Well, I can't say this enough, but I was so ready for 2012 to be over. It was a year of many ups and also many heartbreaking downs.
The year started out great...with my dad's declining health at the end of 2011, we decided to throw him one heck of a 60th birthday party in January...and what a party it was. 130ish of dad's closest family and friends showed up for a day that we soon learned we will cherish forever. Dad seemed to not be affected by Alzheimers for that one day. It truly was a day I will hold in my heart forever. Next up, a pretty awesome baby shower for Baby Hamlet. Megan, Anna and I threw the Hamras a baby shower complete with bow ties and onesies. We had a great time and ended the day with a party bus surprise birthday party for Tim. February could not have been more exciting with the birth of one sweet little baby, Sawyer. He immediately lit up the room with his entrance on February 17, 2012. I got to meet him on his first day of birth...and I could've held him all night!
Kelly Clarkson came to Springfield in March...what a great concert! Megan got us tickets to see her and Kristina got us bands to get us on the floor! What an upgrade!
Our whole family loaded up 2 cars and went to see Ashley perform in the spring musical at Concordia High School in April. I am so proud of that girl!!!!
May brought some tears and heartache for one of my bestest friends. It was heartbreaking to see someone you truly love go through something so tough. But being the amazing person she is, she bounced back up with great strength and a great attitude.
With June brought the best trip I've ever taken, a 2 week vacation to Kauai and Oahu with my mom. We spent week one soaking up everything Kauai has to offer....including our very own private helicopter ride...well, okay, we were with another couple, but it sure felt private and the views were breathtaking. We spent the rest of the week enjoying everything Kauai...we laughed, we cried, we ate good food, we relaxed...it was amazing! I got some great reading in as well, the first 2 books to the trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey (thanks to Megan for pushing me to read them). Week two found us on the island of Oahu, a second visit for me, a third for mom. One of my "other mothers" and mom's best friend, Vicki Williams, joined us. We did so many things while we were there...it was less relaxing than Kauai, but just as much fun. I even got the chance to meet up with my friend, Noah, who managed a restaurant on the island. We hiked up Diamond Head, went on a night cruise, cruised along the North Shore, experienced the luau, did some shopping...so much fun.
We came home to a situation that was not so great though. My dad had taken a turn for the worse while we were away. The next week brought so many changes. As a family, we made the decision to put my dad in a nursing home, as he was requiring more care than what my mom could manage. So, on June 29th, we moved him into the Arbors and moved me home to live with mom, for a transition of what I thought would be only a few months. July was a rough month...the first week dad was in the Arbors were pretty good...then as week 2 started, the Arbors informed us that his anger issues had become too much for their staff to handle and 11 days later, they transported him to a geriatric psych unit in Bolivar for what we were told would only be a few days. Those few days turned to 4 weeks...4 very trying weeks for our family, especially my mom. We were on a very limited visiting schedule and the younger grandkids could not go in to see him. He seemed to be very "out of it" when we would go to visit, but we were able to come during dinner and were able to help feed him (hoping to help him regain some of the 20+ pounds he had lost in a months time). My visits with him were almost too much to take but I knew I would treasure those moments with him one day. He had stopped communicating, he was not able to hug me, and his touch was so distant. I would spend my limited time talking with him about his favorite Tigers and their upcoming football season or I would tell him how the Cardinals were doing. He would stare at me with empty eyes, but I knew that he could still hear my voice. We spent the month trying to find a nursing home a little closer to home that would take him. Not all of July was rough...our cousin, Jen, came through and stayed with us for a week at the beginning of the month...complete with a mini-concert at the Arbors with Jen, Steph, and Gail singing, Ashley on the base guitar, Andrew on the drums, and mom, dad, Kate and I doing the dancing. We loved having her here! Mom and I made it to a couple of main stream concerts during the month...first off, James Taylor who was good for the soul, and then later in the month, Dierks Bentley with Kari, Jammi, Vicki, and Laura...all thanks to Jen for getting us the hookup with Dierks manager! We had a great time at both concerts!
