Monday, October 23, 2017

One With Creation

Jordan posting:

Some time after my mother had passed away, I was reviewing her e-mails and noticed she had submitted a poem for publishing. The publisher had responded and indicated her poem was not selected for publishing. This response went on to encourage her to continue her writing efforts and to submit a poem in the future. Probably a form letter.

In any case, her determination to create, no, to become one with creation, was evident. Ironic, yes, that the last book in her trilogy was published about the same time she received this e-mail.

That creative journey, becoming one with creation, was her motivation. This is what inspired her and had her at awe at times. What often comes of this journey is a discovery of hope, resilience, and a new appreciation for the journey.

Growing up I too had submitted to my mom, a publisher of sorts, my cartoons, my ironic thoughts, my writings. She was undoubtedly biased. I thankfully received back a file that she had kept since I was a child. Like the poet Billy Collins, "...I was as sure as a boy could be that this useless worthless thing I wove out of boredom would be enough to make us even." I think it was.

She did tell me that she appreciated a poem I had written while I was attending Southern Utah University. I had an hour between classes and I sat in the Adams Shakespearean Theatre.

The Adams in the Fall

boarded up
and closed for the season.
wintry winds as villains
steal the soul of the place.
leaves at center stage;
victims of the autumnal drama
taking their final bow.
the cold electric sun shines.
its tired projection is not fully felt.
disbelief is suspended
as this arc of drama repeats;
there will be a warmer spring
and a heroic sweep
of center stage.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

See You in the Morning

January 7, 2016

On tops of mountains as everywhere to hopeful souls, 
it is always morning.
Henry David Thoreau

See You in the Morning, the final book in Pamela S. Williams' first published trilogy, is now available online through or Deseret Book. This book has been reviewed as by far the best of the three.

The following was saved on her computer regarding See You in the Morning:

Told in first person through his memories, and in third person as he reads her journal, See You in the Morning is the story of two people experiencing love and marriage for the first time in their late thirties. It’s a different experience than for those who come to it at age twenty. As their story unfolds with honesty and humor, we learn how John Marchbanks and Lainie McGuire deal with the risk of having children, her adjustment to motherhood, his career and Church leadership opportunities, his Catholic family, her business partnership, their challenges as parents, and their deep and growing love for each other. As events unfold to reveal their successes and failures, themes of integrity and fidelity emerge, and life becomes a celebration of the eternal nature of marriage and the joys of being alive.

The final chapter in my mother's trilogy arose as she went down. She declined in health very quickly and yet, she still took time to listen as her children read to her the support of her Friends through cards, Facebook, an e-mails. She'd often take my hand and point to the picture of her book club members that sat at the side of her bed and and say, "Aren't they all so wonderful?" The support and friendships she had are now cherished in the eternities. She was always a hopeful and positive person. Look to the mountain tops and take hold of that hope, that light. The morning will come and we will all have eyes to see.

Searching through my mother's computer to find words brings me some degree of inadequacy. She placed them together so artfully, deliberately, and with music in her soul. These books, and all of her unpublished writing are a glimpse into her art; her use of tones, texture, and variation in the ether. To be given the responsibility of looking after them, to me, is much like the responsibility I imagine a curator has. Yet, these works are not to be kept to gather dust. I do find some courage in my mother's confidence. I hope to post a few of her short works from time to time so we may all appreciate them as they were meant to be appreciated.

Jordan G. Williams
Pam's Son

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Pamela Gay Stott Williams passed away peacefully at her Provo, Utah home on September 29, 2015.  She was 72.

She was born in Portland, Oregon on January 12, 1943, to Verland and Navienne Stott. She loved Oregon; she was raised on wild berries and she loved the rain. She graduated from Jefferson High School in 1961. She received her BA in English from BYU in 1968.

On December 30, 1969, she married her best friend, Roger Kent Williams, in the Salt Lake Temple. They lived in Guam, Iran, and Arizona, before moving to Richfield, Utah in 1976, where they lived for 33 years. In 2009 after retirement, they moved to Provo, Utah.

Pam worked at the Provo Daily Herald, the Pacific Daily News (Guam), and Sevier School District where she wrote district news and tutored budding writers at Red Hills Middle School.  She also taught a few creative writing (evening) classes for Snow College and SUU while in Richfield.

