Tuesday, July 28, 2015

WHEW! WHAT A MONTH!


Several people have asked if I've been having health problems again since it has been three weeks since my last blog. Actually I'm doing fine; life has just been a little crazy. My husband and I decided it was time to do some major work on our kitchen; granite counter tops, new flooring, shutters, back splash, cupboard hardware. It's been exciting and still is; we're not finished yet. It's time consuming too.  I'll post pictures when it's finished.

In the middle of our renovation project I got the edit back for By the River, my next book which is scheduled to be released in November. Even though it didn't require a lot of rewriting, it still took a great deal of time to go through it thoroughly, but I got it turned in. (By the way, I'll be participating in Salt Lake County Library's Local Authors Event on November 7 and I'm hoping By the River will be available by then).

Along with preparing and teaching a Relief Society lesson, attending a grandson's soccer games, a holiday, and all of the usual trivia of life, these two projects have consumed time I might have otherwise spent blogging. And guess what! The edit for the novella I wrote for one of those compilations of three novellas arrived this afternoon!  

My novella edit for Rescuing Bailey is due August 13th and our kitchen project is supposed to be finished around the first of September. August is shaping up to be a lot like July so if my blogs are few and far between for a little while it's not permanent, I'm not sick, and I promise to do better in the fall.

Monday, July 27, 2015

A Tale of Three Cats.

This is how I remember these events and my memory may be a little faulty, but we'll go with this version anyway:

When my daughter and her family moved to Las Vegas, the cat belonging to her husband's boss had kittens. He brought one home - the cutest little black and white kitten you ever saw. They named him Dobie. Dobie needed a friend. The kids picked out a cuddly gray one at the animal shelter so everyone was happy, most of all Shadow who now had a loving family and the family had two delightfully playful kittens they adored. They put in a cat door so the kittens could go in and out by themselves.

A neighborhood cat decided he liked the food better at their house than at his own home, so he came daily through the cat door to dine and lounge around with his feline friends. This was an unusual cat - it had six toes on each paw, funny round short ears and short curly hair. They named him Padfoot because of his very large feet. Padfoot's family moved, leaving him behind, and Padfoot was happy to stay with his new friends.

When my daughter took him to the vet to have his shots, the vet was amazed. This was a very unusual and rather rare cat - a Rex. The extra toes, funny ears and curly hair revealed his identity. Thus, the family now had three cats that grew up during the four years they were in Las Vegas. The cats became hunters. They brought all sorts of wonderful presents to their owners like birds that were still alive, mice that were still able to run around the house, and other delightful (shudder!) gifts that made the girls scream and sent the son scrambling to catch and dispose of the creatures that belonged outside, not inside.

The cats went with them to South Dakota. Much different climate. Snow! The cat door had to be adjusted with a tunnel so the snow didn't blow directly into the house when blizzards arrived. The cats didn't like that as much, but loved basking in the sun on the picnic table on the deck. They still delivered dreadful presents when spring and summer came.

Then in two years another move. This time across the country to South Carolina. The cats went along in carriers - but they couldn't be left in hot cars so there was no sightseeing along the way. Just get to their new home so the cats wouldn't suffer. But the nights in the motels were an endless nightmare. No sleep. Cats awake all night. Noisy, jumping on the beds. Not all motels will take animals so they were not able to stay in the nicer ones they preferred. A totally miserable trip for everyone, cats included.

But the worst was yet to come. They stayed in a hotel for 3 weeks while house-hunting and the cats continued their nighttime routine. After three nights of no sleep, a boarding house needed to be found for the felines. $600 for three weeks! Expensive pets.

Fast forward one year. South Carolina was hot, humid, muggy, lots of bugs. Rain nearly every day. The family hated it. The cats hated it. A new job back in California solved that problem, but the cats presented one additional problem - how to transport them from coast to coast and be able to sleep at night, in a decent motel, and still stop and see a few things along the way. They would ship the cats to California via plane. Gramma would meet the plane and keep the cats till the family arrived in California. The cats would be happier. The family would be able to visit the presidential libraries and sleep at night!

They bought two carriers: two of the cats get along very well. They could travel together. Dobie gets along with no one. Dobie got his own carrier. But when they delivered the cats and carriers to the airline to be shipped, the lady at the desk says Dobie's carrier is not big enough. They've already spent a LOT of money on these carriers, so my daughter asks what can they do? "Go to Wal-Mart and buy a dog carrier", she said. "They are only about $75 to $100." Good Grief!

