This is an article I wrote for my family newsletter. iI thought I would share it with you so you can understand why I haven't posted much. There are many factors, but this is just one.
Nellie Nadine Olsen Ostler
January 5, 1934 - July 28, 2008
My mom and best friend.
Within twelve hours of our family arriving home from the Ostler Family reunion and our extra stay in Utah, I got the dreaded phone call no one wants to get. "Doreen, mom's in the hospital. She just had a heart attack and isn't expected to live." That was about 6:45 in the morning, Friday, July 25, 2008. That day will always be one of the worst days of my life.
I had to spend the morning putting my family affairs in order and then left around 2 that afternoon. Coming home from a weeks vacation meant I had no clean clothes and I also had to get things set in order since I was going to have shoulder surgery in five days. I wanted to fly out of there, but as a mom I had things I had to do for my family.
As I was leaving Redmond I got a phone call from my brothers who were with my mom. They put me on speaker phone so that I could listen to the priesthood blessing they gave mom. Duane and Mike were also able to join through cell phone technology. What a blessing--literally; to hear and be part of that even though I was 228 miles away. That trip, though only 3.5 hours long, was one of the longest trips I've ever endured.
I don't even know how to write what I found when I got there. My mom was in a hospital bed just laying there. It truly wasn't the way I wanted to see my mom. She never did regain consciousness but I knew she was listening to us and if only her body was willing she would have hugged us all.
We stayed with her until Mike and Duane were able to get there. They flew up from the Phoenix area and got there around 3 in the morning. Oh, that was hard. All of us kids (minus Nadine) were there. We all needed some sleep so we went Lee's or Scott's to find beds and agreed to meet back at 7. I couldn't sleep. I think I got about 90 minutes of sleep that night. I showered and was back at her bedside by 6:30.
That day (Saturday) we decided to bring mom home. Arrangements were made and we brought mom home to Lee's house--her house. While we were all with her and arrangements were being made to get mom home, we planned her funeral and picked out her plot. Never thought I would have to actually do this. It felt like a dream. I would have called it a nightmare, but it was lovely, not scary or awful.
While at the hospital she started raising her hands and grasping the air like she was trying to grab onto something or someone. I hoped it was Nadine, her daughter; or Calvin, Nadine's son and mom's grandson; or Colbie, mom's great-granddaughter coming to show her the way. Who knows what that meant. Maybe it was her parents or guiding angels. I just know heaven was very close that day.
We stood vigil around her bed. Happy memories flooded the room. It was good to be in there and share wonderful thoughts about my mom and our childhood. Dale soon had to leave to go back home. I tried to stay awake as much as I could, but I was running on empty. Lee's kids said they would take the late watch and stayed up all night playing games. Since I was downstairs every time they got excited and talk or screamed a bit too loud, I would wake thinking this was it. It wasn't peaceful sleep, but it was sleep.
Sunday broke as a bright day in Richland. The sun was pouring into Lee's house and on my mom's beautiful face. Of course we moved her so she wouldn't get too hot or be uncomfortable. We continued with memories of our life with mom. I know my brothers' time is limited as they all are fathers and husbands with jobs that need to be done to support their families, but I do hope and pray that they will one day write down those memories that flooded the room over that weekend.
It was decided that the girls needed to give mom a bath. That was so very hard for me. Here I was the daughter giving my mom one of her last baths. It was very bitter-sweet. I truly wished I had climbed in bed with her and just held her. I thought it would be a bit foolish and childish, but as I type this I do have that one regret.
Mike and Duane had to leave to catch their plane home and eventually I did too (although I was driving home). I didn't want to leave but I had to. I had a family I needed to look after and surgery on Tuesday. Somehow I made the drive in under 3 hours. I think it was the Lord was being merciful to me because I didn't want to be alone with my thoughts and crying makes my contacts get gooey or fall out and I'm blind as a bat without them.
Monday was surreal for me. I waited around home waiting and waiting for the multiple phone calls in preparation for my surgery. I had been praying since my mom's heart attack for direction in regards to having surgery or cancelling it. After a wonderful blessing by all those wonderful priesthood holders by the bedside of my mom, I knew she would want me to have the surgery and I truly couldn't put it off. The pain in my shoulder was stopping me from doing wonderful things with and for my children. At the water park I couldn't join them in much of the fun because of the pain. I hated waiting for the phone call because mixed up in it may be the phone call I didn't want to take.
As Steve and I were trying to go to sleep (sleep was very hard to come by) the phone did ring. It was about 10:45. My nephew Ryan was on the other end of the line. His news was the news I didn't want to hear but knew exactly what he was going to say. My mom had gone home just moments before. He told me it was peaceful and she was still beautiful. My mom was gone and I felt so alone. Thankfully I had Steve to wrap me in his love.
