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Monday, December 26, 2016

Char the Cheerleader; Char the Coach; Char the Hand-Holder

We all have had experiences where, upon reflection and spiritual thought, we later realize how so very much this world and the world beyond the veil intersect at times and divine intervention influences and blesses our lives in ways that, at the time, we would not have imagined possible.  While dating Tiffany I had several such experiences.  I know that it was not by chance that Tiffany and I met and courted, one of the many fruits of such divine intervention is now being a part of an incredible extended family, with parents (I do not consider Ed and Kriss "in-laws" - they are so much more than that) and siblings (including spouses!) who are no less than amazing and have from the very beginning welcomed my daughters and me into the Gates clan with unconditional love.  Thank you all!

My very first thought and impression of Charise when I first met her was, "This woman is the queen of positive thought!"  She is always upbeat, cheerful, positive, encouraging, and it is impossible to not feel those emotions and qualities when you are with her.  Her spirit is contagious and infectious. Tiffany readily explained to me that Charise had been a cheerleader in high school.  Charise continues to be the cheerleader of the family.  She is always cheering us on, providing encouragement when times get tough. With her there is always a silver lining no matter how bleak the clouds or how threatening the impending storm may appear.

While I attempt to put into words my thoughts and feelings of the experience I have had this year in doing service in Charise's honor, I am reminded of the words of Alma in Mosiah 18: 8-9 (where Alma, while at the waters of Mormon, is speaking to those desiring to be baptized into the fold of God), "... and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those who mourn; yea and comfort those that stand in need of comfort[.]" I have seen Charise in action providing the proverbial (and sometimes literally) shoulder to cry on.  I have seen her help bear another's burdens, mourn with those who mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort.

So this year, when I received Charise's name in whose honor I would be providing service, at first I was at a loss for ideas as to what I could do that would be, in my opinion, worthy of Charise and her undying and unwavering positiveness, ease and ability to bear other's burdens, and Christ-like love for others.

Due to my profession, education, experience, and training as an attorney, I am many times in a position where I am asked to assist others resolve specific legal issues and problems that are quite burdensome.  One particular client comes to mind.  I represent an older woman who came to me seeking assistance with a trust and incapacity documents.  Her husband has advanced dementia and Alzheimers. Due to his medical condition, he has no legal capacity to execute the necessary legal documents that would give his wife the authority to make financial and medical decisions on his behalf. At first, my client was distraught regarding the situation.  Upon investigation (and a lot of telephone calls!) I was able to locate previous legal documents that had been created and executed by her husband many many years ago with another attorney that gives my client the much needed authority to take care of her husband.  If we had not been able to locate these documents, my client would have needed to go through the burdensome court process of creating a conservatorship on her husband's behalf. This client and her husband have a special place in my heart.  My paternal grandmother had advanced dementia and Alzheimers and it was heartbreaking to see her medical deterioration and eventual passing due to such a vicious disease.  Tiffany and I frequently talk about grandpa and grandma Bodell and how lovingly grandpa Bodell cared for grandma until her passing.

In our bedroom, Tiffany hung some of my favorite pictures from our wedding.

Underneath the three pictures I hung a small plaque containing one of my favorite scriptures.  For me, this scripture contains many of the qualities and characteristics that I wish to have in my marriage with Tiffany.

"And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail -- But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him." Moroni 7:45-47.

One of my personal goals this year has been to increase my understanding of Charity, my capacity to have charity, and be charitable, especially within my relationship with Tiffany and our children.  I especially have focused on learning to be be more patient and more humble.  Not the easiest things to learn, but I tell Tiffany all the time that I am a work in progress.

As part of my service, I wanted to be able to have a charitable experience, that would help me be an example of the Savior and his charitable love.  So, a few months ago, while still seeking an opportunity to give service in Charise's honor, Tiffany and I were out for the evening walking around the Spectrum and doing a little date-night window shopping and running some errands.  Tiffany received a text from one of Charise's very good friends, Julie Bostrom.  For those who do not know, Julie lost her husband, Craig, a little over a year ago.  Craig worked as a station electrician for the the City of Riverside.  Craig retired on a Friday after a long career with the city.  The following Monday morning, Craig passed away in his sleep due to heart failure.  Julie's life came crashing down around her. Her and Craig's dreams of retirement life vanished that Monday morning. Upon finding out about Julie's situation, Charise immediately flew out to California to be with her friend.  Charise without hesitation came to mourn with Julie and to help bear Julie's burdens.  "... and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those who mourn; yea and comfort those that stand in need of comfort[.]"

So while we are out on date night, Tiffany received a text from Julie asking if Tiffany knew an estate planning attorney who might be able to help her with some legal issues related to Craig's estate.  I immediately called Julie and talked with her about what I could do to assist her.  Coincidence that I had Charise's name this year for service and that Julie texted Tiffany for a referral, I think not. Divine intervention occurs when we least expect it.  I had been looking for an opportunity to help bear someone's burdens.  Julie was the perfect candidate.  What better way to provide service in Charise's honor than to give service to one of Charise's best friends. A few days later Julie and I were able to meet together and talk about the struggles that Julie has been through. Like many people whom I encounter in my law practice, Craig and Julie did not have the necessary legal documents to help Julie be able to navigate the complicated and difficult waters of probate (a legal proceeding where court intervention and oversight is required to administer and manage the estate of a family member or loved one after they have passed away) and estate administration.  We talked about what was needed to help her with Craig's estate.  We discussed the probate process and what she should expect regarding such process.  I also discussed with her what we can do to help her children avoid having to go through the same process in the future should Julie become incapacitated or at the time of her passing.  We came up with a game plan to wrap up Craig's estate through probate and to help Julie put together the necessary documents (trust and incapacity documents) for herself and her children. She asked how much this would cost.  I told her there was no cost.  I told her she was like family and there would be no charge. This would my pleasure to help her.  Before I met with Julie, she was able to take care of a few of Craig's estate matters.  But she still has a few matters with which she needs assistance. I am currently assisting Julie with these outstanding probate matters regarding Craig.  Unfortunately, probate is not a quick process and we still have a ways to go, but hopefully Craig's estate will be wrapped up soon in the beginning of next year. So Charise, in your name and honor, I present this gift of service.  Char, I know that if it were possible, you would take away all of Julie's stress, pain, anguish, heartache, and loss that she has experienced since Craig's passing.  Assisting Julie with her legal issues is but a small way that I can lift her burdens.

Love ya, sis.  Merry Christmas.



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