A HUGE thank you to all who attended MaeLynn's funeral, some coming long distances. Thank you so much to all the people who helped with the luncheon afterward. Thank you to those who've sent flowers or cards or who've made phone calls to let the family know you care.
The funeral was just beautiful. MaeLynn's hair and make-up were done by Andy's sister, Jami, and his Aunt Marie. I thought she looked perfect. She even had a daisy in her hair.
Her kids each made a card or gave MaeLynn something to "take with her" and put in her casket. One of the twins (or was it Abby?) went over to her casket on Saturday, peeked in, and then went back to Andy's dad a.k.a. Poppa. "Well, Poppa, she's still dead," he said. It's such an abstract concept for them. They all are as cute and crazy as ever. Who knows when it will sink in?
The funeral service went quite nicely. It was all recorded, so as soon as I can, I'll type it up. For now, I do have the life sketch because MaeLynn and I wrote it together. So for whoever wasn't there, here it is:
MaeLynn was born April 11th, 1980—a healthy sweet baby girl. Her parents, Marie and Jerry Kartchner decided to combine two of their favorite names to make MaeLynn’s name. Mae is Marie’s mother’s name and Lyn is a good friend of theirs. MaeLynn has always really liked her name and the fact that it’s one of a kind. Although…sometimes when people who have not met her hear her name, they get confused. Andrew’s grandmother used to ask him when he was dating MaeLynn, “When are you going to bring that oriental girl over to see us?”
MaeLynn has one sister, Jamie, who was born 10 months after MaeLynn. They grew up doing just about everything together. Some of MaeLynn’s favorite childhood memories were of jumping on the trampoline in the backyard, playing night games with the neighborhood kids in the summer, family trips in the camper, and visiting cousins across the U.S. By the time she was twelve, she’d been to New Jersey, the Redwoods in northern CA, the coast of Oregon, and Yellowstone. She also loved going to the Sweetwater condo in Bear Lake with her family and fishing with her grandparents just outside of Burley, Idaho.
She grew up in Cottonwood Heights and has really only known three houses. The first, on MacIntosh Lane in Salt Lake, the second at Yorkshire Condos in North Logan, and finally her family’s current home. She lived in multiple apartments at USU, but she claims they don’t count.
MaeLynn has been a gentle, kind-hearted person her whole life. She’s always had a soft spot for animals and has had four dogs, a parakeet, a cat, a hamster, a lizard, frogs, multiple fish (one of which survived her crazy college days!), and don’t forget the hermit crabs that the kids forgot to put back in their cage and have still never been found.
She loved to paint and took classes throughout her childhood and teenage years. She also joined a tole-painting group in Logan when she went to college. Her mother has her artwork all over her house.
She always tried to include everyone and make people feel loved and wanted. She was always active in church throughout primary and Young Women. She said, “I did everything even if I didn’t really like it or want to do it….which was especially true of sports…or things that required a lot of coordination.”
When MaeLynn was 12 she discovered she had scoliosis. Doctors decided she needed to wear a large plastic back brace, which she named Matilda, 12 hours a day until she was 16. At this point she stopped growing and they were able to do major back surgery. Surgeons inserted a Harrington stainless steel rod along each side of her spine and fused 15 vertebrae in her back.
MaeLynn said that “the opportunity to have back surgery was life-changing.” Without surgery, doctors predicted that she’d be in a wheelchair by 30 and not be able to carry or birth any children. She wouldn’t have been able to have her five beautiful children or the fifteen years of fairly full functionality. Her testimony was also strengthened though the extreme faith and prayers of family and ward members during the time of her back surgery and recovery. She healed much faster than the doctors said she would.
She told me it took about 6 weeks for her to be able to get up and around by herself. Bless her mother’s heart…she had MaeLynn all set up on the couch that whole time and would come at the ring of a bell to help her.