On August 13th we were informed that Buffalo Prairie Nursing home would take my dad. This was such a relief to get him out of that cold unit in Bolivar. Finally we could go and see him whenever we wanted, take him ice cream and bring pictures and music to fill his new room. It was an answered prayer and I could finally go on a little mini-vacation I had been planning for months with a peaceful mind. Las Vegas was on the agenda to celebrate two of my bestest friends' 30th birthdays. Kari and John were turning 30 in September and October, and so on August 17th, Kari, John, Jammi, and I loaded a plane with overstuffed bags to Sin City to celebrate this milestone. We had a blast, attended a pool party at our resort, The Palms, managed to meet an Olympic volleyball player, walked the strip, met a group of Elvis', and met new friends!
September. What a month. We had a decent couple of weeks with dad. But on September 11th we got the call from Buffalo that dad was not doing well. They had decided to put him on oxygen so my sisters, mom and I decided to head up there to see him. I will never forget the moment I walked into that room and saw a man that I loved so much hooked up to a machine that was giving him the oxygen he needed to breathe. The next 24 hours ended up being the hardest hours of my life. While mom stayed with him overnight, Stephanie, Gail and I decided that we would go home and would return first thing in the morning. The day of September 12th is a day that echoes in my head over and over. By the time we returned to Dad's nursing home, they had moved him into a private room...knowing that he did not have much time left. We walked in, immediately breaking into tears. He looked so sick, was having shallow breathing, and could not respond to us. We spent the next 7 hours by his bed, praying, reminiscing, laughing, joking around, and just being with him. Omega Healthcare was there as hospice to help make him comfortable. Our Pastor came....but for the most part it was mom, dad, and their 3 daughters. Every once in awhile I could feel him looking at me and I really feel like he was trying to communicate, in the only way he could at that point, that he was okay. It was hard seeing him fight so hard just to stay alive just for us...so, each of us, in our own way, told him it was okay to let go and that we would be okay. Hardest thing I have ever done, and I still, to this day, am not sure where that strength came from. We headed home to eat dinner with plans that mom would return that night. We said our goodbyes to him and that we would see him later. But God and dad had other plans for us. My dad, James Spong Appelquist, went peacefully to heaven on September 12, 2012 around 5:30 that night. The next week was a blur, but I do remember all the love and support that outpoured from all of our friends and family. We had food to feed an army that continued to be brought for the next month or 2. We had hundreds of cards that were mailed, thousands of dollars in donations to Springfield Lutheran School and Alzheimers Association made in his memory, people visiting and dropping by, family members coming from as far as California. It really was a good reminder to what kind of man my dad was and how many lives he touched.
While my heart was completely broken, I really found peace in all of this. His funeral was a beautiful tribute to him, complete with icecream for all in his honor. The day after his funeral was the Walk to End Alzheimers in Springfield...this walk was dedicated to my dad...complete with KY3's own Ethan Forhetz who had become a friend to my parents. The next week was the 2nd Annual Appelquist Foundation Golf Classic. It was bittersweet since the year before my dad was in attendance, but turned out to be an amazing day. We had a total of 74 golfers, almost double from the first year, and the most beautiful weather. We made over $8,000 for our foundation.
October brought some fun things, one of the organizations that I sit on a board for, Lost and Found, hosted an amazing event, Gameday, which was a tailgate for the Mizzou football game. Although the Tigers had a terrible performance, we had a great time! A couple weeks later, Megan invited me to go to a Halloween party to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We had a great time dressing up and were in the presence of some great costumes...although, I still think ours were the best.
November and December brought lots of shopping, with trips with the Appelquist girls both to Branson and Kansas City, Thanksgiving, lots of Christmas decorating and activities, another baby shower, a new adopted puppy, and lots of family time.
The last few months of the year have been hard...coming across many firsts for our family without dad...but we have made it through with the help of some amazing people. We are continually reminded of how much we are thought about and loved.
So, yes, this was long post, but 2012 was a very active year and I know everyone was anxious to read all about my life. :) I didn't even specifically mention all the events...there were lots of babies born to many friends this year, almost one birth a month (or 2 in one month to the same family in the form of adorable baby twins). While 2012 was both cruddy and very good, I am ready to say goodbye to it and am welcoming 2013 with open arms.