“Where Did I Put That?”

As we age, we tend to lose things more than before, but I began to lose things years ago. Maybe that’s because I began to lose my mind years ago.

I still get frustrated when I can’t find something—especially if I have just put it down. One

thing I always lose are my glasses. Therefore I have decided to put them in a special place on my china case, which is right inside our house, whether you come in from the upstairs or downstairs. However they still go missing.

Before we had to move to Los Angeles for nine months a few years ago I made a master plan of my house, put alphabetic stickers on everything which could hold anything (where it couldn’t be seen) and made a map with matching alphabetic keys which told what was in each storage area. I thought then I could remember what was in each storage area while I was gone. Then if I needed something, I could call my son who was living in the house and say, “Send me the ___________ which is the drawer labeled “EE” in my dressing room.

It worked well enough until I lost the map with the key.

When I got back, I started rearranging things and there went my plan. I found most of the time I can’t find stuff is right after I’ve gone through stuff, gotten rid of stuff and reorganized things. (There, family, I do go through and get rid of things—you thought I never did.)

For the first while after I’ve rearranged things, I can’t remember where the new thing belongs!!!

I have decided there are four reasons things disappear in my house:

1. My youngest son: He hides them to frustrate me. No, he is not a child—he is 34-years-old, but he likes to tease me and move my glasses or purse just to see how frustrated I can get. I admit this isn’t often, but it does happen.

  • The worst thing he did was not on purpose. We had gone to L. A. for medical reasons and I’d stopped the mail and paper so he wouldn’t have to deal with it. My husband ended up in the hospital and we stayed 10 days longer than we’d planned so I called and told him to put the mail in a pile on the kitchen table.
  • We came home, I went through the mail and paid the bills. The next month I got dunned for a bill I hadn’t seen the while we were gone. I asked my son about it, and he led me to another stash of mail that hadn’t made it out of the basement and was buried under his clothes. It contained the bill I hadn’t paid.
  • The worst thing he claimed wasn’t his fault at all. He was borrowing my laptop at night when I was using it during the day at the hospital while my husband was hospitalized. One morning I was in a rush to go to the hospital and I could find the laptop in one place, the power cord in another and no sign of the cord. He’d already gone to work and I couldn’t reach him. 
  • I texted him, “where is my mouse?” and left for the hospital. When I got to the hospital I got his text, “It is on top of the cabinet.” Now remember he is 6 feet 2 inches tall and I am five feet 2 inches tall. Would I ever find a mouse on the top of a cabinet? He hasn’t used my laptop since. 

2. My oldest daughter: She comes to my house and cleans and everything left out goes

into a box and into a closet. I usually try to straighten up before she comes because anything that is left out is fair game for her. She just puts it into a box for me to put away “at my leisure.” 

But then I can’t find the box with my purse, keys, glasses, and the important papers that I was working on when she came. She has to come and tell me where the treasure box is hiding out. But I appreciate her help with cleaning more than the hassle of finding the stuff she puts away, so she’s a keeper cleaner.

3. Curse of the Gadianton Robbers: We live in the Last Days, which has been prophesied as a day when wickedness will be prevalent that no one will be able to hold onto their treasures. The Book of Mormon scriptures mention that the people will be so wicked that the land will be cursed so no one can find their treasures: I don’t envision robbers coming to steal my stuff. Neither is the stuff I can’t find real “treasures” except to me, but when I can’t find something important I remember the curse upon the land that makes all things “slippery.”

  • “Helaman 13:34: Behold, we lay a tool here and on the morrow it is gone; and behold, our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle.”
  •  Book of Mormon 1: 18 “And these Gadianton robbers, who were among the Lamanites, did infest the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, that they could not hold them, nor retain them again.”

4. IL Folletto: When we lived in Italy years ago, I studied Italian at the University and through a conversation Italian class taught by the dearest Italian lady, Angela Buvoli. She taught us all about the customs, history, culture, folklore and other things about Italy that we’d never learn in a book. She told us the story of Il Folletto.

  • The dictionary says a folletto is an elfin, elf-like, mischievous, playful, sprightly, genie, gremlin, or pixie.
  •  Wikipedia’s explanation is not as innocent: “The folletto is a legendary creature typical of the folk tradition generally depicted as being a small, joker, agile and elusive, able to fly and become invisible. In folklore European shares similar characteristics with . . . the brownies , the puck, the goblin and leprechaun .Lives in burrows in the woods especially conifers or at the homes of men, courtyards and barns. Almost always comes out only at night to have fun doing mischief to the beasts of the stables and mess up the hair of beautiful women, cluttering agricultural tools and household objects”

4. La Signora Buvoli’s Folletto: Her idea of a folletto was a tiny mischievous elf who lived inside the house and was attracted to shiny objects. He came out at night and would sometimes take with him shiny objects that were lying around the house, especially if they were not put away. However, the folletto was attracted to millet (grain) and if you left a little bowl out of him, he would get busy counting the grains of millet and leave your items alone. 

