Monday, February 28, 2011


This will be brief.  My eyes are fuzzy and I have company (hey Darrel!  Tiel is in town for a day!)

Tom Allison is dying.  No, I mean really dying. 

The hospice people say that he could be in a coma by the end of the week and that he will not regain consciousness.  Some folks think it could be weeks before he passes because his healthy organs are just that...healthy.  And strong.  Other folks think it will be quicker. 

I am hoping it is not at all.

But of course he is.  And will.

I don't to hear another person say "Well, you think you are ready in your mind but you really aren't."  Got it.  Helper.

I have loved lots of people who have died.  This isn't my first dance.

I am a little angry today.  Could you tell?

Gotta go.  Dishes are calling.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bob the Builder Award: Kelloggs Shares Their Breakfast

I am not a breakfast kind of girl.  I am lactose intolerant (no milk for cereal, no yogurt).  Eggs make me nauseated.  I don't eat bread.  

See, a meal set up for someone.  Someone else that is.

I remember one breakfast that I will never forget.

That face cannot lie--Nirvana

We were in Scotland.  Some sort of greek-like yogurt.  Nuts.  Berries.  And whiskey. Errr, I mean it is NORMALLY served with whiskey but of course I opted out.  Makes me smile right now just to think of it.  I don't know what it was but man, I see why people eat breakfast if they can start out their day this happy.

Some people want to eat breakfast but don't.    They want to be this happy, but can't. 

And they are children.

Did you know that recent studies show that "nearly 1 in 4 kids in America struggles with hunger." 

I love this project that Kellogg's is working on.  It is called "Share Your Breakfast".

If you take a picture of your breakfast and send it to them or send them a text at 21534, they will donate a breakfast for every text or photo that they receive.  Easy peasy!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Tom Celebration Talk about "That Guy"

To wrap up the Celebration of Tom report, I want to record here what I generally said.  Tom said he wanted me to give the "happy part" of the funeral talk I will deliver after he passes away.

Insert my best happy voice, my best cheery smile, and read along.
The "Everything you want to know about Tom Allison but were afraid to ask" Talk 

A second grade magnet experiment with electricity is the defining moment of why he became an electrician.
Hostess cupcakes.
LOVES Shania Twain
He got hit on by a 86 year old grandma posing as a 68 year old
He is in a bowling league with a felon known as the "trigger man" and the "hood rat" gangsters
Likes girly gossip
Pushing buttons and twisting knobs
Favorite famous folks include Jesus, Darth Vader and Boba Fett.
Loved the show "24" when it was on tv
Loves safety but doesn't necessaryily think all safety rules apply to him
Owned giant flashlights with the name of Cyclops and Thor
Screws in outlets and light switches have to be perfectly up and down...union work sign
Tried on my giant pioneer hoops
Loves movies with the Rock (no, that is me)
He is "all natural"
Music--most kinds
World record holder in the one song he can play--Smoke on the Water
Official Saint in the Universal Life Church
New poster child for Adidias clothing
Dropped "trou" at the Star Wars Convention to try on a skirt--kilt
For some strange reason, thinks that the song Flash by Queen and the movie Flash Gordon are the greatest media ever made.

He is known throughout the land as the guy who gives unconditional service.  He is always serving and never asks for anything in return.  I once asked him why he gave so much, and he said it was because he wanted to be "that guy".  That guy that people turned to when they are in need. 

I thought it would be cool to share what some services he has done while living here in Missouri:Habitat for Humanity
Northland Christmas Store
Made meals for Haiti
Collected stuffed animals for little girls in Iraq
Shoes for orphans
Countless home projects
Church projects
Pearls for Kathy
Over 1400 lunches for the homeless
DNA test for Natalie
Earrings for the hospital nurses
Served in Boy Scouts
Donated to Salvation Army
Presented to children
Relay for Life Cancer walks
Electrical work
Countless rides
Hurrican Katrina for three weeks
donated clothing to the poor
Worked at the homeless shelter
and is a recipient of the Lifetime Volunteer Service Award from the President of the United States

Then I had everyone in the room who has received some of Tom's service or worked with Tom  in service stand up...
I bet there were only about 5 people who didn't stand.  It was overwhelming and my favorite part of the evening.  It made me so happy that he could see everyone he had worked with as well as his children saw his life and how it had touched them.

