Funeral

Today I felt calm. We got to the church and everything was handled with care and precision by our church leaders and the funeral home. There was a massive turn out that filled the entire stake center to capacity. Amos is definitely loved.

My love for Amos grew today and I was filled with thoughts of the wonderful day we would be reunited.

I’ll share a little each day as photos, videos, recordings, memories and thoughts of the funeral proceedings come in.

Today I’ll share the life sketch delivered by Porter and my nephew Nick.

P: My dad was born December 11, 1975 in Malad Idaho, the 2nd son of Dean Abplanalp and Sandra Carol Sagers. He joined big brother Tom and 2 sisters, Tracy and Katie Jo.

N: He was happy baby, and nick-named fat boy by his dad. That name only stuck till he was about 3 because he just grew straight up. He had the same sized waist at 12 as he did as a baby.

P: He loved life, always had a big smile on his face and ran before he walked.

N: He was almost 3 when his family moved from Malad to Blackfoot. He and Tom thought their hearts would break in two when they had to leave their beloved babysitter, Trudy. But she made many trips to Blackfoot to continue to hold her spot in the family.

P: When baby sister, Abbe joined the family later that year, the family was complete.

N: On their little country road, Amos had a gang of friends. He would be gone in the morning until the sun went down occasionally coming in for lunch or cookies.

P: One day he was at the neighbor’s when his mom called him to come home. After calling him several times, his friend’s mom said “Amos, your mom wants you”. He said”Oh, I thought that was my imagination. Everyone has one, you know.”  And boy did he ever have one.

N: He had his own way of describing things. One day they were going to Grandpa and Grandma Sager’s house in Burley. At one point a bored little voice from the back seat asked, ” How many more go unders till we get there?  His parents looked at each other like “go unders”?  They finally realized he meant overpasses.

P: Even though he was a happy child, he liked to get his own way. He usually did, but when he didn’t, he could throw a pretty mean temper tantrum. He would hold his breath till he turned blue, scaring his mom half to death. Thank goodness, he outgrew those before he started school.

N: Amos loved to learn. He ate up anything new he heard and never forgot anything. His 4th grade teacher once told his mom she wished she could have a whole classroom of Amos’s. He never lost that need to learn everything he could.

P: Dad’d greatest knowledge came from the scriptures. He absolutely loved the gospel and its teachings of our Savior.  His favorite scripture is 3 Nephi: and 27:27. And know ye that “Ye shall be judges of this people. According to the judgment I shall give unto you which shall be just. Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be.”  Verily I say unto you, even as I am.

N: When he was 9, his mom and dad divorced which was devastating to the little family. But when his mom married Evan Dance, everything was okay again. Amos had an instant bond with Evan. They truly loved each other. Just recently, Evan introduced himself as the step-dad and Amos got upset and told him to never introduce himself as the step-dad. He’s just dad. He has two #1 dads and he loves them both.

P: He not only got a new dad, but 3 new brothers: Russell, Jeremy and Dustin and 3 new sisters: Jennie, Amanda and Hilary as partners in crime. My dad grew up on a potato farm west of Blackfoot moving pipe, hunting rabbits and owning the desert. That’s where he gained a desire for an education. He was dang sure he did not want to move pipe for the rest of his life.

N: Amos loved sports. He grew up playing little league baseball and basketball. He once pitched a no-hitter in an All-Star Tournament and was named MVP. But his real love was wrestling. He started when he was 4 in free-style tournaments. His big brother, Tom was a wrestler, and he loved his brother, so he wanted to be a wrestler, too. He was always in the lightest weight. When he got to high school at Snake River, he had to eat to get to the lightest weight class. While his brothers were going to bed in down parkas, hats and down sleeping bags to lose weight, he was eating to gain. Didn’t make him too popular at home at the time.

P: My dad was on 2 state championship wrestling teams his Jr and Sr years. He finished 4th in the state his Sr. year. His love and passion for wrestling never diminished.