So you could fool him by putting your things away correctly in their drawers, shelves, etc. all the time, or leave a bowl of millet out for him to count. Then he wouldn’t steal your items away and you’d never find them—or you’d find them in a new place, when he decided to return them.

So, who is the real culprit when I lose something and can’t find it? 

Perhaps all of the above, but I admit I am most likely the biggest culprit for not putting things away where they should have put it away, and for trying to find new ways to organize things. And of course, my poor memory.

My Prayer Was Answered

I started to panic! I couldn’t find my keys! I had looked everywhere, but they were not to be found! It was late—I had to leave for primary. What was I to do? I knelt and prayed fervently.

My three young children

It had been a hectic day in April 1972. I had taken my three small children, Marlowe, four; Athena, two and a half; baby Marc, barely a year, with me to Juarez, Mexico to look for a birthday gift for my mother-in-law. It had been hot and dusty and thoroughly frustrating as it always is shopping with small children. Finally, I’d found a nicely tooled leather purse and we’d gotten back to our El Paso home just before noon. I’d put my packages, purse, and diaper bag down on the couch, went to change Marc’s diaper. Then I quickly made lunch, cleaned the children up, fed them and put them down for naps.

While they had slept, I straightened up the house, then worked on my primary lesson some more. Primary was in the afternoon after school in those days and I taught the CTR class. I just had time to wrap my mother-in-law’s purse up, then get it ready for mailing when the children woke up. I got the children cleaned up and ready for primary. That is when I discovered my keys were missing from my purse.

“Everyone help Mama find her keys,” I asked. Marlowe searched with me, while Athena danced around singing, “Keys, keys, keys, find keys.” Marc tried to imitate her. It became later and later and still I hoped to find the keys.

When I couldn’t find the keys, at last I began to wonder if I should give up and catch a ride with someone, but I’d waited too late. Everyone I tried to call had already left for Primary. I called my husband at work, but his office said he wasn’t there. That was when I really panicked, and I helped the children to kneel, and we prayed again.

After I finished praying, I felt I needed to look inside the package I had wrapped for my mother-in-law. I dismissed the idea as totally crazy—how could it have gotten in there? Athena was now holding Marc’s hands and they were going in a circle with Athena singing, “pray, pray, pray, I help Mama pray.” Marlowe was going around looking under cushions and under the couch. I wanted to cry. I had to get to primary. Who would teach my class? They were short of teachers anyway and Sister Cardon, the president, really needed me to be there.

I closed my eyes, and felt again, I needed to open my mother-in-law’s package. This time, I obeyed, thinking how silly it was. I unwrapped the box, took out the purse, opened the purse, and there inside the new leather purse were my keys.

Athena came running up to me, “My keys!” she said, grabbing the keys. “I need my keys!” She took them over to my purse, opened my purse and stuck them inside my purse and shut it. “I go to primary,” she said, slinging the purse over her shoulder!

My husband and three children 1972

I was flabbergasted! Sometime while I was running around after we got back, Athena had taken my keys out of my purse and put them in the new purse I was getting ready to mail to my mother-in-law. No wonder I couldn’t find them. I quickly retrieved my purse (with the keys inside) from Athena, held it tightly while I helped the children all kneel and thank Heavenly Father for answering my prayer. Then we rushed off to primary.

A Memorable Vacation

A Memorable Vacation

Our family did not often go on vacations when I was a child. We would go down to my grandmother’s home in Monroe Utah, or we would go to family reunions, but that was usually my family’s idea of a family vacation. I never stayed in a motel or hotel until I was an adult. I can’t even recall eating in a restaurant with my family. 

My family in Bryce Canyon 1953

One vacation that stands out in my mind was a trip to Bryce Canyon. We went to Bryce Canyon several times during my childhood and youth.  I don’t think we stayed overnight there; we must have driven over from Monroe, stayed the day and drove back that night. I especially remember a trip to Bryce Canyon in the summer of 1953. My grandmother Hansen was with my parents and six of us children. The youngest was my brother, Will, who had been born in the previous February.

My mother loved to hike and was a very physical, athletic woman. My father worked at Hill Air Force Base and many times in the summer she would have a picnic supper ready when he got home about 3:45 p.m. and we’d go up to Mueller Park and hike until late afternoon and then eat in the park. I have wonderful memories of hiking with her everywhere. We all love to hike to this day.

