Category Archives: Making You Better

The tapping on the window

Surrounded by the darkness of the Walmart parking lot, the unexpected tapping on my driver’s side window made me jump.

For I was in the middle of making my peace — explaining to my wife of 28 years why I wouldn’t be home until after 11 p.m. on my anniversary. So this distraction couldn’t come at a worst time.

Inside the van, the faint glow from a cabin dome light revealed an opened anniversary card between the two seats. A scrawled note in my customary block lettering was my attempt at an apology. My wife had spent much of the day on the road, bringing home Lacey from nearly four hours away because of extensive foot surgery — for the fifth time. 

While Barb and Spencer stayed with Lacey for nearly four days, I remained home in Roseburg to work — including my regular shift on this Saturday.

Now that tapping from the window.

When I jerked my head to the left, a woman in her early 60s with curly hair that appeared the color of chili powder, stared back while mouthing something I couldn’t quite understand.

Looks like somebody else wants money, I thought as I rolled the window down.

Until she held up the jumper cables.

Please sir, she said. Their car was dead on another aisle of the parking lot, and would I come over and jumpstart their battery.

I glanced quickly at the anniversary card to my right and back to her.

I’m embarrassed to say, I came this close to telling her no. That I didn’t have time. In my rush to do the right thing to honor my marriage, I nearly told somebody in need to shove off.

Thankfully, I didn’t.

I swung the van around to see the woman standing next to their vehicle. Next to her was another woman with white hair. A clean-cut teen, also dressed in obvious Christmas attire, left the warmth of the vehicle to try and help.

I soon learned from the white-haired woman that the teen was to blame for this dead battery. He had sat for a period of time in the car with his cell phone, draining his battery in the process.

“He doesn’t know much about anything,” she told me.

Despite that negative endorsement, he proceeded to attach the cables to the correct posts in their car and then to my van.

I motioned for him to start his vehicle, where it started on the first try.

“Hey, it looks like he knows about cars,” I said while smiling at the white-haired woman.

When I mentioned that today was my anniversary, the two women looked at me shocked before offering repeated apologies.

I assured them I was glad to help, and my wife would understand.

Sure enough, she did. It may have been for less than hour this year, but we still managed to mark this special day.

This time, we happened to include a few extra people who needed us.


Why I am home right now

spencer blog post

I am home because my son has a mental illness.

I am home because he needs me to watch over him and keep him safe. I have temporarily stepped away from my career of nearly 30 years because I love him.

Thankfully he is safe as he can be … now. With the help of the right medicine, prayers and medical professionals, he is slowly regaining his balance in life.

He’s not normal, but then again, neither are the rest of us. For as someone once said, normal is only a setting on a washing machine.

But if “normal” means telling jokes that make me laugh out loud, we’ll take it. If normal means someone with the kindest of hearts who will listen and empathize with you, we’ll take it. We’ll take our son with an exceptional creative ability and love for animals.

As hopeful as we are for the return of the “real Spencer,” we are realistic.

It’s likely that he will have this for the rest of his life. That he will have to take medicine, continue to seek professional help and rely on family and friends who understand both his challenges and his great potential. He needs people who believe like we do, that Spencer is not defined by his mental illness.

It’s true that he may continue to struggle from the effects of medication. While great strides have been made in understanding mental illness, we recognize how little we still know. We’re grateful to live in a time where great minds give us hope for more answers.

As we do with all our children, we believe in Spencer’s divine potential for greatness. There’s no reason why he can’t be a force for good on this Earth and touch the lives of others.

He can do almost anything he sets his mind to, and we as his parents, will not tire in our efforts to help make that happen.

We couldn’t do this without a firm belief in God and his plan for us. Without that knowledge, it’s quite possible that my wife and I would have given up long ago. The excruciating toll exacted by mental illness is best understood by those who must experience it every day — along with those provide ongoing support.

You can make a difference for millions like Spencer, by showing more compassion and less judgment. By recognizing stereotypes for what they are and tossing them aside. By willing to stand up for those who can’t always stand up for themselves.

That’s why I wrote this. For so many years now, we’ve kept fairly quiet about Spencer’s mental illness. We’ve only shared with close family members and friends. We didn’t want people to misunderstand.

