About Me

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Lindon, Utah, United States
"I am a person with a unique frequency who is becoming a son of God."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Some Thoughts

So, I’ve been meditating using Project Meditation’s (http://www.project-meditation.org/) LifeFlow meditation CDs since May 2008. I think this meditating may be a catalyst that is bringing up some more “stuff” in my life. Related to meditating, I have been regularly practicing focusing both with a partner and by myself for the past year and a half. In addition, I am a certified hardiness trainer and the lead teacher of the college level HardiTraing® class at Utah Valley University (UVU) where I work. I have been teaching this class for nearly 11 years.

I’ve noticed in postings on the Project Meditation forum that some of you have mentioned EFT and the Sedona Method as possible means for working with the “stuff” brought up through meditating. I’m grateful that you shared this information. I have purchased The Sedona Method CD training program and am currently going through it. In case some of you are interested in focusing and hardiness training, I’ve included some information below:

What is Focusing? (http://www.focusing.org/)
Focusing is a mode of inward bodily attention that most people don’t know about yet. It is more than being in touch with your feelings and different from body work.
Focusing occurs exactly at the interface of body-mind. It consists of specific steps for getting a body sense of how you are in a particular life situation. The body sense is unclear and vague at first, but if you pay attention it will open up into words or images and you experience a felt shift in your body.

In the process of Focusing, one experiences a physical change in the way that the issue is being lived in the body. We learn to live in a deeper place than just thoughts or feelings. The whole issue looks different and new solutions arise.

What is HARDINESS TRAINING? (http://www.hardinessinstitute.com/)
"Hardiness is the concretization of the concept of courage that appears in the optimistic theme of existential psychology. Existentialists view people as constructing meaning in their lives by recognizing that: a) everything they do constitutes a decision, b) decisions invariably involve pushing toward the future or shrinking into the past, and c) choosing the future expands meaning, whereas choosing the past contracts it. Though positive in terms of meaning and possibilities, choosing the future raises anxiety (fear) over the unpredictable nature of things not yet experienced. To accept this so-called ontological anxiety and push ahead with choosing the future requires courage. Substituting hardiness for courage lends precision to the existential formulation by emphasizing the three interrelated beliefs about one's interaction with the world, i.e., commitment, control, and challenge."

(Salvatore R. Maddi, founder of HardiTraining®)

The HardiTraining® program was developed out of a hardiness-validated research model of performance, leadership, and health. Training emphasizes key attitudes and resources that bolster hardiness at the individual and group level. HardiTraining®-outcome studies demonstrate its effectiveness in strengthening one's ability to resist the stressful impact of personal and professional changes.

A LITTLE OF MY LIFE STORY
First off, I have been going through so many changes these last few years. The biggest catalyst that started this process was the passing of my 86 year old dad in August 2002. This momentous event reminds me of the following quote by Roy Menninger, M.D.:

“It is never easy for any of us to look closely at ourselves—the ancient aphorism of ‘physician, heal thyself’ not withstanding. Most of us do so only when forced by crisis, anxiety, or a blunt confrontation with reality. Some of us have spouses or friends who help us look at the sore spots within, the personal rough spots which cause us and others pain. But for most of us, it is far easier to look outside, to look at others, whether to admire or to find fault, whether to seek guidance or to castigate.”

The passing of my dad in 2002 was the catalyst that put me on a spiritual quest that has really been quite the experience, to say the least. I use to be active in organized religion where I “knew” that the church I belonged to was “God’s only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” I use to sincerely believe that people couldn’t ever be truly as happy as my family and I were so long as they weren’t members of God’s only true church. With generations of these beliefs firmly in place, I felt it was my duty to convert others to God’s true religion. At age 20 years to 22 years, I had a wonderful experience as a missionary in Japan striving to convert others to God’s true church so they could be as happy as I was.