She served in the Eastern States Mission in 1964-65, during which she had the opportunity to serve in the booth at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. She served faithfully in many callings in the Church throughout the years, but her favorite was her 12 years as Gospel Doctrine teacher. Pam and Roger were blessed to live in the Richfield 7th Ward and the Provo Parkway 5th Ward. She served as a worker in the Provo and Manti Temples. Her greatest desire in life was to share her testimony of the beauty of the Restored Gospel and the divinity of the Book of Mormon.

Pam was determined to blossom as a rose in the desert. In Richfield, she founded the Sevier County Commissioners’ Art Show in 1981, which is still an annual event. She was heavily involved in the Tri-County Music Guild, bringing concerts and artists to the area. She wrote, directed, and produced her play “Common Bonds,” and her trilogy of Book of Mormon plays. She directed community plays: “Because of Elizabeth,” “A Day, Night, and a Day,” and “Brother Brigham.” She has written and co-written several family history projects.  In 1997, Pam received the Utah Governor’s Silver Bowl Award for community service. She was a member of many organizations throughout her life, including DAR, Sevier County Community Theater, Sevier County Arts Alliance, American Night Writers Association (LDS), League of Utah Writers, and the Parkway 5th Ward Book Club. 

After moving to Provo, her novels were finally published. “Living it Down,” “What Took You So Long,” and “See You in the Morning” are found at Deseret Book and on She was diagnosed with breast cancer on the day that her second novel (about breast cancer) was published. She had poems and recipes published, a few of which won awards. She left many unpublished works on her computer.

She was an excellent cook, and her neighbors received annual Christmas presents of delicious, award-winning jams and jellies. Her shelves were always full of bottles she had canned herself. She found comfort and grace in classical music, and it played in her home constantly. She loved to visit with friends and neighbors, attend plays, play games, do puzzles, study the Gospel, do indexing, and read.

She is survived by her husband, Roger; her children, Jennifer (Kevin) Wise; Elin (Randall) Dastrup; and Jordan (Heather) Williams. She has seven practically perfect grandchildren: Preston, Belinda, Ethan, Kayla (serving a mission), Courtney, Coralyn, and our angel Elijah. She is also survived by her siblings Andrea (Tim) Tucker, Lamont (Connie) Stott, Lin (Cindy) Stott, and Craig (Rosie) Stott; and her “Sibs,” the Williams in-laws.  Her brother Bryan and her amazing parents preceded her in death.  She had many beloved, supportive friends, especially Bobbette Shepard (her Richfield visiting teaching companion for 23 years) and Elaine Wayland.

Funeral services will be held at the LDS Church at 2801 W 620 N, Provo on Monday, October 5, at 10:00 a.m. There will be no public viewing, but friends may greet the family prior to the funeral from 8:30-9:30 a.m. Interment will be at the Provo City Cemetery, where she can watch over Elijah.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Thanks For the Mammaries

We had almost finished our book club a couple of Saturdays ago when my daughter and granddaughter came in bringing a "Boob Voyage" party.

We played several games, made a lot of silly boob jokes only women can make or appreciate, and said goodbye to my left breast. Don't want to get maudlin about it, but it has served me well and I've always appreciated it. At the end of the party, my daughter brought out a little poster of the appropriate character from The Lion King doing the hula: It means no worries for the rest of your days... It's a problem-free philosophy... Hakuna M' Tatas. (Don't know where my kids got their bizarre sense of humor--surely not from me.)

After the procedure, the surgeon told me she had to take one lymph node in the armpit. She also found a patch of muscle about the size of a half dollar under the tumor itself which was inflamed, so she took that, too. My family says when I came out of surgery I told them my pain level was a seven on a scale of one to ten. I don't remember that, but when I finally fully woke up in my room I called it a two, and by evening I felt no pain at all, which surprised everyone but me. I always recover quickly. Since then I've felt the tenderness and an occasional stinging sensation when I put pressure on it, like pushing against the arms of a chair to stand up, but I'm still pain-free. I have about a seven-inch horizontal incision where my breast was, and a drain implanted somewhere in my armpit. A little "grenade" at the end of the drain tube catches the fluid, and I have to empty it a couple a times a day, whenever it gets full and record the amount of fluid being siphoned off. It's a plastic bulb that fits in a little pocket on the left side.

Nurses were good. As new ones came on duty and old ones introduced me to the incoming crew, I told them I like my water room-temperature and my door closed. For the most part they remembered.

