Saturday, January 30, 2010

Here's The Story, Of a Lovely Lady ...

This may come as a complete shock to some of you, but I am engaged to be married. Actually, it is quite a shock to me as well. I never expected or intended to even think about remarrying so soon after Holly's death, but events came together in such a way that I can't help but believe that it was not by accident. Let me explain:

While we were living in Vienna, I got a call in the middle of the night telling me that a woman (Ann) who was traveling from Utah had just lost her husband to a heart attack. Since I worked for the American Embassy, and was a member of the same church, they thought I might be able to help. There wasn't an awful lot I could do to help, but Holly went into high gear and, along with other women from our church, pitched in to help Ann in any way she could. Ann and Holly became friends and stayed in touch, exchanging Christmas cards and an occasional e-mail. When Ann learned of Holly's death, she decided to attend Holly's grave-side service in Salt Lake. Ann and I met there, and, since she and I had a common bond in that we had both lost a spouse that we loved so deeply, we kept in touch. I was hoping that she could help me navigate the rough waters that lay before me. Before long, we realized that there was much more pulling us together. We realized that we made each other very happy, and that we had a lot to offer each other.

I think what initially attracted us to each other was the fact that we both fully understood the love that we each had for the one we had lost. I could never marry a woman who didn't appreciate what a wonderful woman Holly was, and appreciate the eternal love I will always have for her. Ann felt very much the same about her beloved Scott. We realized that we could love each other fully, without threatening the love we have for those we had lost. We could love each other 100%, and still love the ones we had lost 100%

If you have read some of Holly's earlier posts, you will remember that she was very upset at the prospect of me ever remarrying. She couldn't bear the thought of another woman "replacing" her, and taking over the wonderful life that was hers. I am fully confident that she has an entirely different perspective now. Free from the anxieties, jealousies, and blinders of mortality, she now sees the bigger picture, and wants what is best for her family. She always wanted what was best for her family, but I don't think she could see how she was going to fit into that plan after she passed away. I believe she now understands much better than we can what the most important things in life really are, and what her eternal role continues to be. In fact, I am convinced that Holly is somehow behind this whole thing. She doesn't want her children to grow up with a single father struggling to keep the family afloat, and she doesn't want me to live the rest of my life in loneliness and pain. Of these things I am certain.

Ann has four children of her own, two girls and two boys, ranging in age from 27 to 19. If we add the four children I have right now, plus the four from my first marriage, plus two step-sons from Ann, that makes a grand total of 14 children! What a complicated life this has become! Complicated, but wonderful.

Our plan is to marry in the Mount Timpanogos Temple in Utah on 25 June, then Ann will move out here to Virginia. We'll probably stay in Virginia for a couple of years, at which time I will be eligible to retire. Our hope is to end up back in Utah, where we can be close to family again.

I felt like the luckiest man alive when I married Holly. I never dreamed I could be so blessed that I could find yet another wonderful woman to inspire me, and with whom I could share my life. Once again, I have living proof that God lives, and that He truly does love us!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

John Keith Baxter

My father, Keith Baxter, passed away on December 11th at home in Salt Lake City. He had been quite ill for several months. He had gone blind a couple of years ago, and he had lost most of his hearing recently as well. His quality of life had been pretty poor. Our sadness at losing such a kind, loving, Christlike man is tempered by the knowledge that he is now free of all of these infirmities and he is now in a glorious place with his parents and other loved ones. He was married to my mother for 56 years and they were inseparable. She will really need our prayers to help her through the years ahead without her dear companion and best friend.

I was able to go out to Salt Lake for the funeral. It was a very nice service, followed by a short service at the cemetery. My heart goes out to the wonderful bagpiper who braved the biting cold to play at the graveside.

2009 has been a tough year. We look forward to the healing sure to come in the times ahead.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

This is Robert again. Alexander has been very busy lately, so I'm going to do the update again.

Things have been running relatively smoothly for us. Now that school has started, we have gotten into our routines, which has helped to bring the stress level down a lot. It's nice to have some idea what will be going on from one day to the next.