So the cats returned home, throwing up all the way. Good thing they didn't fly. It would not have been pleasant to cross country in the mess in their carriers.

Needless to say, the trip from South Carolina to California was another nightmare - long travel days to get here as quickly as possible, no stopping and leaving the cats in hot cars to sight-see.

I was waiting at their new home (for which we had searched and searched until we found what we thought they'd like, forwarded pictures, and got their approval.) Suddenly the door flew open and three cats bounded into the house before any humans appeared. Release from captivity! Freedom is a wonderful thing, for all species. Now the cats are happy, the family is happy, and we are happy to have our kids closer.

I'm glad we no longer have pets. My husband's favorite saying is: Retirement begins when the last child leaves home and the dog dies. In this case, the cats. My last cat lived 13 years. These are only seven years old. So about the time their youngest daughter leaves home in five or six years.................

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Tiny Taste of Heaven




Last week our entire clan was able to get together for a few days of fun and relaxation. The last time we were able to get everyone together was a little over a year ago. This is due in part to everyone's schedules and current locations. For instance, our youngest son and his wife now live in Pennsylvania while he attends med school, so family gatherings are a rare and precious occasion. After everyone arrived and we had visited, partaken of luscious grilled hamburgers, etc. not to mention spent a bit of time playing favorite games, I felt a deep sense of happy peace. The thought came to mind, "This must be what it will be like in heaven someday, when everyone is all together." I'm not sure why that particular image settled inside my heart, but it did and I've reflected on it since.

To me, the family is the most important unit in existence. The love shared by family members is crucial, and how wonderful it is when negativity, judgement, and criticism are replaced by respect, patience, and devotion. I don't think any family can be perfect in this mortal realm, but I do believe we get a tiny glimpse of heaven when we spend time together in a good and positive way.

It saddens me to see some of the horrible news stories depicting families that are are torn apart by selfish acts of abuse, bitterness, and cruelty. There are days when I can't bring myself to watch the news because of the horrific scenes that are often displayed. 

We do live in a troubled time, but there are a lot of good things taking place as well. Though some families are struggling, there are many more who are pulling together in love, eager to help each other to succeed despite tremendous obstacles. 

I believe that's part of why we're here--and why families are so important. We weren't meant to exist alone. We are social creatures who need each other to survive. When we support and love each other, great things can take place and the world becomes a better place. 

It was sad to see everyone in our clan depart, one by one last week. However, there is an eternal bond between us that makes our time apart bearable. We know these temporary separations are just that, temporary. Someday, we'll be together again--how grateful I am for the knowledge that families are truly meant to be together forever. That belief is the light in the darkness that often seems to prevail during these interesting latter days. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Today's Challenges

I have always loved Neal A. Maxwell. I think I have every one of the books he wrote and have read all his conference talks many times. On 1 September, 1974, he gave a fireside at BYU entitled But For A Small Moment, which is also the title of one of his books. He talks about challenges:


"So much is about to happen in which you will be involved and concerning which you will have some great influence. It is because you will face some remarkable challenges in your time; it is because the Church has ceased to be in the eyes of men a mere cultural oddity in the Mountain West and is now, therefore, a global church--a light which can no longer be hid; it is because you have a rendezvous with destiny that will involve some soul stretching and some pain that I have chosen to speak to you tonight about the implications of two things we accept sometimes quite casually. These realities are that God loves us and, loving us, has placed us here to cope with challenges which he will place before us.

I'm not sure we can always understand the implications of his love, because his love will call us at time to do things we may wonder about, and we may be confronted with circumstances we would rather not face. I believe with all my heart that because God loves us there are some particularized challenges that he will deliver to each of us. He will customize the curriculum for each of us in order to teach us the things we most need to know. He will set before us in life what we need, not always what we like. And this will require us to accept with all our hearts - particularly your generation - the truth that there is divine design in each of our lives and that you have rendezvous to keep, individually and collectively.

God knows even now what the future holds for each of us. In one of his revelations these startling words appear, as with so many revelations that are too big, I suppose, for us to manage fully: "In the presence of God, . . .all things . . . are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord." (D&C 130:7) The future "you" is before him now. He knows what it is he wishes to bring to pass in your life. He knows the kind of remodeling in your life and mine that he wishes to achieve. Now, this will require us to believe in that divine design and at times to accept the truth which came to Joseph Smith wherein he was reminded that his suffering would be "but a small moment" (D&C121:7)."