Grandmother Hansen (left)

My grandmother Hansen was a tall, statuesque woman with a clearly defined idea of what a woman should and should not do. She was a “lady” in every term of the word. Her family had been among the original settlers in the area, and her father had been a leader in the community.  She was a talented dressmaker who could make a chic dress and matching hat from homespun fabric and a vogue pattern, and she had her own store in her later years. She was a strong, opinionated woman who was not afraid to state her views.

My parents

We were all so excited to hike down the canyon, because to us, that was the best part of the trip. Dad was carrying my three-year-old sister, Janet, on his shoulders, and mother was preparing five-month-old Will for the hike. That was when Grandmother Hansen hit the roof! I don’t recall the actual words that were said, but the meaning was clear—ladies don’t climb down mountains with tiny babies. Babies are too fragile to be dragged down trails in the heat and dust! Mother tried to explain that they did it all the time—they loved to do it. Grandmother stood firm; mother would hike down the canyon with Will over her dead body!

I remember watching the altercation with wide frightened eyes. My quiet, soft-spoken mother never got upset. She never argued with anyone over anything. I’d often wished she would stand up to my father, who was very domineering and overbearing, but she never demurred. Yet here she was standing up to Grandmother Hansen.  I looked to my father to see if he would support mother or grandmother; he mumbled something about his mother being right. Mother and grandmother strode angrily went back to the car with tiny baby Will.

I can’t remember much about the hike. I’m sure everyone else had a wonderful time, but all I could think about was what was happening in the car at the rim of the canyon. Was Grandmother yelling at Mother like my father always did when someone disagreed with him? Was Mother crying? Was it hot in the car? Was the baby crying? Finally, we got back to the top and I ran to the car.

Mother and Grandmother sat there silently starring out the front window. Little Will was asleep on the back seat. I was afraid to ask anything at the time, just gave Mother a big hug and told her all about the hike. Later I found out that she and Grandmother had sat there without speaking the whole time we were gone.  I gained a lot of respect for my mother that day!

Independence Day

Last night as I sat on our patio in a comfortable chair watching the Centerville City fireworks display, I wished our grandchildren, who usually spent the night with us were there. But my mind went back through the years, and I remembered past Independence Days.

Independence Day in Washington D.C.

Whenever I think of Independence Day, several images immediately come to mind. I remember being in Washington D.C. with my family, standing across from Constitution Hall watching a reenactment of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July 2006. Then a sudden thunderstorm drenched us, but it could not quench our love for our country.

I recall living in Italy at Caserma Ederle on the Fourth of July 1986. My sister Coleen and her family were there sharing the fun and fireworks with us, along with the whole town, because it was one of the times the base was opened to the Italians to come in and share in our American birthday celebration. As the fireworks lit up the sky, I was so grateful to live in a free country. Although I loved Italy and enjoyed our stay there tremendously, nothing could replace my love for America and the freedom we take for granted.

Coleen’s family

I think of the Bicentennial 1976, at Ft Hood, Texas, where I made colonial costumes for my children, and they marched around the block for Independence Day. We had recently seen the play “1776” in Austin and we had celebrated many of the Bicentennial activities. I felt so proud of my country and so grateful I lived here in America. A few years later a daughter who was not even born in 1976 had the part of Martha Jefferson in the Pioneer Theater (Salt Lake City Equity Theater) run of 1776, one of my favorite musicals.

I think of all the years of “mundane” celebrations—carnivals, 5-k runs, fireworks at the family cabin at Island Park (where we spent many Fourth of Julys), marching in children’s parades, watching one or another of our children marching in the band, or on a float in a parade, at community breakfasts—they all run together like one memory.

Veterans, my husband and brother-in-law Glen Davis, in local parade

However, one memory sticks out like a sore thumb. I am not even sure it was the Fourth of July, but it sums up my feelings about our country. We were living in Italy, and we had gone to another military base. We went as a family to a movie in the evening there. On a military base, they play the “Star Spangled Banner” before each movie, and everyone stands at attention during it. This time however, a bunch of teenagers behind us were goofing off, playing around, talking, and joking during our national anthem. After it was over, my husband Ed turned around and gave them a scolding about how important it was to respect our country by standing at attention during the national anthem, especially when we were in a foreign country.

As Ed talked to them, I thought of all that our soldiers have done through the years since our country won its freedom to preserve our freedom. I think of the years Ed spent in Vietnam and I stayed in Utah by myself and bore and took care of our children. I think of the dangers and hardships he faced, not just in war, but in rotten assignments where no matter how much he hated it, he could not say “I quit.” I thought of him out in the field on maneuvers with the chiggers in Texas; I remembered when he was in Turkey and Greece, not in tourist areas, but in the boonies inspecting missile sites on our children’s birthdays. I thought of him in language school for six months away from family; and I recalled the many times he was on TDY (Temporary Duty Assignment or away from home). And so many other experiences that civilians would never face.

granddaughter saluting the flag

What are we expected as citizens to do? Is flying our flag on the Fourth of July and saluting it as it goes by in the parade enough?