N: He graduated from Snake River High School in 1994. He then fulfilled his dream of being a missionary. Ever since he was a very small boy, he had the desire to go on a mission. Every single Fast Sunday Amos would go to the podium and declare his desire to go on a mission.

P: He also said Fast Sunday should be called slow Sunday because he was always so hungry by the time he was able to break his Fast. His favorite Primary song was “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission which they did. He served in the Canada Toronto Mission for two years, once again following in his big brother, Tom’s footsteps. He had served there 2 years before.

N: For the first 6 months of his mission he had the same mission president as Tom had his last 6 months. The family decided he needed to go to the same mission, because that was the only mission president in the church who would be able to pronounce his last name correctly.

P: As soon as he returned from his mission, he left to further his education at Brigham Young University where he quickly met the love his life and eternal companion, Hillary Clair Mann.

N: Amos met Hillary the summer just after his mission before he even started a class at BYU. He had a personal commitment that he was never going to spend money on someone else’s wife so 6 weeks after meeting Hillary, the first dime he spent on her was for an engagement ring.

P: They were married a few weeks later before the fall semester at BYU started. Mom and dad worked through college and it was almost 5 years until they were able to have children. They were so excited to find out mom was finally pregnant with me!

N: After Porter was born their lives got difficult as they tried to balance school and work and parenting. Amos did a psychology internship at the Utah State Prison then worked nights at a mental health facility. He went to school and slept in a hammock on the deck of our apartment with Porter during the days. Hillary worked days and cared for Porter at night.

P: Dad graduated from BYU just in time because babies only sleep 20 hours a day for the first little while. Our little family then moved from Utah to Arizona for graduate school at ASU.

N: Amos would do anything for his wife and was happy to select a school that was close to her family. He helped her start a music school in down town Mesa.

P: Dad loved mom but he hated to DJ karaoke nights at the music school. A thousand preteens asking him to put on the same songs over and over got old fast.

N: Thank goodness for his brother in law Ken who provided some real entertainment with Van Halen’s JUMP or Guns and Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle. Amos would only ever get up himself to sing one song;

P: What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong style!

N: Yes! (Sing: I see trees of green)

P: Soon my sister Evelyn was on the way. Mom taught high school music and dad held down the fort while he continued in graduate school.

N: Amos loved to cook and loved caring for his wife as she struggled with the morning sickness that came with each child. While they had Kirra, Ruth and Blakely, Amos taught high school to emotionally disabled students and also and coached wrestling.

P: My parents loved having summers off together and traveling to Idaho to visit grandma and grandpa Dance.

N: Amos had many callings in the church that he loved during this time. His favorite was Cub Master. He would dress up and become different characters for pack meetings. He was also the young men’s president and enjoyed preparing his priests for missions.

P: His main purpose in life an one he honored was to preside in our family as a husband and father. He made it a point to eat dinner with us and talk with his children about our lives and struggles. He held family home evening each Monday night and held family prayer and scripture study each night with great consistency.

N: After becoming highly qualified to teach many high school subjects, he felt a desire to go back to school himself and return to his original goal in the field of psychology.

P: As he accomplished that goal and became a licensed counselor, a job opportunity took his family to the prison town of Florence. He was shortly called as Bishop and 3 months later received a cancer diagnosis. He worked hard and served his church and family for a year and a half as his body declined and he was released as bishop just before passing away on September 7th, 2017.

N: This past year Amos’s fear wasn’t of dying but of not being able to provide for his family or see them accomplish their goals. He was given a tender mercy to stay long enough to baptize all of his children and witness a small piece of the great things they will do in this life.

P: My dad was understanding, wise, patient, funny, humble, kind and loved by all who knew him.

Mourn With Those That Mourn

Family members are flooding in to town for the funeral and we are being wrapped in love, food and empathy from all around. Our every need is being met aside from the need to have Amos here. I have felt him close and hope that spirit never retreats.

Kade Pearce, a young boy in my ward, drew this picture for me and brought it over after church. I was touched by his understanding and the ability for someone so young to look outside himself and have such perspective.  