It’s time for more understanding. It’s time to educate more and hide less. There are millions of people who have to face their demons every day and often question the value of their existence. To them I say it’s very much worth it. And never give up hope.

It’s time we lobby for more resources and research. It’s time to reach out even more to those who suffer silently among us.

I will need to return to at least part-time work sooner than later. But nothing I do to earn a paycheck will be nearly as important than what I am doing now.

Staying home with Spencer.





The blessing and the importance of a fleece


Figured this would be cuter than what a true fleece from the Old Testament looked like.

At the time, it seemed like I was doubting the bishop. Who would want to do that?

I had no reason to do so after the bishop had given me such a wonderful priesthood blessing — one filled with the Spirit and specific answers to my medical questions concerning Spencer and my employment in the future. This followed an equally powerful blessing given to me by another member of the priesthood less than a month earlier.

And yet here I was, prepared to ask a my hometeacher for yet a third blessing. If ever there was a needy child of God, it was I. Having resigned my job in order to help Spencer with online school at home, it had been a grueling few months. My tank was running near empty, and I dared hope the Lord would give me a little boost.

Much like a young man in the Old Testament, who thought he was asked to  do the seemingly impossible for the Lord.


In Chapter 6 of Judges, we find the children of Israel in bondage to the Midianites, a group of nomadic tribes who had swept through the land from Southeastern Palestine.

In that chapter, an angel of the Lord shows up with a message to Gideon. The Lord wants him to lead Israel against the powerful Midianites, telling him in verse 16 that “thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man.”

Gideon’s response? You must have me confused with somebody else.

Gideon leading Israel from bondage against the Midianites.

Gideon leading Israel from bondage against the Midianites.

Responses such as this — whether it be in times of old or today — could surely exasperate the Lord. It would be so easy for Him to say: Move out of the way, my weak and faithless servant, and I will take care of this myself.

In his talk, “Lord I Believe,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminded us that the Lord uses imperfect people to do his work. Because he has no other choice.

Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we.

So it was with Gideon. Even though there’s no doubt that Gideon failed to see himself that way, an angel of the Lord refers to Gideon as “a mighty man of valor.” (Judges 6: 12)

Through the angelic messenger, the Lord continues to reassure Gideon, but doubts remain.

It takes what would be the first sign from the Lord in verse 21, before Gideon recognizes the Lord’s hand and goes to work.

He overthrows the altar of Baal in the middle of the night and prepares to face the Midianites.

And yet, as many of us do, Gideon still doubts himself. That’s apparent when he approaches the Lord one more time in verse 36.

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 1.22.22 PMOf course, Gideon wakes up the next morning to find the Lord had granted his request, wringing enough water out of the fleece to fill a bowl. (v. 38).

Still full of doubt, Gideon approaches the Lord yet another time. Fearing that the Lord might be angry with him, he asks for yet another fleece.

In verse 39:

Screen Shot 2014-11-23 at 1.21.11 PM


It’s important to remember that Gideon wasn’t asking for a sign. But like we all do when faced with seemingly impossible tasks, just needed extra reassurance from the Lord.

And now here I am, asking for what amounted to be a third priesthood blessing from the Lord in less than a few months.

I needed another fleece.

My hometeacher put his hands on my head, invoked his authority and sealed the anointing which had taken place.

In the blessing, he reaffirmed specific points made in the first two blessings. It was so close that it would seem that he had read a transcript of the first two blessings to make sure he got it right.

Of course, that wasn’t the case.

After he said amen, and I stood up, the scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants 6:28 came to my mind.

In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

I once again had full confidence in the Lord. I felt peace.

I had my fleece.

Why God gives us ‘spiritual training wheels’

training wheels

Image used under a Creative Commons license.

I catch on rather quickly — that is if you measure me by an archaeologist’s standards.

It took me forever to learn how to ride a bike. Come to think of it, I was the last kid to learn how to tie my shoes, color in the lines and drink my milk with a straw. It’s a wonder I ever graduated from kindergarten.

No matter how hard I tried while growing up on Jefferson Street, I had the coordination of Sid the Sloth. Whistling, tying my shoes and waking up without hurting myself were skills that would elude me for some time.

As if I had enough trouble, life came so much easier for Danny, who happened to live three houses down from me. Never a hair out of place, he learned how to ride his bike during lunch and was the designated ladies man in Mrs. Grahn’s first-grade class.

