Twenty-eighth Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19, with added “Legacy” poem.

Twenty-eighth Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19, with added “Legacy” poem.
By Valerie J Laidlaw
December 23, 2020

Dear Kyle,
I told myself that I was going to keep writing to you until you are back home to Jaci and your girls. You put up a strong battle, Kyle. I am so proud of you!
Today, Jaci received a call that your recovery would not continue. There was nothing more your medical team could do. You had some bleeding up in your head. I am so sorry, I will love you, always!
Kaira, Jaci, Charlee and Layla are so beautiful! They came to hug you before you passed. We were there, too, on the videochat. Everyone who ever met you feels as I do, so much love!
You are an incredible part of my life. The best blessing a mother could have. You and Jaci, my other daughter, have blessed my life with the most wonderful, beautiful kind, talented granddaughters. Thank you Kyle! We will see you, you will be in a heavenly home until I join you, yet, your loving spirit will always be in our hearts. I believe you won’t miss anything as your girls grow up, as you will be watching from heaven. You are so loved!
Jaci and I promised you that if your Grandma Vivian passes while you are in the hospital we would not tell you. Since you are leaving the hospital today to be in heaven, you will soon know, if not already, that her spirit is also free of her earthly struggles.
She will be there with open arms to embrace, and welcome you to a new home in heaven. God loves you, Kyle, and your Grandma Vivian!
As always, you’ve got this!

Here is a poem written for my
“Legacy” on 10/04/04
By Valerie J Laidlaw

“When my spirit is finally set free
Don’t gather ‘round and mourn for me.
Before I enter those pearly gates
I’ll flit around all fifty states.
I’ll streak past Hawaii to the ‘Land Down Under’
And travel from the first to the seventh wonder.
Searching around the Norwegian fjords
I’ll dance to musical renditions of ancestral chords.
Don’t bury the body that trapped me so long
With earthly traditions of mourning and song.
Let my ashes represent a freedom newly born
Blowing uplifted not bound nor forlorn.
I’ll no longer have worries that ruled me from birth
Nor life in a world based solely on monetary worth.
It won’t take me long to fly up to the heavens above
To welcome the warmth of God’s spiritual love.
The only treasures I will miss on this earth as I leave
Will be the children, their futures, of that I would grieve.
I would want to give freedom, happiness, and the love of God to all of them
Not hunger nor suffering brought to the children by the rulers of men.

Don’t mourn when my spirit is finally set free
Work towards bringing better lives to the children than the earth gave to me.”

Kyle with a Twin Cities skyline

Twenty-eighth Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19

Twenty-eighth Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19
By Valerie J Laidlaw
December 23, 2020

Dear Kyle,
I told myself that I was going to keep writing to you until you are back home to Jaci and your girls. You put up a strong battle, Kyle. I am so proud of you!
Today, Jaci received a call that your recovery would not continue. There was nothing more your medical team could do. You had some bleeding up in your head. I am so sorry, I will love you, always!
Kaira, Jaci, Charlee and Layla are so beautiful! They came to hug you before you passed. We were there, too, on the videochat. Everyone who ever met you feels as I do, so much love!
You are an incredible part of my life. The best blessing a mother could have. You and Jaci, my other daughter, have blessed my life with the most wonderful, beautiful kind, talented granddaughters. Thank you Kyle! We will see you, you will be in a heavenly home until I join you, yet, your loving spirit will always be in our hearts. I believe you won’t miss anything as your girls grow up, as you will be watching from heaven. You are so loved!
Jaci and I promised you that if your Grandma Vivian passes while you are in the hospital we would not tell you. Since you are leaving the hospital today to be in heaven, you will soon know, if not already, that her spirit is also free of her earthly struggles.
She will be there with open arms to embrace, and welcome you to a new home in heaven. God loves you, Kyle, and your Grandma Vivian!
As always, you’ve got this!

Kyle’s Sweet Smile
Grandma Vivian

Twenty-seventh Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19

Twenty-seventh Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19
By Valerie J Laidlaw
December 23rd, 2020

Dear Kyle,
You call this day Christmas Eve Eve! Here, in Moorhead we are in the midst of a gusty blizzard. Not much snow, yet, with the whistling wind stirring things up all night, we felt some unease. We were all snuggled in at home with Kooper beside our bed. We were glad no one we knew about had been traveling through the night winds.