My parting words:
There is a saying from Chalms: (insert some crying here)You have written your name in kindness, love and service.  Your name and your good deeds will never be forgotten. 

There is another saying by Buddah:  which I got of a  matchbox that Natalie sent to me
Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. 

Tom, you have been that light. 

You are that candle.

We will no sooner forget our friendship with you than we would our own name
Love, Val

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Primary Sources in This Very Room

It has been hard for me to put into words. 

I know.  Val at a loss for words?  Doesn't happen often so relish it.

Yesterday I was reading in my boy's social studies book working 8th grade homework, and there was an interesting snippet about the power in a primary source.

A primary source is someone who has first-hand experience, knowledge or lived through the experience that is being discussed.  Primary sources are valuable for many things.  Witnesses in court cases, telling military experiences, sharing stories in church...etc... you get what I mean.

It struck me that I was a primary source for Tom Allison's life.  And death.

We had the Celebration of Tom Allison with some snacks party almost a week ago and I am just now able to sort of put it into perspective.  Give it voice.

Tom sporting his special party shirt

I am only one of 169 primary sources from the event so this is just my interpretation of the experience.
For those of you who haven't been reading along or figured it out, Tom is getting closer to passing away.  He is now in hospice.  He is no longer under treatment and to paraphrase him from a comment the other day, he is just killing time until he dies.

One thing we decided could be really cool before that happens is that we would have a celebration of his life.  Basically, to me, it was his living funeral.  As Dave said in church the other day, "We went to funeral on Friday.  The guest of honor was there.  And he was alive."  You don't get to too many funerals where the honoree is there....with the ability to mingle with the guests. In a non-creepy "Dawn of the Dead" way.  :)

showing buddies his Star Wars

His mother, the Crossroads Hospice ladies, and we worked for weeks to pull it together.  Think of a birthday party or wedding reception with no gifts, no cake, no bride (but R2D2) and for some, it may be the last time to see him alive. 

some snacks

You would think there would be an air of saddness.  But there wasn't.

You would think perhaps it would be morbid or hushed.  But it wasn't.

It was heavenly.  Majestic.  Fantastic.

getting the party started

There were snacks.  There was an IPOD full of his favorite 1980's music blaring.  There were guests...not attendees.  There were family, friends, more friends, and more friends.  As a matter of fact, 13 friends and family flew in from all over the country to by there.  There were Star Wars decorations everywhere.  There were the 2 Tomcassos (created by Cheryl years ago)(scrapbooks of his life) and a 3rd Tomcasso album from his mother, since he has lived so long.  :)  And there was Darth Vader.

Darth Vader?  Yep, Darth Vader even made it.

Star Wars Action figure posing

By a lucky amount of circumstance or perhaps a tender mercy from God as the LDS people would say, the Star Wars costumed troop that I had tried to contact months ago about showing up at his funeral actually know people from the hospice and so they arranged they to show on Friday.  One of my best kept secrets I must say....Tom had NO idea.  Neiher did most everyone else.

Dave wore his best yellow party shirt

It was fantastic!  Everyone laughted!  Everyone cheered!   People got their pictures. 
Tom and his girl, Jennifer the Koala Bear

I picked Darth Vader's nose AND got choked by almost every Star Wars movie.  It was classic! mom picking Darth's nose?

yeah chicks posing with their guns...

Val tattles to Darth Vader that Mr. Fun's gun is bigger
than hers

Darth has Val's back:  she gets two guns...

There was a program.  Joe, his best friend from high school, spoke and shared stories.  I spoke, his best friend from his Missouri years.  I have the outline I wrote, which I will post next I think.  I don't want to forget it.  It was hard to deliver.  Saying goodbye in many ways.  That is hard to do in front of 168 other folks. 