As for me, riding my orange bike with the sissy handlebars and banana seat required traction, training wheels and extra angels on duty. But I never gave up, even after the training wheels came off. Every day, I would wheel the bike over to my launch pad – the edge of the driveway next to our front lawn. After an initial push-off with my feet, I would pedal as fast as I could before falling over on the lawn a few feet away.

Over and over, I did that until one day something wonderful happened. Instead of falling over, I kept riding — past the front lawn, around the side of the house and to our lawn in the back.

It had taken me the equivalent of the paleozoic era, but I had learned to ride a bike.

As for my  “spiritual training wheels,” I’m going to need those for awhile longer.

The scrapes and cuts from learning to ride a bike were a cinch compared to qualifying for exaltation. I promised to be like the Savior in every way, to serve as he served, love as he loved and obey all his commandments.

Count me, Lord. I’m on your team. I won’t let you down.

That would last about a day until a movie with a high body count showed up on Netflix.

Public pronouncements didn’t help, even back when I served my mission.

“I’m getting off the fence,” I told other missionaries during a zone conference. No more mediocrity for me.

Afterwards, Elder Muzzy brought up his own fence.

“My fence has a gate that opens and shuts,” he said. “Makes it easier to go back and forth.”

To be certain, “spiritual training wheels” aren’t mentioned in the scriptures that I can see. But this scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants comes pretty close.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 9.13.29 PM

In the process of conversion and change, the Lord won’t give up on us. President Hinckley offered similar encouragement during a dedication of the Hinckley Building in 2002 at BYU-Idaho.

“With all the capability that you have, you have to do your very best. And somehow if you do that, the Lord will open the way before you and the sun will shine.”

President Uchtdorf taught that we should start with a desire to believe until it becomes a habit.

The first step to walking in righteousness is simply to try. We must try to believe. Try to learn of God: read the scriptures; study the words of His latter-day prophets; choose to listen to the Father, and do the things He asks of us. Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible—and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Love of God,” Oct. 2009)

As I sat down to write this, my sick wife was sitting on a chair in the living room typing one-handed on our laptop something she needed for school.

“I don’t suppose you could type this for me,” she asked.

“Not right yet,” I replied. “I need to get this written first.”

The irony of writing a blog post about being a better Christian while failing to serve my sick wife didn’t hit me at first.

About those training wheels, Lord. I’m going to need them for awhile longer.


Here’s the entire talk by Pres. Hinckley. It’s worth a listen again and example of why I love him so much.

The first 11 lessons from grandpa



One day, it will be my grandson and me. Just the two of us sharing a bucket of chicken somewhere.

He’ll wipe his fingers on his pants, just like I taught him. And it will be time for him to hear the first of my many lessons — words of wisdom that made me who I am today. And in the end, we will look at each other and make a solemn vow. Don’t tell your mother. Or grandma.


1. Of course, I only take one day at a time. The other days will just have to wait their turn.

2. People will tell you to be as quiet as a church mouse, but some church mice just aren’t that quiet. Especially the ones from Queens who’ve had a little too much to drink.

3. The sound you hear in Vegas is somebody getting rich. And it’s never you.

4. Actions speak louder than words. Especially the noise from last night’s chili.

5. Keep calm and make a meme about keeping calm.

6. Dance in the rain as if somebody is going to post it on Instagram.

7. When the time comes, I hope you marry your best friend — a much better choice than the girl with one eye.

8. You matter. Especially to bill collectors.

You do indeed matter to bill collectors.

9. Avoid Ebola stories on the news like the plague.

10. The bigger they are, the higher their cholesterol.

11. It’s OK to be as pure as the driven snow. As long as you don’t live on Three Mile Island.


There are more lessons, 3,786 to be exact, but we’re out of chicken. The rest will need to wait until you’re older and when grandma isn’t here.




A letter to BYU-Idaho Pres. Kim B. Clark


Dear Pres. Clark:

Sorry to hear that people are so riled up again about you. While you continue to have numerous supporters in and outside the church, these folks don’t seem happy at all, let me tell you.

They say you are misguided, that you are off your rocker. It appears a good number of people in the church think you’re intent on dragging us down with this outdated Honor Code thing at Brigham Young University-Idaho. They’re calling it mindless obedience, a well-orchestrated plan to turn us into Amish or something you dreamed up because you must be bored.