Rick had a memory photo show up with you sharing a London stout brew with him a year or two ago.
We have really, sweet photos of you making faces with baby Ryan at the Holiday Inn in Fargo, pre-quarantine, with Grandpa Rick aiming his big-lensed camera at him. That was a very special day, all the more special, because so much changed right after that time.
Christmas has always been a special family time with you, family, and family friends. Even when Kaira wasn’t able to physically join us we FaceTime “selfies” (or “ussies”) with her by the red tree. We’ve taken some of our most memorable photos during the holidays. When Mark was a baby, one of my favorite photos, is where I’m with all four of my children, and the three grandchildren.
Layla was two, back then, so I wrote this sweet poem:
A Two Year Old’s Wish”
By Grandma Val, 12/09/2012

“It’s Christmastime!” Layla said.
“I saw Santa. He wears red!”
“What did you ask for, my little dear?”
“What did you whisper in his ear?”
“I want a present!” Was all the little sweetheart had pled.

Such a simple request for Santa to fill,
The unspoiled, innocence of a young child’s will,
She loves butterflies, puppies and kitties,
She draws hearts & flowers, oh so pretty,
Her trusting bright eyes see the goodness in this world still.

So Santa, when you fly with your sleigh full of toys,
For all of this world full of girls and boys,
Who seem to forget,
That it’s not what you get,
But, it’s the gifts from the heart that bring joy!

This year we all share only a wish for your continued healing from the after-effects that the Covid-19  left for you to face. Your battle is now still a steady uphill trend. You set the pace for the procedures the doctors and medical staff have to follow. Too rapid…you slip, then they step back while you regain, and maintain levels. As you are becoming more responsive, they become more reassuring, caring, and encouraging. So trust yourself, and your team, and relax, because, we are all behind you, and:
You’ve got this, Kyle!


Mark (5months), Charlee (7) and Layla (2)
Uncle Kyle and Mark
Uncle Kyle and Ryan
Uncle Kyle and Ryan
making faces for Grpa Rick

“Poems for my Mom”

A Lifetime of Poems for my Mom, Vivian Jean Hettervig

February 21, 1933 -December 20, 2020

My first:
“Mother bakes and doesn’t measure,
but when I eat it … it’s a pleasure.
It mostly works with cherry pies …
I think she’s very wise.”

“At Work in the Hospital”
By Valerie J Laidlaw, age 8,
(published in the “Sir Vet” newsletter)

“Mother works until it’s done
Working, working, having fun,
Working, working, that and this
Doing things she’ll never miss,
Doing things every day,
Telling patients what she has to say,
After mother’s done with work each day,
She tells us what the patients say.”

“Treasured Memories”
By Valerie J Laidlaw

“Amongst my crock of utensils of wood,
There’s a spoon of much wear yet good.
I’ve known this spoon unlike all of the others,
It is rather old you see,
It was my mother’s.

This spoon stirred up many bubbling saucepans of sugary syrup on a burner,
Scooping, then dripping candy marbles in a small saucer of water.
This spoon scraped the rest of the stream of syrup into a mixing bowl of spinning, stiffened egg-whites,
Forming a meringue of marshmallowy fluff.
This spoon dabbled soft peaks onto an angel cake or pie.
This spoon stirred cookies, cakes, frosting, divinity or fudge,
And whoever helped stir was treated afterwards.
Many times, as a child, I had licked this spoon coated with chocolate or butterscotch.

The spoon is still here, and so is my mother, yet her mindful of memories are all but gone.”

“The Hat”
by Valerie J. Laidlaw

“So proudly she donned her newest treasure,
Promenading so proudly with such pleasure.
I thought, ‘how cool!’
Folds of black scarving formed a turban-like base,
Which beautifully framed her eyes, and eyebrows and her dimply, rosey-cheeked face!
The highlight of this amazing, millinery marvel drew the viewers eyes upward,
Roving towards a ruffled, virtual ‘forest’ of feathers,
Flopping, floating, crazily ‘every-which-way’ without rhymed reasoning,
And so gloriously- absurd!
Well, my mom decided to wear this new accent to her beauty,
To our Midwestern church,
Whose opinionated members were quite conservative, gossipy, and snooty.
I thought, ‘How fun!’
She had the best time, in church as her feathers tickled my dad’s nose,
And, as she slipped into the lady’s room afterwards starred down by two snobbish crows.
Coffee-time in the ‘Church-ladies’ basement’ was definitely a hoot!
The feathers flew freely onto our clothes, jackets, and suits.
Ironically, many of the ladies, although enviously green,
And, despite the drama and the spectacle of the scene,
Poured out compliments, as the church crowded giggled and cooed.
No one was showing my mom their usually snobbery, nor were they rude.
I thought, ‘Wow!’
I think from that Sunday onward we found,
The church became less uppity, nicer all around. Unfortunate for my mom, arriving back home, instead,
My dad told she’s never to wear that crazy hat again, on her head,
So, it went back permanantly in its box on a shelf, near their bed.
Forgotten, until now.”

