Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mom's Life Sketch

This has been a tender week.  My mom passed away on Sunday, November 29.  Today is her funeral in Idaho Falls, and her burial will be Monday in Cave Creek, AZ. -- While it is difficult to say an earthly goodbye I look forward to a heavenly hello.

Mom and I in August 2015.

My dad asked me to write her obituary and give the life sketch at her funeral.  What a lovely honor! It was wonderful to listen as my brothers and father told stories as we all recollected moments in time and the life stories she had shared with us.

The following obituary appeared in the Idaho Falls Post Register and the Rexburg Standard Journal on Wednesday, December 2, 2015:

Shirley Ann (Reynolds) Gardner died peacefully while surrounded by her family at her home in Idaho Falls, Sunday, November 29, 2015, at age 79 from the long-term effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Shirley was born to Roy and Grace (Stanton) Reynolds in Deadwood, SD, on November 25, 1936. She was the fourth of eight children. Her childhood and young adult years were spent in Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington.

Shirley met, fell in love with, and married her husband Marvin in Richland, WA.  They have been married for 59 years. Together they have five children, one daughter and four sons. They owned and operated Beauty Colleges in Washington, Arizona, and Idaho. Shirley was a perfectionist with an eye to detail and carefully managed the book work of the businesses. Shirley was a member of the LDS church and spent decades of service working in the Primary Children’s organization and also served as Relief Society President for several years. Currently, Marvin and Shirley attend and participate at Watersprings Church in Idaho Falls.

Shirley and Marvin loved to dance and did so often. They enjoyed traveling and have been to many places both far and near. Shirley enjoyed cooking, sewing, reading, singing, and playing tennis. She was a lover-of words and an editor at heart.  She would read the Reader’s Digest magazine with a red pen in hand, make corrections, and send the corrected magazine back to the Reader’s Digest! However, Shirley’s greatest passion was her family: her husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Spending time with them brought her great joy.

Shirley is survived by her husband Marvin A. Gardner of Idaho Falls, a daughter, Dana White (Chris) of Hyrum, UT, and sons, Matthew Gardner of Scottsdale, AZ, A. Garth Gardner (Marie) of Ucon, ID, Logan Gardner (Suzanne) of Rigby, ID, and Grant Gardner (Hilary) of Idaho Falls. Shirley has 16 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren. She also leaves two sisters, Lillian Gallagher of Yakima, WA, Mary Reynolds (David Tishendorf) of Tieton, WA, and three brothers, Ed Reynolds (Jan) of Spokane, WA, Darol Reynolds (Sandra) of Seattle, WA and David Reynolds of Mt. Pleasant, SC.

The family thanks Hearts for Hospice and Home Health for their support and care during the final days of Shirley’s life.

Funeral Services will be held Watersprings Church, 4250 S. 25th E. Idaho Falls, ID 83404, on Thursday, December 3, 2016, at 2:00 pm. A viewing will be held one hour prior to the service beginning at 1 o’clock.

 

Interment will be at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, Monday, December 7, 2015,  at 9:00 am, 23029 N Cave Creek Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85024.





And the following is the life-sketch.  

On behalf of our family, my father, Marvin, and my brothers, Matt, Garth, Logan and Grant, our families and extended family, we appreciate your love, support, the many kindnesses you’ve shown, and your attendance at this celebration of my mother’s life.

Shirley Ann (Reynolds) Gardner died peacefully, surrounded by her husband Marvin and all 5 of her children, at her home in Idaho Falls, early Sunday morning, November 29, 2015 at age 79 from the long-term effects of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Shirley was born to Roy and Grace (Stanton) Reynolds in Deadwood, SD, on November 25, 1936. She was the fourth of eight children. Her childhood and young adult years were spent in Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington.

Shirley met, fell in love with, and married her husband Marvin in Richland, WA.  They have been married for 59 years. Together they have five children, one daughter and four sons. They owned and operated Beauty Colleges in Washington, Arizona, and Idaho. Shirley was a perfectionist with an eye to detail and carefully managed the book work of the businesses. Shirley was a member of the LDS church and spent decades of service working in the Primary Children’s organization and also served as Relief Society President for several years. Currently, Marvin and Shirley attend and participate here, at Watersprings Church in Idaho Falls. They love and appreciate the many new friendships they have found here.