Being without leg wraps allowed blisters of cellulitis to develop but the fellow from wound care found some compression socks he could pull on to protect the temporarily bandaged wounds. My husband arranged for the fellow from the dermatologist's office to come to the house and re-wrap my legs, which he did as soon as we got home Friday morning. I'm also on antibiotics again.

And I'm on oxygen. Levels in my blood weren't high enough, so they got that all organized for me to have tanks to use when I left the house. They are big and cumbersome and make me not want to go out very much. By simply pulls oxygen out of the air the main machine purifies it for my personal consumption. Moving around with a walker and 50 yards of tubing can really get your knickers in a twist... or your cord in a tangle.

Since I'm not going to church today, I'm just sitting here singing "I left my left breast in American Fork Hospital..." and trying to make it fit the rhythm. Not working too well. It's hubby's birthday today and daughter's tomorrow so we're celebrating by having dinner together later today. Hope I have an appetite by then.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Certainty of Uncertainty

After our thoroughly pleasant vacation at the Oregon coast in July, I came home to finish three more chemotherapy treatments and face an issue I hadn't wanted to confront before: prognosis.

Since the PET scan revealed that the cancer is greatly reduced, I relaxed a little more, but I know what "inflammatory breast cancer" means. It's only five percent of all breast cancers, no one my age ever gets it, and and it's most common only in black women in their 50s.  I told the oncologist that makes me feel "special." However, we still have a long, hard fight. He gave me an anti-hormone drug, Arimidex, because this kind of cancer is hormone driven and killing the hormones at the source will choke off the supply of cancer cells flowing to the spots where it has metastasized.

So far I'm supporting several doctors in my efforts to control and manage this disease--oncologist; surgeon; dermatologist (cellulitis wraps on my shins apply compression that helps keep the swelling down); podiatrist (thickening and yellowing nails); plus lymphedema therapist, medical supply store, and massage therapist (just because she makes my back feel better). Wow--the upkeep on the human body never ends!

Side effects I'm dealing with: neuropathy in my feet and hands (painful, burning sensation most of the time, but sometimes my feet feel like they're sucking cold up out of the floor); lymphedema (left arm especially holding water, probably because the cancer is on the left side, and the compression sleeve isn't helping much; carrying around a lot of water weight and haven't discovered the magic key or cookie or whatever Alice in Wonderland discovered to get herself out of tight spots; cellulitis leaks when feet and legs swell); diarrhea (haven't identified the triggers, but I know watermelon is one); disfunctional taste buds (sweet stuff is intensely sweet, most things taste bitter or bland, and very few things taste good, all of which is manageable because I don't have much of an appetite anyway); dry hacking cough from the Arimidex; pain in my back that doesn't show up until two hours after I've gone to sleep, so I have to get up and sleep the rest of the night in a chair, which is bad for the edema because my feet need to be elevated to keep the swelling down; finger and toe nails tender, thickening and yellowing; hair growing back but falling out again because of the new drug; ongoing fatigue.

Thus, the misery quotient is high. I love it when people visit, however, because it takes my mind off that stuff, and seeing friends and family always energizes me.

When I saw the surgeon, we talked over the options (i.e. do we or don't we) and I said, "Well, the Bible says that 'if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out.'" She didn't quite understand, so I clarified: "Likewise, if thy breast offend thee, pluck it out." She hadn't heard that sort of reasoning before. We scheduled the surgery for next Wednesday, the 26th. I'll be in the hospital two nights. She is hopeful that by removing the tumor and affected glands we can encourage the other treatments to be more efficient and the unaffected lymph glands to do their job. Depending on the pathology report, she said radiation is also a possibility. And if that goes well and the pathology suggests it would be helpful, the oncologist said he may even recommend more chemo later on.

That doesn't change the prognosis (two to five years, the oncologist says) but it doesn't account for the "X" factor--stubbornness. Lots of cancer survivors are still walking around 20 years later when they were given only a few months. My neighbor lived 15 years with pancreatic cancer in remission.

So I keep doing what I do, enjoying life, and loving my family. I'll soon start editing my third book, which is coming out this fall. It takes about two weeks to prepare the raw manuscript for publication, and it involves lots of tedious details and meeting deadlines, but I love the process and look forward to it. Then I have another series to put out there, and family histories to write, and etc. etc. I'm too busy to get slowed down by cancer.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Turning Points

According to my latest PET scan, the cancer in my body has been significantly reduced, so the oncologist says we'll keep doing what's working. However, he consults with the surgeon frequently, and they have decided that I should see her again to determine if we should go ahead with the surgery. I'll have one more consultation with the doctor, and he may or may not decide to do chemo then, depending on how we're managing the side effects.

