Updates on Kathy's battle with breast cancer.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Choirs are Singing: Five Years Out and Cancer Free!

On Tuesday, I spent the afternoon at the beautiful Huntsman Cancer Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I had a bone density test, mammogram, and exam.  It is a HUGE relief getting this latest update.  I live cautiously, always watching for signs of cancer recurrence. It’s a constant, daily worry that I place on a back shelf in my mind and move on with life.  Each check up and test result eases the concern.  I’m SO happy and thankful.  I’ll elaborate below with more details, and end with a couple of links to uplifting messages.  
View Downtown Salt Lake City from inside Huntsman Cancer Center


I started with a bone density test, DXA.  The results were that I still have osteopenia--decreased bone density not to the point of osteoporosis.  My best score was -1.2 and my worst score was -2.3. A T-score of -1.0 or above is normal bone density.  A T-score between -1.0 and -2.5 means you have low bone density or osteopenia.  Below -2.5 is a diagnosis of osteoporosis. (Bone Density Exam/Testing - National Osteoporosis Foundation (https://www.nof.org/patients/diagnosis-information/bone-density-examtesting/).

The mammogram was next (not fun!), and all looked normal.  (I had a breast diagnostic ultrasound in December, and that also came back as normal. ) After the mammogram, I met with the doctor.  I told her that I’ve been extra cautious, missing out on things that looked fun, worried that I might break a bone and have another long recovery like when I broke my pelvis in June 2015.  That took 6 months to heal.  I had two opportunities this winter to go snow tubing with the teenagers at church, and both times, I just watched, thinking it wasn’t worth the risk.  My wonderful doctor said to live life-- there’s always some risk, but not enough risk to not enjoy life.  I’m looking forward to some tubing next winter!

The first week of May, I'll be 5 years out from my diagnosis, which is how the medical community seems to measure survival rates. February marked four years from completion of treatments, which seems like a better way to measure how long one has been cancer free. I'm very thankful. Treatment wise, in November they changed my hormone blocker from Tamoxifen to Arimidex. Every 6 months I got an injection of Prolia to help my bone strength. Daily I take Vitamin D3 2000 and Calcium 1200--and just learned that the calcium should be broken into 600 mg twice a daily. That's the end of the medical update. Now onto the uplifting part.

Last weekend was General Conference, when we have a worldwide broadcast to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is an uplifting weekend that happens   
twice a year.  While I was listening, Elder Jeffrey Holland shared a message comparing life with a choir, " Songs Sung and Unsung ." He talked about how important every member of the choir is, and how valuable our individual talents are to the richness of the choir.  He referred to the song, “There is Sunshine in my Soul Today,” and how at times in our lives it is hard for us to sing, and sometimes, there are experiences that are so sacred, so dear to our hearts, that words cannot describe what we feel in our hearts.  As he was speaking, I reflected on the “choir” that I am a part of, especially as I was going through cancer treatments.  Every prayer, text, email, note, kind word, deed, and act of service touched my heart so deeply.  The love that was expressed through countless individuals resulted in what I imagine the heavenly choirs of angels must sound like.  I still can’t reflect on my experience without becoming teary eyed with gratitude and awe for the lessons I learned from so many angels.  It’s too dear and tender to share as a brief comment in a Sunday school class.  I keep it in my heart and reflect on the difference so many people made in my life at a time when I needed a choir singing all around me.  

As we celebrate this week before Easter, I'm singing my favorite gospel choir song, "Oh Happy Day." I celebrate Jesus Christ and His gift to all of us.  Because of Him, we will all live again.  Because of Him, we will see and be with those we love again.  Because of Him, we can feel of His love, support, and strength as we walk with Him during all of life’s adventures.  Because of Jesus Christ, we have a pattern to follow. He provided the way for us to return home to our Heavenly Parents.  He is the Prince of Peace.  Oh Happy Day!