In high school she wrote for the school newspaper and is skilled at writing and editing. Also in high school, she attended many football and basketball games with friends. These are her own words, “Not because I actually understood or even liked the games! Just because it was a social event!” MaeLynn did hundreds of things throughout her life just to get out and socialize!! She was always busy with some party or date and continued from high school into college with the same enthusiasm. Along with her enjoyment of the good times, though, she worked hard to keep her grades up and do well in what she calls: dumb, over-rated, made-me-miserable @*!&*! AP classes.
After high school, she attended Utah State University, studying…what else?…Public Relations! She had many great experiences in her LDS sorority, with roommates, and of course…dating. MaeLynn said she really felt drawn to USU. She wanted to stay close to home, but also experience campus living. Logan was the perfect place for her. In my one short year of living with her we managed to put her in the E.R. two times that I can remember. Once from an allergic reaction to Neosporin (I unwittingly told her to rub it all over a blister the size of a half dollar on her heel) and once from cracking her head open in Providence Cave, as she was rappelling. We would giggle a lot about the extremely coarse wiry hair that grew out of her scar for a long time.
Even though she could be a magnet for disaster, she was also a magnet for people. She was always going on some fun date or another.
She kept all the boys at bay for three years at USU, until dundundun…. She met Andrew Harris (of North Logan) at a multi-ward dance at “the golden toaster,” and the rest is history. Not only did she fall in love with Andy, but also his parents: Pam and Lee, and his siblings: Shane and Jami. They have always been so kind, giving, warm, and helpful to MaeLynn, Andrew, and their little family.
MaeLynn and Andrew were married on June 22, 2001, in the Jordan River Temple. MaeLynn finished out her last year at USU as a married woman. She graduated in May of 2002 with a BS in Communications, and became a mother in July of 2002. Kendall Marie was born July 11, 2002. MaeLynn had Ellie in February 2004. This was a huge transition for MaeLynn and she struggled quite a bit, but she hung in there and LOVES those little girls.
Most of you know MaeLynn was adopted as an infant. In April of 2005, MaeLynn was able to meet her birth parents. Ever since high school MaeLynn had wondered about her birth mother. Who was she? Where was she now? So after years of wondering if and when she could meet her, MaeLynn contacted the Utah State Adoption Registry. She was surprised to find that her birth mother was looking for her, too. She actually lived in West Valley…just half an hour away from where MaeLynn grew up. And not only did MaeLynn find her birth mother, Lori, but also her birth father, Andy. They had married! And MaeLynn had three full biological siblings: Devan, Jaide, and Tonia! It was an amazing discovery and MaeLynn has since formed a close friendship with her biological family.
Another big surprise came that next winter. MaeLynn found out she was pregnant with twin boys! She had Triston and Sawyer in June of 2006. Then, even though it seemed crazy, MaeLynn KNEW there was one more little spirit waiting to join the family. She had sweet little Abigail in August 2007.
These years added a lot of stress and a lot of fulfillment to MaeLynn’s life. Although she had to slow down and then finally completely stop painting, she loved those kids and did all that she could to make them happy. She did many arts and crafts projects with them. She took them to parks. She let them eat cookies for breakfast. I think. She tried to let them have dogs. (Although that was quickly curtailed!) She also survived for a year in a two-bedroom condo with four small children! During this time Andrew was busy working long, long days…quite often till 10 pm, so it was quite a challenge for MaeLynn.
When MaeLynn and Andy got married, they bought the condo in Logan. By the time MaeLynn was pregnant with Abby, and they couldn’t fit one more bed in the kids’ bedroom, and they couldn’t fit a crib in the hall, they decided it was time to move on. In May 2007 they sold their condo and moved to the home they live in now on 300 East.
They’ve made many good memories while living in their current home. They’ve gone on camping trips, fishing trips, to family reunions and to San Diego...which is one of the kids' favorite memories of being with Mom.
In May of 2009 MaeLynn found out she had low-grade neuro-endocrine cancer. Everyone’s first thoughts were, “Okay, when does treatment start? What are you going to do? How can we help?” But as prognoses sounded more and more gloomy, MaeLynn realized that seeking treatment was not what she wanted to do. She was given lots of options between chemo, radiation, homeopathic ideas, etc. But nothing really sounded like it had a good chance of fixing her problem. She prayed A LOT and went to the temple, searching for the right thing to do. She felt an incredible peace and calm when she decided to forgo any treatment. She really felt like she would be blessed and that her family would be okay without her.