There is so much more wonderful stuff there - the talk is many pages long but I was struck by a couple of things as I read the first page. The word challenges jumped out at me because today we are facing some mountainous challenges in protecting not only our personal freedoms, but our religious freedoms. I'm afraid we have some "tough challenges" ahead and I don't think it will be an easy thing to get out of our comfort zones and make a stand. But I do not doubt that we will have to do that.

The other thing that really struck me was: "He will customize the curriculum for each of us in order to teach us the things we most need to know."  I believe that he knows what I can do and am capable of becoming - with His help. I also know that my own vision of that probably falls far short of His vision for me. My next thought was: which of the challenges that I most fear are the ones that He has prepared for me? Is there something I'm supposed to do in this new war we are fighting for our very freedoms?

This has given me much food for thought. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would see in my lifetime our precious freedoms being taken away, one by one, and feel so terribly helpless to prevent it. But I feel so strongly that this is a fight we must make here and now. Will I have the courage, the knowledge to do what might be my role? 

Just some disconcerting, very unsettling thoughts Elder Maxwell stirred up for me today.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

OUR NATION'S BIRTHDAY


As a teenager, the Fourth of July included parades since I played in the marching band. Later as a mother it still included parades where my daughters played and marched or carried flags. And what would the Fourth be without a picnic and fireworks? Many of my Fourths also included fishing and stories about family members who served in various branches of the military. Above all it was a family day, in essence a small piece of what the historic events of 1776 were all about, a time when father, mother, and their offspring could enjoy the fruits of the sacrifices made for them so long ago. 

It was a novel concept back then that people might govern themselves; that matters of religion, education, employment, and self defense rightly belong to the individual. In order to prevent the kind of tyranny they had so narrowly escaped, those founding fathers drew up a constitution that called for an overall government limited to certain responsibilities. The remaining rights were to be restricted to the states in order to keep government as close to the people as possible. Such long time emblems of tyranny as a monarchy, state religion, and the education of only the wealthy were rejected. Opportunity, equality, and freedom became the new mantra of our ancestors who offered their lives in exchange for a new way of doing things. Farmers and shopkeepers became soldiers who suffered and many died for this dream. In the intervening years many other good men and women have died on battlefields around the world where they fought to preserve freedom and the simple red, white, and blue flag under which the revolutionaries fought has grown to include fifty stars. 

With the passage of time, freedom grew to include those who came here against their will and those fleeing poverty and a lack of opportunity elsewhere.  On the way there have been injustices; the Mormons were ordered exterminated by a narrow-minded governor, some areas denied black people the right to vote, Western states were ordered to stop allowing women to vote, some Hispanic transient workers have been denied payment for their hard manual labor and deported instead, Chinese railroad workers were often treated badly, Japanese families were incarcerated. There are, and likely always will be, some low-minded people who will continue to persecute those they consider beneath them, but real Americans revel in the success of anyone who works for it. 

The past week has been troubling for many Americans whether they support non-traditional marriage or not. There is great concern over the usurpation of state rights by the Supreme Court and serious, justifiable concerns about freedom of religion, parental rights, children's rights, divorce laws, and the legality of other potential matrimonial combinations. Most of these concerns could and should have been worked out without the drastic interference of a few unelected individuals. This is what legislatures are for. The hateful, insulting rhetoric being flung about by both sides of the controversy certainly isn't helpful either. Social changes brought about by majority consensus have proved to work better than those forced on people by edict. It will be a challenge and likely involve many contentious years to work out this issue. It's easy to say this doesn't concern me, but in fact it concerns all of us, and we all need to be involved in working out solutions that are fair to all Americans. Let's not let this issue be the one that destroys "justice for all" or the "freedom to worship according to the dictates of our own consciences." 

I'll be cheering at a parade, eat yummy food, and fly the stars and stripes this Fourth. I hope you will too. America is still worth celebrating. And just one more thing, a slogan I learned as a teenager, "Don't go forth with a fifth on the Fourth, or you might not be around to go forth on the fifth."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Why I Believe




In today’s crazy world, there are so many mixed messages being broadcast, twittered, published, and shared in various forms of social media, I can understand why there is confusion about what is real, and what is not. We live in a world of technological wonder, and yet there is more unhappiness, misery, anger, and greed flourishing despite all of the remarkable items that are available to make life easier. I have to ask, then, what is missing? In my opinion, it boils to down to simply one thing: we’ve lost our way. We have become so disillusioned, hardened, and skeptical, we no longer believe in the simple things that make life worthwhile: faith, hope, and charity.

