Friday, March 28, 2008

The End of the Grovecenter Era

A couple of days ago escrow closed on the home my siblings and I grew up in on Grovecenter St. in West Covina, California. My parents bought it is May of 1955, the only house they ever bought. They paid $14,700 and struggled with that high initial monthly mortgage payment of $85. It sold for $430,000.

Pat, Rachel and I drove over to California along with my brothers and their wives to help clear out the house for the sale. My sister Tricia had been down a couple of times prior and had gone through a lot of Mom and Dad's things. In fact, she told me as we planned our trip there that she was surprised that they had not accumulated more stuff over their 53 years there. But as it turned out, we filled at least 8 large plastic leaf bags with all manner of stuff not to mention many items for Goodwill or Salvation Army to pick up. Pat sat with Dad at his desk for a pretty long time and helped consolidate his enormous collection of paperwork (spread over his desk in the den, his desk in the back bedroom and the kitchen table). We shredded LOTS of documents and he got organized!

Dad had told us that a neighbor (who works for U-Haul) had promised to have a truck at his house for us to use to move Dad and his furniture to his new place, a retirement center in San Dimas called Atria. But Friday night came and went, no truck. So first thing Saturday morning I rented a 17 foot truck and we started loading. By now my brother Doug had arrived with his large son Nicholas and another large friend and they started in. We made two trips, the first with furniture and the second with boxes. Everybody pitched in and things went amazingly smooth. We had cleaned out the cupboards of dishes, small appliances, silverware, etc. Most of that was taken by my brother Robert and he was very happy to have it! There were other knickknacks we all sort of gleaned. Mom had some antique teacups and saucers and other such stuff and we picked them up for the granddaughters.

When we got to Dad's new place, "job one" was to set up his new apartment. We arranged furniture and lamps a couple of times, got his beds set up and made and stocked his closets and bathrooms. We wanted to make it seem "like home" as soon as possible.

Dad put us up in the Radisson (formerly Embassy) Suites and it was very comfortable. Robert brought two acoustic guitars and we stayed up late a couple of nights singing Beatles, Buddy Holly and Merle Haggard songs. It was SO fun. We also all went out to BJ's Brewery for a big family dinner which was also fun. My brother John stayed on a few days to arrange the cancellation of the utilities in Dad's name, transfer his phone number, and arrange for a dumpster to be delivered to the house. I think this weekend, Doug and Nicholas are going over to fill it with all the leftover junk and trash.

In all the hubbub, We all noticed that Dad seemed a little detached. Well, who can blame him? So many years in the same place and then to be shuffled, perhaps a little hastily to a two-room apartment. We didn't mean for it to be hasty. I just think we wanted to take advantage of everyone there and available to help. When we finally left him on the fifth floor Sunday, Pat started to get teary and said, "I hate to leave him alone!" But after all he is only 10 minutes from his old house, all his friends including Betty are close by and we know he will be checked on and will have three decent meals a day. Betty has since been there to visit him at least once.

So, the Grovecenter days are over but life is change, isn't it?. I know that Pat and I and our kids have great memories of visiting Grandma and Grandpa Bertoglio in that house (they have all told me that recently). We do and will continue to worry about Dad. My sister-in-law Janice, who is a nurse and has worked with older folks, thinks that he may be suffering with TEA or TIA (I didn't catch the acronym) which apparently are small strokes which may explain his rather passive demeanor through all this. Maybe or maybe not. But I believe we can help keep his spirits high by being in touch. I know he loves to send and receive letters and get phone calls. Please email or call me or Pat for his new address. His phone number is the same. Thanks, props and muchas smooches to all my sibs and their wives and sig others for their tireless work, love and concern for Dad. Y'all did a yeoman's job. And thank goodness for Doug and Pat both being such organized types ("type A"?). They really helped keep us and the move in line. Rachel also pitched in during this project even though she had hoped to meet a friend there in SoCal and head off to Magic Mountain. It didn't work out though. Still I think it was fun for her to see her uncles, aunts and cousins.

If this experience has done anything for me, it is to reinforce my belief that family is of the utmost importance in this life.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Books, books, and more books!

Mark you calendars... Mom is blogging!

I read 3 books on the road trip to California this weekend and no they weren't picture books! I finished The Gift by Richard Paul Evans just before Casa Grande. I had started it while still at home. I was bawling like a baby at the end! It also had a great quote that made me laugh out loud and I had to read it to Dave. Einstein said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result! I'm sure he was thinking about the laws of physics and such and how they don't change. But in the book, it was about the relationship with the character's mother and no matter how much he tried, he was never going to change her! Reminded me of a certain person I work with!

I then started A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks and finished it in bed that night! It was good and I didn't figure it out until the very end. I should have seen it coming though... Always great love stories!

On the way home I read The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I had read A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author last summer. They were both very riveting and dark yet informative. Neither one of them had a 'happily ever after' ending. I suppose since they are both set in Afghanistan, that whole country still does not have a happily ever after ending yet. There is resolution but maybe it is just resignation to the circumstances that exist as the story ends. The writer is very clever with his humorous side stories.