By Valerie J. Laidlaw

“While visiting a former haunt of my mother’s life, it is revealed,
That I can still envision her twirling gracefully upon spinning wheels.

In every little prairie town,
An indoor roller rink was found,
As my mom grew up to be a teen,
Her genuine love of skating gleaned,
Greeted by her friends and dates,
She’d lace up her leather skates,
Rocking to the radio sounds,
’50’s music echoed down.

Her dreams of ever skating pro,
Slipped away as she let them go,
Her life played out a different tune.
As she married young, in the baby boom.
She loved watching figure-skaters on tv,
She brought us to ice rinks before age 3.
I remember her spinning and gliding on ice,
Undaunted, while she fell down twice.

When faced with cancer in her middle years,
She skated, bringing fun face-to-face towards her fears.
Her survival brought her back, as her talents revealed,
To the strength of her spirit which soared as she wheeled.
Eventually, her beloved wheels were hung,
Yet, she had fond memories from skating when she was young.

It seems, as her daughter, her experiences of life stay alive,
As they guide me to persevere, and be grateful to her, as I also survive.”

“Grateful Heart”
By Valerie J Laidlaw

“Years ago, on a Christmas break morn,
I awoke twice early, with my second born.
We delivered the newspapers of those days,
We looked up as the skies lit up, both amazed.
The Northern Lights greeted us with rippled, illuminated, colorful streaks,
Both of us, breathless,
Neither he nor I stopped our mission,
As neither of us could find words to speak.
Afterwards, I lay down, till dawn broke the day.
I woke up with a numbness, yet, a hypersensitive pain.
Afraid, never before had I experienced this feeling,
Unable to walk, no strength, not knowing with what I was dealing.
Scared, I called my mom who joined me to the emergency room,
A Doctor spoke of MS, lifelong ‘friends’ reacted to me speaking of a fate of doom.
With my mom in neuropsych, a doctor spoke rudely about giving up to die,
My mom snapped angrily back to him wanting to punch him in the eye,
She knew I sought answers, to know what courses of action to try,
I wasn’t about to give up, cower, take pity on myself, or cry.
I was so glad she took the time off to be there,
to drive me for my lab tests, and an MRI.
Later, after treatments, gradually rebuilding my strength,
I learned I had ‘Guillain-Barré Syndrome’ during that time of length.
Fortunate was I, and grateful to my mom,
The one person in my life I could back then always rely upon.
Nowadays, when I know that she is suffering, yet, I am unable to hold her hand, and come help her,
It is my hope, that she feels love from my grateful heart, sent in prayers, always and forever.”

By Valerie J Laidlaw

A chubby cherub had arrived from heaven,
On my mother’s birthday in February of ’67.
I was ten, and, still the “baby.”
Excited, for either a brother, or a sister, maybe.
He came home, after a full week’s stay,
In the hospital, unlike nowadays.
Daniel Joseph, our baby brother,
I loved him, dearly, like no other,
For three days, he was home,
He cried, as he lay next to me on my bed, then…
In his crib, across the hall, his exhausted young heart had stopped, and, started again,
He lived,
Yet, the next time, and the last time, I saw him alive at all,
Was when my folks snuck me up the back stairwell, in the hospital.
My poor brother, so alone, in an “isolette,”
I felt so helpless for him, and I’ll never forget.
My folks flew with him, to the cities, with the hope of fixing his heart,
After surgery, however, it had failed to restart.
Our neighbors came around, for my mom and our family, but we didn’t want all that sadness,
We didn’t want him to stop living, and depart.
My mom only said, “He was too good for this earth!”
And, that, “He was now an angel, again, up in heaven, like he was, before his birth!”
After that time, we seldom mentioned his name,
The photos were sealed away, and our lives were never completely the same.
Upon the birth of my first-born baby boy,
My mother’s feelings flooded back with extremely, long, lost tears of great joy!
So much of the hurt of the loss of her “Danny” she had held “closed off,” yet, dear,
Healed, in that moment, as, she hugged her new grandson, Kyle, who resembled, to her,
The baby, she had missed, for those many, sad, “silent” years.