From my previous consultation with the surgeon, I learned that there's no such thing as a radical mastectomy anymore. In the old days, radical involved taking out lymph glands and muscles and tissue that hadn't been affected by the cancer yet but might be. While we were on our vacation in Oregon, the surgeon's office called to set up an appointment to talk about the next step. I've had a lot of surgeries in my time, so I'm not terribly worried about it. Friends who have had mastectomies recently tell me it's an easy surgery, without a lot of pain involved. I have a history of healing well from surgeries, so that is comforting information. My family "team" and I will visit with the surgeon next week, ask questions, and gather information to make a decision. When the surgeon sees how my tumor and glands have softened and shrunken from the first time she examined me, she may have a new recommendation.

When I met with the oncologist yesterday before treatment # 17, he said it's time to change direction in treatment. After a while, cancer learns to deal with the chemicals and adjusts so it can continue doing its thing. Though it has diminished, that's not a declaration of complete remission. We still have a long way to go. However, he said there's a list three pages long of chemical options he can use to treat breast cancer, and one of the new ones he especially favors is a pill that's taken for 14 days, followed by a seven-day break. That means I wouldn't have to go to the treatment center, although if the two-week treatment isn't as effective, I may go back to the infusions with something other than Taxol. I'm taking potassium because Taxol depletes it, but so far my blood work--white count and platelets--has been good every week.

Lymphedema has been a recurring problem. I got a compression sleeve for my left arm, but it doesn't seem to press much fluid out. I'm also on Lasix which is supposed to pull a lot of water out of the tissues. Interesting that its other name is "furosemide" because with the doubled dose, it does have a furious effect. However, I gained a lot of weight while I was out of town--which I can chalk up to salty restaurant food because I certainly didn't have much of an appetite, and I can't eat fresh fruit or sugar because of how my bowel reacts. This week, after starting on Lasix again, I lost 12 pounds. I also started treatments at the lymphedema clinic twice a week and hope that can bring the desired results. I understand there's lymphedema pump that might help as well. Don't know how that works, but my left arm is so swollen I'm willing to try anything. It may be possible to have the surgery but avoid touching the lymph glands in my armpit, which is a source of swelling after a usual mastectomy. Driving home Saturday from Oregon in one 14-hour push didn't give me much chance for exercise and my legs and feet were quite swollen when I went to have my cellulitis wraps changed on Monday morning.

We had such a wonderful time together on our vacation! Our first night there we all spotted some whales spouting and splashing out beyond the breakers just before sunset, and the next morning when the kids went down to the beach at low tide, a sand bar was exposed, and some sea lions were lounging there in the sun. All the kids got along well, and although it was sometimes hard getting all 12 of us (plus the dog) ready to go, we didn't try to keep a tight schedule--just made it easy on ourselves, planning what was doable with our various limitations.

On Tuesday, the highlight of the day was getting to Tillamook in time for lunch at the Cheese Factory (i.e. Williams' Oregon Coast Mecca), followed by a turn through the gift shop for cheese and fudge and local jams and sweatshirts and ice cream. Some of us went on the tour that shows how cheese is made--I especially love their Vintage White flavor. They have a new S'mores ice cream flavor we all liked a lot, and another one called horchata--fashioned after a popular Spanish/Central/South American almond drink with cinnamon. So refreshing as ice cream! We had miniature waffle cones so we could have little samples of these new flavors we were trying--some can only be purchased at the factory. They don't make blueberry ice cream at all, but they do make Oregon huckleberry flavor, another of our favorites. For the chocolate lovers among us, we go for Tillamook Mudslide, which has several kinds of chocolate in it, and Peanut Butter Chocolate, which has huge ripples of what tastes like peanut butter fudge.

On Wednesday, the highlight was the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. Such a fascinating place. Our 19-month-old granddaughter went nuts identifying every fish to us as Nemo--it's one of her favorite movies, right after Monsters, Inc. We arrived in the afternoon just in time for the seal and sea lion feeding "show." So interesting. Seals have spots, in case you were wondering, and sea lions don't.

On Thursday, we had a little sprinkle of rain as we were cleaning up and getting ready to leave our nice beach house rental in Lincoln City that stood at the top of a cliff with a great view--70 steps down to the beach, lots of birds in the yard including hummingbirds, and a very nice flower garden. I slept quite well there. Doug the dog thoroughly enjoyed playing in the surf and chasing with the kids in the yard. In Portland that evening, we had dinner with a crowd of my family members who live in the area, brothers and their wives and kids, and cousins I haven't seen for a while, a great mini-reunion.