Monday, September 12, 2016


On Saturday, we celebrated the life of my dear friend, Beth Mowrey.  She taught me how to live life at its fullest, especially during times of adversity.  She battled against breast cancer for 8 years.  She and her husband, Alan, were brutally honest and witty as they recorded their first round of battling cancer and then years later, shared with all of us how to face the end of life with courage, faith, humor, and most of all love.  Their blog is inspiring: The Gift

Courtney photoshopped this photo of Beth, our hero.
I became friends with Beth in Indiana.  We both lived in Manhattan Beach, California, at different times, and are good friends with the same people, so I feel like I’ve known her longer.  A little over 4 years ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer,  Beth was the first non-family member that I called, seeking advice about going through breast cancer.  She is the reason I kept this blog.  She said it was a great way to keep everyone informed without having to tell the same news over and over again to every person that asked.  Beth's advice on facing cancer: “It can either be one of the most wonderful experiences you’ve ever been through, growing closer as a family, with a few bumps along the way, OR it can be the most miserable experience you’ve ever been  through with a few bright spots.  It’s a choice you have to make.   We’ve chosen to make it a wonderful experience.“  That advice is definitely what the Mowrey family has lived by. 

On my first day of chemo, Beth and her sister Christi (another close friend) came to the cancer center to visit.  They brought treats and made my first chemo treatment into a party.  At the time, my husband was working out of town, commuting to Detroit after my Monday treatments, and returning to Indy on the weekends.  After Beth and Christi made my first treatment so positive and fun, he felt at peace having to leave town, knowing that I was in good hands if I needed anything. 

After surviving chemo and looking back on that experience, I now have a greater appreciation for the sacrifice Beth made to visit me during that first day of chemo.  Now, every time I walk into a cancer center, I get a sick feeling inside, reminding me of chemo and how anxious we were about each treatment.  I remember how crummy I felt each time as I left.  In cancer centers, I also feel bad for all of the people there, knowing how scared they are, and how much anxiety they are feeling.  I know that Beth had to feel that same sickness as she arrived to celebrate my first dose of chemo, bringing fun and making me feel loved.  She set her own feelings and emotions aside to help me feel loved and supported. 

For my birthday, almost a year later, Beth baked and delivered the most amazing cake I’ve ever eaten, beautifully presented on a yellow glass cake stand, which was part of the gift.  The cake was made with lime curd filling and coconut.  It had luscious layers.  I felt so loved.  This cake was also baked and prepared during Beth’s 2nd round of cancer.  She had to be low on energy, and couldn’t eat any of the cake because she was eating a very strict clean and healthy diet. 

Years later, the Mowrey’s started posting on their blog again to keep everyone informed.  It was so helpful.  Reading their posts strengthened my faith and helped me know of specific things I could pray for.  It was so nice getting daily updates, without having to intrude on their precious family time as Beth’s health declined.  Though the blog informed us that her time was short, the news of her passing still hit very hard.  Life isn’t fair.  She prepared me to fight my own battle.  We had battled together, at the same time for a year.  She never received news that she was cancer free.  She was younger and had younger kids.  Sadly, her battle started years before and went on a lot longer, with a lot more bumps in the road.  For eight years she courageously dealt with constant pain and physical frustrations.  She rarely talked about her pain.  She kept herself busy ministering to others. 

Through her entire journey, she and Alan kept a positive and thankful attitude, using humor and love to make it through.  The Mowreys have touched so many lives and taught us all so much about finding joy in the journey and trusting in God and His eternal plan.  

I was not able to fly to Cleveland for her funeral, but thankfully friends made it possible for others to be a part of her celebration through the internet.  I am so thankful that my life has been blessed by #theBethEffect.  As the song, “For Good,” from Wicked says, “Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Celebrating 3 years & a clear mammogram!

Today I’m celebrating 3 years since my final cancer treatment.  I’m also celebrating that last week's check up and mammogram showed that all is still clear! 
Huntsman Cancer Center
View from inside.

We moved to Utah just before Thanksgiving.  Scott started a new job in Salt Lake City (which he LOVES!).  I was anxious about finding a new doctor to watch over my cancer follow-ups.  A good friend from our Denver days now lives here and has been through the same journey.  She recommended Dr. Saundra Buys at the Huntsman Cancer Center.  She was amazing!  I learned things from her that I had not known three years and nine months ago when I was diagnosed.  The Huntsman Cancer Center was gorgeous, and all of the workers were so kind and caring.  In the past for me, I had to travel to 3 different locations for my 3 different doctors, and travel to other spots for mammograms and blood work.  Here, I saw a fellow (working under my doctor), then the doctor, and then she called over and schedule an immediate mammogram.  I walked across the hall, waited maybe 5 minutes, had the mammogram, and was given the results as soon as I was dressed.  Then I was taken across the hall to the lab, where there was no wait.  The Huntsman Cancer Center also provides free valet parking, with a no tipping allowed—what a kind gift for those going through treatments that cause fatigue.  I self-parked in the garage, but was so thankful for those that need the valet.