By now, you know I am referring to this post on the President of BYU-Idaho Facebook page from a few days ago. Here it is again for those who missed it.

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 1.42.09 AM

Here’s one example of the many of the negative responses I found about you in about 10 minutes of searching. I didn’t spend any more time because wallowing in the mud makes it tougher to get cleaned up for church.

Screen Shot 2014-09-21 at 1.44.59 AM

Surprisingly, a good number seem to be from members of the church.

The ones who raised their arms to the square and sustained Gordon B. Hinckley as prophet, seer and revelator. I only mention him because he was the one who asked you to move to Rexburg and lead BYU-Idaho. It’s as if by implication that the prophet sure messed up on this decision.

Speaking of mocking and criticism, when did it become OK for members of Christ’s church do murmur, complain and criticize about you, your policies, BYU-Idaho and what took Chick-fil-A so long to get on campus.

You’re probably the first to admit that not every decision of yours has been a good one. Even as a church institution, BYU-Idaho has problems and challenges to resolve. Still it doesn’t mean that detractors get to stand you up against the wall and make you duck a barrage of verbal dodge balls.

Maybe we should remind folks what Elder Dallin H. Oaks said about criticizing church authorities. In a 1986 address to the Latter-day Student Association in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, he said:

“Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local. Jude condemns those who ‘speak evil of dignities.’ (Jude 1:8.) Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true.”

But Pres. Clark isn’t a bishop or a stake president, so this doesn’t apply, somebody will insist. Maybe they forgot that you served as an Area Seventy for the church until you were released in May. And if Pres. Hinckley asked you to be the next president of BYU-Idaho, that’s good enough for me. I guarantee plenty of prayer and fasting went into that decision.

I’m sure you agree with Elder Oaks that Latter-day Saints don’t need to be docile or indifferent to defective policies, deficient practices, or wrongful conduct in government or in private organizations in which we have an interest. But we got to build people up and not be so quick to tear down. Whether they are the former dean of Harvard Business School or work at a local convenience store.

President David O. McKay said this about what he called “murmurers” and “faultfinders”:

“Speak not against the authorities.’ What does it mean? Be not a murmurer; that is what it means. It is one of the most poisonous things that can be introduced into the home of a Latter-day Saint—this murmuring against presidents of stakes, high councilors, Sunday School superintendents, etc. …

“Better stop murmuring and build. Remember that one of the worst means of tearing down an individual is slander. It is one of the most poisonous weapons that the evil one uses. Backbiting and evil speaking throw us into the class of malefactors rather than the class of benefactors.” (Gospel Ideals, Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953, pp. 142–43.)

Oh and about the dress code. I chuckle when I see the people who say obedience in small matters doesn’t lead to bigger blessings. Only because it seems so Naman of them.

I know you’re not concerned about what people think, that they’ve pegged you as a Pharisee or wouldn’t allow the Savior on campus because of his beard or sandals. But it must be comforting to be on solid gospel footing after hearing these words from Pres. Hinckley about the Honor Code at BYU in Provo. Yes, we know the Honor Codes differ some between the two schools. That’s not even the point, according to Pres. Hinckley, who gave this address at BYU while first counselor to Pres. Hunter in 1994.

“I recognize that some have strong feelings concerning standards of dress and conduct. I can only say that in every game we play, we play by the rules. I hope you will not look upon the Dress and Grooming Standards as repressive. They have been designed with another objective in mind. Our leaders have taught through the generations that “cleanliness is . . . next to godliness” (John Wesley, Sermon 93, On Dress, c. 1780). Neatness in dress, modesty in dress, cleanliness in person—are these too much to ask of a student body of this kind of young men and women who carry in their hearts a conviction that you are indeed sons and daughters of God, our Eternal Father?”

It sounds to me like the Honor Code gets us ready to enter the temple where everybody wears white. When you consider how the temple prepares us for exaltation, the dress code doesn’t seem so much about what you wear but who you are and what you can become.

I’m not sure if you noticed or not, but I used your full name in my blog post title.

As a sign of respect.

Your friend,



Can we talk about talks?


“Let me get this straight,” I said as I stared incredulously at my missionary district leader.

You want us all to bring investigators to a chapel in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, where we served as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Then you want me, with my Dollar Tree Spanish,  to stand up and preach to them.

