April 27, 2009

Our Dear Mother

Time has too quickly passed as mom's time here on earth has come to an end. Her partial remission lasted only a couple of weeks, long enough for her to enjoy her concert immensely and to reminisce the life of her musical accomplishments as well as the rich and loving relationships that have been forged over the years through her service. So many people from all over came to the concert and what a joy it was to renew those relationships! What a blessing it will forever be to our family that you wonderful dear, loved ones came to celebrate with mom in music, which is one of the most important things in her life besides her family. Dad keeps saying how forever greatful he will be for that beautiful concert. Hundreds of people came. We thank all those people who participated and contributed to the concert: immediate family, Shingle Springs Ward members, Robin Krauss, Tim Newell, Rod Hunter, Gap-CD, the Valley Choral Society, soloists like Carla Rae Cook, Cherie Shoemaker, Stan Zenk,Cameron Doyel, Richard Clinger, Michelle Jones, the Chamber String Quartet, as well as the orchestra members. We could not have pulled it off without any single one of you. Thank you! Thank you!

Unfortunately, and as many of you now know, the remission was short lived. The Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia came back full force along with one of its side effects, Hypercalcemia. We did not spot the Hypercalcemia right away. The symptoms of the hypercalcemia were quite obvious to any oncologist, but not to us, so we did not know she was so far advanced in her Hypercalcemia. In mom's high reaching style, she set new records at the Kaiser Hospital and reached a level of 21.3 at the time she even came into emergency. The highest calcium level they had to date in 20 years was a wopping 17 which put them almost into a coma, which unfortunately is where mom almost headed. The day before, Sunday, she was nauseated, vomitting, barely able to lift her baton yet insisted on directing the choir. Monday, the doctors heard what she had been doing the day before and merely shook their heads in amazement and wondered at this incredible lady, mom. Days passed before her delerium subsided, but while they were giving her an MRI, she went into seizures and had to be placed on life support. It was a difficult time for all of us, but especially for mom and dad. When the doctors had given up on mom, mom mustered her never ending energy and pulled through. She had tubes coming out every which way from her mouth and nose, yet she would try to talk to us and tell us things which we simply could not understand. We began to ask questions and she would nod. Finally she had enough strength to write with her hands. We excitedly awaited her first written words. Cameron records that the first written words were, "Use both sides of the paper before you throw them away" and "find other chairs in the rooms for my visitors to sit on". We all were waiting in anticipation for something profound, but in mom's humble and thoughtful style, these were her greatest concerns. Miraculously, she was able to come home in a wheelchair and be with dad.

Again, her recovery lasted but a week and she quickly grew more feeble. The hypercalcemia overtook her body in her weakened state. This time we took her to the hospital to be treated and her body began to fail her. Days at the hospital grew into weeks and mom's faith in her "I'm gonna lick this Leukemia" attitude never faltered. The spirit within her could not overcome the failings of her body. Each day was recorded by Cherie of the experiences and sweet memories we have of our dear mother. Mom is a fighter with more energy and will than most I know. Two days before her passing Cherie recorded the following: "We can't believe it! Mom never ceases to amaze us! She is determined to live! She can barely communicate yet is totally aware of what we're saying. After much struggle on her and our parts, we figure out some things she is trying to say. One thing is for sure, she has made it clear that she does not want to die. She has told us not to give up on her. She wants to live!!!!! The exclamation marks are not an exaggeration. She wants to write her life's history. She wants to do more genealogy." She wanted us to talk the doctors into figuring out how they could give her just a few more weeks to finish some work. It just wasn't what the Lord wanted for mom.

Tuesday evening the whole family came into her room at Kaiser Hospital and sang some Hymns and ended with "My Dear Mother". We each expressed our love and gratitude for her life to us. Wednesday morning, after an arduous fight to live the day before, her breathing became even, soft and peaceful. Cherie and Cameron read to her some of the lovely, continuous emails that have been coming into Cherie or the family Lukenet. There was one in particular that Cherie shared by a fellow friend and composer, Stan Zenk.

Stan Zenk said, "Speaking as a fellow composer, if this is Rosalind’s time, then she’s leaving behind all the mortal mechanisms that get in the way of spontaneously sharing the music we have inside---most of it never finding outward expression. Music is within us all our lives, passing through yet unshared with others.

"What I wrote above about love, I’ll apply to beauty. What frustration to have such beauty within and only imperfect and awkward means for transmitting it to others for their experience and joy. It’s not that way in heaven where even the rocks---whenever they feel to---break forth freely into song!"

At this point, I (Cherie) said to Cameron, “Have you heard that before? Even the rocks will sing!” This idea is so exciting to me. I had heard it before. I turned to mom with joy in my heart and voice and said, “Mom, did you hear that? Even the rocks will sing!”

