Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Academy- Part 1

On Wednesday morning at about 2:00am The Academy Drum and Bugle Corps arrived at Lehi High School.  They travel around the country sleeping in gyms and rehearsing on any field they can book.  It is quite an impressive sight to see a caravan of 3 buses, 2 semi trailers, three trucks pulling trailers, 2 motor homes, and assorted other vehicles all show up at once.  There are 150 members of the Corps and they have a large staff and an even larger group of volunteers that help feed, water and take care of the members.

One of the members of this awesome group is my son, Colby.  He auditioned in December 2010 and started going to Camp Weekends in January.  He had to fly to Phoenix seven times between December and May!  On June 5 he arrived there for the last time. . . The Academy practices or performs nearly every day, so he is busy.  They have two tours- a regional tour that will end tomorrow and a national tour that will begin on July 21.

Each member is allowed to have one bag, so as you can imagine, they are fairly large and packed tightly.  Most of the kids use a bag like this:

These bags are great because they have two compartments.  I'm not sure where Colby has all his stuff at this point, but he has to keep his clothes and his air mattress and air pump and toiletries and everything else in there.  The kids had to sleep in the gym mezzanines at the school because the gym floor wasn't fully cured from its new coat of shellac.  Most of the girls left their bags in the hallway or got a guy to carry it up the stairs for them because the bags get so heavy!

Arriving at a school in the middle of the night is pretty standard.  The bus rides double as sleep time (although Colby says it is pretty loud on the bus most of the time) and then they get to "hit the floor" for a few hours on their air mattresses.  The drum majors are in charge of waking everyone up and they have an hour to eat, dress, fill their water bottles and try to get awake.  Then rehearsal starts.

The parents and other volunteers who run the day-to-day details of the Corps are amazing.  It takes a strong group to feed about 190 people four meals a day.  Yup.  Four.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack that looks like another meal.  It's estimated that the members burn 5000-6000 calories a day, so they tend to be hungry!  Most of them lose weight during the summer because they just can't eat enough to maintain. (And no. . . I will not be going on this weight loss plan- I am WAY too old for this level of physical activity!!!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lessons from Garrett's Life

I just returned home from a funeral. . . for a 2 year old.  I am not sure that I have ever attended a child's funeral before- it was very difficult. But at the same time, my heart is lifted up in praise for a Heavenly Father who really does love us and has a plan in place for us to come back to him. 

I didn't know Garrett.  My only knowledge of him was seeing him at band events.  The last time I saw him was the Saturday before he died.  His mom had him and Hunter in a double stroller and had Connor straped on in a baby carrier.  The boys were excited to be at the parade.  I wish I had given him a big bag of candy out of my golf cart! (That makes more sense after reading the obituary.)  Garrett's dad, Brek Mangelson, used to be the band director at Lehi High School and is now the band director at a neighboring school.  He is the person responsible for putting a baritone horn in Colby's hand and getting him excited about marching band.  He changed Colby's life and ours, too.

So, this is what I learned today.  Or at least remembered.
  • Enjoy every little detail about every day.  Tomorrow will be different.
  • Take lots of pictures and videos.  Even of the stuff that "doesn't matter."  It all matters.
  • Listen when prompted.  Garrett's parents had impressions that he might not be with them for long.  They discussed and prepared- whether they realized it or not.  They both absolutely shone today with the comfort of the Holy Spirit. 
  • Faith isn't a sure thing.  We just need to have faith that Heavenly Father is in charge.  If we have that, everything else falls into place eventually.
  • The sun comes out again. . . just like it did for the itsy, bitsy spider.  We have to weather the rain and dark, but it will come out again.
  • Giggle, laugh, and have fun.  Everyone likes to, but it seems easier for children.
  • Always carry tissues.  They are great for chocolately mouths, sticky fingers, and tears.
  • Boys do like girls like their mothers.  Brittany sat near me and cried through the whole funeral, too.
At the funeral both Brek and Brooke spoke about their beautiful little boy.  They were both composed and happy about the blessing they had to be Garrett's parents.  I was stunned by their strength and that of their families.  Here is the beautiful obituary that Brek wrote.

Garrett Kenton Mangelson was born January 17th, 2009 in American Fork, UT. He died Wednesday June 29, 2011 in a fluke accident in the afternoon at his Lehi home. The son of Lehi residents Brek and Brooke Mangelson, Garrett was named after his grandpa (Pa) G. Kent Mangelson. He had a passion for life and will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

On a regular basis he could be seen with one thumb in his mouth and the other hand toting behind him his little blue blanket much like a scene from a Charlie Brown cartoon or movie. He loved his blanket! He couldn’t go anywhere without it and couldn’t sleep without it.

Being the second of three boys in the family, much of his time was spent playing alongside his two other brothers, Hunter and Connor. He loved his brothers with all his heart and loved his Mommy too. He had his daddy’s nose, had blue eyes and long eye lashes that most girls commented on and were envious of. His smile and laugh was infectious. He loved to get tickled and asked often for you to tickle and play with him. His passions in life were anything involving pirates, swords, cookies, gummy bears, trains, busses and chocolate milk.

His mother works at Costco and he knew the sign well and whenever he saw it he would yell out “Costco” and wanted to go there.

Garrett also loved the outdoors. He father owns several four wheelers and a ranger. He loved to go on ranger rides! He would always sit next to his daddy, often with his blanket right beside him. Even if it was just to move it a couple of feet or only to move it in the garage he would always want to go on rides. He would break down into tears if he thought you were going to leave without him. Without fail we would ask for the key at the conclusion of a ride.

Garrett loved his daddy’s marching band and parades. He loved candy and during his last days in life he was seen toting around his candy bag from the Lehi parade. His infant Westlake band hat and his blue t-shirt which indicated “Future [Westlake Thunder] Band” member is a cherished item that he loved and insisted on wearing at each band event.

His favorite songs were “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and the “ABC” song. He sang these often and had the sweetest voice. He loved camping, fires and was very excited to see and do fireworks on the 4th of July. He loved his grandma and Papa and his Nana and Pa and was so excited to see them soon. Most evenings during his last days of life he could be seen sitting next to his daddy cuddling while watching a TV show or movie in the basement. This is a cherished memory that his father will always remember.

We will all miss our little “Gare Bear”