Christmas Survey
A Thank You, and A Christmas "Buy This" (or A Trip Down Amy's Olfactory Lane)

Tidings of Comfort, at Least, Although Not Joy, Not Yet

This weekend, my mom had to be admitted to the hospital for some intense stomach pains. They still don't know what is wrong with her, so she will be there for awhile longer as they do more and more tests. That's been difficult enough, but my sisters and I are now taking care of our dad, who is at a particularly horrible place with his Alzheimer's disease. His mind has invented some awful, angry, violent memories---things that never happened but which he thoroughly believes are true. I had yet to experience one of these episodes, but he had one on Friday morning when I went out to his house to bring him to spend the day with me. I won't share the details here, but it was ugly. In the face of it all, I felt desolate and sad and very, very alone. Learning how to live without your dad in your life and how to cope with the stranger put in his place is something that I don't have the language to explain. As I drove away from his house, one of my favorite Christmas carols, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" came on the radio. But everything felt too painful. Tidings of comfort and joy? How could those ever come to me again?

Dad ran some errands with me, and then we went home to put Kaleb down for his nap. I needed to get some baking done for a Christmas party we had to go to that evening, so I asked him what he wanted to do. "Well, I want to read one of those books you do. Those books you make?"

"Do you mean you want to look at a scrapbook?" I tried to clarify.

"I think that is what I mean. Those things you make." That he even had a vague memory of me making scrapbooks brought a little bit of comfort to me, especially since during his episode he didn't even know who I was.

"OK," I said, and ran downstairs and got the fattest scrapbook from the shelf, which just happens to be Nathan's baby-year scrapbook.

He sat in my front room with the book on his lap. And he read every single layout in the album. Reading is hard for him, but he read them. I worked in the kitchen, and every once in awhile he'd say something about the scrapbook. "This is very well-written," he said, and "I love how you wrote this."

Maybe this is pathetic of me, to feel...well, to feel proud of my writing, as it was complimented by a man whose brain is slowly deteriorating. But I still did. Maybe you never grow out of your need to please your dad. And for a little while, it felt like having him back again. My dad and my sister Becky are the only ones who ever really read my scrapbooks---anyone else who looks at them just looks at the pictures. So to have him recognize, at whatever level, whatever small amount of "good" might be in my journal? Well. It was the opposite swing of the pendulum, the high point of a day made up of one of my life's lowest points.

And as difficult and as painful as this experience is, as much as it is teaching me of razor blades being dragged across the fleshiest part of the soul, it always manages to turn around and teach me something good, too. I finished my work in the kitchen before he finished the album---he had only a few pages left, so we read them together. He closed the book and said, with a serenity in such opposition from his earlier agitation, "you are so smart to write this all down. You are smart because one day maybe you'll be like me and can't remember anything, but then you can read this and you can remember it anyway." What other confirmation do I need that the attention I pay to scrapbooking is important and relevant? And that my own scrapping philosophy---that scrapbooking is about matching pictures up with words as well-wrought as possible, and all the rest, the products and the tools and the publishing and the paint and ink and paper and ribbon, are incidental---is the absolutely right one for my life.

As I sat on the arm of the chair in my front room next to my dad, reading a layout about a trip to the park Nathan had as a newly-mobile baby, I had a scripture tickling at my psyche. After I took Dad to my sister's house so that we could go to that Christmas party, I looked it up. This comes from an LDS book of scripture called the Doctrine and Covenants. I could only remember the part about after a challenge, blessings come. But the scripture in its entirety was just the tiding of comfort I needed:

For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven.

Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.

For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.

Remember this, which I tell you before, that you may lay it to heart, and receive that which is to follow.
Doctrine and Covenants 58:2-5

I remembered hearing that carol in the car---turning off the carol in the car, as a tiding of comfort seemed impossible. But there it was: my tiding. And maybe the greatest tiding of comfort is that through all of this, my belief that God is good continues to be strengthened.


Karen Greenfield

Dear Amy---My Mother had those weird memories at the end of her life. She didn't have Alzheimers but she was convinced my sister and I had abandoned her/locked her in (it varied) her neighbor's basement and left her there in the dark for days without food and water as well as yelling terrible things at her thru the door. Her neighbor doesn't have a basement which she supposedly knew having minded the neighbor's house several times. We would try to tell her we would never/had never done that. But the longer she cried and asked us why we'd done that to her, the longer her sad tale got....and she'd tell it over and over, etc. The mind is a wonderful terrible force, isn't it. I'll be thinking about you and your Dad.


Sigh, I am sorry. Hugs. Becky


Oh Amy.

How sad, and how very wonderful. You have such a way with words....

Thanks for sharing this. It makes me want to do a better job at journaling, and at being a daughter to my own parents.

Erin Campbell-Pope

What a beautiful story and well written. Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing this.



Your entry really touched me - I have a grandmother with Alzheimer's. But the part that got to me the most was "you are so smart to write this all down. You are smart because one day maybe you'll be like me and can't remember anything, but then you can read this and you can remember it anyway." My eyes instantly filled with tears. All I can say is be glad he was able to look at them, read them and appreciate them. That's something my father was never able to do.

God bless you and your family, Erin


Your entry brought tears to my eyes. Big hugs!

Kayci Bitton

Amy I love you. Thanks for sharing. I absolutely love reading everything that you have written. I go back and read whenever I have time. Thanks for being such a good example to me.



Was routed to your entry by Shaunte and 2peas. Having been through what you are coping with with my grandma and fearing it for my own dad, it really touched me. Keep writing. Your memories will live through your words. Thanks.

Lisa W

That story reminds me of my Grandfather when he was alive. Some times he would wake up and swear that the house was on fire. I am glad to find someone who is LDS and also scrapbooks.

Sue Travassos

Amy - I have not been there personally but you make me feel like I am right there with you. Your dad is so right - we need to write it down because one day we either won't remember or we will be gone. You are an amazing writer and you do have a way with words.

Big HUGS to you!!

Emily Pitts

thanks for sharing an incredibly powerful thought. isn't it nice to have the gospel?

Traci Turchin

Thank you so much for sharing this story. I've been feeling the boredom/negativity that is out there in regards to scrapbooking, and it just feels really good to read this and remember why it is that we scrapbook!


What a heartwrenching story! I am so sorry that you're going through this. I couldn't imagine losing my daddy in that way. I pray for peace and blessings for you, and I love that you have found the real reason we scrapbook.


I love reading your blog, you have such a way with words it makes me want to start writing again. I am also LDS and my grandmother had Alzheimers. I wish she had written her stories down. I am blessed to have one side of the family's life history, my maternal grandmother. I am now more inspired to share my thoughts and our family stories with my children. Thank you.

Liz Ness

I love your faith through all of this and my heart aches for you in your challenges. HUGS to you Amy.


Thanks for writing this down... He's right... you'll never regret "getting it down on paper". : )


bawling here - my grandmother my rock the women who taught me to be strong and independant is battling in very much the same way as your father. I have you in my prayers. thank you for the reminder, thank you for the blessing of your post.



bawling here - my grandmother my rock the women who taught me to be strong and independant is battling in very much the same way as your father. I have you in my prayers. thank you for the reminder, thank you for the blessing of your post.


Jessica Sprague

Beautifully written and heart-wrenching. Thank you for making me stop and think. And I remember a quote from President Monson, who said that the Holy Ghost often preaches to us from the pulpit of memory. So glad you had that scripture tucked in there. Thank you.


You are a real inspiration... God bless you and your family.

Thanks for sharing,
Alexandra (FL)

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