At this point, my mom took a deep, audible, throated breadth. Her breath stopped for what seemed a very long time. Silence. Cameron and I looked at each other and then looked at mom. “Cherie, call for the nurse.” Mom took one more breath. At this point, we could feel her spirit leave her precious, lovely, lovely mortal body. We sat in awe as we looked at “Our Dear Mother.” We then knew that as our mother left her tired worn body, she was then rejoicing on the other side with not only her dear mother, Edna, but countless others."

Mom has been such a rock of faith and an example of love for all. Her music is a heritage to our family and the joy of our lives. We invite all who would like to come and participate in the funeral services to come Saturday, May 2nd, to the Mormon Center located by the LDS Temple, 2110 California Circle, Rancho Cordova, CA off of Highway 50 at 11 a.m. A special open casket viewing will be held at 9:30 a.m. prior to the services.

Celeste Whedon

To view and download free copies for performance of mom’s work, visit her website www.RosalindMLukeCrosby.com

March 3, 2009

The words directly below is from Cherie's post that I pasted from our family chat that I felt needed to be posted here to update everyone else that may be following the blog. This was posted yesterday afternoon right after receiving the news from mom's doctor. Wondrous News!!

If you don't believe in miracles first know that this was the most amazing, spiritual weekend for us all but I'll have to write about this past weekend later because I first have to tell you the most amazing news!!!!!........

Mom (Rosalind) had her long awaited appointment with Dr. Crane about her bone marrow results. We waited in anticipation at her 2:45 appointment (Mom, dad and me, Cherie.) We had many questions to ask but before we could ask any questions whatsoever, Dr. Crane (without any expression) announced:

Rosalind M. Luke Crosby is officially in remission!!! They can not find any cancer whatsoever!!!!!!!

We all gasped, my dad jumped out of his chair, clapped his hands and said, "Rosalind, start writing that opera!" He then said, "Rosalind, we're taking a trip to Hawaii!!"

I'll give more detail later because I just have to get the word out to all of you. I know mom wants to call her brothers and sister and talk to them individually.

I just have to add that both Dr. Crane (Sacramento Doctor) and Dr. Shammi (Huntsman doctor, top in the world) told us that it would be impossible for her to go into remission. The type of chemo she would need to go into remission would kill her.

We don't know how long the remission will last, that is up to the Lord, but this we know, that miracles happen. It is through the many, many prayers from you and countless others, her name put on the prayer roll in the temple, the many times we have fasted, and of course the expertise of doctors (even if they didn't believe it could happen), and the great outpouring of love that has brought about this beautiful miracle in the life or our mother/sister/friend, Rosalind.

February 17, 2009

We're looking forward to seeing many of you next week! We're busy getting ready for the concert. Mom finished her last round of chemo for now but couldn't help but pick up the violin to demonstrate to grand daughter, Sarah Shoemaker, how to play with vibrato!

February 2, 2009

Speaking Of Upcoming Concert.....

Yes, mark your calendars!!

A Musical Tribute To Rosalind:
Compositions by Rosalind M. Luke Crosby

Saturday, February 28th at 7:00 p.m.
at the Cameron Park LDS Church Bldg.
3431 Hacienda Rd., Cameron Park, CA 95682
Featured Artists:
Valley Choral and Orchestra, directed by Paul Allen
Cherie Crosby Shoemaker, soprano
Carla Rae Cook, mezzo soprano
Jeri Clinger, soprano Michelle Jones, soprano
Cameron Doyle, baritone
Richard Clinger, piano
Chambers String Quartet
Marcia Williams-Miller, flute
Cd's of concert will be available for $10
All profit will go towards a Music Scholarship Fund
We hope to have you all there!!!

We Gave Up Trying To Keep Up With Mom A Long Time Ago!

Mom had her second blood transfussion Saturday, 1/31. We've all felt the seriousness of mom's situation, but even dad had to laugh when he talked on the phone about mom. They raced down the hill to squeeze in an early spot at Kaiser where mom spent 3 hours getting her transfussion but immediately after that had to race back home because she had too much to do. She spent the rest of the day talking on the phone to loved ones and extracting orchestral parts to give to Katrina Martin for next Sunday's orchestra rehearsal which will be at mom and dad's home so mom can make changes if needed. Mom also had to make some small changes to various compositions to get ready for the up coming concert. Of course, this is what we love about mom. Life is always full of purpose and meaning.

Sunday, mom loved reading chapters from the "Teachings of Presidents of the Church Joseph Smith" and her scriptures. Mom marvels at the amazing man and prophet that Joseph Smith was. He had so little formal education yet the wisdom and revelation that came from him is a true marvel. His writings are a joy for her to read and truly inspire her. She bore her personal testimony to me that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. The rest of the day she continued to extract orchestral parts, listened to me and Stan Zenk rehearse several of her pieces, made comments and corrections, took calls, and worked, worked, worked. She said she feels worse when she does nothing. Working and staying in contact with others keeps her mind off herself.

