation of who my counselors should be.  I was also asked to choose a compassionate service leader, to be called immediately.  The answers came to me with strong witness that these sisters were who the Lord wanted me to serve with at this time!

I was sustained and set apart last Sunday.  This week has been such an eye-opener.  I've learned very quickly just how time-consuming and demanding the calling is.  And I've loved it.  I've enjoyed visiting with sisters, getting to know them, helping them with specific situations and challenges.  I still feel so inadequate and realize just how much that I need to learn!  I have spent a lot of time praying and asking for guidance as to who needs my help and how I can help them and simply to be able to recognize the needs of those around me.  

This will be an interesting experience, to say the least.  I'm happy to serve.  It was funny.  We didn't tell the kids right away.  Finally, ZJ said, "OKAY!  WHAT IS GOING ON??"  She'd walked in on my and found me on my knees too many times and in tears often.  Quayd came in from a meeting and said, "Mom, here's a scripture for you."  He then read, Phillipians 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  That verse gave me hope and strength!  I can do this!  I'm blessed to live in a wonderful ward with wonderful women and families and a great Bishop.  I can do this.

One last thought, I was asked, just before the meeting, to speak for a moment at the beginning of Testimony Meeting last Sunday.  As I gathered my thoughts, my first thought was of the girls that I will no longer be serving in Young Womens and the awesome ladies that I've grown so close to this past eighteen months!  I will truly miss them and have really grown to love them.  

I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I love His church!  I love the growth and learning that comes from serving in it!  I LOVE the relationships that I have gained through the years of serving in the organizations of the church!  Life is good!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Change of plans! Our boy is home!!

It’s been a surprising few weeks on our homefront.  Doug and I have been running ninety miles an hour all summer long and we were quite happy to know that we would have the last two weeks of summer to relax a bit.  Well.  That did not happen.  Not. At. All.

On Friday, August 25th, I received a phone call from President Dixon, Quayd’s mission president.  President Dixon shared some concerns about Quayd’s health.  His concerns were alarming and after about 45 minutes, we decided that Quayd needed to come home to get some medical attention where we could help monitor things.  The option was given that Quayd could return to California to serve for ten more months or he could be given a full honorable medical release.

I have never understood this option to return.  It happens often, but there is such a transition into missionary life and there is an even greater transition for these missionaries when they return home, back into real life.  To go from living as a missionary 24/7 to a normal 20 year old males life and then back to missionary life again just to return a few months later, seems like one huge emotional rollercoaster to me.  In my opinion, if they are given a full honorable release and don’t have to go back, then why do it? 

SO.  After Doug came home from work and much discussion, several conversations with our Bishop, Stake President and President Dixon, it was decided that Quayd would return home with the 19 other missionaries who were returning the next Tuesday.   President Dixon thought that it should be Doug and I that broke this news to Quayd.  President Dixon called it when he said, “Elder Corbridge will insist that he wants to stay and continue to “ride for the brand” (A Corbridge family motto that means carry on and work hard until your dying breath.) 

Doug and I called Quayd and told him that we felt it was in his best interest to come home and let us help him get the medical attention that he needs at this time.  There were lots of tears and lots of love and even some laughs.  Then, we conference called President Dixon.

Listening to Quayd and President Dixon speak was a cherished experience.  President Dixon is a builder of people.  He was so sensitive to Quayd’s feelings and so interested in every word that he spoke.  It was incredible to listen to him ask Quayd questions and respond so positively and lovingly.  As he’d predicted, Quayd said, “President, I still have lots of fire left in me.”  The discussion went well, until Quayd realized that it was the best thing for him at this time.  The decision was official, Quayd would return with an honorable medical release in three days.

This gave Quayd time to have reality sink in, say his goodbyes, finish up some work and pack to come home.  He and 19 other missionaries spent their last night at the mission home with the Dixons for a wonderful dinner and testimony meeting and in the morning, they were driven to the airport.  Quayd began his mission riding with the Dixons from the airport and he rode back to the airport with them.  It was a tearful, but happy goodbye, filled with anticipation and a bit of anxiety about returning home!

President Dixon assigned Quayd and his friend from high school to be together for the last day of their mission.  Quayd had hoped that they would have been able to serve together and this was as close as it got.  They were good friends in school and the mission bonded them tighter!

The Dixons could not have been more perfectly suited for Quayd.  They loved Quayd with all their hearts and it was more than obvious!  Quayd lights up when he speaks of them!