Shirley and Marvin loved to dance and did so often. They enjoyed traveling and have been to many places both far and near. Shirley enjoyed cooking, sewing, reading, singing, and playing tennis. She was a lover-of words and an editor at heart.  She would read the Reader’s Digest magazine with a red pen in hand, make corrections, and send the corrected magazine back to the Reader’s Digest! However, Shirley’s greatest passion was her family: her husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Spending time with them brought her great joy.

When Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2003, she and Dad were very pro-active and willing to actively seek remedies. We were told, at that time, to expect 5-7 years of remaining life.  Thanks to their efforts, we are all exceedingly grateful to have had 12 years of her continued earthly life.

Our family has been especially blessed to have enjoyed the past three weeks of much togetherness.  We have shared many “Mom” stories and have laughed more than we’ve cried.  We are sure Mom enjoyed the stories as much as we did! Today, I will share with you some of our favorite memories and hopefully give you a glimpse of our wonderful mother.

Shirley spent her childhood and youth in Wyoming, Idaho, and Washington. We always loved to listen to her tell us stories of her family life.  Her siblings were her friends and they shared many adventures.  One of her favorite stories to tell was the time a bottle of Root Beer was acquired. She, and her siblings, decided the best way to enjoy the rare treat would be to get up and drink it at midnight.  They were granted permission from their mother and implemented their plan... There was only one hold-out.  The youngest child, Dave, did not want to wait until midnight. He wanted his root beer right then before bed. It was decided that he could, indeed, have his then, but, the rest of them would wait until midnight. An alarm was set and all went to bed.  At midnight the bleary-eyed group met in the kitchen only to discover that what remained of the opened bottle was flat root beer. The disheartened children returned to their beds.

Mom was a wonderful cook, but it didn’t really start out that way.  Our grandmother, mom’s mom, was a cook to support her family. Because of her desire to raise well-educated children, it was far easier for her to come home and quickly cook dinner than to have help in the kitchen.

When mom and dad were first married they had a few cooking mishaps, but mom was determined to learn.  One of my favorite stories involves a time when, shortly after Mom and Dad were married they decided to try out Baked Alaska when they had company coming for dinner. Baked Alaska is a desert that is a cake topped with ice cream, covered in meringue and then baked in the oven to brown the meringue. Apparently the cook needs to slide this work of art into the oven, allow the browning to take place, and then quickly remove the delicacy and eat promptly. Unbeknownst to them, the oven in their cute little home was not level and as the ice cream warmed, melted and began dripping into the bottom of the oven, billows of smoke came pouring out of the oven and Mom quickly stepped back, and directed Dad to “help!” Another time in their early married life, when Dad was out of town Mom decided to try her hand at homemade bread.  Apparently the result was so dismal she decided to bury the remains in the back yard and never mention the attempt.  The following weekend Dad was putting up a new clothesline in the backyard and dug up the bread!

Mom learned to love cooking and was willing to share her talents at all times.  Each of us remembers volunteering mom to make cookies for every event that came along. I’m sure that she has baked hundreds of thousands of cookies in her lifetime.

When Logan and Grant were busy pre-school boys the loved to pretend they were Joe Mannix and Speed Racer. The had many adventures in the backyard, and rarely wanted to stop playing. So, mom opened a lunchtime restaurant in her kitchen just for them.  It was called, Shirley’s Eats, and she made menus for the boys to order from. They called them “memmuse” and they could order peanut butter sandwiches or bologna sandwiches, almost any flavor of soup made by Campbell’s, water, milk, and sometimes even Kool-aid. I know there were often cookies too. She took this time to teach the boys manners. How to wait for food, how to visit, how to be polite to those providing service, and she listened.  Many, many days I would come home from school to stories of the boy’s lunchtime escapades. 

In addition to volunteering mom to bake thousands of cookies, we volunteered her for many other things as well. When I was in the seventh grade my English teacher began a class project to create a joke book – a collection of humorous stories and jokes collected by our class, compiled, and made into books; one for each member of the class, and others to sell. I volunteered Mom to type the book, and what was meant to be a 25-page booklet enlarged to a 150-page book. She never complained, but typed away, and was so proud to tell people about the book that I wrote with my class.