Alexander and Daniel are both going to public school now, Alexander is a sophomore and Daniel is in the 7th grade. It has definitely been a change of pace from homeschooling, but they are both doing very well in school, and they are enjoying the increased social life. They have had to shoulder so much over the past two years, it is time that they get a chance to be regular teenagers and do regular teenager stuff. I am amazed at how well they are coping with losing their mother. It is a testament to her that she has raised such strong and well adjusted children.

Rosie is going to daycare every day with a woman from our church. I was so glad to find someone I know and respect who can watch her all day. She also gets to participate in a little preschool co-op two days a week that was set up by a few of the mothers from church. It's nice to know that she is being taken care of by someone who shares our values and who knows and loves Rosie.

I took Rosie to her first speech therapy class this week. I had her tongue clipped a few weeks ago (man, that sounds so awful!), so we're hoping that with the therapy she will begin to improve her speech. I often have to get the boys to translate for me when she talks. She gets so frustrated when she's trying to say something to me, and I just can't understand her. She has a pretty decent vocabulary, if only she could get the sounds to come out right.

From time to time I go through some "aftershocks". Sometimes the reality of Holly's passing comes barreling down on me when I least expect it. I still find myself wanting to talk to her or call her on the phone whenever I have an idea or when I hear some interesting news. I still want to share my life with her, and it is really tough not being able to. I never thought I would be this emotional, but I am glad that I am. I don't want to be numb. I want to feel her and I want to miss her.

We're so grateful to our friends and family who have been so supportive and loving. I don't know how we would have weathered these last few months without them. The Lord truly does send his angels when we need them.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Home Again

This is Robert. We're back home after spending two weeks in Utah with family and friends. We sorely needed the time to step back a bit and not have to worry about the daily grind for a while.

Holly's funeral was on July 20th in Manassas, VA. It was so beautiful. Her cousin Jamie gave a eulogy, then Donna Andrew spoke about her experiences with Holly when they were in Vienna. She was followed by Elaine Salisbury, who had gotten to know Holly very well here in Virginia. Bishop Lyman gave some closing remarks about The Savior and the hope that comes from the knowledge of His resurrection. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to all the wonderful things being said about Holly. I felt the spirit of God so strongly, I felt like my chest was burning inside. I'm sure that Holly was very pleased by the service.

The graveside service in Salt Lake was also beautiful. My brother Richard spoke about Holly and about the hope of the resurrection. The burial plot is located above the Salt Lake Valley, and has a beautiful view of the valley below. The headstone will have mountains on the top (for me) and trees on both sides (to remember Holly's California) and the Mt. Timpanogas Temple in the middle, where we were sealed for eternity.

Now comes the time where we attempt to settle back into some kind of a routine. I will start work again on Monday, and will begin in earnest to live the life of a single father. I don't look forward to some of the challenges I will face, but I have no doubt that the Lord will prop me up and show me the way. Most of the time, those blessings come in the form of good friends and family. We have been blessed more than we could ever have imagined with the love of so many around us -- angels sent to guide us and ease us through these tough times. I am so grateful for them, people who will literally do anything to help us. I suppose it is at times like these that we discover just how much our Father in Heaven really does love us.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Baxter Family 07/26/09

Hello all. This Alexander. I plan on continuing this blog in my mother's absence. I may not make weekly updates, but I'll do my best to keep everyone updated with what is going in our family.

~The Baxters are currently in Utah, on vacation. We will be here until August 5th, 2009, and we are enjoying our stay and visiting with family. Yesterday (07/25) we went swimming in the Great Salt Lake, and Thursday (07/23) we attended the Occur Mountain Temple open house.

~Brother Baxter's 9th anniversary of being sealed to Sister Baxter in the Mt. Timpanogas Temple just passed on Thursday (07/23).

~Rosie only wears diapers at night now; she has decided that she is now a big girl, and is opting to wear underwear during the day. So far, not a single accident.