I did not realize that this visit would be so emotional.  Walking into a cancer center brings back the anxiety and worry that is present with every new experience of the journey.  I was teary eyed with both concern and with gratitude for coming through it all so well. Two women that I know of, who were going through breast cancer at the same time, didn't have the same outcome and have passed on. It is sobering to be reminded of how fragile life can be.  I hope to never need to go through cancer treatments again, but if I ever do, I am so thankful to have a caring team of professionals at an amazing cancer center.  I feel thankful to have moved back to a state that has such a great facility.  It gives some added peace of mind.

Looking back at the last 3 years and 9 months, it has been life-changing, and most of that has been great.  It feels like it has taken almost 3 years for my energy to return.  That delay may be due to the last 6 months recovering from my fractured pelvis (in June, see my previous post).  I can now run again, only having to stop because I’m out of shape (or still adjusting to the Utah altitudes), and not because my body aches has no energy.  Due to my fracture, I am WAY more careful about everything I do—knowing that my bones may still be weak from the chemo and the hormone blockers.

Over the past 3 years, I’ve also had the opportunity to help several women going through similar adventures.  Recording major happenings in this blog has also been helpful to friends of friends going through cancer.  It has also helped me look back and remember details that I’ve forgotten. 

View from our apartment.
So, life is fabulous and full of new adventures.  We are enjoying downtown apartment life.  Like the title of this blog, I have truly been given lots of mountains, beautiful snow covered mountains all around us.  It was really hard leaving Indy, a daughter and son-in-law, and all of the local friends that helped our family through this cancer adventure.  It has been a treat meeting up with friends in Utah, both transplants from Indy and friends from when we lived here before.  It is also great that Heath & Courtney are only 4 hours away.  They are coming to visit this weekend.  I’m rooting for Peyton & the Broncos!

I am full of gratitude to my Heavenly Father and my Savior for opportunities to grow and learn, and the peace they give me along the way.  I thank them for blessing me with a wonderful husband by my side as we climb these mountains together.  I’m also thankful for my children, their spouses, our extended family, and friends—from all over the country.  I am so blessed. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bike Crash, Broken Pelvis, Girls Camp and our Temple Open House

Four weeks ago today, I was in a bike crash.  I was wearing a helmet, thankfully.  It was a casual easy going neighborhood stroll, when we came to a fork in the road.  I went straight, Scott went right, and my front tire caught his back tire.  I don't remember much after that, but I landed hard on the ground.  Thankfully he didn't crash, but heard me make some kind of sound when I fell.  He came over to check on me, and as I got up, I blacked out for a few seconds.  Thinking I just got up too quickly, we sat and waited for a few minutes, and then slowly got up.  My lower left quadrant felt weird, like something was wrong, but I could move slowly.  I got on my bike and rode 1/2 mile home.  After coming inside and resting in bed for a few minutes, I decided I should get up and clean up my road rash--scrapes on both knees, ankles, and a 3 inch scrape that burned through my shirt on my left shoulder.  As I was making my way to the bathroom, thankfully Scott had just come in to check on me.  I passed out again, this time for about 45 seconds, with some weird breathing a seizure type motions.  He caught me and helped me to the ground.  When I came to, we sent to the ER, thinking perhaps I had a concussion or some type of head injury.  After scanning my head, they scanned me from the waist to the knees and found I had fractured my pelvis.  They put some type of dye in my veins and then scanned me again to look for internal injuries, and found none.  So thankfully, my injury is one that doesn't require surgery, and just needs time and patience to heal.  My fainting spells were from the pain.  They kept me over-night to make sure I didn't faint again.  They dosed me with morphine to take the edge off the pain (mainly when I had to move, like walk to the restroom).  I was home by Friday afternoon with instructions to stay off my feet as much as possible and give it time to heal.  This was the most painful injury I've ever had.  The heavy drugs took the edge off, but moving my left leg, where it connects to the torso, even just a little bit, was extremely difficult.
Leaving the hospital, with Morphine to go.