I am not going to make any suggestions on what you should do this Independence Day or all year long to make our country better and to preserve our freedoms. I want each of you to think about it and to decide one thing you can do—then do it!

Indian Paintbrush

Girls Camp 1991

I am angry. Spread out like an old fly on a dissecting table, unable to move up or down. I am furious at the girls, especially Diana. If it were not for them, I would not be stretched out on this rocky cliff, with the rocks sliding beneath me, and the birds circling overhead.

“Are you all right, Beth?” Ann, the other girls’ camp leader, calls as she watches me warily from her more solid perch. The rocks shift beneath me, and I slip, grasping futilely for the weeds ten feet away on the crest of the cliff.

“I’m okay,” I call back as the rocks scrape my leg, burning and stinging like fire ants. What else can I say? She can’t come back for me. I must get out of this myself.

“Do you need help?” she calls again when I do not move. I look up and I see her gauging how she can come back to help me. I think of the ways I could be helped. Maybe a rock climber with ropes and equipment would see me stranded and snatch me from my perilous situation—ha, only in the movies! Maybe a helicopter would come and pull me up away from danger—only in my dreams!

“No, really, I am okay,” I try to reassure her. “I am just resting. Give me a minute to get a better hold.” The rocks shift again, and shower past me. I lose a few more inches. Are the birds circling closer?

I am praying harder than I have in a long time. I am worried about me. I am worried about the girls. I am worried about Diana. I am worried about Ann. How guilty she would feel if I fell and was injured badly!

I think of my friend, Joan, safe back home. She worries about my moods and is always asking probing questions to make sure I’m all right. If I slipped and fell, not just a few inches, but clear down beyond where I can see, would she wonder if it had really been an accident?

The thought of Joan energizes me, and I creep upward towards Ann.

“The girls could not have come this way,” I insist as we try to inch toward the crest. “Someone would have gotten hurt.”

“Could they have gone up the back instead of the front of the mountain?” Ann yells. It is a good question, and I inch sideways toward the beckoning brush. There’s not much vegetation, but I hold tightly onto each weed as though it were a lifeline. I think of Joan again.

“Dear Joan,” I’d write from the hospital, if I fell. “It was not my fault. I did not choose the rocky path. I would have gone up the weedy way. It’s not as pretty, but far safer. I wasn’t doing it for the fun of it. I was trying to save the girls.”  

The thought of the girls sobers me. Are they really okay? Even Diana? Or is she trapped somewhere as I am, struggling to make headway? But there is no one who can rescue her!

We are not even supposed to be on a mountain peak, for heaven’s sake. We were supposed to have hiked to Lake Placid on our all-day Inspirator’s hike. However, we’d missed the lake somehow, and stopped for lunch in a grassy meadow under the mountain peak.

A few girls, I called them the mountain goats because they’d leaped ahead after each rest stop on the trail, were intrigued by the towering peak above us.

“Can we climb it?” they had asked looking at the topographical map. “It’s only 10,228 feet. It must be safe. There’s a jeep trail that goes right to it.”

Finally, the hiking leader had agreed that a small group could climb to the top while the others rested. The mountain goats had quickly disappeared out of sight, but Ann and I, and a few more intrepid girls followed behind them. The whistles we’d brought to communicate were useless as the distance between us widened. I could occasionally see a flash of red, or blue high above, and I’d know their approximate location.

When we’d reached the plateau where the jeep trail ended, the mountain goats were nowhere in sight. Above us was a solid, implacable rock wall, reaching up another 400 feet. No vegetation marred its surface, and no trail disturbed its beauty. Everywhere was rock except at the very top. At the peak, trees stood sentinel, like a line of soldiers guarding the summit.

Finally, Ann spotted the girls. They were almost at the very apex, their bright clothes flashing intermittently through the trees at the rim of the precipice.

“How did they get up there?” one of the girls with us asked. “It’s solid rock!”

“Do you think anyone was hurt?” I replied, wondering how I would explain to upset mothers. I worried again about Diana. That Ann and I would go after them was understood. The rest of the girls decided to wait for us there on the plateau, but Ann and I could not. We were mothers. We were the leaders. We were the responsible ones.

So here I am, trying to follow Ann across a vertical shoal, talking to myself, cursing the girls, whispering to the mothers of the girls in my mind, writing imaginary letters to Joan and conversing audibly to Ann.