Joe and I later figured out that we share the same grief.  "One of our best friends is dying" grief.  That makes us a new sort of best friends by sad default.  The kind that swear they will call each other when they visit the other's state...

high school besties:  Joe, Tom, David

Then there was a power point of his life to the songs "Live like you are Dyin'" by Tim McGraw and "Fields of Gold" by Sting.  Then we had open mic.  Many loved ones spoke and shared their feelings of Tom's goodness, his example, and his service to his fellow men.  It was so amazing.  You and I should be so lucky to be loved like this.
California besties:  Mike, Nadine, Mike, Tom

Then Tom spoke.  He spoke about why he served...revealing that he had been told in the past by some who were influencial in his life that he wasn't worthy or good enough.  How he realized they were wrong.  He spoke about trying to do his best.  To be "that guy" anyone could call.

The party went on for a few hours and when it was over, people still lingered.  Laughing, hugging, loving.
It was like we were in another place.  For those who believe, the Spirit of God was there. 

I love this one:  brother Mike and Tom
(hello, Tom do you know anyone NOT named Mike?)

It was an honor to be a small part.
The night I went into labor with the Girl, I attended a baptism.  There was a song that was sung I have never forgotten.  It is called "In This Very Room", a little known LDS comtemporary church song:

In this very room there's quite enough love for one like me,

And in this very room there's quite enough joy for one like me,
And there's quite enough hope and quite enough power to chase away any gloom,
For Jesus, Lord Jesus ... is in this very room.

And in this very room there's quite enough love for all of us,
And in this very room there's quite enough joy for all of us,
And there's quite enough hope and quite enough power to chase away any gloom,
For Jesus, Lord Jesus ... is in this very room.

In this very room there's quite enough love for all the world,
And in this very room there's quite enough joy for all the world,
And there's quite enough hope and quite enough power to chase away any gloom,
For Jesus, Lord Jesus ... is in this very room.

Friday, this is all I kept thinking...In this very room, there is quite enough love, joy, power.

Sons on Ice:  Mike, Tom, parents Linda and Bob

Should we all be SO lucky, and frankly just plain darned blessed to live to see the fruits of love and joy in our lives.  Our service.  Our love.

Oh, and may the Force be with us.  :)  Always.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Life is Beautiful" by Nikki Stixx

I learned from the great John Phillips about a song called "Life is Beautiful" by Nikki Stixx about how it takes a funeral to remind you that life if beautiful.

We are two days out...from my first living funeral.

I read about it years ago when I was a newlywed.  I always told Mr. Fun I wanted one.  Event planning one is just as good.  Especially when it is for one of your best friends.

It isn't a funeral at all, though.  It is a celebration.  With snacks.  But of course.

The Celebration of Tom is on Friday and we are in super-duper amped up mode to get ready.

The Girl made this...

13 guests are flying in...some are here already.  Spread out in 5 houses.  Across about 25 miles.
Tom and I are working on three guest rooms ourselves. 

Some of those folks are sharing their homes with 4 cats and a dog.  One house has five dogs.

Food.  Food. And more food.

I had 10 RSVPs today.  That is about 135 confirmed and about 35 we aren't sure.

We will have six people taking photographs. 

A guy from TV is coming to make a sort of documentary for the hospice people.

We have Mr. Fun and the Boy running a video camera to film like video postcards for Tom to watch later.

The Girl is in charge of names tags...which will say cleaver little things like "Val--friend"  "Destin--cousin".  People like order and to know how we all fit.

There will be a program.  One of Tom's best friends from high school will speak.  A power point.  Me.  I declined the first several times he asked me.  I am speaking at the "sad" funeral I said.  He said I can say the good stuff at this one, and then tell more sad things at the other one.  So basically I have to write out the whole funeral talk and then give only the cheery half.  Strange way to deliver a talk.

I am most excited to see how happy Tom will be.  Especially during the Open Mic part of the program. 
All those loving words said about him. And he is here to hear them for himself.

For those of you who are going to be in attendance, get your party face on.  :)

For those of you who won't be there in person, we will have plenty of fun for you to look through after.

Life, this Friday, will be beautiful.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Photos: Boy, bring me some more Pop Tarts...

If we are not "friends" on the Facebook, here is the link to see some pictures of the blizzard yesterday taken from the living rooms. Can't get out...snowed in.