Church was beautiful; the music and talks and having my sister Sarah with me. Bishop Elwood spoke about grief and mourning. I have truly felt that my burdens are being borne by so many around me. Part of the covenants we make at baptism are to “mourn with those that mourn” and “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.” I see people all around me keeping those covenants.

My sister-in-law Robin sent me a scripture just after Amos passed that Bishop repeated today from Doctrine & Covenants 42:48 “And again, it shall come to pass that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.” This helped me to understand that faith, fasting and prayer are not meant to change God’s plans, but to help us align our will to His. It also helped me know that a lack of faith is not why he was taken. I’m grateful to know that Amos has a new appointment and I know he will be kept as busy as he was in this life serving others and the Lord.

Grief and Solace

We spent time at Bunker Funeral Home today making burial arrangements for Amos.

There will be a viewing at the funeral home Tuesday evening from 6 to 8pm at 33 N Centennial Way Mesa, AZ 85201. Flowers, etc. can be sent to that address.

The funeral services will be held 10am Wednesday, September 13th at 1521 E Bella Vista Rd San Tan Valley, AZ 85143 with a viewing at 9am.

Stages of grief have been apparent in all of us since Amos passed away yesterday. It comes in waves and moves between sadness, anxiety, grief, apathy, anger and love. We take turns comforting each other and breaking down when we are triggered by sentiments. We love him so much and are having difficulty defining our new world without him physically in it.

I found solace in the temple tonight with my sisters Phoebe and Sarah and my friend Rebecca. The blessings of the temple helped broaden my perspective and help me realize that we will have an eternity together. Right now is only a small moment in that big scene.

We ran into a teacher from the kids’ school at the temple who told us they had a moment of silence for Amos today and everyone was so emotional. We love our community and have been flooded with love and support from everywhere.

We need to apologize to Darin and Greg. There were two local radio spots we had planned. We couldn’t make them happen today but I’m sure things will get easier for us to talk about.

What Is This Thing That Men Call Death?

I was worried on the way to the church this morning when Amos asked me what I thought he should talk about. He wrote notes for a talk but didn’t end up using any of them. He wove together beautiful thoughts derived from impressions he had during the funeral and gave a truly inspired message.

I was also worried when Evelyn was crying on the first note of her song but she got nearly every word out and by the last note sounded really beautiful and I could see almost everyone wiping away tears. She sang a song I absolutely love called “What is This Thing That Men Call Death.”

There is a cool story behind this song. Janice Kapp Perry is an LDS songwriter who had a niece with cancer. She went to visit her and saw a poem on her wall written by the prophet Gordon B. Hinckley. Her niece asked her to write a letter to the prophet and ask him if she could set the poem to music. He responded and agreed if she would send him the music when she had completed it. She finished the song quickly and mailed it to President Hinckley. Soon after the prophet died. She thought she would never be able to publish the song because she didn’t get his permission before he died. A few days later she got a letter in the mail from him. He must have mailed it on the day he died. It was a note telling her he loved the song and it included his permission for her to publish it. Shortly after she heard from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They wanted to sing it at the prophet’s funeral.

What is this thing that men call death
This quiet passing in the night?
’Tis not the end but genesis
Of better worlds and greater light.
O God, touch Thou my aching heart
And calm my troubled, haunting fears.
Let hope and faith, transcendent, pure,
Give strength and peace beyond my tears.
There is no death, but only change,
With recompense for vict’ry won.
The gift of Him who loved all men,
The Son of God, the Holy One.

This story was powerful to me not only because I am a songwriter and that would be so cool, but because it shows me that God is in the details of our lives and even cares about little things like music.