~Alexander and Daniel are working hard to finish school in time. We have until the end of August. Next (school) year, Daniel will be in seventh (7th) grade, and Alexander will be in tenth (10th) grade.

~Alexander is looking forward to his birthday on August 12th. He will be fifteen (15) years old.

~Alexander recently attended the Pokemon National Championships 09, and placed in the Top 8 out of more than 250 players in his age division (born in 94-97)! He is very excited, and in addition to a $750 scholership, has even won an invitation to the Pokemon World Championships 09. It has been his dream for more than five years to play at the World Championships; his dream will finally come true.

I realize that this blog may now have a lot more information about me, Alexander, than it did before just because I am maintaining this blog. However, I'm doing my best to include the rest of the family in this blog. Nobody is perfect. Also, my mom was a grammar and spelling fanatic, and took English as her major in college. Keep in mind that the writing capabilities of a Sophomore pale in contrast to my mom's elegance with words. So if you notice any incorrect grammar or spelling (which, in comparison to my mom's posts, you probably will), please, do forgive me.

Until next time,

Friday, July 17, 2009

Funeral Arrangements

The funeral arrangements have been made:

Sunday, 19 July at 7:00
Pierce Funeral Home, 9609 Center St., Manassas, VA

Monday, 20 July at 2:00 (viewing at 1:00)
Bristow Ward meetinghouse, 5750 Websters Way, Manassas, VA

Graveside Service
Wednesday, 22 July at 11:00 at the Salt Lake Cemetery
I don't know the exact location of the grave, but it is just below 11th Avenue, on the East side of the military graves.

I realize that many of you will be unable to attend these services, but I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers and for your wonderful comments about Holly. Thank you for sharing your precious memories.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me directly at


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Holly Baxter 21 December 1964 - 15 July 2009

Holly passed away this evening at 7:30 at home. I've known this was coming for quite some time, but there really is no way to prepare for it. I've lost the love of my life, and our children have lost their wonderful mother. I draw strength and comfort from the knowledge that we have been sealed in the Temple for all eternity. I also find comfort in knowing that she is free from her pain, and that she is in a glorious place free from sorrow. We will have to rely heavily on our faith to be able to get through the rest of our lives without her.

We haven't finalized the funeral plans at this point, but we're anticipating that the funeral will be on Monday, 20 July. We will then fly her out to Salt Lake City for burial. We will conduct a graveside service there. I will update this blog with details when we have them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Holly's Condition

Holly's condition continues to worsen. She sleeps most of the time, and when she is awake she is not very responsive. She isn't able to communicate much, and when she speaks it usually doesn't make much sense. It looks like her time is very short.

Every time I experience something, or think of an idea, or see something interesting, my first thought is, "I can't wait to share this with Holly!" Then I remember that I can't. It is so painful to see the love of my life and my best friend dwindling away day after day. It's hard to accept that I can't share my life with her any more. I know that soon she will be free of her pain and that she will rejoice in the next step of her eternal progression, and that brings me great comfort, but it still doesn't take away the pain and emptiness of knowing that I will not see her again for a very long time.

They say that misery loves company, so maybe it's a good thing that there are so many people out there who are sharing this loss. I hear almost every day of someone who has been touched by Holly's influence for good. She has had such an impact on so many people. I only wish they all could have known her as well as I do.

I found this picture from some old pictures we took while we were living in Vienna. Holly was the president of the Primary, which is something like the children's Sunday school program. She was in charge of about 30 kids from ages 3 to 12. She took after that job with full gusto. I spent countless Saturday evenings cutting out or laminating pictures with her until 2:00 a.m. so she could give the children a quality learning experience. She had a dramatic impact on all of these children, and on many of their parents as well. This time period was the happiest I've seen Holly, which is why I love this picture. It reminds me of what Holly is really about: Christlike service to others.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


This is Robert, writing for Holly again. I'm sad to say that Holly's health has seriously declined in the last several weeks. Her liver has not been functioning well, and has been producing a lot of "sludge" that fills her abdomen. Her lungs have also been filling with fluid. She has a difficult time breathing and she can only get out of bed for very short periods, if at all. She is now under hospice care, since her doctors have told us that there is nothing more they can do for her. They tell us that she has only a couple weeks left, at best.