This photo is a tradition of the mission.  The President posted this shot on Facebook as the missionaries were boarding their plane to say that they were on their way home!

In the meantime, with all of this happening, at home, we were frantically getting ready for Quayd’s return.  We had planned on spending Sunday night at the cabin and driving 35 miles to totality for the Great American Eclipse.  Instead, we were home, making welcome home signs, getting Quayd’s room ready, getting things in order to see our boy come home!!!

We watched the eclipse through Doug’s welding helmet in our front yard at 95% totality. To the naked eye, it was like looking around through sunglasses.  Zeej didn’t like the quiet of things and thought it was pretty strange.  Grace and Ben were enjoying it while picking up pizza for our little “Eclipse party”. 

One might wonder, “Who’s Ben?”  Grace and Ben have been attending the same student ward all summer.  They played frisbee one night in July and have been together almost every moment that he’s not working or in school ever since.  They are “a fish”, as we call it.  (Official.)

I digress.  The eclipse.  We were sad to miss the totality, but happy to be home preparing for Quayd's return!

On Tuesday morning, Ben joined us all, as we headed to the airport.  He and the girls drove together. Doug and I were in our Accord.  As we were pulling down the hill, the car started making a terrible noise!  AWFUL!  We stopped at the ATM and Doug checked it, saying, “It sounds like the wheel is loose.”  But, it felt fine.  We drove two more blocks and decided that whatever it was, it wasn’t worth risking on our way to see Quayd!  I was DYING as we counted down the minutes for his return and didn’t want to waste one second!!! 

I called Doug’s brother, Danny’s number.  Alene answered and when I told her what was happening, I wasn’t even done when she said, “I’ll have Danny empty the van from girls camp.  Head on over.”  Fifteen minutes later, Ben had parked his car, we picked them up and we were all on our way to the airport.  The delay only meant that we wouldn’t have time to stop at Krispy Kreme on the way down. (I took the car in the next day.  The mechanic suspected CV joint.  It was a loose wheel.  What a blessing that we had not taken the car through the canyon with a wheel that was about to fall off!)

We arrived at the airport on time and as we pulled into the parking terrace, I checked the flight schedule, expecting Quayd’s plane to be somewhere over Las Vegas.  The flight said that it was on the runway, ready for take-off!  An hour delay!  So, we opted to set an alarm, close our eyes and rest a few minutes. 

Once inside the airport, the waiting area was filled with literally hundreds of missionary families.  There were sixty missionaries returning home on Quayd’s flight!  Signs, posters, banners, balloons and lots and lots of excited mothers!  The security guard allowed the moms to go inside the roped off area to wait for their missionary.  The mom gets a hug, then they take the missionary back into the crowd and find a less chaotic space to have hugs and loves with the rest of the family.  This guard told me that there are approximately 300 missionaries a day returning to the SLC airport on each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday every week.  They have this process down to a science!

The crowds cheers and screams and the tears and excitement is non-comparible!  One couple came down the escalator with the first missionary following them.  People were cheering and screaming, as they saw the elder’s feet and that couple just started laughing, startled by the warm Utah welcome for them.  The woman said, “For me?!?” and took a bow!  HUGE laughter!  

This is an experience to witness!  It’s incredible.  It only took about ten minutes of waiting for me to realize that Quayd was going to be one of the last missionaries off the plane.  He and his high school friend, Max, who also served in his mission, had decided to wait for the crowds to die down and be last.  I called that one!  It was actually awesome because we were able to greet him all together without moving to a different spot.

By the time Quayd came down the stairs, I was sobbing!  SO EXCITED!  HE CRIED! I CRIED!  THE GIRLS CRIED!  DOUG CRIED!  THE SECURITY GUARD EVEN TEARED UP!  It was so great!  The girls had their signs made that said, “Served with Love, Returned with Honor!”, another said, ELDER CORBRIDGE VALIANTLY RETURNS!

I don't think that I've ever seen Doug so proud or happy!  Best father/son reunion ever!

Oh my word, can you say anxious!!

happy, happy, joy, joy!

  And then there was one sign that said, “Welcome home, Elder Corbridge!  Meet your new brother-in-law!”  After lots of hugs and tears and more hugs and tears, Quayd read the signs and said, “Wait!  WHAT?!?!  WHEN?!?!?  WHAT?!!?!?!?”  He was shocked!  Grace even had a ring on to further the joke.  It was a great joke and helped us all stop sobbing our happy tears!  On they way home from the airport, Quayd just could not get over the fact that his baby sister has a serious boyfriend!  