After the funeral I had the great privilege to stay and serve lunch to the Moore’s extended family. They were so grateful and kind and even helped us put up chairs and tables after. I love days I can be with Amos. I also had a ton of fun serving with these beautiful gals today. #ilovereliefsociety

Chemo Round 16

Elevated Liver Enzymes

Amos is feeling terrible. He is mostly nauseous but worse than I’ve seen before. He says his stomach is twitching and having spasms. The doctor told him he has elevated liver enzymes today. We found out that can happen when inflamed or injured liver cells leak higher than normal amounts of liver enzymes into the bloodstream. The doctor was unsure if the cancer in his liver is causing it, or if the chemo being processed through the liver is causing it. He hasn’t missed a day of work yet because of chemo effects but tomorrow may be the first.

Sisterhood

I was too sick to be around other cancer patients today so I dropped Amos at the cancer center around 10am and went to my sister’s house to wait for him. My brother in law brought him lunch and I picked him up at 6pm.  I have 6 amazing sisters. Another one of them has a birthday today. She is the one who practically raised me when my mom was busy with the special needs of my older brother who passed away. I will always have a special place in my heart for you Mina. You are beautiful inside and out. Happy Birthday. #ilovemysisters

Along with those 6 sisters, I also belong to a worldwide sisterhood. I belong to the largest and most long-standing women’s organization in the world. How amazing to know that anywhere I go there will be sisters from the Relief Society who will care for me? This is incredible to me and a testimony that God really cares for his daughters individually. Right now I have 2 women assigned to me and I am assigned to 4 women that I am responsible for with my partner. We visit them every month not only to teach them an uplifting message but also to find out if they have needs that are not being met and serve them. As I called each of the beautiful women I am responsible for today to check on them, a sister who is assigned to me, Sister Riedhead, was at my home with my children helping them with their homework and making dinner for them. What a beautiful plan!

Tragedy

One of the 2 counselors to the leader of our local ward’s Relief Society received terrible news yesterday. Her handsome, young, veteran son was killed in a car accident. That was the urgent bishop business Amos had last night and we are all heart broken for our Relief Society sister and her family. The women in our area are standing by, so anxious to help and take care of everything for the funeral and find ways to comfort her and fill her needs. Women have been sending messages all day to find out what they can do to lighten her burdens. When I first moved into this ward she was assigned to me and I love her so much for always being there for me. She just texted me and asked if Evelyn would sing for her son’s funeral. Evelyn is so honored to be able to serve in that way. Thankfully chemo was this week so Amos will be well enough to conduct the funeral next week.

 

 

 

Together Forever

I always grow and learn when I go to funerals. Today was no different. They have a way of helping me gain perspective on the things in this life that really matter. Seeing the love a family has for family members who pass away is so special. Summing a person’s life up in one hour and seeing the directions they took and the people they influenced helps me to consider the legacy I want to leave behind.

The services were absolutely beautiful today. You can tell Nephi’s family loves and respects him. Amos spoke about the lesson he learned from Nephi that one of our purposes in this life is to have joy. Nephi was full of joy. Amos knew that because of the smile on his face when Nephi would always hand him 3 atomic fireballs before church. Nephi’s wife and siblings and grand kids and one great grandson who attended today must have been a great source of joy for him.

Evelyn did a beautiful job directing the music today but she started crying on the closing song “Families Can Be Together Forever.” Her tenderness touched so many hearts in the congregation but she made the organist cry and unable to see her notes through the tears.  Somehow she made it through the song without missing a beat.

Amos read something last night that said swelling in the hands, feet and face can be side effects of chemo. He was glad to know that since we thought the swelling was from the steroid they prescribed him.

Evelyn’s MRI appointment got postponed again today because we changed insurance companies on Jan 1st through Amos’s work and she now needs a new authorization. They also needed to send her to a different facility with better equipment since their MRI machine wasn’t capable of imaging her tiny wrist.

She was glad because this meant she got to go to a self defense class at the Acosta’s and we got to go with dad to see a movie. It was a great day. We also got a message from the AGT producer that he will be using her Arms video to seek approval from executives to have her on the show and that she should hear back by the end of the week. We are keeping expectations low but hoping for the best. Fingers crossed!

Saying Goodbye

About a month ago Evelyn told me about a new friend she made at church. His name was Nephi Poecker. He was born in Germany in an apartment complex that was originally a Nazi military base.