Finally, despite all my expectations, I reach Ann on solid, weedy soil, and we hug each other. The immediate danger has been averted, but the girls are still above us somewhere in the mist. I am still angry and worried. My knees are shaky.

“Are you sure you’re ready to go on,” Ann asks me as my breathing steadies.

“Yes, of course. I don’t know if the girls are smart enough to know when to turn back, especially Diana. She might keep going forever, down the other side.”

Diana, is, like all teenagers, a contradiction of nature. Short, thin, with her hair curled meticulously, her makeup applied perfectly, even on an isolated mountain top, she hates to walk to school! Yet, here on this rocky summit, she is one of the mountain goats. She is too young to be wary, too foolish to be careful. I’m sure she thinks injuries only happen on television. I know better. I imagine her slipping on the steep incline and plummeting over the cliff. I imagine trying to explain to my husband where I was when this happened.

As Ann and I scale the hot, dusty, rough terrain, I am so glad that we are on the backside of the cliff instead of the rocky face where we were. I am relieved I survived the rocky face. I feel like an ant rather than a fly—an old, dirty, tired, burdened ant.

The climb is much easier here. It is still steep, but I dig my feet into the dry, barren soil determinedly. Occasionally I find a piece of wild grass that is rooted somehow to bedrock. I grasp on to it for all I’m worth. I am grateful for weeds. I never thought I’d ever feel grateful for weeds, but then I never expected to climb a rocky mountain peak. My hands hurt from holding so hard.              

I can’t stand up. I can’t see the girls. I can see hardly anything above me but the next few feet I must climb. I wonder if there is a top to this mountain. My nose itches. Ann and I don’t talk. We just struggle onward.

When I am wondering if this mountain is nothing but endless ridges stretching to eternity, Ann stops.

“Let’s rest and see how far we’ve come,” she suggests.

I turn around to look; it’s scary. It’s beautiful below and we can see for miles and miles. I wish I could see above me, rather than below. Sweat is dripping down my face. My scraped leg hurts.

“Do you think they are really okay?” I finally ask Ann.

“I’m sure they are, or someone would have come down for help,” she replies. Somehow her words are not reassuring.

A shout disturbs our tete a tète.

“Hey, guys, the summit is neat. You really ought to see it!” A girl stands high above us. The sun is behind her, and I can’t see who she is. Except that she’s not Diana.

Suddenly I am no longer tired, but full of fire and energy.

“Don’t any of you move,” I yell, standing. “Don’t go up. Don’t go down. Stay right where you are, even if I can’t see you!” I don’t know whether they can hear me, but Ann is impressed.

“How many kids did you say you had?” she asks. “You sound like you could command an army.”

“I just don’t want them going anywhere until I can get to them!” I say, but I doubt she hears me. I’m already charging up the mountain.

Only a few feet up, the ground levels out a bit, and there the girls are, laughing and ready to dance down the mountain.

“Oh, Mom, it’s so neat!” Diana is running towards me. (Doesn’t she know how dangerous running down an incline can be?) “It’s not much further. It was well worth the climb.”

“Don’t you know how worried I’ve been,” I cry as I hug her.

“But I’ve been fine.” She seems uncomfortable with my concern. “Just wait until you see the top!”

“Well, I don’t know,” I say. I haven’t climbed so high for the view. “How much further is it?”

“It’s just over that ridge. Come on, Mom. You can’t come this far without going the last little way.”

“She’s right, you know,” Ann laughs. “We can’t turn back so close to our goal.”

“I’ll wait here for you, Mom,” Diana says.

“You’ll all wait for us here,” I yell to the rapidly dispersing girls. “Did you hear me?” they slowly turn around. Some seem poised to vault away out of my sight, but they come back.

“Now listen up! Ann and I are going to the top. And you girls are waiting right here until we get back!!!!! Do you hear! Climbing downhill is more dangerous than up! We will hold hands going down. We will make a chain.”

“But we haven’t had any trouble,” one of the older girls insists.

“I don’t care. You will wait here! Understood?” I glare at each one until they nod.

It is beautiful at the top, I realize. I look at the immense vista laid out below us. Ann goes to the very edge to wave at those who stayed below at the plateau where the jeep trail ended. I stay a safe distance away from the edge, but I can see the ant-like creatures so far below. I wonder if they can see us. My back itches.

I notice a small Indian Paintbrush plant, brilliantly red as it valiantly hangs over the edge of the precipice. I am awed that it can grow in so harsh and alien a climate. It seems such a veritable contradiction to the barren, rocky soil. It is beautiful.

