On Thursday, July 28th, we were in the middle of dinner when Devin received a phone call from his mom. We were shocked when she told us that Devin's dad had passed away a couple hours previously.
Pat, Lynette, Alaire, Ryan and Flynn had been on vacation in Utah and Idaho, and had been driving towards Yellowstone that day. It was windy and they were on a dirt road; they slid off and the van rolled several times. Mom and Ryan, in the front seats, received some small cuts and bruises, and sore muscles. Ryan pulled Alaire out from under the van, and she had some more serious bruising and cuts. Flynn was severely injured; his arm broken in two places, several cracked ribs, slightly fractured pelvis on both sides, one ear almost torn off, and some road rash. Dad had been laying asleep in the back, and probably died pretty instantly. Despite Ryan and Alaire performing CPR, they could not help him. Eventually they flagged down some help. Flynn was flown on a helicopter to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.
Of course, words can only poorly describe our surprise and sadness. We were up most of the night, coordinating flights into Salt Lake City to meet there with Brett and Andrea, and Kyle and Vanessa - and then getting ready to go. After little more than an hour's sleep we woke up early to drive to Houston, where Devin's uncle gave us a ride to the airport.
It was Becca's first plane ride. We were exhausted, and she also had received less sleep than usual, but she was pretty good still. We didn't much feel like smiling, of course, but what can you do?
We soon met up with Brett, Kyle, and Vanessa in the airport, but as we had a couple hours until Andrea's flight came in, we decided to go get some lunch and tour Temple Square. The sister missionaries who guided our tour first took us to the Tabernacle, and we got to hear some organ music - which I'm not sure Becca liked.
When the missionaries found out where we were all coming from (two cities in Texas, and New Jersey), they asked why we came. We really didn't want to talk about it, so we said that we were going up to Idaho to see family. However, the tour they took us on soon showed us the power of inspiration that missionaries can receive through the Spirit, as well as how much Heavenly Father loves us and strives to comfort and bless us. There are many tours the Sisters take people on, but after the tabernacle, they took us to the Christus statue to talk about God's love for us in sending His Son.
The most touching part, however, came next, as they invited us to go watch a series of short videos on the family, where you move from room to room with a set that matches what the videos talk about. The main motif through it all is the beautiful truth that families can be together for all eternity, and that we will see our loved ones even after they die. We had no dry eyes among us, and we felt the Spirit strongly. I know that the Lord was aware of our great sadness and pain that day, and I consider that experience a tender mercy of His.
After our formal tour, we continued to wander a bit around the gorgeous grounds and interesting displays.
a scale model of the Salt Lake temple
(Kyle, Vanessa, Devin, and Brett)
These next pictures were actually taken by Brett's fiancee, Andrea - since she missed our family tour, he took her back a few days later. They are so pretty that I wanted to include them.
After Andrea arrived, we all crammed into a rental van for the trip up to Idaho Falls. We spent Friday evening through Monday afternoon there with the family as Flynn recovered enough to be released. Mom, Alaire and Ryan had already been released when we arrived there, but most of our time was spent at the hospital anyway - to comfort and help with funeral arrangements and other necessary business, as well as to cheer and distract (which was Becca's main job, and she did it so well!). Mom's brother and his wife were so gracious to invite all of us kids to stay with them in nearby Rigby, but Mom stayed to help Flynn during the nights.
After going as a family (minus Flynn, who could not leave yet) to say goodbye to Dad at the funeral home, we decided to drive by the temple and then stopped at this scenic spot near the Idaho falls to take some pictures.
Devin and I both have a soft-spot for Idaho, so we couldn't resist sitting Becca on this bench for a photo op
It's supposed to be a potato with a section (or should I say, wedge?) cut out of it :D
One afternoon, Devin and Ryan left the hospital to go down the street where they were having a classic car show. They brought back a whole lot of pictures to amuse Flynn.
But mostly, our time at the hospital looked like the next few pictures. The staff were kind enough to let us commandeer one of their therapy/lunch break rooms just a couple doors down from Flynn, in the children's wing of the hospital. Ironically, our room was called the Yellowstone Room.
Becca was everyone's amusement. She was a very good baby, despite it being so hard to not let her crawl around, and to get her to take regular naps.
Flynn had a couple sessions in a hyperbaric chamber every day, as well as therapy to help get him standing and walking again. Becca also gave him some Becca-Love therapy.
We did get to church on Sunday for Sacrament Meeting, and here's Becca and her daddy back at the hospital afterwards.
Monday afternoon, Flynn was discharged and we caravan-ed to Salt Lake City, where the funeral was to take place. The Moore's all stayed at Grandma Moore's home, just a few minutes from my parents' home, where Devin and I stayed. The night after we got back, the Moore's and the Stratton's all got together for dinner and chatting.
Here's Becca being just generally cute and practicing her crawl. This was with the girls (me, Alaire, Vanessa, and Andrea) while the boys all practiced their song for the funeral - at Grandma Moore's house.
Grandma Moore informed Kyle and Vanessa that "mint is very good for babies!", so they let her try it. She made some hilarious faces which led us to know that she didn't like it, but still thought it interesting enough to eat a bunch. As soon as I put her in the car seat to leave though, she promptly got rid of it. Yuck. So, I really don't think mint is that good for babies.
On Thursday, August 4th, Dad's viewing and funeral were held at Grandma Moore's church, where Dad grew up. All of his sons spoke, and sang "How Great Thou Art" together. Alaire sang "For Good" with Dad's sister. And most of Dad's brothers spoke as well. It was a really neat tribute to Dad's life, with lots of tears, but some good laughs too.
Dad was buried in the Salt Lake City cemetery next to his grandfather. His youngest brother, Dan, dedicated the grave. There was a bag-piper playing, as Dad had wanted. Since Dad was such a true-blue Cougar fan, he got a blue casket. And even though he was the only BYU fan of all his brothers, one of them put a big Cougar sticker on the side of the casket as he went to lay his boutonierre on top.
When we felt at last that we could leave, we all went back to the church building for the luncheon. Almost all of Dad's extended family was there, as well as a lot of Mom's family who had traveled a long way to come support her. There was a whole ton of delicious food, and it was good to visit with aunts and uncles and cousins.
Dad has a lot of good qualities, but the two that always impressed me the most were these: he is the most generous man I've ever met, and he was so frequently serving his fellowman - I am sure he still is, up in heaven. Dad loves his family and we know he'll be watching over us. Of course, the family misses him a lot. But Mom especially is so strong, and as a family we are so grateful for the eternal perspective the gospel blesses us with. We know that we will see him again someday, and we thank Heavenly Father for the blessing of a temple sealing that binds us all together for eternity.