Monday, January 25, 2016

Today at Work

Today at work, I was in the bathroom in a stall towards the end of the row, minding my own business when all of a sudden, the other guy who was in there with me finished washing his hands, dried them with a towel, opened the door and promptly turned the light off. All of a sudden I was there in the stall, sitting in the dark. I was pretty startled (as you may imagine), and before I could say anything, the door closed and I was alone.

Now in all fairness, I don't think the guy saw me but remember that I work with a bunch of engineers and they can be pretty focused and have a tendency to miss things that are happening in the world around them. And I am sure that turning the light off after you walk out of the bathroom is a good habit to have, because that's what my parents always told me to do and my wife still tells me the same thing. So I get it, why he did it.

But at the same time, it's a public restroom. Who turns the lights off in a public restroom, especially without making sure that the restroom is empty? Anyway, what would I have said, right? "Hey, I'm still in here doing my thing?" No. Rule Number Four of Men's Bathroom Etiquette clearly states that there is no talking or eye contact allowed in the Men's Room.

(In case you might be wondering what the other rules are:
No. 1: Always leave a one stall/urinal buffer if it is physically possible, and do your business in a place that allows others to do the same.
No. 2: Announce your presence when someone comes in after you. You want them to know they are not alone in there. A little cough is appropriate.
No. 3: Clean up after yourself. If you spill some soap/water while washing, clean it up. If you drop a paper towel, pick it up. Flush the toilet. If you don't, it is automatically out of commission until the custodial crew gets in there. Not cool.
No. 4: See above. No chitchat in the bathroom, and keep your eyes forward. Otherwise, it's weird.
No. 5: Don't linger in the public bathroom. Get in, git'er done, and get out. Make room for the next guy and help him avoid having to break Rule No 1.
No. 6: NEVER bring food into the bathroom. That's just gross.
No. 7: Don't talk on your cell phone, or conduct business in the bathroom.
There are others, but they are situational and don't always apply)

Now, luckily I was prepared for this event, and just got out my phone and turned on my flashlight app to light my way till I was done. Those little lights are sufficiently bright to allow you to do your duty. However, it would have been akward if someone else had walked in, and I was still in the stall, in the dark, with my light on... If I had walked in on that, I would have promptly turned around and walked out and gone to the other restroom, or come back 5 minutes later. I will say though, that the last thing I did as I walked out of the bathroom was TURN ON THE LIGHT!!!

Monday, January 18, 2016

The "Thing" I Didn't Want to Write About (My Mom and Cancer)

My dad thought it would be a good idea for me to put down on paper what happened today, along with my thoughts and feelings. So here goes...

Today I lost one of my best friends, and one of my biggest supporters. Someone who has been with me through my ups and downs.

My mom was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer one month and one day ago. She had been complaining about some mild back pain for a few days and we kept telling her that she needed to go in to see the doctor, just like she would normally tell us to do. But she didn't want to take her own advice until one night the pain got so bad that she couldn't sleep through it anymore. She and her nurse sister were pretty sure it was a gall bladder problem, and she just didn't want to have to deal with that over the holiday season. My parents went to the hospital and the doctors did some scans and ran some tests and came back with the worst kind of news anyone wants to hear:

 "I'm sorry but you have cancer, and there isn't anything we can do about it."

 You never think that cancer is going to happen, or that it is a possibility until it is right there in front of you.  Needless to say, we were all shocked and heartbroken. I went to visit her at the hospital and found out that I had been preceded by several other family members, and my parents good friends the Wilkensons. I was happy to stay for a few minutes, but I get claustrophobic and that hospital room wasn't very big so I was glad that Aaron leaving gave me an excuse to not stay very long. Rachel dropped me off, and I was going to get a ride back with him.

Well, she came home and we had a great Christmas season. Everyone was able to make it up this year, it had been several years since that had happened. I know it made Mom's Christmas that much more special.  And it was certainly nice to see everyone and get to see nieces and nephews that I haven't seen in a while.  My mom spent a lot of time sitting over the holiday season, and I want to say that I noticed that she was really starting to have trouble getting through the pain really only about three weeks ago. We just plowed through Christmas and New Years like our family always had (mostly). But like I said, about three weeks ago, the pain started to get to be more than she could take on normal meds, and so they started to up her dosage, and switch her to stronger narcotics. Now, the good part about the narcotics is that they do take the pain away. The bad part of narcotics is that they also start to make a person groggy. So as the next few weeks progressed, she would be fine for a few days, and then the pain would get to be bad, so the doctors would up the dosage. That would wipe her out for the next day, and then she'd be up and awake and alert for a few days until her body got used to the new dosage and the pain would start getting through again. So they would up the dosage and the whole cycle would start over again. Except that as the meds wiped her out it took longer and longer to recover, and she got worse and worse. It didn't help that she wasn't eating or drinking very much either.

Anyway, she started to slip away much more quickly this last week, and I think those of us who were here to see, got a sense that she didn't have much longer to stay with us.