My last post to this blog was about my bone density scan, with instructions to increase my Vitamin D and Calcium by huge amounts each day.  Obviously, my bones must have been compromised for a bike crash to cause such an injury.  I feel blessed that there were no other injuries.  I ended up with a huge, ugly 12 inch bruise that was black and yellow along the left side of my leg, between my knee and hip. Within 2 weeks my scrapes and scabs were gone.  They said it would be 4-6 weeks before I could walk normal.  I borrowed a wheel chair, which opened up a whole new world!  We have hard wood floors over most of the first floor of our house.  I could scoot wherever I wanted to go.  A good friend who had experienced this same injury, loaned me an amazing 2-3 inch thick memory foam pillow to sit on in my wheel chair.  

My bike crash happened on the afternoon before our annual youth conference at church.  I had to miss the conference--I was formally uninvited to attend without a note from my doctor and husband.  I really didn't feel up to it anyway, but hated missing it.  I did have 2 groups of girls stop by for a quick visit, which was really fun and made my weekend.  I was able to listen in on one of the group meetings via phone, which I also loved.  Adults sent videos and photos of the fun the youth were having.  On Saturday, groups went to 14 different cemeteries in the area, recording headstones for the Billion Graves Project (www.billiongraves.com)  They took over 3,500 photos of headstones!  It sounded like a great event.  

Eleven days after the crash was our annual church girls camp for a week.  After missing all of youth conference, I was determined to attend camp.  I found a place that would rent a golf cart for the week, delivering it to the camp.  They had a double seater for just a little extra, which was extra fun. I had a blast driving girls all over camp in the golf cart.  The girls decorated it with flowers and sparkly silver garlands.  Both seats were usually filled with girls riding along just for fun.  It was really fun having time to play and bond with them.  It poured rain almost every day of camp.  We splashed through wet tree branches, dousing everyone with even more water.  I had a wheel chair at the cement floored pavilion, and a rolling office chair at the dining hall.  So I could drive between the two places and all over camp, and spend very little time on my feet. After some heavy negotiating with my protective husband--I was determined to sleep at camp for two nights, he was determined for me to sleep at home every night--I wore him down and got to spend Wednesday night at camp, which was WONDERFUL!  Every other day of camp, he would drive me up late in the morning, get me safely situated on the golf cart, and remind everyone within ear shot to keep my in line and make sure I was very careful.  Then every night, my sweet almost-daughter Stephanie came up to camp, stayed until the evening activities were winding down, and then drove me home.  I found that the least painful way to walk was a type of zombie walk, step with the right foot, slide the left over, repeat, step slide, step slide.  One group of girls added this move to a dance routine, calling it the Tenney Shuffle.  When Scott saw that part, he was suspicious that every girl at camp knew that this was how I walked.  But, I really was careful not to be on my feet too long.  It was a wonderful week at camp.  They picked the golf cart up Friday at 4:00 p.m.  I stayed for the rest of the evening, and though camp ended Saturday at 11, my camp experience was over Friday night.  

Our Wonderful, Fun, Amazing Young Women and Leaders, Camp 2015

I love the atmosphere at our church girls camp.  It is a place full of love and acceptance. We learn about Jesus, his atonement, and how to serve others and be a witness for Christ.  We play hard and laugh a lot.  The older girls, ages 16 & 17, run the camp, with adult women working closely with them as supporters in the background.  This year's theme was "Your Happily Ever After", based on a talk given by Dieter Uchtdorf, a leader in our church.   It was a fitting theme, because the very next week was the start of our new temple's public open house.    

 The first day of public tours was Friday, July 17th.  Scott and I had an appointment to go the first morning.  It was SO wonderful to finally step inside this beautiful House of The Lord.  It has beautiful art work, lots of details to reflect things about the state of Indiana, and most of all a feeling of peace and gratitude.  The open house continues until August 8th.  After that, only members with an entry pass can go inside.  Click Reservations to schedule a free tour.   

Since today marks 4 weeks since my injury, I've started walking around.  I move SO much better than 4 weeks ago, but it feels like it may be a full 6 weeks before I can walk totally pain free.  I'm learning patience.  There is a lot of joy in the journey.  My family and friends are great at helping me laugh a lot while we make memories together.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Have Courage and Be Kind -- Oncology Appointment & Bone Density Test.

