As we welcome 2022, here are a few family happenings from the previous year.
In January, Vickey received a positive COVID-19 test at work. So, we began our family quarantine. She was sick for a few days, and I cooked and cleaned while working remotely. Dominic and I perfected a recipe for chicken parmesan. A week later, I got a positive COVID test result. So, instead of heading back into the office, I began my quarantine. During this time, the leadership team at my work (I’ve been with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development since 2018) first met, virtually, with Utah’s newly-elected governor, Spencer Cox. I also got a new boss, Dan Hemmert, while my former boss, Val Hale, went with his wife, Nancy, on a public affairs mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They serve in the Los Angeles area and are accomplishing great things. I hope Vickey and I can have a similar opportunity in the years to come. My experience with COVID was different from Vickey’s. She was in bed for 4-5 days with a fever and severe body aches, while my worst symptom was a nasty headache. It’s so strange how this virus affects people so differently. Luckily, neither Ellie nor Dominic got COVID from Vickey or me. In January, I also sold my Lexus ES350 and purchased a Lexus RX350. I’ve enjoyed driving an SUV that’s higher on the road. My sedan was old and approaching 200,000 miles, and the hip joint pain I was experiencing made it very uncomfortable to get in and out of and drive the car.
In March, I had my right hip replaced. I’ve struggled for years with hip joint pain. I received cortisone shots every six months or so for a few years, but early in ’21, after reviewing updated X-rays, the doctor suggested I see a surgeon. The University of Utah Health surgeon I saw said I could wait a few years but that the deterioration of the joint was similar to someone a couple of decades older than me. His recommendation was to proceed with the hip replacements on both sides to achieve a better quality of life and be more active. He said his average hip replacement patient’s age was 57. I was 50 at the time. I was tired of feeling constant pain, taking pain meds, and not moving around very well. The morning procedure went well, and I was home by dinnertime. I used a walker for a few days, then crutches, then a crutch. I met with a physical therapist virtually and did my therapy religiously. I was up and about without much problem and back at work within a couple of weeks. Sadly, the day after my surgery, our Whirlpool kitchen refrigerator died. We were already on the second fridge of that model because the first one died a couple of years after we moved in. So, we decided it was time to replace the Whirlpool. Vickey and her Dad went shopping and found French door refrigerators, our favorite, scarce due to supply chain issues. But, they found a nice GE fridge that was delivered the next day, and we’ve enjoyed it since then. It was an expensive week, with a hip replacement surgery co-pay and a $3k+ new fridge.
In May, after all of us had received COVID vaccines, Vickey’s family gathered at her brother’s home in St. George to celebrate her sister’s 50th birthday. It was a multi-day event full of good food, hanging out by the pool, games, and family time. It was sunny and beautiful. I think So. Utah is calling to me.
After a follow-up visit with my hip surgeon, we scheduled my left hip replacement for mid-June. He likes to give three months between surgeries to allow for recovery. Unfortunately, during the Monday morning procedure, my right lung became aspirated, which led to pneumonia a couple of days later. They kept me overnight in the surgery center, and I went home the next day. I struggled for a couple of days until Vickey made me go with her to the emergency room. My oxygen levels were at 79, and I was struggling to breathe. It didn’t take long in the ER before they recommended a transfer to the hospital. A CAT scan showed a lot of white spots in my right lung, and they wanted me on oxygen and constantly monitored. So, I had my first ambulance ride. They took me, about 4 a.m., from the South Jordan U Health Center to the University of Utah hospital in Salt Lake City. That was a surreal experience. Vickey was finally able to go home and get some rest, and I continued to try to be patient as the patient who was getting tests done, moved around, poked and prodded, woke up every few hours, etc. Being in the hospital is no fun and not a relaxing experience. I was there until Saturday afternoon. I struggled with pain meds and nausea and getting my bowels moving again. It took 10-11 days, counting from my surgery, for me to feel like a normal person again. The pneumonia complication delayed my recovery, and I spent three weeks away from work after the second surgery.