On Sunday, we were at my parent's house as is customary for us. I went in to talk to her for a little while, and had a few nice moments of lucidity with her. Rachel and I talked about our kids, about the nice dinner we had had the night before, and about life and how much we loved her. She responded a few times at appropriate places, asking about the kids, and squeezed my hand to let me know she was there and that she loved me. Then she told us that she needed to say goodnight, because she was tired and to please let Dad or Molly know so they could come up and help. That was my last real conversation with her. I think it was appropriate, talking about the things that she would have been interested in on any normal day. But last night I got it into my head that I needed to go into work early so I could come home early and see her without everyone else hovering and waiting for their turn. I got up at 5:30, with is about an hour and a half earlier than I have been doing for the past couple of months and got to work so that I could get off at 2:30pm.  I tried to stay busy at work but I was pretty distracted, and when time came to leave, I am pretty sure that I left several things in different states of completion. I will get to them later. I got to my parents house at 3:45pm, and went into the kitchen to see how it was going. Molly told me it was not good. I asked if she had been awake at all today, and Molly said barely any, just enough for the lawyer and the witnesses to be convinced that she could sign the updated will that they had worked on the week or so before. I asked if it was still a medication issue, or if it was worse than that, and I think she told me at that point she hadn't been able to take any pain pills that day, but was still not alert. I walked upstairs and saw my dad, kneeling by the bedside with my mothers hand in his, telling her that he loved her. I hesitated a moment before going any further, but my dad saw me and got up. He had me sit down with Mom and asked me, if I could get her attention, to offer her a blessing. I took her hand and squeezed, but I didn't get any squeeze back. I looked into her eyes and told her that I loved her and that I was going to miss her. I sat with her silently for a few minutes, and then she looked right at me. I asked her if she wanted a blessing and I got what I will say is a yes and said that I would call Dad up. But as he was listening on the baby monitor, he was already rushing up. My mom then gave us another precious moment of lucidity and said "I love you." The speech wasn't very clear, and she had trouble getting it all out, but I heard it and that is how I want to remember it, that my moms last audible words to me and to my dad were "I love you." We gave Mom a blessing and my dad said that it was ok for her to go, that she didn't need to feel like she needed to stay, and that our Heavenly Father was waiting for her to come home. He ended the blessing, and I looked down at her. Her lips looked so dry, I wanted to do something to help, so I went down to get some ice chips. My dad gave her one, and she took it, but then immediately scrunched up her face in what may have been a mixture of discomfort and strong dislike, with maybe a dash of frustration thrown in (because after all, she wasn't really thirsty), and tried to spit the ice chip out. She put her hand up over her face and eyes and then she put her hand down, her body relaxed and we could tell she was going. We called for Molly, who had been all sorts of fantastic and patient and supportive and helpful. Molly came up and then my mom left. Quite literally 5 minutes after she received that blessing, and less than a half an hour after I got there. I am so glad that I listened to the promptings I received, that allowed me to be there for her final moments and to be there with my dad and Molly as she returned to be with our Father in Heaven.

I love my mom. I will miss her fiercely for the rest of my life, and look forward to the day, after I have had a good long life of my own, that I can run to her embrace, see her smiling face and tell her that I love her once again. I am so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that has offered us a way to be a family forever. I know that this is NOT the end, that I will see her again and that we will be happy.

Mom, I love you so much, words cannot say. You have been my friend, my confidant, my cheerleader, my example. You picked me up when I was down, hugged me when I was happy and sad, took my own wife and kids under your wing. You made me feel loved and important. I will miss you while we are apart but I know, in part because of your testimony, that the separation is not permanent.

I miss you.

Love Nathan

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Life updates

This last year has been an interesting year to say the least. The engineering firm I work for was added to the collection of companies owned by the Fives Group, a French conglomerate. And for those of you wondering, it is NOT pronounced "5s" It is FEEvs. If that makes phonetic sense, cause it's, ya know, French. They (we) have been in business for over 200 years, so that's a pretty long time I guess. And it seems like they have business interests in just about every sector (automotive, aerospace, aluminum, cement, sugar, composites, heavy machinery, manufacturing... etc). Anyway, their network of suppliers has been a big boon to me personally, it has opened doors into the manufacturing world that I might never have seen, working with the limited resources of a smaller company. There are some pretty crazy parts that I am looking at trying to get built right now, and if it wasn't for the Fives manufacturing contacts, I would be struggling (even more than I am) with finding vendors who would be willing to take the work.  It has also been good, because part of our integration into the Fives family of companies means better name recognition, access to new markets, and the ability to sell our services in new and more competitive ways.  I am working on a project right now worth several million dollars that I am pretty sure we only got because of our association with Fives. So now we are no longer Lund Engineering, we have become Fives Lund LLC. Pretty exciting.
Another development: I was finally able to finish paying off my debt. Now the only debt I have is my house and property, and I plan on keeping it that way. No more watching interest rates, or making sure I am on time with my monthly payment or trying to figure out how to make the money stretch to cover the payments. We can finally start saving again, I have started putting away for retirement again (though I never should have stopped) and we can save for fun things that we actually want. It feels pretty good. My job at Lund has been really good for me.
Also, Rachel has been working there as well. She started in June of this last year, and has been working the front desk with another girl. It has been nice to wander up front and see her. And it has been nice to have her home more often, and not have to drive into downtown Seattle. She gets to put the kids on the bus in the mornings, and I get to come home and get them off the bus in the afternoon. That has been a real blessing. She also isn't stressed out all the time about work, because it is truly a job that we both can just leave at work.
Christmas this year was nice, all my family came to town at some point, even Danny and Makay were able to get away from their wildly successful online business ( and spend some time with all of us. They don't get to do that very often, so it was good to see them. I don't make it down to Utah very often, and the times I have in recent years, have not given me the opportunity to stop by and say hi. We got to go to the Supermall this year with everyone and do our Christmas tradition of drawing a name from a hat, and buying a $10 gift within an hour. We have been doing this for years, and this is the first time that everyone has been all in one spot. Actually I think we were missing Ben. But he works at the hospital and doesn't get normal days off.
I'd like to talk about a few other things, but I don't know if I'm ready to start putting that down on paper.