“Bread Day”
By Valerie J Laidlaw

Every so often, as a kid, I never knew when,
I’d get up, go downstairs & go into the kitchen.
In my mom’s largest, round Tupperware bowl,
There was a huge, soft-looking “belly” of dough.
She’d pinch & pull away part of the dough, as she kneaded it,
Rolling, forming a loaf in each pan & brushing melted butter on each bread, as she treated it.
Under a moist flour sack dish towel she covered the loaves, as they doubled in size,
Never measuring, yet results were always perfectly risen & precise.
As she baked these, I’d pinch little pieces into
Rectangles of dough which I’d flatten with a small rolling pin,
That upon, I’d spread with raisins, sugar, butter & cinnamon,
Rolling them up into tubes, for to cut up & slice.
I had tiny aluminium cake & muffin pans, so small & so nice,
Of which I’d bake with, filling them twice.

Whenever I come to a bakery, wherever I roam,
The aroma of fresh bread baking reminds me of home.

By Valerie J. Laidlaw
July 10, 2020

Thinking back on the many conversations with my mom,
I realize where so many of my thoughts, actions, and feelings come from.
A response she had said before Alzheimer’s and Dementia had taken over her subsequent years,
During a visit with my mom, quite a while back in time,
I knew she faced more challenges, yet her abilities for the most part were still fine.
Since my mom had retired, wasn’t as busy, and had much less work, plus, less worries,
I had asked her if she’d like to write down some of her memories and her stories.
She replied that if she did so,
“It would bore me to tears!
I’m not much for writing
In a journal of words,
I’d much rather sit here,
Just watching the birds!”

“Guardian Angels”
By Valerie J. Laidlaw

When I can no longer speak, see or hear,
When its tougher to think, or remember people which I hold dear,
When my body is tense, and uncooperative,
When I can’t eat, or sleep, and my life becomes more difficult to live,
When my mind gets jumbled up, and less clear,
Please, help me, when I’m overcome with fear!
When I ache in my joints, and my muscles get stiffened or weak,
It’s kindness, patience, and love I seek!
Sometimes, in my mind, I see you still as a child, my girl, or my boy,
You make me less lonesome, and you bring me laughter and joy.
Some days it might seem like it makes no difference that you were here or there,
But it does, each and every time you show me that you care.
Even when my songs and chants become shouts of pain,
I still feel the love you gave that time you came.
Even when I’m hurting, can’t eat, I fight, and I push you away,
Inside, I’m confused, yet, I still believe, at times, as I rejoice and pray,
Inside, I hope to see you come back, and stay with me on yet another day.
Inside, I still get sad and cry, when you’re leaving, and say, “Goodbye!”
Inside, I still need bedtime stories, hugs, and a lullaby.

“We’ll See”

A child’s dream request,
A mother’s responsive bequest.

Looking Towards Heaven
Mom and Val at Sunnyside, Lake Park, MN
By the lake at Sunnyside, MN
4 generations, GrgrmaVivian Jean Hettervig, Valerie Jean, Kyle Joseph & Charlee Jean Roos
Original family, Vivian at left front.

“I’m a little teapot!”
4 generations, Charlee, Layla, Kyle, Joshua, Jaci, Kaira & GrGmaViv
4 generations, Kevin, Mark, Val & GrgrmaViv
Christmas in Moorhead, MN
Rollerblading at Skateland, Fargo, ND
Surrounded by Grandchildren, Hidden Hills, near Detroit Lakes, MN

Twenty-sixth Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19

Twenty-sixth Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19
By Valerie J Laidlaw
December 22, 2020

Dear Kyle,
You continue to amaze me, Kyle! Apparently, you woke up yesterday, very responsive. You focused on the Ipad, and communicated with nodding and blinks to Jaci and Charlee and your nursing staff. You moved your feet and hands, plus, lifted your arms!! Your oxygen levels in your blood are stable, and your lung capacity is up to 250cc’s.
Such amazing news! I read Jaci’s Caring Bridge update, and all of the proud, encouraging words for you!! Lots of happy tears!! Your ECMO is at 10, but watching you, you look so good, and you are breathing!!
A few years back, your younger brother, Josh, and I went on a train ride. Afterwards, I had flashbacks, so I wrote a poem:
“Train of Thought”
By Valerie J. Laidlaw

“I can’t seem to shake the continuous motion
I wake up at night and the illusion won’t fade
The sliding and gliding of a locomotion
My house has converted to the image I’ve made.