Today was my 6 month check up with the oncologist.  My check up went well, there were no concerns.  I return to her again in 6 months, and to my surgeon in 3 months.  They alternate so I am seen by someone every 3 months.

I had a bone density scan on Monday to make sure my bones were healthy.  The Tamoxifen I take daily blocks the hormones that fed my cancer, so without those hormones, similar to going through menopause, the thickness of my bones can start to deteriorate.  The tech who performed that test said many patients are encouraged to take calcium supplements.  I haven't been doing that, but I have some dairy products every day.  I can start supplements.

Next month, I will be 3 years out from my diagnosis.  They say that you're at highest risk for recurrence during the first 2 years from diagnosis, so I'm encouraged that I'm out of the riskiest window of time.  My energy is still not at 100%, but it's sufficient for all that I need to do, and for most that I really want to do (I'm just learning to take it easy the day following a busy event).

April has been a big month.  We took a family cruise to 2 stops in Mexico over Easter, just before Heath and Courtney left for school.  It was so fun spending 5 days together.   Garrett & Jamisyn met us in New Orleans, and the rest of us drove 13 hours to the dock.  We saw some ancient ruins, a local tortilla factory, and went to a natural water park where we floated down a river in tubes, and some of our group jumped off of cliffs.  We ate, danced, laughed, and played hard.  It was a memory we will cherish forever.

Heath & Courtney left home and started a new semester of college in Idaho on Monday.

Last week, my dear friend Cristy flew in to celebrate our shared birthdays.  She spent the week helping all of us prepare for the annual Mormon Prom, "An Evening With Stars," which included an adult formal dance the night before.  We had fun dressing up in dresses from the prom dress boutique in our basement (the same one where girls can borrow modest dresses for prom).  I found a full skirt that reminded me of the recent Cinderella movie.  It was SO fun to wear.  You could spin, and it flowed.  I FELT like Cinderella in it!  Craig & Tina Photography took these twirling photos and decoration photos before prom started, so I could surprise Scott with a picture of his own Cinderella.
Both dances were very fun.

Since my last post, the open house of our new Indianapolis Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been announced.  The public Open House is free and will last for three weeks, starting on Friday, July 17th.  The link will give you more information.  We are SO excited for this wonderful blessing!

I get to serve with these wonderful women.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Two Year Mark since final cancer treatment!!

Fall 2014

Fall 2014

Two years ago today!  Last treatment.

2 Years ago, Feb. 2, 2013.
Today, February 2, 2015, marks two years since my final cancer treatment.  I’ve had several check ups since my last entry, including a mammogram, blood tests, and a couple of different scans, and so far, all is still clear and I’m still cancer free.  My energy level remains at about 85% of my pre-cancer energy level, and Scott jokingly adds, “and all our lives are better for it.”  He claims that my 80% is higher than most people’s 100%.  I am able to do all that I need and want to do; I just need to take it a little slower on Mondays following a busy weekend. 

My hair continues to grow, and now that I’m hitting the 2 year mark, the curls are also almost gone.  The last 6 months of growth has added straight strands, with some remaining curl on the ends from my earliest growth.  The flesh from my left arm pit, to about half way to the elbow still has little feeling, due to nerve damage when the lymphnodes were removed.  This is most likely permanent at this point, but it doesn’t prevent me from doing anything.  And, if I pinch it hard, it does register pain at some level of the tissue.  Obviously, I rarely do this. 

I take daily medication to block the hormones that fed my type of cancer.  I have been able to talk with other women starting on their own breast cancer adventures, sharing things that I’ve learned along the way, and advice shared with me from others who have been on similar journeys.  I am thankful for all I learned through the process.  I appreciate my body and its resilience.  I am thankful for the things I learned from family and friends about love, compassion, prayer, and support.  Most of all, I am thankful for the opportunity I had to grow closer to my Heavenly Father and my Savior.  I could feel of my Savior’s love, grace, and enabling power.  It was an opportunity to give my will to Him, and know that all would be okay, no matter what the outcome.  I’m also very thankful that His will was also what I wanted most—more time with my family and friends, and more time to serve others.

That’s the end of the cancer update and talk.  Now I’ll share a few updates since my last post. 