Work was stressful for me in July. I was back after the fourth of July holiday, after missing five weeks in the past few months for hip replacement surgeries, and our office was in the midst of a name change and brand update. Our name changed from Economic Development to Economic Opportunity. You may think that sounds simple, but it wasn’t. My team had to update everything online and in print or existing in the real world. It took us several months to update and replace every physical item including “Economic Development.” Also in July, after turning 16, Dominic began working at Tonyburgers in South Jordan. It was fun to see our youngest enter the workforce. During July, when temperatures were in the 90s and 100s and only a week or so after my second hip replacement surgery, our eight-year-old air conditioner units died. The systems the builder put into the home, the HVAC guys said, could heat/cool about 30% of our home. We needed an upgrade. We ended up replacing two HVAC systems for our three-level home. Vickey said I couldn’t have any more surgeries because we had expensive home appliance or car maintenance issues to deal with each time I did. At the end of the month, I joined Dominic for our ward’s young men’s camp at Reid Ranch in Hanna, Utah. We were there from Thursday afternoon until Saturday morning. This outing was the first substantial test of my new hips, where I hiked trails, paddled in a paddleboat, and slept in a rickety twin-size bunk bed. I survived and even enjoyed the outing. I think Dominic also enjoyed it.
In late July and early August, my sister, Angie, and her two boys came to Utah from their home in Vermont to stay with us for a few weeks. My parents also came up from So. Utah. We did activities every day. I enjoyed our outing to the Great Salt Lake, Antelope Island, and the Hill Air Force Base Museum. We also spent a week in New Harmony at my folks’ place and went back to Vickey’s brother’s place in St. George for another pool day. My sister’s youngest managed to catch a cold on the trip, which made its way around the family. I was sick for a few weeks. Each time a new person got sick, we got another COVID test. They all came back negative. But that illness was no fun for me — it was worse than my COVID experience.
Also in August, Dominic’s racing with the Bingham High School Mountain Bike team began. So, we started driving around the state for practices and races. We had no idea that mountain biking is such a big deal, with rigs, trailers, canopies, and huge base camps for 150+ riders and their families, not to mention the cost of equipment for each rider. But, we loved watching him race and were glad he was doing something active.
In September, we celebrated Ellie’s, and then Vickey’s birthdays. Unfortunately, Vickey had the funeral of a family she’s known for decades to attend on her birthday. The matriarch of the family passed away. Sadly, the next month, one of her sons died from COVID. The pandemic sure makes you appreciate life and all that you have. We also celebrated the wedding of Vickey’s niece in September. She and her fiance were married in the Jordan River Temple, so our home was the home base for Vickey’s family that afternoon. And, the next day, we drove to Clearfield for their reception. It was a wedding extravaganza weekend. Also in September, I was released after 3+ years of being the second counselor in our ward elders quorum presidency and started teaching the 12-year-old Sunday school class. I’ll disclose that, of all the service opportunities in our church, being in the elders quorum presidency, which I’ve done a handful of times now, is my least favorite.
We traveled to Hawaii in October. It was the first time any of us had been there. We spent a week in Maui with Vickey’s extended family. We went to different beaches, swam, sat in the sun, went snorkeling, bodyboarding, surfing, hiking, shopping, and exploring. We also played games and had fun hanging out together. And we ate some pretty fantastic food, including excellent pizza and wonderful coconut ice cream. Maui was beautiful and a great break from everyday routines. The week after we returned, Dominic received his Utah driver’s license. Paying for car insurance for two young drivers is no fun.
In November, we hosted my parents and Vickey’s parents for Thanksgiving. My parents and I cooked for a couple of days. We had a delicious feast. I put our turkey on the Traeger this year and really enjoyed the flavor of the smoked turkey.
December was full of activity at work to conclude the year, followed by a couple of weeks of vacation. It’ll come as no surprise that Project Pete was in full modus operandi during the break: finishing my quest to replace old light fixtures with LED can lights, painting new shelving in our upstairs and downstairs laundry rooms, installing another washing machine, so we have full laundries by the bedrooms in the basement and on the second level, and hanging two TV’s, moving the old one from the basement movie room up to the main level family room. Plenty of Christmas was going on in our home this year.
Looking back, ’21 presented its challenges, but our family took time to vacation together and enjoy the year-end holidays with both sets of grandparents. That’s a luxury I don’t think my kids fully appreciate. I’d say we’re happy and healthy.
I learned a lot last year about the history of our church while studying the Doctrine and Covenants, a book of scripture from the early years of the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. I’m grateful to live with the fullness of the Lord’s gospel, living prophets and apostles, and to know that Jesus Christ is my Redeemer. I know that I can return to live with my Heavenly Father “through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8).