And then suddenly at age 44, my entire carefully constructed world started to come crashing down when my dad died. Fortunately, HardiTraining® and its practices were a regular part of my life at this time. I really belief that HardiTraining® had been orchestrated into my life by my “invisible friends” to prepare me for this next stage of my life. Over the past several years, I have read many books that have helped me expand my understanding and to broaden my perspective. These books have often come into my life in interesting and unexpected ways. Some of the books that have made a huge difference in my life and which I am so grateful that the authors took the time to write are:

A Course in Miracles
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton
The Betty Book by Stewart Edward White
Across the Unknown by Stewart Edward White
The Unobstructed Universe by Stewart Edward White
With Folded Wings by Stewart Edward White

In the religious tradition in which I was raised I apparently developed some “false beliefs.” These “false beliefs” are some that I think my meditating has once again brought to the surface. Perhaps now, I am in a place where I can quit defending and rationalizing these beliefs and just let them to go. You see, I grew up believing that God was a male grandfather type person up in the sky and that he had “favorites” and “others.” To remain a favorite of God, there was a whole list of things you “should do.” I learned that God only granted the power to act in his name to certain faithful male members of his only true church. This belief has lead me to my current predicament.

There is a is a really strong and persistent part of me that beliefs that my worth as a human being is only validated by “certain” people who are in positions of authority and have the “proper credentials.” For example, at the time HardiTraining® was introduced to me in 1997, it found a fertile seed bed in me because it met my credentials of having the “proper authority and credentials.” It was developed by a person with a PhD who had graduated from Harvard University. And fortunately for me, he was a male person.

Over the past few years, this paradigm has been under assault as I’ve come into contact with more and more people who are awakening and writing books and offering their services as healers and light bringers AND who—according to some of my old beliefs—don’t have the proper authority and credentials. Interesting enough, many of these people whom I’m becoming aware of are female.

Over the last few months, I have been putting my desires out there in the universe and have been considering the idea of—as Joseph Campbell puts it—“following my bliss.”

You see, there is a part of me, or something in me, which still believes that “following your bliss” is okay for a hobby. However, it is unrealistic as a means of making a living. This “part” of me reminds me of the following story:

There is a story of a man trapped in his home by floods. As the waters reached his front door he prayed, “Lord God, please rescue me.” Ten minutes later a boat came by offering to take the man to safety. “No,” said the man, “God will save me.” The floods rose and the man, now trapped upstairs again prayed, “Lord God, please help me.” Five minutes later another boat came, but again the man declined its help. “God will save me,” he said, and the boat went away. At last the flood was so high that the man had retreated to the roof where he prayed, “God, please help me.” Almost at once there was a roaring sound and a helicopter arrived. “I don't need your help,” said the man, “God will rescue me.” The man drowned. In heaven he complained that even though he had prayed he had not been saved. “Yes,” said God, “that puzzled me too. I sent two boats and a helicopter yet still you drowned.”

One of my favorite things I do each month is to go on a hike along a beautiful mountain stream up the South Fork of Provo Canyon with my younger brother Randy. This last Saturday, September 20th, Randy and I had one of our best hikes yet. We hiked for nearly ten miles. I told Randy the story about how I use to love to dance. Here briefly is the story I related.

At one time, I actually thought I was a pretty good dancer. When I was about nine years old, I was dancing to the song “Christmas Candy” from the album “Snoopy’s Christmas” when my older sister, Terry, saw me and asked if I’d like to dance with her. I remember that I was pretty nervous, but I went ahead and danced. She said something to the effect, “Boy, you have good rhythm. You’re a good dancer.” And so all through high school, I went to church dances and had a ball dancing up a storm. This was the mid to late 1970's and the time of disco. I became quite the “disco king” wearing my platform shoes and my plaid bellbottom pants.

However, as I got older I didn’t dance as much. Once when I was dancing around my house, my family saw me. Unlike years earlier when I was nine, their comments weren’t nearly as encouraging. I don’t remember exactly what they said, but this is how I heard it. “Boy, you look awkward. Please stop moving. I think I’m getting ill.” And so, sometimes early in the morning when none of my family is up yet, I’ll put on some music, and I dance in the dark all by myself.

When I told Randy this story, something inside of me moved, and I just started to cry. Even as I write this story here, tears well up in my eyes.

Monday, September 22, 2008

"A Dream"

A Dream of Keith’s

(Early in the morning of Thursday, July 17, 2008)

One of my favorite stories is an American folktale by Margaret Prescott Montaque. It is entitled “Big Music.” Here are a couple of excerpts that speak to me:

“All a feller had to do was jest to jump into a tune and let it carry him on away. For when the big music comes it ain’t like little musics, you don’t dance to it, it dances you . . . It’s like I say, when the big music comes it dances you, you don’t dance to it, but every feller’s free to pick his own tune.”