The week before that I read 3 more books! It is my escape from the stress of work! Now I have 3 more books to return and check out some new ones! Any good suggestions??? I will pretty much read anything! Scott just gave me Cat's Cradle by Vonnegut. Isn't that a song by Harry Chapin???

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mission Anniverssary

Yesterday, March 15 was my "mission anniversary", the day I left home in 1975 to fly to Salt Lake City to the then-mission home for the three day stay to begin my mission. It was a very stressful morning as my parents got up early to drive me to LAX to catch my flight. I said goodbye to my younger brother Doug who was still in bed. Mom later told me that he cried as he lay there for some time that morning. My parents were upset and confused at my leaving for two years. It happened that a general authority, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Rex D. Pinegar was in the airport with his wife about to board the same flight. They spoke briefly with my parents and tried to comfort them somewhat. Especially Sister Pinegar tried to relate to Mom as a mother herself since she had a son going into the mission field (to Hungary, I think) at the same time. They were very sweet to my folks and corresponded by letter with them a few times while I was out.

I thought about all this on my "anniversary" because this week all my siblings are converging on the now-sold family home to help move Dad into an assisted living facility in nearby San Dimas. It is a major transition for him and on a lesser scale for me as this was our family home. Mom has been gone now for three years and my joining the church was always hard for her to accept which I always wished wasn't the case. But I also had lots of support in my ward there on the corner of Badillo and Lark Ellen. The ward members there encouraged me and when it came time to go, donated a substantial amount of money toward my support in the mission field. The Elder's quorum there also supported me the entire two years with monthly donations.

I am so grateful to all those who helped me during this stage. The recently-deceased president of our church, Gordon B. Hinckley often said that everything good that came to him in life came because of his choosing to serve a mission. Well, I won't say that everything good in my life came from that experience. I had hard-working, devoted parents who taught me work ethic, honesty, manners and etiquette (thanks, Mom!) and many other great qualities. My membership in the church and my subsequent mission experience taught me the truths of the gospel, people skills, patience, the Spanish language which has provided me with lots of opportunities, both job-related and otherwise and many other valuable things. It led me to attend Brigham Young University where I found the love of my life and the future mother of my beautiful children. It brought me direction and purpose.

So it will be great to visit with my sibs and Dad and reminisce a bit this week. Toward the end of her life and even just before her passing Mom always encouraged us, her children to get together more. She hoped we would draw together as family.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Fun and noise with the girls and boys in Illinois

Pat, Scott, Rachel and I all took a half-day on Wednesday, February 20, left the car in the Park-n-Save and flew to the Indianapolis airport by way of Dallas/Fort Worth. We arrived at 11:00 PM local time and asked the Enterprise clerk if our rented Chevy Cobalt would be big enough for four of us with baggage. No. Could he find us a bigger car for maybe the same price? Yes. A Kia mini-van. It turned out to be the perfect size. He said the shuttle would be waiting outside to take us to the lot. So we wheeled our bags outside to wait and it was FREEZING! It seemed that every other company's shuttle passed us twice before ours arrived.

After two hours on the freeway we arrived at the Stone house about 1AM to hugs and kisses from Tina and Jon (she had not seen Scott since he returned from his mission). They even woke up Seth to take him potty and he gave us sleepy hugs. Finally we got our sleeping arrangements made and went to sleep after a long day!

The next two days it snowed constantly (more than T & J remembered it snowing that whole winter thus far) day and night so we stayed pretty close to home. We had ordered Seth's birthday presents online and had them delivered to Champaign. They were Star Wars Transformers! Darth Vader/Death Star and the Millennium (Seth pronounced it "Milliken") Falcon/Han Solo and Chewie. Scott, Jon and I could not wait for Saturday so we prevailed on the moms to have his birthday on Friday. Grandma made Mickey Mouse pancakes, went to Chipotle for dinner, had cake and ice cream and finally opened presents! Seth loved them! We determined that not counting the time he was asleep (when the adult boys played) Seth always had a transformer in his hands. And so Maryn would not feel left out, Grandma made her a Care Bear rag quilt and two matching throw pillows. She loved them and carried them around too. Jonas got new jammies but did not seem overly excited about them.

On Saturday morning we took the boogie board-style sled to the local park and and went sliding on the one hill in town! It was the dirt mound left over when the city dug the community swimming pool. Go to Tina's blog for the video. Back at the house we built a snowman (also on the video). Nights found us staying up way too late playing Settlers of Catan and Mexican Train. Jonas took more and more steps and was very cute. One night Jon made us a delicious chicken pasta dish and also sushi. Tina made some wonderful chicken chili on Sunday (just right for cold days!).

With hugs and tears we left for the airport after lunch arriving in Tucson at about 1:30AM which made for a pretty droopy work and school day Monday. But it was a wonderful time. We so love all our wonderful children and grandchildren and miss those who are far away (looking at you too, Wendy!) We are grateful and pray for them every day!

One more thing... We can't visit Tina and Jon without reporting a "Seth-ism" or two, or in this case, a "Maryn-ism" The kids were dressed and ready to leave for church and when Maryn saw Seth, she said, "Seth, you look pretty!" Seth replied, "No, Maryn. I'm a boy!" "Well," says Maryn, "You are 'boy-pretty'".