She has always seemed to have a sixth sense about important things in life. She knew when it was time to have another baby. She knew when others needed help or a phone call or a hug or fresh cut flowers, or just a listening ear. She knew that she wanted to live the end of her life in peace and not suffering from adverse effects of radiation or chemotherapy. She HAS been blessed to be around her kids these last few months and to have not been in too much pain. She even knew, two weeks ago, that her time was drawing near. She gave Andy her "two-weeks notice" on the 16th of January.
She’s been so good-natured about everything, too. She’d walk around patting her belly as it grew bigger from the tumors. She even named them, “Wilma.” One day Andy threw a pencil to her and it hit her stomach. It made a thump like a watermelon, and they both laughed and laughed at that. She has been able to see the humor in things. It’s been amazing to watch MaeLynn and Andrew over this last year. Like every marriage, they had good times and rough times…but they have grown so close lately. MaeLynn has really softened and appreciated the goodness of Andy. Andy has softened and helped MaeLynn and the kids out more than ever. MaeLynn said she feels like they’re a cute little 70-year-old couple in the way that they get along and understand each other.
MaeLynn has also had an incredible journey within herself. She wishes everyone could have the same realization that she’s had: She says, "Just love yourselves and don’t be too hard on yourself. We’re all doing the best we can, and Heavenly Father knows what’s in our hearts". If MaeLynn were here in person, she’d tell everyone, “Thank you, I love you…..”
MaeLynn lived a good life. We are all better for having known her. She fought the good fight, and has now moved on to a new adventure.We will all miss her so much. I find myself wanting to talk to her, call her up and say, "Guess what happened today?" I can almost picture her near me sometimes, and it makes me smile. Her sweet hospice nurse told me that there is some excellent grief support at www.nelsonfuneralhome.com, so if you're struggling, go there. It is hard to have her gone, but yet MaeLynn worked so hard to help us all feel like it would be okay. She had a lot of faith and intuition. We should do the same.
Here are a couple pictures from the funeral. It was a fairly warm day (for Cache Valley), and although it looked like it was going to storm all day, it waited until Saturday night.
This one is Pam (Andy's mom) holding one of the twins, cousin Cole, Ellie, Kendall, Poppa holding the other twin. Kendall's lower lip pulls at your heartstrings. She's sure put on a tough front this week.
Here are the pallbearers: In front= Andy and Devan Reese (biological father and brother), in the middle= Shane Harris (Andy's brother) and Tim Moser (family friend), in back= David Moser (friend) and Zach Norton (brother-in-law)
Here are Ellie (whose 7th birthday was Thursday) and Andrew at the cemetery.
After the services, Kendall and Ellie chose some of the flowers to take home. They both have teddy bears that came from the preschool where Abby and the twins go. Ellie named hers Rosie, and Kendall named hers MaeLynn.
Another good friend/old roommate of MaeLynn's took lots of pictures, so as soon as I can, I'll post some of them. Eventually I'll get a copy of the song that Andy's brother played on the guitar for MaeLynn, and post that as well. It was so poignant. For anyone who missed the funeral, I'm sorry.
If you ever want to visit MaeLynn's gravesite, it's in the North Logan Memorial Park on 2500 N. in Logan...as far east as you can go. It is in a beautiful location right by Green Canyon. You can look out over the entire valley...right where MaeLynn would love to be.
One more thought, and then I'll close this incredibly long post. If anyone has good/funny/special memories of MaeLynn, I think it would be very appropriate for you to express them. Whether it be on MaeLynn's facebook page, or as a comment here on the blog, or in a letter to her family, it would be neat to have that for her children. The littlest ones I'm sure can only remember her as a sick/tired mother...they don't know all the amazing things she did and said, and the funny quirky times she had with old friends and family. They can build a picture of her through our memories. So, if/when you get a minute, write them down and send them. Love to you all---