Mom isn't the only amazing one. Dad is constantly going, going too. Sunday evening while I was at their home, dad worked in the office, enjoyed a call from his brother George, shared the latest joke from Uncle George (have him tell you!!), listened to me sing mom's composition "Fern Hill" (words from dad's favorite poet, Dylan Thomas) as he sat on the couch holding mom's hand wiping tears from his eyes. Of course, the evening wouldn't of been complete without dad going into his study to pull out a book of poetry by Dylan Thomas and read a couple of his other favorites to Stan. Dad has a beautiful voice but he doesn't have to sing a note to make music. Dad truly has a gift for reading poetry. Sometime, take the opportunity to have him read or recite one of his favorites. You will not be disappointed.

This is the life we grew up with as children. Grand Central Station is still open for business at the Crosby home!

Love, Cherie

January 28, 2009

It has been awhile since we last posted. Many relatives started to call to say what's up with the blog. So I will attempt to update all that is happening.

Mom and dad came back home on the 16th. They were happy to be back in their own home to rest from all the travel, company and stress of the situation. Appointments were made with Kaiser for blood work and chemotherapy classes. They would not allow mom to start the chemo until she had completed the class, but they did schedule her appointment 30 minutes after the class. They did not want to waste any time. I am quoting part of Cherie's email she sent out last weekend since she related so well the events of the day.

"Mom, dad, Celeste and I attended mom’s chemo class from 10-12 noon. It was an excellent class. It was very informative and presented well. The head nurse for the endricrinology department instructed mom and several other patients and their friends/family. It’s quite a large department and will Feb. 2nd be moving into a newer and more excellent facility. Mom was very emotional during the class, head sometimes on dad’s shoulders, clasping hands. The emotions didn’t just stop with mom. Dad too was teary eyed and deeply concerned about mom. They are the epitome of a long lasting, loving relationship that only radiates the love they share with each other.

We have had frustrations with the assistant to Dr. Crane who hasn’t returned phone calls until sometimes days later. We had expressed our concerns to Jan, the head nurse. She told mom and dad to no longer contact Dr. Crane’s assistant but to only call her and she would make sure mom and dad got immediate attention. This was of course a great comfort to us all. She spent all the time we needed to answer any questions we had.

Jan has been in the endocrinology department for now over 30 years. People dealing with constant medical crisis’s as we know can either become hardened or more compassionate. It was very touching to see her eyes tear up as she spoke with mom and dad and then hear her tell them what beautiful people they are and hugged each of them. She stressed several times during the class and after the class as she spoke with mom and dad that no one is dying of cancer, they are living through cancer. Each person is experiencing their own unique experience. We can share our experiences but each will have their own experience and their own life. She stressed this time and time again. She and the other nurses have seen miracles. Many people who were told they would not live have lived. It doesn’t have to be the way others tell them it will be. Jan also told us that Dr. Crane is a brilliant doctor. She also said that if you want to live, you need to make that clear. You’ll get more from them if they know you are willing to go through what you need to live. She shared many stories of hope."

Jan really is a remarkable nurse. She escorted us into the room where they had 20+ chairs set up for chemo. Because of the HYYPA rules we really weren't all supposed to be in there with mom. She asked us to keep our eyes averted so as to keep the others' privacy. It was quite something to see all of the people ages early 20's to late golden years in the big comfy chairs, most with hats (no hair) receiving chemo. Mom, with the little privacy allowed in the tight space and little flimsy curtain just inches from mom's neighbor, received a priesthood blessing from dad. Her chemo only lasted 30 minutes. Quite short in comparison to some who would be there up to 6 hours.

Some of the effects of mom's chemo have been fatigue, feeling kind of "dingy" or forgetful and shakiness. These are all temporary. Not bad in comparison to others' effects from their chemo. This is due to the fact that mom's chemo is a very light dosage that will extend her life 6-12 months, but will not put her into remission. She has handled it quite well. In fact today she was excited cause she felt pretty darn good. To top it off, mom's white blood count today went from the low 1400 of the last few weeks up to a woppin 2600! That's great news! Now we just need to keep her from thinking she's great and can go out and do all that she is used to doing. No, she hasn't mentioned going to Curves again....

Tomorrow (Thursday the 29th) she will receive her 2nd dosage of chemo. She will be feeling the effects worst by Saturday morning. She has two more chemos scheduled for the 5th & 12th of February. So she will be done just in time for Valentine's Day!

I'm sorry this has been rather lengthy. Maybe the writer can be a little less wordy and more prompt in the next few weeks!

Celeste Whedon

January 15, 2009

Our family is a circle of strength and love.
With every birth and every union, the circle grows.
Every joy shared adds more love.
Every crisis faced together makes the circle stronger.
-Unknown Author-