We went to dinner at Red Robin on the way home in Layton.  As we were walking in, I got a kick out of Grace holding her "two" favorite boys hands.

We met President Jensen for Quayd to be officially released at the stake center.  President Jensen asked Quayd to share a spiritual experience and a humorous one.  Quayd shared a few experiences from his mission and it took us no time whatsoever to see that this boy has grown immensely.  He isn’t a boy.  He’s a man.  WOW!!!  His words were powerful.  President Dixon had told us that Quayd has a gift of sharing his testimony and witnessing of Christ and his gospel.  Quayd has always had that gift.  BUT.  This was different.  He speaks with power and an amazing presence.  We were all in tears. When he removed the badge, my heart... oh my.  It was one amazing half hour. 

President Jensen set Quayd apart as a missionary and now he has released him.

Two great men!

When we got home, friends had added even more signs on the house and garage doors, welcoming him home.  The doorbell rang ten minutes after we pulled up and .we were not alone until almost midnight that night.  

Friends and family dropped by to see him and with each guest, we heard more stories and experiences of his mission and witnessed the growth that he’d experienced.  Doug and I climbed into bed after family prayer and Doug asked, “Now, why is he home again?”  We both wondered! Just as President Dixon had told us repeatedly, “Elder Corbridge is an incredible missionary with a remarkable testimony!”

We did not have enough time to redo Quayd's room.  It's been white and lace and very farmhouse style.  But, he was quite excited about having a brand new queen-size bed waiting for him!

 No one wanted to leave his side!

Zulu took about a few seconds flat to welcome Quayd home!  He's near Quayd's side every moment that he's not in Zee's arms.  (I think she's a little jealous!)

Doug fell asleep within seconds and I went down to Quayd’s room to just tell him I love him one more time.  We ended up talking until 3:30 in the morning.  I loved hearing every word and story and adventure that he’d had.  He doesn’t dwell on any negative… even his first companion who he’d not had the best time with.  He focuses in the goodness in people.  His love for the people that he served was blatantly obvious.  And I knew, then, that this had to be one of the hardest things he has ever done.  He did not want to be done, but he also realized that it was the best decision at this time.

There is no shame or dishonor in a medical release.  Quayd was worthy and willing and happy to serve.  He will continue to serve in different ways at home.  The transition has been harder than we anticipated.  He’s looking for a job, enrolled in an LDS institute class, and looking for ways to do service to keep busy.  It took him four days before he even wanted to see a movie.  We went to see Pirates.  He’s not watched a lot of TV.  One scene in the office was like culture shock to him. He is barely over introducing himself as “Elder, I mean, Quayd Corbridge.”  He stood behind my car and tried to help back me out, as required by missionaries.  He’s quick to lend a helping hand, and even gone to the neighbors, “Can I do anything for you?”  If he sees a missionary, he’s fast to greet them.  

On Quayd's first morning home, I woke up and couldn't find him.  He was out front, weeding.

Last week, we took the family and Ben came to the cabin for four days to relax and reconnect. We watched Beauty and the Beast and Saturday's Warrior and ate ourselves into comas. (Quayd doesn’t eat as much in three days as he used to in one meal) and played games and just enjoyed being together.  Ben had to go back to work a day early.  After he left, we all climbed into Doug's and my bed and sang favorite songs and laughed until 10AM. You could have heard us singing Bohemian Rhapsody off-tune in town!

We are so proud of this boy and I feel blessed to have him home with us again!  Our bishop came to visit and spent two hours listening to Quayd speak non-stop about his experiences.  When he called me the next day, he said, “I texted our stake president and told him that Quayd learned in 14 months what some boys come home after 24 and still don’t realize.  He understood his purpose as a missionary and loved it!”  We couldn’t agree more. 

(When we got home from the ranch, we got a text from Liza with a map showing that there had been a 5.3 earthquake six miles from the cabin.  Over 130 have followed.  We missed them all.  Our niece was there just as the big one occurred.  Other family members have been there all week and experienced them.  Crazy... the world is on fire, under water, shaking up... what's happening here!?)

Now, for Quayd to settle in to adult life. He's had several doctor appointments (which are going well) and looked for a job and spent a lot of time "reentering the real world."  His missionary report is upcoming. The transition is hard, but he's managing.  He'll be happier when he's more busy!   Oh we love this boy!!  We have a lot going on in our world right now.  It’s so crazy, but, it’s perfectly wonderful!