Evelyn came home and told me I had to look up Brother Poecker’s dad on Wikepedia. His life is so incredible and inspiring.

Evelyn has been great friends with him ever since they first met. She talks to him every week. He shakes her hand and slips a fruity candy into her palm.

I am so glad now that she went to talk to him that first week. We got to church early and I told her to go meet someone she didn’t know. I didn’t expect her to select the 65 year old man in the back row with the awesome handle bar mustache.

Evelyn is sad tonight but glad she was able to go with Amos to visit Brother Poecker’s wife. He passed away this morning after suffering a heart attack.

Evie lost a sweet friend and Amos will have his second funeral to conduct since being called as bishop. He was able to give Sister Poecker a blessing of comfort tonight and we will all continue to pray for their family.

We spent another wonderful day with our friends from Japan. Mieko made amazing food. The curry we had for dinner was incredible!

Yuta was in heaven today as we spent time recording a music video with him and the kids. He is Evie Clair’s biggest fan and he could hardly contain himself while recording with her. Mostly because we recorded his favorite song. We should be able to release it tomorrow.

We also got a visit from our neighbor Jesse who was so happy to see that Yuta was back. They were great friends when he lived with us. She would come sit by him at church and he would put his arm around her. So adorable!

It will be difficult to say goodbye to Yuta and Mieko tomorrow morning. We love them so much.

We also had to say goodbye to sister Henderson today. She is being transferred tomorrow. We have loved having her and her amazing talents. We were so happy she dropped by to give us hugs and sing a beautiful song.

God be with you Nephi, Yuta, Mieko and Tarynn…until we meet again.

Ruben’s Tube

20161015_103309

Well, the Ruben’s Tube was a little under whelming but way better than her science project last year which completely failed.

Take a peek.

 

We woke up early this morning to clean the church then Amos went to his student’s funeral while the kids and I cleaned our house.

We got back to healthy eating which made us all a little cranky today but we got the chores done and are ready for the Sabbath.

 

 

Gloria

IMG_20160719_115935

Amos did a beautiful job conducting Gloria’s funeral today.  She was a such a light to so many people.  She was a single mother with two football player boys at Highland High school.  Amos loved seeing so many football players at the funeral supporting their friend.  Gloria used to make burritos for the entire team.  They loved her for it.  She has a six year old daughter who will be our new neighbor and my girls are super excited to have a new little friend to play with.

Amos shared a hopeful message today from 1 Corinthians 15:

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tonight is my last pack night.  I was released from my calling as the Cub Scout Committee Chair and now I’m blasting off for some rocket races with my cubs.

(Tuesday, July 19, 2016)

Manic Monday

This is the last week of summer before my kids go back to school and we had a million busy things happening today.  I’m trying to sift through all of that to get to the important things to share with you all tonight.

Amos went to work, which is really hard for him on Mondays after a weekend of chemo but despite his fatigue, he had a really great day doing what he loves. One of the inmates found out he was a bishop and asked him for a blessing.  Sadly he had to refuse because it isn’t appropriate in a professional counseling situation, but he knew he was able to help him in other ways when, after their session, the inmate said Amos was the miracle he’s been praying for.

The video Evie, Spencer and our UTuber friends made for Amos is getting some news media attention and we are trying to keep up on kind messages from people all over the world. There are good people everywhere who have had such similar experiences.  It’s so comforting to know we aren’t alone.

Amos will take the day off tomorrow instead of Thursday to conduct that funeral for Faith’s daughter Gloria.  I’m so grateful that his work has been so flexible with his schedule through all of this.

Today is my sister Phoebe’s birthday.  She is up in Utah for our family reunion.  Happy Birthday Phoebe!! We are so sad that we can’t be there because of Amos’s condition but they did get exciting news.  Her daughter McKenna just got her mission call to Russia! This is so crazy because my other sister already has a daughter on a mission in Russia now.  We are so excited for McKenna and the amazing experiences we know she will have there.

13775599_10206894007654795_9151721799099387751_n