The alarm woke me way too early since I got to sleep so late. Off to the hospital. I was hopeful that the surgery and subsequent drugs would help dull the ache in my heart and let me forget the pain. The surgery went very well. The doctor removed a calcium deposit about the size of the tip of your little finger from the middle of my muscle. He reattached the muscle (tendon or ligament--I'm not sure) to my shoulder bone and cleaned up my shoulder. I'm still not quite sure what all went on inside, but he said that he liked the results and that I should be 100% in a couple of months.
Recovery went ok. I threw up a few times in the hospital but that was all. I've found that anesthesia and I just don't mix very well. I don't think I even said 99 when they told me to count backwards from 100. Thankfully I had some powerful drugs for that Tuesday and Wednesday. It numbed the physical pain and let me sleep.
Kray drove me and a couple of the kids to Richland Thursday afternoon. Steve and the rest of the family came over on Friday.
Friday morning is a day I will never forget. I dressed my mother in her temple garments. Oh, she was, still is, a beautiful lady. They did her hair just right. Her dress (I had to pick out a new one since the one she wore was a little soiled--guess she went so many times that it got soiled and a bit worn) was very fitting. Just a little lace, just like my mom would say. "A little lace give it that feminine look, Doreen." While we were dressing her, I noticed that her fingernails weren't painted. She hated her hands because they always were so knobby from arthritis so she kept her fingernails painted so no one would notice her knuckles. My dear niece talked to the funeral director and it was OK for us to purchase some nail polish and they would paint her nails. How sweet of them.
Again, I just wanted to lay down by my mom, wrap her in my arms and wind back the clock. Walking away from the funeral home was one of the hardest things I did.
That night we did something I had emailed Lee about. I wanted to release balloons with notes from us--all of us--to my mom. Thankfully he agreed. My siblings may not know how many times mom and I did that while I was in young women's with mom. We would write our testimonies and put them in the balloons as we released them. I don't think she did that with any of my siblings, but she did with me. It was great! We had just finished dinner at Scott's and my mother's living siblings were able to attend with us. It was great to see them again. I had seen most of them at Nadine's funeral, but it was great to see them again.
We had a viewing Friday night. It was fun to see so many faces, but after 20 years I had forgotten most of the names. Faces were easy, but names came hard. I got to sit and chat with my second mom a good deal. Diane Allen is my best friend's mom and she was so kind to me back then and again that day. We chatted about old times and new times. It was great to see such warm and friendly faces from years past.
Saturday was the day of her funeral. I spent the morning scanning photos and documents from my mother. The kids went to Scott's office party. Then the dreaded time had come. I was asked to place the veil over my mom's lovely face. What an honor, but it was so painful. Just as I was about to cover her face, a hand touched my shoulder, my brothers were behind me. We all took one more moment to say good bye to our beloved mother. Then I placed the veil over her face and they closed the casket.
The funeral was wonderful. We tried hard to honor mom's wish and not have a sad drawn out funeral, but a party. Boy, did we try, but still the tears flowed, we just couldn't help it. Even though I had helped put the funeral program, I was still surprised that Kray conducted the first song. We had asked Anne to secure the pianist and conductors for the congregational songs and somehow she was able to get all the families represented (except Mike's). What a feat. Scott gave a wonderful Life Sketch of a lovely lady. I sang with my brothers the same song they sang at Nadine's funeral, Come Thou Fount. I was so glad to sing with them again, just like old times, only we were missing Nadine as alto and Mom on the piano. Anne steppe dup and played and Scott took the alto part. Our old Bishop, David Jepson, gave a great talk about how mom tried so hard to be like the Savior. Lastly all the grandkids and great-grandkids sang Families Can Be Together & I Am a Child of God to end the service. How wonderful that music is still alive all because of my mom.
Then off to the cemetery. All of my brother plus Mark and Steve were pallbearers and the first born male with Savannah (Mike's first born) were honorary pallbearers. How wonderful. The dedication was done by Mike and was so sweet.
Throughout the funeral there were seven roses on my mom's casket; six red and one white. They were for her seven children. The white one is for my sister. It was an honor to have Nadine's first born, Anne, represent her mother, my sister, at the funeral.
I'm honored to be part of my mom's legacy. I'm honored to be her daughter and to have called her mom. I loved her so very much and miss her every day.
Placing our roses on mom's casket.
Anne got to place Nadine's, a white rose, in her mother's behalf.
The seven roses!
Dale, Duane, Lee, Doreen, Scott, Mike & Mark
Mom's siblings: Jimmy, Eugene, MeriLee & Don