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

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