We spent our vacation in a journey of calm
Plains, rocky mountains, smooth deserts, from pine trees to palm.
We swept by and slept by four nights and two days
Meandering through tunnels, half a continent each way.

I still hear the whistle and clicking of the train on the track
I feel the swaying and rocking to one side then back.

The sunshine and lights flash past my eyes
The lakes, rivers, and streams glisten and rise
Amid white water rafters, kayaks, and fishermen flies
The visions were truth; the memories now lies.

Reality can seem—more like a dream
Now—the enchanting calamity
My dreams confuse reality.”

As you reawaken, Kyle, and re-orient yourself, more and more, life will, at times, seem like a dream!
Having you survive this journey, to you, and so many of your “fans,” will be a blessed, wonderful dream come true, and a magnificent answer to our heartfelt prayers!!

You got this, Kyle!!


Aunt Kaira & Charlee
at a Christmas light display

Twenty-fifth Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19

Twenty-fifth Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19
By Valerie J Laidlaw
December 21, 2020

Dear Kyle,
I am so overjoyed with your progress! I started coughing over the weekend, my usual cold, so I haven’t been in on the on-line chats. Musician friends have joined in, giving online mini-concerts for you.  Charlee has been updating me, and I’ve been reading your Caring Bridge updates by Jaci. Kaira saw you open your eyes, and start to focus on the iPad.
Yeah, Kyle, you have been putting up a major battle against the Covid-19, for over 30 days!
Time is in your favor, now, as you gradually continue your healing path.
Another Monday morning, on our way towards Christmas! Lots of friends, family and businesses have taken it upon themselves to provide presents, more food than Jaci and the girls can currently consume, and gift cards to help further on.
Of all that, though, the best gift will be when you come home Kyle! You continually amaze your medical team with your strength and determination!
I’ll continue this after my profile pumpkin shake followed by a cup of pomegranate tea.
I realize as I get into my 60’s that my taste in movies has become more filtered. I watch perhaps too many holiday “rom-coms” and feel good movies. I like scenic, adventure movies, since traveling, and touring through the mountains, the waterfalls, and the ocean really appeal to me. I’m becoming less of a risk taker. I have hardly ridden my motorcycle since our last, long adventure to the Spearfish Canyon and into Wyoming, and back. We have had two vacations to the North Shore of Lake Superior. The northern pines, the rocks, the shoreline,  and more waterfalls really refresh me!
I was a year younger than you are now, when I achieved my first motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license to ride. Although, I avoid large group “poker runs,” now, I really enjoyed bringing you along on my old Yamaha Verago during one of my rides!
I wrote a poem after my last ride to South Dakota with Rick, called:
“Triumphant Adventure”
By Valerie J. Laidlaw

“Pheasants scurry, left and right,
Riding unbridles panoramic heights.
Our journey, various highways led,
Breezy bridges, hypnotic trusses overhead.
Rainclouds dissipate, south and north,
Unveiling a pale blue sky, as we venture forth.
Windy, winding, unevenly grated, steeply-descending roads,
Our packed ‘horses’ carry on, with heavily-balanced loads.
The prairie landscape rolls, as we coast along,
Towards the ‘Black Hills’ mountainous song.
Lakes reflect, the heavens ensue,
Our bikes ascend to amazing views.
Waterfalls cascade, visions like beautiful dreams,
A ridge-lined valley, carved by pure mountain streams.
An osprey dips down, and latches onto its prey,
A splashing trout attempts to wiggle away.
The bird soars over the biker, showing off his catch,
Flying away, a storyteller’s tale, as yet, unmatched.
We watched, as a deer leaped into man’s barrier fence,
Tangled, backing up, and attempting to leap, time and again.
Blue herons fishing in a stream,
Trout resting in a pool of green.
Antelope grazing.
Sunsets blazing.
Three deer leap seconds between our wheels,
Nature and man, miraculously unscathed, upon their heels.
Running now, safe and sound,
Then, homeward bound.”

Kyle, as you recover, I hope and pray that you pleasantly dream of your future adventures, all of your beautiful memories of family vacations, and all of the beautiful, awe-inspiring sights you have seen, and have yet to see!

Kyle, you’ve got this!