 Mom was a cub scout leader for each of my brothers and a super-support for Dad when he was a scoutmaster. How many boys have moms who light fires with no matches?  Our mom is an eagle scout many times over…not just as a support for my brothers but many, many boys have her to thank for their success.

Mom taught us to get along and love one another. If we had a fight, as children sometimes do, her immediate response was, “It takes two to make an argument. I’m sure you can work this out.”  If that advice didn’t work and things escalated, she would require us to sit on kitchen chairs facing each other until we could KISS and make up.  You can imagine that my household of brothers quickly decided it was better to get along than face that terrible fate!

Mom was always well dressed and always a lady. When she went Visiting Teaching, visiting other ladies from church with another lady as a companion, she always dressed her best wearing a dress, hosiery, heels and a matching handbag. On one such occasion when both she and her companion were expecting babies they needed to take my dad’s “new to him” truck.  It was kind of old and a bit dilapidated, but it would get them to their appointments.  En route, the bumper fell off. Imagine these well dressed women wiring the bumper back on. Someone called Dad and he came to save the day, but he still smiles as he remembers Mom fixing the bumper.

There is an old Judy Garland song that begins with the line, ”I’m always chasing rainbows…” Well, our Mom was a rainbow chaser. She LOVED rainbows and always stopped to enjoy them.  When each of us were three years old and asked to give our first talk at church she had us paint a picture of a rainbow.  And the talk she taught us began, “I love to look at rainbows. They remind me of the story of Noah’s Ark.” Her emphasis was always on the promise at the end of the story, that the earth would never again be destroyed by floods. Every time she would show us a rainbow she’d ask if we remembered the promise. 

She also told us about the leprechauns that left pots of gold at the end of rainbows and she was willing to help us look for the end of the rainbow to find those elusive pots of gold. Logan remembers a time in his childhood when there was a huge rainbow. He was sure that meant the pot of gold at the end was huge too. Mom drove him in the car toward the rainbow’s end for many, many miles… Logan chose where they would go to get there giving directions until he, not she, was ready to quit looking.

Being the mom of four boys brought a few challenges. Whenever we entered any store she would say, “This is a hands in pockets store.” And their hands would go right into their pockets, not to come out until they were out of the store. – We laughed and laughed as each of them confessed that they were married for several years before they realized that they didn’t have to put their hands in their pockets as they entered stores. (I will tell you that I have been shopping with each of them in the recent past and it is a habit! They cross a store threshold, and their hands automatically go into their pockets!)

When we moved to Scottsdale my parents bought a home with room for horses. My brothers quickly learned to ride and the horses were their pets.  Mom wasn’t a huge horse fan, but fully supported the hobby for Dad and the boys. It wasn’t unusual for the boys  to take the horses from the corral into the backyard to play with them.  Once they were playing with the horses, but became sidetracked and entered the house leaving the patio door open.  The cute horse named Blondie walked on in to the living room through the open door, and  when mom discovered a horse in the house, chased her out with a broom.

All of my brothers are athletes with different areas of expertise, but they all began with Little League. We never missed their games, but often spent hours in the concession stand selling treats.  I have no recollection of buying anything from the stand, but remember many fun days making snow cones and selling candy with Mom while the boys played ball.

Garth was and is an avid horseman. He is a natural in the saddle and was often asked to show horses for other people.  On one such occasion he was asked to show a Tennessee Walking Horse for a woman who needed a rider for her horse named Topperetta Moonbeam.  Garth had never ridden a Tennessee Walker before, but agreed and quickly started winning the events. Mom was in the stands cheering him on proudly.  After winning several events in a row, a poorly-mannered woman sitting near Mom commented to her companion, “Oh, if I hear Garth Gardner on Topperetta Moonbeam one more time….” Whereupon Mom turned and quickly informed the woman, “Garth is MY son!”

Grant’s forte was any game that involved a ball of any sort..  Mom and Dad were avid supporters and attended all the games.  When tournaments were played Mom packed fabulous feasts for him.  On one occasion she asked him what he wanted in his lunch and he requested Cool Ranch Doritos.  They were a new flavor at the time. She went shopping and scoured the chip aisle looking for what she thought he wanted, holding her fingers about four inches apart and measuring all the Doritos chips she could see.  A clerk came to help and she explained that she was seeking four-inch Doritos.  He was somewhat confused, but helped her look for “four-inch Doritos.” Suddenly, he asked, “Do you think it might be Cool Ranch Doritos?” To which she replied, “Oh yes, thank you!” bought the chips and departed.