Recently, I’ve been thinking about what my “tune” may be, and if anyone would want to listen to it and maybe even dance to it. I think that “our tune” is the things we are passionate about. It is the thing that makes as “glow” when we are doing it. It is the thing that we’d choose to do whether we got paid for it or not. It’s our “bliss.” Joseph Campbell once said:

“FOLLOW YOUR BLISS”

[I]f you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you. I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.

(Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, p. 120)

One of the things that I love to do is to write. However, there is a part of me that is afraid of sharing—afraid that I’m not a very good writer and that no one would care to listen to “my music.” I found it very affirming that I recently had the following dream:

I found myself in a very crowded “ship.” It was like the cruise ship that Kim, my wife, and I sailed on for our cruise to Bermuda. However, this ship was a self-enclosed “space cruise ship.” Also, it seemed to be some kind of life boat. All the people aboard were there because it was our last best chance. It seemed that earth had been destroyed or was no longer habitable. The ship’s capacity had been exceeded many times over. The people were really packed in there. I remember being in one area of the ship where we were all lying around on the floor or sitting in such close proximity that we were actually touching or nearly doing so. Initially, I had some feelings and thoughts of: “This is crazy!” “How are we ALL going to survive with such limited space and limited supplies?” “Whew. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to do this.”

Surprisingly, everyone was really well behaved and considerate of each other. There was no chaos or rioting. Basically, everyone sensed that we were in a fix and that we had to get along together. I don’t know if it means anything or is significant, but I remember that one of my classmates from Simms High School who was also a wrestler came to me and jokingly started to wrestle around with me. I was kind of in a sullen mood and just wanted to be left alone. I quickly grabbed his inside leg and rolled over so he was underneath me. After somewhat immobilizing him, he looked up and with a smile on his face said something like, “Next time it will be me on top.”

I next remembered that we were all in a big dining area where all the tables and chairs had been cleared from the center of the room and pushed against the walls. I found myself in a crowded back area doing up some dishes. I had some of my “stuff” with me. I remembered that I had a video tape of It’s a Wonderful Life, and some DVDs, CDs, and cassettes that I don’t remember the titles of. I do remember that dad was back in this crowded area, and the two of us were doing up the dishes or something like that. I got kind of perturbed, or irritated, because dad had dripped some water on some of my “stuff.” It wasn’t a big irritation, just a kind of, “Geez, I wish you’d be a little more careful.”

I guess someone heard us talking because they said, “Hey, what do you have there?”

I replied, “Oh, it’s nothing. It just some old movies and music of mine. You wouldn’t be interested.”

I was really surprised when some of “my music” was put on and played over the loud speakers in this dining area. Everyone stopped what they had been doing and gathered to listen and dance to it. It wasn’t like a regular dance. Basically, everyone lined up in two big groups on either side of the room. People would be moving and swaying to the music until it was their turn to join with their partner from the other group, and then, the two of them would invent a dance as they danced together towards the front. The dances were all really original and actually in some cases kind of bizarre. However, no one made fun of anyone else and everyone waited patiently for each partnership to complete their dance.

So in summary, we were all of a “life space ship” crowded together. We were uncertain where we were going, but there was no going back because what had been would no longer work for us. I didn’t think that anyone would be interested in what I had. However, I found that people were really longing to have someone organize something for them to do or be involved in and that, surprisingly enough, what I had to offer was of interest and worth to these people.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Bit More of My Story

The first time Paul Porter and I met was in the LTM (Language Training Mission) in Provo, Utah while learning Japanese prior to go to Nagoya, Japan for our two-year LDS missions. The first thing I remember about Paul was that one evening, he was showing some slides of some of his recent hikes in Canada. His eye for and appreciation of nature spoke to me, and I thought, "This is a guy I could be friends with." I think we may have visited for a few minutes that evening. At any rate, we hit it off then, and have continued to be friends for the past 30 years.

As missionaries in Japan, our first home their was in an apartment in Nagoya as junior companions. At the time, we were two fired up young missionaries who thought that our senior companions were pretty lazy and uninspiring. We probably spent more time proselyting together than we did with our senior companions. I think they probably got a bit tired of all our fired up zeal and figured that one of the best cures for this was to inflict us upon each other. At any rate, we had a lot of time to hear one another's stories and to strengthen our friendship.