Me, at bike night in Fargo.
Rick & I with our Triumph motorcycles
My Yamaha Verago

Twenty-fourth Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19

Twenty-fourth Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19
By Valerie J Laidlaw
December 20, 2020

Dear Kyle,
Another calm, sunny Sunday.  This week is Christmas week. Our precious gift this week for all of us is that you, Kyle, continue to heal from this difficult virus. We really pray every moment for you, to strengthen and heal.
A few years ago, over twenty, we all went up to Kragnes to your uncle’s wedding to your new aunt. I had sewn lacy covers for the guest book and the photo album for the couple. Josh and his new cousin were toddlers. Kaira wore her outfit from when she was in a recent pageant. Eight grandchildren were together, my mom, and Great-aunt Muriel. A special day of gathering!
I think your cousin Candace’s wedding to her Joe was the next time you all were together.
As a parent, it is all so precious when all children can be together, and give a group hug. That feeling of home, wherever you are, when we are all together.
My grandmother Gena had a wooden cane, which, to me, represents her. This poem tells her story:
“Grandma Gena’s Cane”
By Valerie J. Laidlaw
September 22, 2009

“A simple knotted, wooden object
To unobservant eyes
As I behold my grandma’s cane
Her spirit still survives.
A nail had once protruded
Where the core was chiseled in
Along an icy, snow-strewn pathway
An ice-pick tip to assist her walking then.
A weathered tip all chipped and roughened
Deep cracks extending up
Twin shallow grooves surround the bottom
Remnants of a metal hanger…cut, twisted and tucked
Encircling the precious wood a thumb’s width apart
Like shiny ringlets crowning her Blessed, loving heart.
Dozens of tiny notches extend along the shaft
From prying stubborn objects or shutting off a draft.
Chips along the handle, branded spots torched and burnished in
Remind me of her woodstove as she stoked the flames of fire within.
Warming the toes of her grandkids as they crunched their breakfast toast.
Serving up her family with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a tender, meaty roast.
Her hand held a history very much the same
As those reflected in her weathered hard-worn cane.
Pioneering parents’ daughter surviving blizzards in a frigid, windswept wild,
Reciting poems a young Gena had memorized as a child,
Digging potatoes from the rich, black ground,
Canning produce in the fall,
Fanning harmonica hymnal sounds,
Connecting countless switchboard calls.
Cuddling and comforting a newborn baby’s cry,
And waving her soldier sons ‘good bye!’
I clench the handle with my fist…the grip’s a perfect fit
My thumb rests above the bend… I feel her presence as I sit.
A simple knotted, wooden object
Across my lap it lies
Grandma’s spirit is still surviving
And her memory never dies.”

Great-Grandma Gena’s Cane

Kyle, you always treat people you meet with such unconditional respect, a quality you demonstrated in all walks of your life. I am so proud of you! We are blessed to have people come into our lives with each of their gifts. Nothing money buys. They are the gifts of their insight, their experiences, their vision, trust, and their faith. Their lessons given in loving, empathetic, compassionate ways! Kyle, you know this! You have “paid it forward” in countless ways. When you come home, you will be amazed at how the people you have touched have all been praying for you through all of this.
Kyle, my son, you’ve got this!


June 2010, Josh, Kaira Kyle & Kevin at Kevin and Abby’s wedding reception.
Lake Calhoun, MN
Cousins, Back: Kevin, Kyle, Joe
Front: Josh, Candace (her wedding reception), Brandi, and Kaira

Twenty-third Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19

Twenty-third Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19
By Valerie J Laidlaw
December 19, 2020

Dear Kyle,
I’m sitting near the Red River, parked by the Hopperstad Stave Church in Moorhead. My friend, Cathy, Jenny’s mom, is from the family who built the church, a replica of one in Norway. It is a peaceful sunny Saturday morning, here, quiet except for a few crows and three joggers dancing by. All this beautiful setting, and my thoughts and heart are continually with you. Each breath I take I think of you, and hope your strong heart, and fighting lungs heal, and continue to nourish your body,  your beautiful mind, and your giving spirit. I believe if anyone has a “will” as strong as yours to beat this virus, they can, they will, and so will you!
I talked with Kevin last evening. He has been helping to clean where he can. As we spoke, it was dark in Little Canada, and our sun had just set. He was excited as he saw the white tail of a deer leave your yard.