And then challenge them to be baptized THAT NIGHT?

I looked at him, looking for any sign that this was a joke.

He looked at me and just smiled.

“Sounds about right.”

That was nearly 30 years ago when I finally agreed to do this. I remember the nonstop prayers pleading for help from above, the fasting, the sleepless nights and the fear that made it impossible to concentrate on anything else.

I still remember standing outside the church that night, looking for any means of escape. A wise district leader wouldn’t let me. He talked to me and encouraged me until I walked inside the chapel.

Two hours later, as the six of us relived the event over sundaes, I couldn’t deny how good I felt. Confidence and peace had replaced extreme fear.

In an almost apologetic way, I begged forgiveness for not directly challenging investigators in attendance to be baptized.

Elder Johnson looked at me and smiled. It didn’t matter that he had almost perfect looks with perfect blond hair from California, he had the biggest heart.

Elder Henneke, you glowed up there when you were speaking. You were on fire, so full of the Spirit, he told me. Other elders nodded.

Fast forward 30 years.

Can you believe they want me to give another talk? Talks assigned to us three weeks earlier are prepared on Saturday night. More emphasis is placed on the right joke instead of the right Spirit. It is so much easier to find a conference talk to read.

Next time, it would be more truthful to end your talk, “and we read these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Before you blow off your next speaking assignment or convince yourself that you aren’t good enough, stop and consider a couple of observations.

1. Elder Dallin H. Oaks referred to sacrament meeting as the most important meeting of the church. Next to the ordinance of the sacrament, the Lord has trusted you to help change lives. When you were baptized, you promised to stand up for the Lord at all times and at all places. Loving Heavenly Father with all your heart, might, mind and strength doesn’t come with an escape clause when you get the call from the executive secretary.

2. Speaking in church can be incredibly scary. So was walking on water for Peter

You’re right. My stomach still knots up each time I am asked to speak. Maybe it’s physically impossible to get up and speak right now, for your brain will turn to mush. Remember when Peter started to walk on water before becoming afraid.

Every one of us will have our own walk-on-water moments.

Every one of us will have our own walk-on-water moments.

Every one of us will have “walk-on-water” moments, and giving a talk could be one of yours. If the Lord can help part the Red Sea, he can help you with a talk.

3. Since I’m not really a good public speaker, how do I know what jokes to use?

Oh for the love of John Bytheway, the Lord has not asked you to do stand-up comedy. He has trusted you to teach his flock through the power of the Holy Ghost. Live so you can qualify for the Holy Ghost and be willing to pay the price to receive its promptings. In an April 2011 General Conference address, Elder Jeffrey R, Holland described the process that each general authority goes through before they speak. That could be a lesson for us.

Each is to fast and pray, study and seek, start and stop and start again until he or she is confident that for this conference, at this time, his or hers is the topic the Lord wishes that speaker to present regardless of personal wishes or private preferences. Every man and woman you have heard during he past 10 hours of general conference has tried to be true to that prompting. Each has wept, worried, and earnestly sought the Lord’s direction to guide his or her thoughts and expression.

Don’t compare yourself to others, schedule sufficient time for preparation and don’t settle for reading another talk. Just do the very best you can.

Then the Spirit can work through you, even calling an audible (changing the play) when you least expect it.

It happened to me as I was sitting on the stand ready to speak one Sunday. I had studied, prayed and sought the help of the Holy Ghost.

Right before I stood up, I heard a voice as if it were speaking right next to me.

“Put away your notes.”

I looked around and I heard it again.

“Put away your notes.”

I shuffled through my papers and saved out a quote.

Everything else came from memory.

Years later, I still wonder what would have happened I had more faith, to trust completely in the Spirit to say all the words that come through me. Or to have the faith to testify and invite people to drink from the living waters.

Even if it means I have the courage to walk on water myself.




Gospel lessons for dummies



Two things you should know about the road where I live.

It’s so narrow that Amy Adams couldn’t fit through it without a pair of pilot cars and “over-sized load” signs. And if the tight fit wasn’t enough to make a new driver cry, somebody decided that this road designed for the Lollipop Guild crowd needed a set of S curves.

It was the first thing my neighbors told me about when I got there. Stay out of our snacks and watch out for the S curves.

“How do I get through it,” I asked nervously.