BYU Graduation April 2014

Garrett married Jamisyn in August.  She fits in so well and is a great addition to our family.  Kirsten & Weston graduated and moved back to Indiana, where Weston’s in a masters program and will begin medical school in the fall.  Courtney finished high school and starts college in April.
Photo Credit Erin Summerill Photography; cousin Jackson holding Heath's photo.

Last August, I completed a sprint triathlon with Scott, Kirsten & Weston.  It was a great event to train for.  I learned how to swim with proper stroking and breathing, and purchased my first swim cap and goggles.  I have a MUCH greater appreciation for swimmers.  I also learned that triathletes are more serious and competitive than your typical 5K participants.  There were no walkers.  Kirsten and I were the only casual participants.  I won 2nd place in my age category (women over 50), but there were only 2 of us, AND I placed DEAD last out of the 50-60 participants.  It was really fun doing the event with family, and Kirsten stayed with me through the swim and bike portions. We plan on doing it again this summer.  

Sprint triathlon

New Years Day 2015, Chicago

Our family will soon hit another 2 year mark—Heath will return from his 2-year mission in Argentina in 10 days!  We are SO excited to see him again.  He has loved his time there and will be sad to leave.  His mission adventures can be followed at elderheathtenney.blogspot.com 

Indianapolis Temple Under Construction

Temple photos credit to Trisha Amerpohl

This will be an exciting year for our family and our church family here in Indianapolis.  The construction of our Indianapolis Temple is almost complete.  There will be a public open house from July 17th through August 8th, except for Sundays.  It is a rare treat to tour a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  After the open house, entry will be limited to members who hold a current recommend (permission card).  I’d love to host any local friends who would like to go on a tour!    

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

CT Scan, Papa & Mimi's Engagement Story & Easter

Monday, April 14th, was my birthday.  I scheduled a CT scan for  that day--since I received a mammogram for Christmas, it made sense.  A week later,  I had a check-up with the chemo doctor.  My scan came back clear and normal, my exam went well too.   I return to the cancer center in 6 months.  My energy continues to build.  I'd guess my energy is now at 85% of pre-cancer energy.  If I have a really full day or weekend, I need to rest a little more on a following day.  My hair is still curly and it's now about shoulder length.

So much has happened since my last post.  Scott Jr. finished his associates degree.  Garrett and Jamisyn are getting married in August.  Kirsten, Weston, & Jamisyn are graduating from BYU this weekend.  Heath passed his mission's one year mark in February, and Courtney got her driver's license.  

I'm back teaching at the school, part time--Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until noon.  I spend the morning moving from room to room helping kids with reading.  I love it, and it's worked out better with my recovery and with all of the other activities going on in my life.  

After a long, extremely cold winter, Denise and I are back with running consistently.  I love running in spring weather!  

The prom dress boutique has been busy.  There are so many beautiful dresses in so many sizes that I've started pulling out dresses that aren't as pretty or popular, so there's  room for newer, more current ones that continually arrive through donations. 
Family selfie, Easter 2014

Easter was a wonderful day.  Scott spoke in church and shared a favorite family story about Papa and Mimi's engagement, using it as an example of the Savior's love and compassion for each of us: 