I look at Diana below; her hair brightened by the sun looks reddish from my perspective. Diana is like that paintbrush. Then the thought strikes me that maybe I am, too.

“Your Son Needs You”

Fay Hansen died on a warm June night in 1980.  He was recovering from his second coronary bypass when he had a fatal reaction to the morphine administered to him for pain.  He felt his heart go wild, then collapse in on itself.  One minute he was struggling vainly to quiet his racing heart, panicked and afraid; the next moment, overwhelming peace and relief wiped away the terror. One minute doctors and nurses were fussing and fretting, trying to stabilize him; the next, the room was full of old friends and relatives in white.

Fay Hansen

Fay saw his father first, smiling in the warm, loving way he always had. Fay realized then that he had died in the frantic moments that his heart was out of control, because his father had departed life nearly a half century before.

Fay’s father, William Hansen

“You’ve come for me,” Fay thought as he recognized familiar faces of friends and family who had died many years before. “I am through with this life.”  It was an overwhelming peace that enveloped Fay, a wonderful relief from the pain that was his constant companion.

“Are you ready to go?” Fay’s father asked him.

The thought of leaving the pain, the struggles behind seemed so inviting that Fay wanted with all his heart to say “Yes.” But something nagged at him. There was something that was not yet done.

“Haven’t you forgotten something?” Fay’s father asked gently. Fleeting thoughts of all seven of his children raced through his mind.  Six were married with families of their own. His youngest daughter, Ann, although unmarried, was doing well and was active in the Church.

With instant clarity the nagging feeling of what was left undone overwhelmed Fay. If he left the earth at this moment, what would happen to his youngest son, Will?  This son had been given the name of his grandfather, the big, kindly man standing before Fay. Although Will was a good man, he had become estranged in a subtle way from the rest of the family.

“Will has chosen to shut us out,” Fay told his father. “I can’t do any more to reach him.” Fay looked in vain among the crowd for the wife who had died nearly twenty years before. He could see old friends from half a century before, his brother, his cousin. However, he could not see his first wife among the individuals in white.

“Your son needs you,” Fay’s father gently reminded him. 

Fay thought of his youngest son, Will, who was so like the grandfather whom he had been named after.  He was kind, thoughtful, reserved, and very friendly. Somehow he’d drifted away from the family, and did not feel an integral part anymore.  There was no outright break from the family, but ever since Fay had married (a second time) to Donna, who had eight children of her own, Will had gone his own way.

“Are you really ready to leave this earth?” Fay’s father asked him, his eyes searing Fay to the soul. “Are you ready to leave things as they are at this moment?”  As much as Fay wanted to shrug off the pain, sorrow, and struggles that had been his life, he knew that he’d be leaving work undone. And Fay was not one to shirk away from duty.

“But what can I do to unite my family?” Fay asked. “What more can I do that I have not already done?” Fay’s thoughts bubbled up like a pot boiling over, but as they struck the tall man facing him, they fizzled and evaporated.  Would Fay be happy if he left things as they were that day? No. He knew—as tempting as the prospect appeared—it wasn’t right.

“Can I have more time?  Can’t I try again to find the way to strengthen my family?” the thoughts came unbidden to Fay’s mind as his father smiled back at him with a joy that filled the room. Suddenly the room full of people dressed in white vanished.

Overwhelming pain enveloped Fay like a damp, heavy cloth, smothering the peace he’d felt so recently.  Voices and noises scattered the lingering remnants.

“I have a heartbeat,” a woman’s voice cried triumphantly.

Fay tried in vain to capture again the fleeting image of his father smiling in the old familiar way, but it was gone.

“Fay, you old rascal,” he recognized the intensive care doctor calling to him from afar. “You sure gave us a good scare that time.”  Reluctantly Fay opened his eyes to the familiar hospital room. 

“We almost lost you that time,” the nurse said, smiling, her stethoscope pressed against his aching chest.  “Your heart became arrhythmic and went out of control.  But you’re back.”

The constant pain shrouded Fay until he prayed for the oblivion of sleep. But he couldn’t lose the urgency that there was something important he needed to do.  Something he couldn’t forget again.  Several times during the recovery which had been only temporarily halted by his anaphylactic reaction to the morphine, Fay almost forgot what he still had to do.  Several times when he felt it had slipped away from him, he’d open his eyes and see two white figures standing by the window. They would smile at him, and again he would feel their love reach across the room to him. He would then remember his son, Will, and know that he, too, must reach out in love to him.

When his wife, Donna, arrived and heard about the incident wherein Fay had died, she clucked over him like a mother hen. Fay then shared with her what had happened to him during the frantic few minutes he had been clinically “dead.”