This is not what we wanted to have happen, but we have known for some time that this was coming. We have never given up praying for a miracle, but we know that God's ways are not always our ways. We have been preparing ourselves (as best as we can) and we have slowly come to terms with it. We don't know all of our Father in Heaven's plan for us, but we know that his will is always best in the end, and he must have something very important for Holly to do on the other side if he is willing to take her away from us so soon. I feel I am getting just a tiny taste of what our Savior felt when he asked, "... O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

Throughout all this, we have been blessed by so many good friends and family. My son Scott got married on 19 June, so we were able to have a lot of family come to visit us. It was so wonderful to get to go with Scott and his new bride, Brooke, into the Washington DC temple to see them be sealed for time and all eternity. What a blessing to see two pure, humble people starting their new life together.

Holly's cousin, Jamie, decided to come and stay with us for as long as needed to help Holly and the rest of us. I don't know what I would have done without her. She has truly been a gift from God (even when I argue with her). She has experience with home health care, so she has been able to help Holly in ways I would never be able to. Holly's dad and stepmother have also come to help, as well as Holly's nana. Of course, Holly's mother has been here all along to help her out. Whenever Holly needs help or is afraid, the first person she wants to talk to is her mother. The members of our church have been amazing too. They have been bringing meals and taking Rosie on outings. They will do literally anything we need, and they have proved that over and over. I hope that I can return the favor in some small way in the future.

Holly is resting comfortably right now. I am taking off from work for as long as I need to so that I can be with her and help her in any way I can. Thank you all for your prayers.


This is Robert, writing for Holly. She has been wanting to update the blog for quite some time, but she hasn't been feeling well enough to stay at the computer for any length of time.

The trip to Disneyworld was fantastic! It was truly a fantasy trip. We are so grateful for all the people who made real sacrifices to make it possible. The youth at our church put together a car wash to raise money. Our dear friend, Donna, did a 5K run with her family to raise money as well. We also had friends from church making donations to make this come true. Of course, the Dream Foundation put the whole thing together. We got to stay at the Nickelodion Hotel, and then at a wonderful Marriott property. We got three days at the Disney parks, a day at Sea World, and two days at Universal Studios. The donations made it so we could fully enjoy all these attractions without having to sweat about money (and it does burn up fast!)

Probably the highlight of the trip was when we got to get in the water with the baluga whales. Holly has always wanted to do that, and this was a wish come true for her.

Holly and Jym Antony took us under their wings and set up some amazing stuff for us. We got to get up close and personal with the animals at the Disney Animal Kingdom restaurant. We ate our delicious dinner right by the window and watched zebras and giraffes wander by. It really reminded us of Kenya, where we met and got married 8 years ago. They also set up a personal meeting with all the princes and princesses at the Disney castle. Rosie went to the Bippity Boppity Boutique and got all dressed up as Tinkerbell, then she got to go and meet all the Disney royalty. I think she was a bit overwhelmed.

This trip was so important to us because we really wanted to make sure that the kids have good, positive memories to carry with them in the coming years, especially Rosie. The last couple of years have been focused so much on going back and forth to hospitals that we really haven't been able to do much else. The boys have had to carry a huge load around the house, doing a long list of chores every day in addition to their school work. Rosie has had very few chances to do anything fun or memorable with Mommy. This trip really did the trick. We did it just in the nick of time, too, because if we had waited only a couple weeks longer, Holly probably wouldn't have been able to travel.

We were especially thrilled that Max was able to go with us. Everything went very well with him. We can see that he has made tremendous improvement since we moved him to the new group home (Turning Point for Boys). The director, Mr. Butler, really knows his stuff, and he has had fantastic results with boys like Max. We see a light in Max's eyes now that we haven't seen in a very long time.