My grandmother grew up in the Mormon colonies in Mexico – in Juarez.  Her family wasn’t wealthy but they had a nice orchard and a fruit business.  Having been through a few cycles of Mexican revolutions and the resulting chaos, they had an appreciation for the value of being prepared for that sort of uncertainty.
My grandfather grew up in the US.  His family was pretty poor.  His dad didn’t have much education but was a really hard worker.  He supported his family by doing manual labor on other people’s farms or in factories.  My grandfather’s mother wanted him to have a better life and encouraged him to go to college.  So after HS he went off to Gila college in NM.
While there he met my grandmother and they fell madly in love.  Eventually my grandfather asked her to marry him.  My grandmother was fairly practical – she responded that she loved him but wanted to know how much he had saved up for them to start their lives together. 
My grandfather replied that he didn’t have any savings.  My grandmother said they had to have some money saved to start their lives together.  My grandfather said, OK, how much do we need?  My grandmother said, “at least a thousand dollars” – we think she probably grabbed that out of the air because it was a nice round number.  In the 1920’s a thousand dollars was a huge amount of money.  However, my grandfather was undeterred by this hurdle and told her he’d save the thousand dollars.
At the end of the semester, my grandmother went back to Juarez.  My grandfather got a job at a lumber mill in AZ.  He explained his situation to the mill owner and said he wanted to save every penny he earned.  He asked him if he could just hold the money until he’d reached his goal.  He slept in a shack at the mill and worked as many hours as humanly possible, six days a week.  I don’t know what he did for food but he didn’t spend any money. 
The only way he could communicate with my grandmother was by mail – and the postage service between AZ and Juarez was pretty slow.  After about six months of work, the mill owner owed my grandfather a little over a thousand dollars.  In the last letter he sent to my grandmother, he told her he had great news and to meet him at the train station in Juarez in two weeks.
A few days after mailing that last letter, the sheriff and bank officials came and repossessed the mill and all of their assets – including the money that was owed to my grandfather.  It was part of a wave of bankruptcies that were part of the great depression.  Now, if my grandfather knew labor laws and could have afforded an attorney, he probably could have laid claim to his share of those repossessed assets but he didn’t know labor laws and couldn’t afford an attorney – so he was left with nothing.  The owner of the mill felt badly and gave my grandfather whatever cash he had in his wallet – but it wasn’t much – not even enough for the train tickets to get down to Juarez.
A lesser man might have been greatly discouraged or even broken – but my grandfather was an optimist and he’d made a commitment to meet my grandmother at the train station in Juarez.  He started hopping on freight trains heading south.  At this time there were a lot of homeless people – called hobo’s at the time – who would hop on empty freight cars and go from city to city.  The railroad started hiring what they called roustabouts – really mean, tough guys with big clubs who would chase the hobo’s off the trains and beat them if they didn’t move fast enough.  He had some great stories about his interactions with hobo’s and roustabouts but after a week or so he had made it to Mexico.
He had told my grandmother he’d be on a particular passenger train coming into Juarez – so he needed to be on that train.  He spent a good chunk of his meager savings on a train ticket for the last leg of the journey.
As his train pulled into the station, he looked down at his clothes that were thread bare and dirty.  He was tired and hungry.  He’d always been kind of skinny but he was really skin and bones now.  He looked out the train window and saw my grandmother on the platform.  He said she looked like a princess from a fairy tale.  All clean with her hair done just so and in a nice dress – and she was searching the windows of the train to try to find him.  In spite of how he looked, he was so excited to see her.
As he got off the train he ran to her and they hugged.  After a long embrace she stepped back and looked at him – and he knew that this was his moment of accountability.  She said “did you save a thousand dollars?”  He looked down at the ground and said “no, I didn’t”.  She optimistically asked “well how much did you save?”.  My grandfather reached into his pocket and pulled out a few crumpled up bills and some change and counted it and then said “Four dollars and twenty-eight cents”.   There was a long silence and then my grandmother said “Close Enough!” – and they got married.
I love this story for all that it says about my grandparents.  They raised six children in the faith, served valiantly in whatever callings they were given, served two missions together, served in the temple and died strong in the faith having kept their covenants.  They leave a legacy of faith for their children, grandchildren and beyond.
However, I love this story even more – and share it with you today – because its become a metaphor for me for my day of accountability when I stand before our Savior.  He will ask me how close I’ve come to my goal of living a Christ-like life – and I will probably fall further short of that goal than my grandfather did of his goal of saving a thousand dollars.  But if, like my grandfather, I’ve done all that I can.  If I strived and repented and relied on the saving grace of the Savior’s atonement – at that day the Savior will, in effect, say to me “Close enough – enter thou into the joy of the Lord.”

In another class, we talked about Mary and her feelings when she found the tomb empty.  I had the realization that she was having that numb, in shock experience of when someone close to you dies.  No wonder she didn't recognize him at first.  She was just going through the motions of life, but was heartbroken and grieved.  It was interesting to think of her and those feelings.  I remember clearly feeling that numbness and shock when my father-in-law died and when my dad died.  So much of those right-after death memories remain a fog, because you're just going through the motions to do what has to be done.  Thinking about this helped me relate more to Mary and the apostles and their state of mind when the Savior appeared to them.  I am so thankful to my Savior, for his sacrifice so we can all live again and be reunited with our loved ones who are now in heaven.  Easter reminds us of the hope we have through His atonement and resurrection.  I've felt His comforting peace in the midst of storms.  I love Him and deeply feel and appreciate His watchful care.