“There is something important I need to do,” Fay explained. “We haven’t been all together as a family for years. It is important that we do so.”  Two months later Fay’s seven children and their families gathered together in Mueller Park for a short reunion. Will and Lois laughed with the others and the family drew closer than they had for a long time.

Hansen Family 1980

Surprisingly, that was not the end of the story. There was another chapter that did not come out until 12 years later at another family reunion—this one at Fish Lake in Southern Utah. At a family testimony meeting Fay and Donna testified of our ancestors love for all the family. The story was told of the night Grandpa William Hansen came and reminded Fay that his “son” that needed him.

Fish Lake Reunion 1992

Then Dale, (Donna’s youngest son) asked if he could tell his side of the same story. Tears shown in his eyes as he explained that at the time of Fay’s “death,” Dale was serving a mission in Argentina. Donna’s younger children had accepted Fay with open hearts when he had married her. Surprisingly, Dale had grown closer to Fay than to his own father. When Dale left on his mission, he had been concerned about Fay’s health, which wasn’t very good. Donna had promised to keep him informed of any problems. Soon afterwards, Fay underwent his first coronary by-pass, and Donna had sent a telegram to Dale. The message about Fay’s surgery and recovery took so long to reach Dale that when the second coronary by-pass was scheduled; Donna decided not to worry him until it was all over.

Dale Easton

Dale, however, didn’t need a letter or telegram to know that Fay was very ill and that he might die. One day in June 1980, Dale had awoke from a vivid dream wherein he saw saw Jenny, Fay’s deceased first wife, and others waiting to welcome Fay into the spirit world. Dale recognized Jenny though he had never met her in this life, and knew that she was eagerly awaiting Fay’s arrival.

The fear that Fay would die upset Dale so much that he asked his companion to join him in a special fast and prayer. Dale pleaded with the Lord to spare Fay. He explained that he had just learned to appreciate Fay as the father he’d never had before then. He cried that he still had many activities—fishing, hunting—that he wanted to do with Fay. During a long, anxious day Dale and his companion worried and prayed. That night Dale received a feeling that the Lord had heard his plea and that Fay would be spared.

It was very late that evening, (not weeks later, as before) when Dale received a telegram that told him that Fay had had another coronary surgery. Donna explained that although there had been some problems, Fay was recovering. Dale was never told that Fay had died after the surgery, or that he had experienced a visit from his father while he was clinically dead.

On that starlit night around a campfire in 1992, tears flowed as Dale recalled the experience he had endured at the time of Fay’s “death.” He shared his immense feeling of gratitude that his prayer had been answered; that Fay had been spared because “his son” needed him.

Which son needed Fay that night when his heart stopped? Perhaps both. Only Fay’s father knows—and he can’t tell us.

Love the Danes

Denmark is the land of my heritage. My mother was first generation American and she spoke the Danish language as a child, served us many Danish foods, and shared with us many of the Danish customs and cultures she had grown up with. My mother’s father Peter P. Hendrickson left America to join the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a young man; yet he loved his native land and the family and friends there very much. His wife, Kristen A. Mortensen, also a native Dane, loved her native land and taught her children about the land of their heritage.

My mother’s sister, Ruth Hendrickson Hadley, served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Denmark in the 1950s, and my brother Gary Hansen served a mission there in 1961 to 1963.

Denmark is a land associated with the sea; nowhere in the country are you more than 47 miles from the sea. Surrounding Jylland, the part of Denmark that is connected to Germany, is an archipelago of 483 islands that make up the Kingdom of Denmark. Denmark, like much of Northern Europe, is wealthy, erudite, and liberal. Fewer than 3 percent of its people attend church, and Richard Andersen, a LDS Church Stake President in 1993 stated, “The Church’s biggest challenge in Denmark today is that we are an ungodly country.” Andersen blames the permissive laws passed in the 1960s. “Suddenly our country was affluent and wanted to show the world that our wealth gave us sophistication and understanding. So we passed laws allowing pornography, nudity on beaches, abortion on demand, marriage of homosexuals. Moral barriers fell all around us.”[i]

Gary’s mission in Denmark during those turbulent years was very difficult. During his two years there he baptized only one individual. One experience in Esbjerg, a fishing village about the size of Provo on the West Coast of Denmark, changed Gary’s attitude about his mission, Denmark, and life. He had been there three months and the missionaries had not taught a lesson or had not been received into a home. Gary and his companion wondered if they prayed and fasted more earnestly that maybe someone would listen to their message. They called the mission president for permission to fast; he gave them permission, but only for three days.

The first day of fasting was like any other; they tracted without success. The second day of fasting they continued to go door to door futilely. At the beginning of the third day of fasting, they knew their fast would end that night, yet that day was no different. That night they prayed long and hard and received no remarkable inspiration.