Mom always believed in us 1000 percent. We lived in a big old house in Walla Walla, Washington with a big tree near the driveway in the backyard. Matt fancied himself a builder and started a treehouse.  I recall that Dad built the “foundation” of the treehouse to be sure is was sturdy and safe, but then an 8-year-old Matt took over and spent hours designing and building the walls, cutting in windows with an old handsaw and creating a work of art in the tree. His wood for the project was in a tidy pile in the garage from “found wood” that dad provided. One day, he went to get wood from the pile and discovered a treasure, a large heavy table top that dad saved from a home improvement project. Matt saved his money and bought nails and other needed supplies for his grand plan.  He recalls purchasing a small pulley and some skinny clothes-line rope that fit the small pulley all while planning to get the six-foot by six foot by two-inch HEAVY formica-covered board up into the tree.  He rigged up his pulley system, gathered his friends, and enlisted Mom’s help to manage the rope on the ground with his friends while he handled the rising board above in the tree. Matt, in his adult life, has been a house framer. He is sure that everything could have gone wrong with his plan, but with mom’s faith and confidence in him and his plan the board was installed just as he imagined.

Mom had a dear friend who was an avid reader of romance novels. When I was a young mother she once commented to me that she wondered what the draw of romance novels was.  I asked, “Well mom, have you ever READ a Harlequin Romance?”  She said no, and we decided we’d read one together.  We were planning a trip to visit my grandmother and some of mom’s siblings so I was assigned to go to a thrift store and acquire the vintage book for our road trip. I recall paying a dime for the novel!! What a fine time we had.  Have any of you ever read an old romance novel aloud? We even stopped to buy a highlighter and a flashlight so we could highlight the “good” parts and see to continue reading when it got dark. – Our favorite line from the book:  “He moistened his lips with a dry tongue.”  We laughed till our sides ached!

Mom was and always has been just a little bit na├»ve. At the end of a family dinner the topic was Grant and the fact that he is at least whole head taller that any of the rest of us. The question was posed, “Where did he come from?”  Someone responded that it must have been the milkman. Want to defend Mom’s honor, Dad said, “We never had a milkman.” To which mom innocently replied, “Yes we did!”

Mom loved children of all ages.  She was a wonderful grandmother and took great delight in each of her grandchildren. When my children were young she always carried a bingo game and a sack of prizes in her trunk. All of my children knew their numbers well from 1 – 75 long before they began school thanks to Mom and her hours of calling Bingo for them.

Mom was famous in our family for a few phrases which she used often to answer all kinds of  questions.

Could be. -- That would be nice. -- Maybe. -- Probably. -- We’ll see. -- Marvelous!

Any time mom combined phrases, such as, “That would be nice, we’ll see.” The boys would disgustedly respond, “That means, no.”  Each of them, to this day, believes that.

Mom was a woman of great faith and few words, but the words she chose always carried great meaning. Mom and Dad together wrote a life’s philosophy statement that they believed and strove to live by.  It is:

“Through our united spirits and accountability we bring forth empowerment, joy and harmony and create a world of peace, serenity, unconditional love, and acceptance where spirits take flight.”

We have received many letters, notes, calls and visits and appreciate each. The most often mentioned things about Mom are her ability to love unconditionally. She always had a gentle hug and loving words for others.

Dad gave me a pile of notes, journal entries and letters written by Mom. Near the end of a note written on the back of a beautiful picture of Jesus surrounded by children she had written:

“I have a deep and abiding faith in Jesus Christ. He is the greatest example of unconditional love.”

The night mom slipped peacefully toward eternity, Dad challenged each of us to find things to do that would make our mother proud of us. We all recall that throughout our lives as we left the house for any purpose mom’s parting words were always, “Be nice.” We ask you to join us in honoring and remembering our Mom, Shirley Ann Reynolds Gardner by choosing to embrace her admonition and always choose to 
Be Nice.