Our thanks to everyone who made it possible for us to live a dream for a few days that will carry us long into the future.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Robert, Part I

Why oh why do I wait so long to update. Then, by the time I do, everybody already knows everything that is going on or the entry is so long that no one has enough time to read it. Maybe I'll do it in pieces today.

Since we came home from our big West trip and school started, we have been very busy. Most nights Robert and I fall into bed around mid-night, completely exhausted and wondering from where we'll pull our energy for the things that need to be done the next day. I don't know how he does it. He has to get up at 5:30 to take Alexander to Seminary (Scripture Study M-F, 6am-7am), he comes home gets himself ready, picks Alexander up and then goes to work, drives over an hour in rush hour traffic, and then his day begins! Poor guy! He doesn't get hime till around 6:30 pm usually and by then he just wants to plop down and do a crossword puzzle (which for some crazy reason, actually relaxes him). However, those moments of "relaxation" are rare as some child usually needs him to fix something,he has a church obligation that must be seen to, his wife needs him to do one of the million things she used to do for herself/their family, or he needs to take care of one of the million things that used to be his share of the chores, manly stuff like fixing something on the car, changing a tall lightbulb, replacing the fan belt on the vacuum cleaner, or repairing any of the plumbing, lighting, or appliances that one of our children just found too interesting during the day or forgot to assemble properly before use. Sigh. We usually have a nice dinner and then, somehow it is 10 or 11 pm, the kids are really late for bed, Rosie is running around in her diaper trying to get all of daddy's attention and he still hasn't had much of a chance to talk to his wife or do any of that relaxing he'd been thinking about all day.

Robert, as the head of the household and the money earner, spends a lot of his brainpower and nervestrength thinking about our debt. Or, should I say, Our Debt. It is a monster and try as we might to slay it, it hungers, consumes and grows larger. Okay, well, I have a lot to do with it. I am just so, so grateful that we have health insurance and that it is good insurance which pays for most of my bills, prescriptions etc. I don't want to even imagine where we'd be without it. Periodically, Robert brings home a spreadsheetk stating how much we spent the month before and how much in debt we'll be when he retires (in 3 years) if we continue to spend at that rate. Sigh. I hate for him to live worrying about this all the time, it does keep me awake too. So...if all this weren't stressful enough for this rock-solid man, it just kept coming at us.

A few weeks ago, he came with me for my doctor's appt. We were going to get the results of my latest bone and CAT Scans and I was glad that he could come with me. The doctor walked in, looked at me and said," I wish I had good news. The cancer is growing, you've got lots of new tumors, and there is growth in the bones, etc etc etc." I don't think we actually heard a lot of what she said, we were just so shocked. She told us that she had nothing else to offer me as far a chemo goes but that Georgetown or someone might have some trials/protocols running where they check new cancer drugs on people.

I got into Georgetown as quickly as I could, but even at that it took several weeks during which the evil little cancer pacmen were just cruising around in my body munching on whatever they could. I'm getting new scans on Friday to see how much damage has been done.

The goodish news is that my Doctor has come up with a treatment plan for me and I'm excited about it because when my last Doctor "released" me from her care, I kind of felt alone, well, I guess I was. But yesterday I started a new regime called "Xeloda" which is promising and they've had good results from women in my situation. So, here is my new diagnosis: 3-6 Months if I take no treatment. If I take treatment, and it works perfectly and I have no drawbacks or waiting times without treatment etc. then that would add as much as 6 months to my life. There you have it; maximum of one year. I'm trying hard not to get depressed, and have recently decided, (after a good talking to from my son Alexander who was upset with my attitude), decided that my lifespan is not up to the doctors or the medicine as much as it is between me and the Lord.

Well, that's it for now, I'm wiped out and have to hit the sack. Thank you dear loved ones for your prayers - Sometimes, I can really feel them holding me up!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Great News from our Children.....

I've had a hard time typing lately. My hands get numb, tingley and shakey and I'm usually just too tired to get on here and update and I'm sorry for that. I'm not going to go on and on about myself though, other than to say that I'm doing allright, I'll have results on Friday from a Cat Scan I had done today and I hope to post more then.