I understand the confusion. I felt the same way years ago as a struggling teen. At that time we lived in a community where several religions existed. When school was in session, lunch hour became a heated discussion in the hallway as my peers did their best to prove that their way of thinking was correct. Doctrine was shared and debated, and each day I grew more confused as I tried to figure out for myself what was true.

At home, I continued to receive mixed messages. My mother had always believed in God, and had taught us at a young age that prayer was how we communicated with our Father in heaven. Nightly prayers were encouraged before we went to bed. It had become a habit. Then one day, my maternal grandmother became critically ill. When her life hung by a tiny thread, our father gathered us together in the living room for the first ever family prayer rendered by our clan. For the first time I heard my father pray out loud as he begged for my grandmother’s life to be spared. Sadly, it was not. After her death, my father told me that prayers were not answered. It was a confusing time.

Because it was a habit, I continued to pray each night, and I often begged to know who was right and what was true. Then one night (back in the “olden days” sacrament meeting was held at night) as I sat with some of my friends during a fast and testimony meeting for the LDS church, a young lady stood up to share what was in her heart. She was a college student, and someone most of us respected. As a result, we listened to every word she said. When she shared that she knew she was a daughter of God, my heart began to burn within my chest. It was something I had never experienced before and I was puzzled. Later I would understand that I had received some very strong promptings from the Holy Ghost, but at the time, I had no idea what was happening. Regardless, that incident filled me with a desire to gain a testimony for myself. The problem was, I had no idea how to go about obtaining such a thing. So I asked one of my friends for advice, someone I knew would be honest with me. We were the same age, and she lived next door, which was handy. I wandered over one night to visit, and eventually asked this friend of mine how one went about gaining a testimony. She told me that I needed to read the Book of Mormon, and then pray about it. 

Excitement filled my heart. Could it be that simple? I hurried home to put her counsel to the test. I went inside my bedroom, shut the door for privacy, and dug out my copy of the Book of Mormon. I sat on my bed and read a couple of chapters. Then I closed the book, knelt down in prayer, and asked for a witness that it was true. I was expecting something similar to a fireworks display, and was disappointed when it didn’t happen. I did experience peace of heart, which was an indication I was on the right path, but I was too young and silly to appreciate what that was. 

Disappointed, I tried to go to sleep, my father’s words echoing in my head. “Prayers aren’t answered. No one listens. Why bother?” 

A few days later, I talked to my next door neighbor/friend again and told her about my experience and how disappointed I was. She simply smiled, and told me that I needed to read the entire Book of Mormon—stressing that eventually, I would receive the witness I was seeking. Sighing, I finally comprehended that gaining a testimony wouldn’t happen overnight. 

To make an extremely long story short, let’s just say that during the next few months, opposition descended with a fury. This happens whenever we are trying to do a good thing. The adversary doesn’t just stand idly by when we are struggling to find truth. He throws everything he can at us to prevent that from happening. Doubts are whispered into our hearts and minds. Others around us are prompted to do and say hurtful things that can become obstacles as we seek to find our way. And challenges arise that sometimes bring us to our knees. 

The death of my grandmother that year was a constant heartache. I had been her oldest granddaughter, I carry her name, and there had been a special bond between us. Losing her made me question things I thought I knew about life and death . . . and prayer. 

A few months later, one of my closest friends was diagnosed with Lupus, and we nearly lost her as her kidneys shut down. She spent months residing in a hospital in Salt Lake City as I once again came face to face with questions about life . . . and death . . . and prayer.

Then, adding insult to injury, I was attacked in the park across from my home one night. It wasn’t a random event. I had been called by my attacker (he lied about who he was—and this was before the day of Caller ID) and I was invited to an after-Christmas party, something I was assured all of my friends would be attending. Thinking this was a chance to de-stress, I walked over since the park was just across the street from our house, and found myself under attack from an unknown person. (We never did discover who he was.) Following strong promptings that came immediately (it was like someone was yelling inside my head to get my attention, since I was paralyzed with fright) I fought back and my assailant dropped me in the snow, and ran away. I was not harmed physically, aside from a few bruises, but emotionally, I would carry scars for a very long time. After that, I didn’t trust people. I was terrified to go anywhere alone, especially at night. So on and so forth. Once again I struggled with questions about life . . . death . . . and prayer.