One morning in June, we decided to go on a run together. It was a humid summer morning. We took off running through these dirt trails through the trees and forest that was next to our apartment. Somehow, we ended up at this big park. While sitting at a park bench there, Paul pulled out his Japanese-English pocket dictionary and asked me to do the same.

He said, "Okay, here's what were going to do. Let's close our eyes and open our dictionaries to a random page. Then, point to a spot on the page. Whatever word is closest to the spot we point will be our Japanese names for each other."

I was game for Paul's suggestion and went along with his idea. I can't remember who went first, but I think it may have been me. I closed my eyes, opened my dictionary, and pointed. Under my left index finger was the word GURERU. Its meaning was "to stray from the right path." Paul went next. Under his finger was the word FUTEKI "daring, fearless, intrepid, bold, tough."

And so those are the Japanese names we still often call each other. I find my own name of Gureru has almost been prophetic of how my own life has unfolded. When I first picked this name--or was it that it picked me--I was a bit disappointed and wanted to have another go at it. However, Paul and I had made a deal. Back then and up to only a few years ago, I thought, "Well, I sure hope that I never stray from the 'right' path, AND aren't I fortunate that I know what 'the' right path is and can help others to find it."

You see I use to believe that there was only "one" right and "most correct" path. When I was in the LTM learning Japanese and preparing for my mission to Japan, I remember once that our teacher said that there was a common saying in Japan that we might hear when introducing Mormonism to the Japanese. The saying was: "All paths lead to the top of Mount Fuji." If confronted by this saying, we were told to reply, "That may be true for Mount Fuji, but what we are offering you is the pathway to heaven." Oh, don't we display such arrogancy and blindness when we think we "know" what's best for others.

I recently wrote a story I entitled "The Parable of the Potluck." Here it is:

THE PARABLE OF THE POTLUCK
(Keith L. Jensen, July 2008)
When I was a kid growing up in Sun River Valley, one of my most pleasant memories is of potluck dinners at the Sun River Valley LDS Church. On a summer evening on the 4th or 24th of July, we would all gather at the Sun River Valley LDS Church. Depending on the weather, tables would either be set up in the cultural hall or outside on the grass. Everyone would bring their favorite dishes to share.

Some were made from family recipes handed down for generations, and others were made from recipes newly discovered. My mom would make her rice pudding that her mother had taught her to make. Bernice Christensen would bring a green jello with pineapple and cottage cheese salad. Aunt Donna would bring her homemade chili, and Aunt Wanda would bring her homemade rolls.

And so it went on and on, everyone would bring the food item that they felt best about and would like to share. With joy, I’d get in line and wait my turn to select the foods of my choice. With plate in hand, I’d begin to make my food selections. My selections would be based on a number of factors. I’d listen to recommendations made by others.

“Oh, you just have to try Sister Feeler’s fried chicken. It’s to die for!”
or
“Son, you better not have any of Bishop Christensen’s baked beans. Those are only meant for the men here.”

Other selections were based upon memories of dishes from previous years. Sister Vergie Nielsen’s crumb crust deep dish apple pie was always a dish that would get my attention. And then, there were always the selections based upon the sights and smells of the day.

“MmmMmmMmm! What’s that that smells so good? I just have to have some of those scalloped potatoes.”
or
“That has to be one of the prettiest tossed salads I’ve ever seen. I think I’ll just try a bit of that.”

And so it went. Each person got to select the foods they’d like to eat. There was no one making an announcement that because of their position or calling that they knew what the best or “most right” foods that everyone ought to eat. In fact, the whole joy of the “potluck experience” was that I got to eat just what I wanted and in the portions I liked.
At a potluck dinner the very idea of someone getting up and saying—

“Through much prayer and fasting the brethren have received a revelation on what the proper and healthy potluck diet is. Each of you has been given a list of ‘appropriate foods.’ Please make your selections only from this list. And remember, ‘even though there is meat on this table, as God’s chosen people, you are to partake of none of this’”

—would seem ridiculous and absurd, and I hope few of us would put up with it. If we did, the whole experience of the potluck dinner would have lost much of its appeal as a fun and festive gathering.