On Friday, I spent time resting and preparing for my book signing event at the Deseret Book store in Lake Oswego, about a mile or so south of the Portland Temple. It was really a rush to have the manager and clerks tell me they had read both my books and loved them, and that customers were reporting how much they enjoyed them as well. I wished I had known then so I could announce it, but the following week I found out the third book in that series will be published this fall. A special treat for me was to meet with a high school classmate I haven't seen since graduation. We had reconnected after all these years through the class website where we both posted profiles. She lives in Lake Oswego.

Since coming home, I have been thinking a lot about how kind and sweet my family is to me. They were so solicitous and watchful, making sure I had a place at the table, helping me in and out of cars, making sure I was comfortable and enjoying myself. I have been thinking about the roles of caretaker and caregiver and wondering about the similarities and differences of each one. All I know is that I have 12 of them (13 if you count the sweet-natured puppy dog) and I feel so loved.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

98.6 and Other Myths

According to weather forecasters, Utah is entering into a period of extreme summer heat. It's supposed to get into three digits by the weekend. I personally wouldn't know the difference because I am always cold. A sluggish thyroid is to blame, but so is cancer.

On chemo day, once the implanted port has been accessed and the infusions begin, I start feeling cold immediately. One of the best things about the treatment center is the heated unit full of blankets. Fortunately the "minions" who accompany me have learned by now that the way the blankets are folded in the heater is lengthwise, making them perfect to cover people six feet tall and 130 pounds... which I am not. Once I get settled into the reclining lounger, my people choose the heavier blankets, rather than the tissue-thin flannel sheets and refold them the other direction so they're wide enough to cover me. They tuck the blankets under my feet and all the way up behind my shoulders. It really helps counteract that cold liquid being infused into my body. I used to bring a book to read, but now I opt for the music stored on my phone. Something serene happens then when I'm warm and listening to my music.

In all my adult life, if my temperature has been 98.6 (normal for everybody else) it's an indication that I'm sick. A couple of times in the past four months of chemotherapy treatment my temperature has gone up to 98.0 and 98.4, but never 98.6. For a day or two after the chemo, I also experience a face flush, making my cheeks feel warm and look pink and healthy, but my temperature never goes up.

Side effects include neuropathy in hands and feet--tingling sensations, sort of like what my nephew once described as "7Up in your fingers." Many of my fingernails have what looks like bruises, but it's blood pooling in the nail beds, making them tender to the touch. I'm grateful that I can still type. Neuropathy in the feet is another issue. My feet feel like blocks of ice, and my poor little piggie toes suffer the sensation of drawing cold out of the floor. Wherever I sit, I try to keep my feet bundled up. Visitors think I'm nuts because they are all sweating and suffering from the heat.

Dressing all bundled up when I go to church makes me look funny, I'm sure--I've been wearing hats for three months to cover my not-quite-bald head, in addition to all those layers of clothes and sweaters. Sometimes I even have to use my "church blankie" to counter the effects of the powerful air conditioning in the building.

Hubby works in the yard early in the morning to avoid the heat of the day, and when he comes back in the house, he turns on the air conditioner and a fan that blows cold air directly on him. If I'm in the same room, I add to my three or four layers of clothing a sweater or jacket, and a couple of quilts. I'm now trying to train him to turn off the fan and the AC when he leaves the house but I haven't succeeded yet in doing that.

When we leave the house together, no matter the temperature outside, I'm always wearing a sweater or jacket. In fact, when we go out on errands, I often sit in the car enjoying the heat when we've finished the major tasks, while hubby runs into another store to pick up the prescriptions or whatever. It's how we roll. It's a good thing we have dual temperature controls in our car. Hubby's is set at 68, and mine is at 75, and I'm usually still shivering. I keep a blanket in there to shield me from the cold blasts of air coming from his side of the car.

We are headed for Oregon in a couple of weeks--all of our family except our missionary in New England--and I am looking forward to a few cool days at the coast, walking in the sand, eating ice cream in Tillamook, watching colorful kites fly, petting anemones in the aquarium, and sitting on the deck till the sun goes down. Apparently weather forecasters say there's going to be a heat wave in Portland that weekend when we go to an extended family dinner party. I won't mind.