My Young Women leaders were concerned because I seemed to retreat into a shell. I rarely attended meetings, especially those at night. I went to school, came home, and spent a lot of time in my room playing my guitar. I felt betrayed by everyone, including God. How could He have allowed this terrible thing to happen? Wasn’t I trying to be a good person? Hadn’t I been working on gaining a testimony? I was so busy feeling sorry for myself, I blocked out how watched over I had actually been during the attack at the park.
About three months later, my desperate Young Women leaders went to my parents and begged for their help. A tri-stake youth fireside would be held in West Yellowstone that spring and they felt this event would help me return to a sense of normalcy. In the past, my parents had always vetoed trips of this nature. I was their oldest child and they had been a little over-protective. The attack in the park didn’t help with this. However, they were beginning to worry over my retreat from life. And so we witnessed a tiny miracle—my parents gave their permission for me to attend the youth conference. I was stunned. I hadn’t even asked to go, since I didn’t want to go anywhere, and I knew they would say “NO!” My parents and leaders assured I would be watched over and protected during the entire experience, and eventually, I agreed to attend. 
It was a blissful weekend. My friend who had been in the Salt Lake Hospital, was home recovering, and she went with me to this event. The two of us stayed in a hotel room with one of the Young Women leaders—a promise made to my parents—and I felt safe for the first time in weeks. The workshops held were enjoyable, and I actually smiled, something my friends and Young Women leaders pointed out. Everyone held their breath, hoping I was on the way back from my traumatic event. 

The last night of the conference, a special testimony meeting was held. As I sat with my friends, we were in agreement that a person had to be crazy to get up in front of all these people. We had been mixed in with kids from all over the area—it was a tri-stake event and there were people in attendance that we didn’t know.About half-way through the meeting, my heart once again felt like it was on fire—the same thing I had experienced months before when the college girl had shared her testimony. I found that I couldn’t just sit there. I stood up and headed to the pulpit. My friends and leaders were shocked. I had pretty much become a recluse since the attack. Now I was on my feet, walking toward a microphone. That was yet another miracle.

I don’t remember everything I said that day, but I’ve never forgotten how I felt as I shared what was in my heart. It was a simple, heartfelt testimony of truth. No details about my very bad year were shared—but as I stated that I knew I was a daughter of God, a strong witness was borne to me that this was true. And suddenly, all of the answers I had been seeking fell into place. I knew the Book of Mormon was true, something I had been studying all year. And because it was true, I knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. All of the pieces of a testimony I had prayerfully begged to obtain, came together. When I returned to my seat, my heart was filled with a joyful peace I’ve never forgotten. That feeling stayed with me the entire night. The best part was, after the meeting, a younger girl in our ward came up to me and gave me a hug, telling me that for the first time, she had felt something from someone else’s testimony—the circle was complete.

I have had many trials—many challenges since that time, but the testimony I worked so hard to obtain, has stayed with me. It has been the glue in my life. Years ago, it helped me heal from a traumatic event that could have ruined everything. It helped me understand the miracles that had been a part of my life all along. It has helped me appreciate the little things that are actually the big things in mortal mode. It has filled me with the knowledge that God is very real, and He loves His children. He does answer prayers—but it is often in a different way and timescale than we anticipate. Faith and hope matter—and being charitable toward others is the key to finding true happiness.

I still reflect on life . . . and death . . . and prayer—but now I know how important these things are. I’ve never taken them for granted and each one has touched my heart in a myriad of ways.

To those of you who are seeking truth—know that the pieces will come together eventually. Sometimes we just have to put our trust in God and steadfastly do those things we know will eventually help us find our way. It will take time and effort, but the end result is very much worth the journey.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

REMEMBERING MY DAD


Since Sunday is Father's Day, I'm devoting my blog to my father today. He was many things during his lifetime, but first of all he was my father. One of his attributes that helped to shape my life was that he was a story teller. The stories he told of homesteading, of his adventures in Canada, a run in with a pack of wolves, his devastation at the loss of loved ones, and his adventures and interactions with others fired my imagination.   

My father, Jed Smith, was born across the river from Shelley, Idaho in a tent with wooden sides and a canvas top. That was his home for the first six years of his life. The year he started school his father took up dry farm land on the edge of the lava rocks sixteen miles away. They built a small house and pens for their stock, dug a well, put in a windmill, and his mother planted a garden. Grandpa worked away from the homestead, leaving the running of the farm to his wife and the three children, who were all under eight at this time. He only made it home about once a month to bring groceries to his family.  