“Follow the sign, go slow and stay to the right.”

I didn’t believe the  yellow sign when I saw it at first. I thought it was cute how slow these country bumpkins wanted me to go.

I’m supposed to go 5 mph? Tectonic plates shift faster than that.

Keep right, the sign said.

And then I went around the curves the first time. And I then I imagined another truck meeting me somewhere in the middle, resulting in the use of a spatula to get scrape my Camry off his grill.

So I was so careful at first, driving like a grandma during rush hour. I inched along while hugging the right each time, no matter how stupid the neighbors thought I looked.

Each day as nothing happened, it got easier to go a little  faster, to move inch-by-inch toward the center.

Then I could feel a tiny alarm go off in my head, warning me to be careful. And I slowed down again, not wanting to be that guy who took one head on for State Farm.

Each day on my way to work, I couldn’t help but think this could be a chapter from “Object Lessons for Dummies — The Mike Henneke Edition.”

It must have been one of those times when I heard this from Thomas S. Monson.

The Prophet Joseph declared, “Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.” 5

Let us walk these clearly defined paths. To help us do so we can follow the shortest sermon in the world. It can be found on a common traffic sign. It reads, “Keep Right.” (Priesthood session, Aprill 1999 General Conference.)

I bet he got that from my old, yellow sign.


What I didn’t expect my mom to say

I lean back in my chair, not prepared for the response I had just received from mom sitting in front of me in a wheelchair.

Next to us, a movie continues to play on a large flat-screen television. Across the room, two other residents of the assisted-living facility stare off into the distance, each lost in their own little world.

That’s usually how I find mom these days, after the same diseases of the mind that slowly destroyed her mother, hit my mom hard. Less than six months ago, she seemed fine for the most part. Now after a combination of Alzheimer’s, dementia and strokes, she’s here in this place, where, despite the very best efforts of cheerful attendants, seems mostly devoid of life.

I believe this right after I was adopted in 1967.

I believe this right after I was adopted in 1967.

She’s often connected enough to know that Alzheimer’s can be hell with your mind and family members around you. My mom saw what it did to her mother, making her fear this disease above any other.

On most days, I could be her waiter, the bus driver to take her back to Kansas or Army drill sergeant. With Alzheimer’s or dementia patients, it’s so easy for cynicism to creep in, so easy to shake your head at another family member. As if to say, “You’ll never guess what she said today.”

But today, she seems different, and I’m not sure why. The ever-present shroud over her mind appears gone for the most part. Her personal wall — a defense mechanism for nearly my entire life — also appears to be gone. Instead, I see someone more meek and humble, like a little child.

Mom tried her best with me growing up, while struggling to cope with challenges beyond her control. But I seemed to have born the brunt of her negativity. At least that’s how it seemed to young Mike.

In her effort to make me better, she always seemed to tear me down. Nothing appeared good enough.

Mike, you’re breathing wrong.

That’s not how you treat the Betamax.

With penmanship like that, you’ll never find a girl.

It has always bothered me for a number of years, even as signs of her negativity carried into our marriage. It took years, but my family and I grew to love her, in spite of some constant messages of doom and gloom.

Now we were face-to-face, connecting with each other for the first time since she became sick.

I ask her about her regrets in life, which she talks about openly.

Then I ask her one more question, the one I was sure I knew the answer to. It was only four months earlier — when the signs of the sickness first appeared — that I tried to get her to say something positive about me.

In the video snippet below, I interrupt a conversation between her and Micah.

“Is this the part where you say something nice about me,” I kid her from behind the camera.

As you can see, there is nothing mean about her reply. But despite my best efforts to draw something out of her, the compliment never happens.

It doesn’t bother me at all. Because I had learned to expect it by now.

Now here in this room where I usually dread to visit, I ask her one more question.

“What are you proudest of the most in your life?’

She looks me in the eye and doesn’t even hesitate.

“Why my kids of course,” she said.

I smile back at her and decide to press a little more, even though I have a good idea what she will say.

“So you really are proud of me,” I ask her.

Again, she doesn’t hesitate.

“Of course, I am. I wish I did a better job bringing you up. But I think you figured out how to get there.”

It was time to go. I leaned over, kissed her on the cheek and told her that I loved her.

As it turns out, I didn’t really know the answer after all.

And that’s more than fine with me.