Another day, another week, we are all with you, Kyle!
As your friends join your videochat, singing, playing little concerts to you, I think back to the decade of the 70’s when I graduated high school and my undergrad, starting at NDSU and finishing at Moorhead State, now MSUM. I even attended a class at University of Wisconsin in Manitowoc, while expecting you.
No wonder you were born smart, attending college already! I was a lifeguard and loved swimming with you early on, too.
So here’s that:

“Lyrical Limerick”
By Valerie J Laidlaw
“Johnny Holm did the Dirty Bird the night I turned 18,
I was a lifeguard, a looker…but not a beauty queen,
Bucknite at the Starlight
Party in the Moonlight
Carmikes, music, movies on a Giant silver screen.
Tossing Frisbees at Gooseberry Park
Midnight swimming after dark
Bikini Biking
Skinny-dipping on a Lark.
Our youth was swept away in college
Amazingly absorbing knowledge
Between the seasons
For countless reasons
We passed the tests and gained an edge.
Now that time has come and gone
Johnny Holm with friends play on
To Baby Boomers,
And late bloomers,
With daughter Jordan and her song.”

So, Kyle, our hearts and prayers are with you 24/7. Time is a good thing as you heal. Even though you are there, we are with you!
The first immunizations are being given. As you heal, the world, our country, and our communities, our families, friends, eventually will be rid of this virus, this Covid-19. You and your caring medical staff will be champions in this battle!
Again, Kyle, you got this!!


Hopperstad Stave Church in Moorhead, MN
Hopperstad Stave Church in Moorhead, MN
Hopperstad Stave Church in Moorhead, MN
Kaira’s Instagram Story Post

Twenty-second Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19

Twenty-second Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19
By Valerie J Laidlaw
December 18, 2020

Dear Kyle,
Rick and I are heading homeward on the old highway 10. We are enjoying the backwoods roads across Minnesota.
Jaci wrote a nice, very promising update on you this morning. Since Monday morning, you have had live videochat 24/7 on an iPad with family and friends. Last night, Jaci slept in the sunroom with you near her on her laptop, with soft music playing for you and a lighted candle.
People appear, checking in, playing live music and song for you, visiting, out encouraging, sending love, and praying, all for you, Kyle! Your medical staff are astounded at your strength. Even with sedation, you work on your own to cough and clear up your airways and lungs. You are amazing!!
Last night, Kevin kept the fires burning in the little firepit in the driveway. We roasted and burned marshmallows for s’mores.  I wanted 1 burned, the other one ended up charred after a burning log decided to drop on my roasting stick. Layla burned hers because she wanted to taste how her cousin Mark likes to eat his. Charlee, on the other hand, didn’t want hers burned, so as it was in flames, she tried blowing them out. She learned quickly, though, that her mask was in the way. Kevin’s and Rick’s, and Kaira’s final marshmallows were roasted to s’more perfection. Jaci’s found its way to her, just as requested. It was cold outside! California Kaira had to add a few more layers.
Earlier, on the live chat Charlee spoke at length to someone, then, noticed she was still on mute. Sitting behind her, I said “Oh well, at least they could probably read your lips!” Then, she turned to me, and just gave me a blank stare, to show the mask. I love Charlee and Layla’s sense of humor, Kyle.
We all did a craft activity at the table as people you know checked in on our activity. The week before when we had been out, as you know, we had car trouble. Waiting for Josh to bring the new alternator, I went around some pine trees and gathered a bag full of pinecones. If life gives you lemons…gather pine cones?
Well, I brought my glue gun, glitter glue, scissors, felt, etc. to make pinecone elves, or gnomes. Kaira bought a string of wooden beads which made great little heads for the little characters, plus a nose, for Kevin’s larger gnome, with a pinecone beard. Charlee made a praying angel after rejecting her bearded Santa attempt. Kaira used the discarded Santa head, flipped beard side up and created an Andy Warhol with eyeglasses, and a camera I drew, cutout and hung on a string. Layla made a polka-dotted hat and scarf with tiny pompoms on her elf, and four or more “redundant reindeer” with mini clothes pin antlers and pompom noses. Kaira also made a snowboarding elf/gnome. Rick took photos of each on his phone, and Kaira Instagrammed a couple of hers, plus, a shot of the firepit. Rick used beads set in his pinecone like muppet eyeballs, and big red lips. His was like a morphed Muppet “Mrs. Potato head.” My pinecones ended up as Santa and an elf. It was fun to see everyone’s unique creations! Mabel, the black goldendoodle pup, had several walks to curb her curiosity.
Well, we are further along on our drive. We saw our first icefishing houses on a lake, other lakes and rivers had open water or thinner ice, yet. There’s a fresh layer of snow in the fields here amoung the scattered farmsteads. We aren’t too far out, in Wadena, now, and beyond. Symbolically, we just saw a bald eagle sitting perched in his nest!
Your youngest brother, Josh, is bringing a friend to meet the family, today. I really think he has a sweet gal, now. Josh is seasonally laid off so it’s so good he’s going to have more family time and less videogame time. Josh was so happy he was at Kevin’s when you last passed through with Mabel.
So, Kyle, through all this, you are constantly in our thoughts, especially coming to your home, we are so hopeful for that day in the future when we drive up and give you a big-old, long “grouphug” embrace. None of us will want to let go.
You’ve got this, Kyle!!