One night Daddy heard an awful racket near the shed where their sow had recently given birth to new little pigs. He ran out to investigate and his mother ran after him with her .38. They found a coyote trying to get the baby pigs. Grandma shot and killed the coyote. The next morning Daddy and his younger brother had the task of hauling the coyote carcass away and burying it. Rattlesnakes and coyotes were a constant threat. 

After three years the family proved up on the homestead, but the crickets wiped out their crop that year, so they moved back to Shelley, painted and fixed up a chicken coop and lived there for almost four years. Though Daddy was only ten years old, he went to work for his grandfather building roads across Idaho and Wyoming. The flu struck their small community and my father and his mother, being the only ones that didn't get the flu, became the caretakers for family and neighbors for miles around. They bathed the sick and cleaned up after them, cooked huge kettles of soup to feed as many people as possible, cared for their stock, and washed and dried bedding. 

When Daddy was thirteen, the family moved to Canada.  He, his brother, and a sister were baptized the night before they started to Canada. Grandpa wanted to wait, but Grandma said she wouldn’t go to Canada unless her kids were baptized before they left. They soon discovered the closest doctor was twenty miles away and that he was an old drunk no one trusted. People began bringing their medical problems to my grandmother and she became the local midwife. Daddy was called out many times during the night to harness the horses and drive his mother to a neighbor’s house where he would huddle in the barn while she delivered a baby. 

Daddy's years in Canada were filled with hard work and little schooling, though he dated the schoolteacher. As the oldest he was expected to help support the family which he did by working on other farms and ranches, driving cattle, cooking for a timber company, mining, refereeing boxing matches, riding broncos in rodeos, and delivering supplies for the Hudson Bay Company by dog sled. In his early twenties he was accepted into the Royal Mounted Police Academy. When he graduated, he didn't become a Mountie because he wasn't a Canadian citizen and his family was talking about returning to the States. Instead he went to work for the RCMP doing many of the same things as the Mounties, but without the red coat. He delivered supplies to far flung outposts, inoculated the Indian tribes against a small pox outbreak, and assisted in a few arrests. 

One Fall, Daddy was threshing grain when a new worker arrived in the field. He showed the man what to do and they worked together all morning. At Dinner and after the man had gone, he found the man was Edward, the Duke of Windsor, who at that time was next in line to be king of England. 

When the depression brought about the loss of the Canadian ranch, the family moved to Camrose for a year. They rented a house and traded their crop for a Whippet car and $600. They then drove back to Shelley, Idaho.

Daddy had a fine singing voice and began singing with a dance band where he became acquainted with the band's female singer. They were married shortly after. The two didn’t have many years together. She died three days before Christmas in 1939, leaving Daddy alone with three little boys, the oldest of which was not quite five years old. His sisters helped him as much as they could with the boys, but many times he tied long ropes to their overalls so they could go from the house to the barn and back, but no farther, while he did chores.  

One night he stopped at a dance in Blackfoot to pick up his brother. He noticed a young woman who was having difficulty discouraging a would-be suitor. He cut in while they were

dancing and wound up falling in love with her. They were married after a short courtship and in the following years added five more children to the family, including me.

My Dad was a farmer, but he wasn't afraid to take on any job that enabled him to support our family. He ran the farm for several years at the state mental hospital, spent most winters sorting potatoes in potato cellars, and worked for the Forest Service in Montana a few years. He was still growing a garden when he passed away a few months before his one hundredth birthday. 

There was a special closeness between my father and me as I grew up. Daddy held me in front of him in the saddle before I could walk. When I had rheumatic fever, he taught a private Sunday School class for me every Sunday morning. He taught me to fish and to shoot. He and I tramped deep into the Bitterroot wilderness area to fish together and when my older brothers all left home, I became the one who ran the dairy and irrigated when he'd be gone for weeks at a time on fires or look-out duty for the forest service. We both had an insatiable desire to discover and learn and we spent hours talking about religion, politics, medicine, the world, nature, and anything else that stirred an interest in either of us. Whenever I gave a talk, was in a play, or did anything he considered noteworthy, not only was he there to cheer me on, but he made sure everyone else knew he considered me special. As the years have gone by, I've become more and more keenly aware of how fortunate I was to grow up with a father who loved me, who taught me, and who gave me wings to fly. I love you, Daddy. Happy Fathers' Day!