And yet this is the very trap that we fall into when it comes to many aspects of our lives such as parenting, religion, and spiritual matters. We have bought into the delusion that someone has a special dispensation from God and that they know what’s best for us. We have lost touch with our own bodies and the messages that they first quietly speak to us and then more loudly and loudly they shout when we are no longer listening. Constantly, God is speaking to each of us, but we have fallen into a sleep of not hearing and not seeing. We have fallen into the trap of believing that there are others who can hear for us and see for us. It all reminds me of Jesus’ words in Matthew.

“Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” (Matthew 13:13-16)

Introductions

Well, for those of you who don't know me, this is Keith Jensen. I just learned about blogspot.com from my dear friend Paul Porter. Paul and I have known each other since April 1978.

This last Saturday, July 26th, I was up early. I went out to my garden and started to pick some raspberries. I thought, "You know, I haven't seen my good friend Paul Porter for a few months now. I wonder if he'd like to eat some raspberries and half and half with me."

With this thought in mind, I dialed Paul's number. At first I only got the answering machine, but before I finished my message Paul picked up and said he'd love to eat a bowl of raspberries with me. On the short drive from my place in Lindon to Paul's place in Pleasant Grove, I stopped by WalMart to buy some half and half. Once at Paul's place, I rang the doorbell, and he invited me in. Even though it had been quite a long time since we last visited, we felt comfortable with each other as good friends do. Paul and I were the only ones in the house at the time. We filled our bowls with fresh raspberries, sprinkled on the sugar, and poured the half and half.

Sitting side by side at the kitchen counter, I turned to Paul and said, "Well, how have things been going for you these last few months?"

Paul replied, "I guess you've heard about what happened three weeks ago."

I replied, "No. Is it good or bad news?"

To this, Paul said, "Oh, it's bad news, really bad. My brother David took his life three weeks ago."

What an unexpected thing to hear. I was shocked and saddened. When Kim and I returned from Okinawa, Japan in 1992, the first home we looked at just happened to be that of Paul's brother David. We didn't end up buying the home, but I remember that first time we met. This was my dear friend's older brother. After my mission to Japan, I found myself spending a lot of time at the Porters and got a chance to meet all the family. It was kind of like a second home to me.

And here, I'd just learned that someone I knew had felt so sad and hopeless that he'd decided to end his life. This felt so different from the times before when I'd heard about someone taking their life.

For the next three or so hours, Paul and I sat and visited. It was at this time he told me of blog.spot and how his niece Jana had started it as a family forum a few years back. Paul was kind enough to show me some of the posts. My heart was touched. He suggested that I make my own blog page and post some of my writings. And so, that's what I've been figuring out these last few hours.

This morning at work, I started to read some of the postings by family members following David's death. I hope no one minds that I sat and read your posts. I know I'm not an "official" member of the Porter family, but I do consider myself a friend. While reading, I had to get up and close my office door because the tears just started to flow. I was so touched by each of your beautiful and tender words. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for taking the time to write and for allowing me to be present as you shared. I think this is such a smart and healing thing that you are choosing to do. You all give me hope that perhaps this is something that my own family of origin might someday also do.

At this stage of my life, the person's death that has affected me the most is that of my dad. Dad passed away six years ago, and there isn't a day that passes that I don't miss him. The following is an excerpt from my journal.

Keith Jensen’s Journal Entry
Monday, March 30, 2004: It has almost been a year and eight months since dad passed away on Tuesday, August 13, 2002. I miss him and look forward to seeing him again. I have been unable to write about my last few days with dad until now. With Heavenly Father's help, I will write now. Dad passed away almost six months to the day after he started on hospice care. . . . From dad's normal weight of 167 pounds, he was down to less than 100 pounds at the time of his death. . . .

During dad's last week here in mortality he really went downhill. He never had talked much during the past several months. However, during his last week he hardly said anything at all. The last words I heard him speak were on the afternoon of Thursday, August 8th. . . .

I went to work Monday morning, August 12th. Shortly after I got to work, I got a phone call from Leslie, the Canyon Breeze administrator. She told me that dad had only a short time to live. I immediately left work and went to his bedside.

He was so small and frail. I remember sitting there holding his hand. As I write now, I can again feel the warmth of his hand in mine. He had no strength to grip, so I'd wrap his fingers around mine. I told him I was so proud of him and that he was doing so well. I told him that it was okay for him to go. And I sang hymns to him. I think I must have sung every hymn in the hymn book that I knew the tune to. I remember saying to dad: "I bet you sure are getting sick and tired listening to me sing, but you're in no condition to stop me, so I think I'll just keep singing."