My grandma and grandpa are visiting this week and I have to say that their visit has really cheered me and just having them here seems to kick in some sort of adrenilin which keeps me awake, alert and in a good mood - I'm really grateful for that because I was afraid I would be too tired to visit much with them.

I just had to get on and post our good news though.
1) Alexander won the Pokemon State Championship last week and we have all just been flying high all week on that great news. Pictures and more details to follow.

Just when we were thinking how blessed we are and how much joy our children bring us...

2)My step-son, (okay, Robert's son, but he is just like a son to me too) Scott dropped by with his girfriend Brooke on Sunday and let us know that they are engaged. We couldn't be more excited and happy for them. Scott is getting a really beautiful, smart, sweet, talented wife and Brooke is getting a wonderful, loyal, funny, smart husband. Scott is much like his father in very many ways and I can tell you that you can't ask for more in a husband.

It is going to be a summer wedding (this summer) and we are just thrilled. I'm so excited for them to go to the Temple and I'm so grateful they are getting married here in VA. Robert's daughter recently got married in UT in a place that didn't allow children so we weren't able to go to the wedding with him. I guess we still haven't got over missing her blessed day and we are so thrilled that we can both be there to see Scott married. I'll post some pictures of them whenever I can. Read on for more on our other great news.

I must say again, that I am so grateful for all of our children ( 8 in total). Each one has enriched our lives in their own unique way and they are the ones who bring us joy untold - even when it feels like there is no joy upcoming!! I'll post more about my health later, for now, please just revel in all this excitement with me.

Look at all the people....



It has been a week of great news for our family. These photos are of the Pokemon State Finals in Virginia. There were hundreds of people there and if you think it is a game just played by little boys, no, no, no. There are boys, girls, teenagers of all types, moms, dads, and yes...grandmas and grandpas. You would be surprised to see how widespread the appeal of this game is, I'm not surprised and one day soon I'm going to have Alexander finally teach me how to play. I'm interested to learn but also, I just need to know how to participate in something my son loves so much!

It was such a thrill when Alexander called to say he thought he might win. For the first time ever, the tournament was held close by. We usually have to drive for hours each way to get Alexander to these games. Anyway, he was very close by --just around the corner at the local fire station and Robert jumped into the car and was there to see the big win. Alexander was in the local newspaper the next day and we have all been just as happy as can be - after years of trying hard and putting most of his allowance into cards and asking for cards for every Christmas and birthday, after pouring all his extra time into his passion, finally, he took home a big trophy as the Virginia State Champion.

All Walks of Life...


I truly am a Poke-mom. Alexander has been interested in Pokemon since he was about 7 years old. He started out loving the cartoons and movies, he then added the games when he got a gameboy. As he grew older he started to play the GameCube and Wii games, but around 5 years ago he became interested in the card game. The cards are trading cards but there is also a complex card game that is played with them. As I learned more about Pokemon, I came to appreciate it more and more. We would take Alexander to games wherever we could find them. We lived in Europe at the time, but no matter. Alexander managed to find a couple of leagues that played in Germany and then he would find tournaments in different countries. The first one we went to was in Salzberg, luckily Alexander spoke a little German already and it was a very interesting event for me. Later, he found more tournaments, we even drove to Italy for one. As we got close, I asked Alexander how he expected to communicate with the people there. He just shrugged his shoulders- he wasn't worried about it at all. And so, we got to meet lots of other people, all over the continent, who shared a love with my son. Eventually, he taught Daniel how to play and Daniel too enjoyed travelling around and going to leagues and tournaments. He never developed the love and passion that Alexander has, but still, it is enough that they get to play together and enjoy a common interest. After the games are played, the players all gather together and trade cards. It is very interesting and has been quite a journey for our family.

Whom were you expecting?


And you thought it was just a bunch of nerdy little kids who played Pokemon!
Did you know that there are even adults at these competitions?