Charlee’s Pinecone Angel
Assorted Pinecone Creations
Layla’s Redundant Reindeer
Kaira’s Andy Warhol
Kunkle’s Gnome (Kevin)
Getting Started on the Pinecone Activity
Keeping in Touch

Twenty-first Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19

Twenty-first Letter to my Son, Battling Covid-19
By Valerie J Laidlaw
December 17, 2020

Dear Kyle,
Another good morning to you!
I worked at a daycare in Wisconsin when you were little.
Daily, they started with a good morning song about having “bright sunshiney faces!” After working a day there when my regular sitter was not available, and I had to drop you off at a friend of a friend of a friend, virtually a stranger to you and me, so I quit. I stayed home more, and babysat for our neighbors, many of the years you and your siblings were young. Those were good years! I love children and I cherished that time with you. We swam and rode bike, and just played!
In my twenties and thirties, I could still do cartwheels and handstands into an arch, with flexibility simular to Kaira. I loved to swim and I was in aerobics classes. I loved music and dancing! Line dancing and two stepping was popular, plus, country music much because of “Urban Cowboy.” My greatest joy, as a former lifeguard was swimming with you and your brothers and sister. I wasn’t as much a skater, like my roller skating Mom, yet, I loved watching you and Kevin skate and play hockey!
You are such a great dad, bringing your girls to their dance, soccer and hockey! You also, always found time for your friends and extended family. You are the glue that brings us all together, making each of us feel important to you!
As we pray for your recovery from this battle, the medical team is showing so much care and compassion towards you, encouraging you, and praising every triumphant “babystep” as a victory.
We have such hopes as your numbers get better. Whenever, there is a dip in your numbers and the doctors are juggling with the best they can to keep you going, you show them what a fighter you are helping to clear mucus from your lungs on your own! We, all pray that much harder during those dips. Then, when something at all improves, we all say, “ok, we will take that!” and feel encouraged, again.
Yesterday, even more of your childhood friends were connecting on the video group joined by an iPad to you. Your wedding band even played  a mini-concert for you. I’m hoping they recorded it, if not I’m sure they will revisit you when you come home.
I wrote this limerick when Charlee was a toddler:
“There once was a toddler named Charlee
Whose dad liked to watch Guthrie and Farley
She’d squeal, clap and giggle,
Walk and crawl with a wiggle,
As her grandma rides up on a Harley.”

And, this poem was written when Layla was born, over 10 years ago:

“Layla Joy”
By Valerie J Laidlaw

“Mom, Dad and big sister Charlee Jean,
We know you were planning the most beautiful wedding to take place this year,
Yet somebody knew you had one more special little guest who wished to be there.
It was her turn to arrive and join in the scene.

When you think of it all don’t you agree that the wedding will seem,
So much better with Layla as a wonderful part of the dream?

She is truly the answer to all of your family’s wishes,
With fine, little fingers and a smile so precious,
From the crown of her head to the tips of her toes,
Tiny feathered eyelashes and a beautiful nose,
She’ll have a big sister to guide her wherever she goes.

Isn’t it amazing how a child is created,
So perfectly beautiful and uniquely stated?
Her birth was a blessing which we all celebrated.
Some gifts arrive when they’re meant to while some other plans waited.
Welcome home Layla Joy Roos!”

“Love from Grandma Val, and your whole family, 9/26/2010.”

Aunt Kaira and Uncle Kevin (Kuncle) are enjoying time with the girls. Layla even let Kaira trim her hair. Charlee visited with her friend, Adam, and introduced him to the rest of the family. We approved him, and practically all adopted the kind, polite, young man into the family.

So keep up the great work Kyle!! Take as long as you need, we are with you through this whole journey!


Charlee, Jordan & Layla
“I’ve got your back, Charlee!”
Walking down the aisle.
Happy family.