I could imagine dad just about splitting a gut laughing. These few hours with just dad and me still bring me peace and comfort when I reflect back on them now. . . .

After about four hours of sleep, I got up early Tuesday morning, August 12th, and returned to dad's room. It was a little after 0400 AM when I got there. Cindy, my younger sister, was dozing in the easy chair next to his bed. Bruce, my older brother, had gone over to mom's place to try and get a few hours of sleep before he had to get back to his job in Salt Lake City that morning. Bruce departed at around 0700 AM that morning. Cindy told me that dad had been resting pretty peacefully.

Once I got there, Cindy went over to mom's place to get a few hours of sleep. I sat down in the easy chair with the lights turned off. I listened to dad's breathing. It was regular and normal sounding. He seemed to be resting really peacefully. Earlier, there had been periods when he'd stop breathing for 15 to 30 seconds, and then with a rattle, he'd inhale a ragged breath and start breathing again.

Around 0800 AM Cindy came back over. Amy, the hospice nurse, was there that morning to check on dad. Since dad had been resting so peacefully, I asked her if dad was taking a turn for the better. She informed me that this often happens shortly before someone dies. Amy took dad's vital signs and informed me that he probably had only a few more hours to live.

Around 0900 AM, Mike, another hospice worker, showed up. Mike is studying to become a medical doctor. He is the one who had bathed and shaved dad for the past weeks. He is the one who use to take dad out for walks in his wheel chair. I think dad really appreciated and loved Mike for all the kind service he rendered him.

In trying to prepare for dad's passing, I'd read a lot about the dying process. I had learned that often shortly after someone dies their bowels release. I wanted to be sure that dad had on a clean diaper before he died. So with, Mike and Amy's help, we rolled dad side to side and put a clean diaper on him. His old diaper wasn't soiled at all. As we were changing dad, I noticed his legs had become gray and mottled. I commented on this to Amy and Mike. Both said it would only be a matter of minutes now until he died.

Dad passed away a little after 1000 AM on Tuesday, August 13, 2002. He spoke no final words before he departed. In the room with him at the time of his passing were Mike, Cindy, and I. Mike and I were sitting at the foot of his bed visiting. Cindy was sitting up at the head of dad's bed. I was asking Mike about why he had decided to do hospice work. Cindy noticed something different in dad's breathing. She started to cry and said, "Oh, I think he's going."

Mike and I joined Cindy at the head of the bed. Mike took out a stethoscope and checked dad. He said you better hurry and get your mother because he's going. Cindy rushed out of the room to get mom. I stood numbly at the head of the bed with Mike and watched dad take one final breath, and then, he just left. Oh, how I wished he could come back for just one more minute and I could hold his warm hand once again. But he was gone.

Shortly after dad died, mom and Cindy returned. I got dad's false teeth and Mike helped me put them in his mouth. I got a red bandana from the top drawer of dad's dresser. I put it under his chin and tied his jaw shut by tying a knot in this bandana on top of dad's head. With the bandana knotted so, dad's body looked like Jacob Marley from Dicken's A Christmas Carol.
Mom, Cindy, and I stood together at the head of dad's bed crying. Mom said, "Let's sing him a song to send him on his way." And so through tears and laughter we sang:

"I come from Montana.
I wear a bandana.
My spurs are of silver.
My pony is gray.

While riding the ranges,
My luck never changes.
I'm saddled on old paint
All day."

At the end of our song, I pulled the sheet up over dad's head.

Dad's passing and the circumstances surrounding it have been so good for me. It has caused me to grow in ways that have been so good and necessary for me. One of my favorite scriptures has become 1 Nephi 11:16-17. Nephi is being shown a vision of the tree of life by an angel. The angel asks Nephi a question and he responds.

"And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?
"And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things."

From experiences too numerous to list here, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt--as dad would say so often when he bore his testimony--that Heavenly Father loves me personally and intimately. I know that all the experiences I have had, and all that I will yet have, "shall give /me/ experience, and shall be for /my/ good." (See D&C 122:7).

Thank you for being present as I shared a part of my story.