During the night Gary’s grandfather Peter P. Hendrickson (his mother’s father) appeared to him. Peter who had grown up in Denmark and given it up only to join the other members of the church in Utah stood at the end of Gary’s bed and told Gary that the only way he would ever be successful was to love the Danish people with all he had and to look beyond their harshness.

“Love the people,” he repeated. “Love the Danes.”

When Gary’s companion awakened the next day, the companion told of how he had seen the nameplate and bell of a certain home in a dream and felt that it meant something special.

The two companions prayed, then broke their fast. As they went out, they looked at the different streets carefully. Gary’s companion recognized the street he’d seen in his dream and they walked along it. Then he recognized the bell and nameplate. They had tracted out that area three times previously, but never stopped at the house. They rang the doorbell and a young woman came to the door. She allowed them to come in and talk to them.

Gary was transferred soon afterwards and he never knew what happened to the woman and her family, or whether they accepted the gospel or not.

But the experience with his grandfather changed Gary’s life forever. He loved the Danes whether or not they invited him in, or accepted his message. After his mission he promoted everything Danish and Scandinavian he could. He had an annual “Lief Ericksen” party on Columbus Day to celebrate that the Vikings reached America before Columbus. He served as president of the “Sons of Norway” (a fraternal organization representing people of Norwegian heritage–there isn’t a “Sons of Denmark” organization). His daughter went on a mission to Norway and married a family of Norwegian descent who are as staunch in their celebration of their Norwegian heritage as Gary is of his Danish heritage. He had a Danish foreign exchange student live with his family for a year, and he and his family have gone to Denmark several times. This fall he and his wife will return to Denmark as couple missionaries.

Unconditional love is the key in all relationships; true charity that is concerned with the individual and develops a closer association. It accepts a person as they are, and loves them anyway. It doesn’t complain that they are not Italians, or Mexicans (or whoever would be easier to convert), or that they didn’t accept the gospel right away and give up on them, but loves them despite it.

Elder Russell M. Ballard said in October 1988 General Conference address (and probably more recently as well), “I encourage you to build personal, meaningful relationships with your nonmember friends and acquaintances. If they are not interested in the gospel, we should show unconditional love through acts of service and kindness, and never imply that we see an acquaintance only as a potential convert.[ii] Or as my grandfather, Peter P. Hendrickson said, “Love the People.”


[i] Florence, Giles, “Sea, Soil, and Souls in Denmark,” Liahona, June 1993, page 36

[ii] Russell M. Ballard, “The Hand of Fellowship,” Ensign, November 1988,

My Grandmother, Imelda Miller Hansen

17 June 1885–21 May 1960

As far as I know, I was the only grandchild who stayed with my grandmother in Monroe for a few weeks in the summer. I don’t know why I was so fortunate, but I am grateful for the opportunity I had when I was 12 years old

Early in the morning we’d wake up and go out to pick the big, sweet raspberries. She would wear gloves to protect her fragile hands, and a big floppy hat.  I didn’t need either because I was a teen—nothing would hurt me. Grandmother’s raspberry patch was right on the edge of a big irrigation ditch which was always full of water rushing somewhere else. We always had to pick the raspberries before it got hot or . . . . I don’t know what would happen. Maybe we’d melt in the sun like the wicked witch of the west, or maybe we’d just sweat, and that wasn’t ladylike.

Grandmother Hansen as she looked at the time of my story.

After picking raspberries, we’d come in and eat breakfast.  Grandmother would serve breakfast on delicate china placed on a table decorated with a beautiful vase of roses.  Everything was elegant at Grandmother’s house, from the cream of wheat served with brown sugar in a china bowl to the raspberries served with thick cream from a special creamer. I felt like a princess at Grandmother’s house, instead of one of a rowdy crew like I did at home. Whenever I smell split pea soup, I see my grandmother’s kitchen and steaming soup in a delicate china bowl.

My grandmother loved genealogy, and sitting there in her flower-patterned wallpapered parlor, she told me stories of the people whose lives contributed to who I became. She read me histories of ancestors long dead, drew pedigrees going back generations. They became more than names on sheets of papers, but living people who dreamed, hoped, prayed and suffered. I cried as she talked about her great-grandfather who was injured in a tornado in Omaha Nebraska while they were crossing the plains.[i] She told me of her father who had injured his head in an accident and had terrible headaches until his son left for his mission to Germany before World War II. When the son was set apart by an apostle, the apostle promised him that his father would be healed and able to take care of the things while he was gone—and the same day the father’s headaches disappeared. [ii]

As my grandmother told me stories, I recall wondering if my one British ancestor had had pirates in their heritage (I now know how ridiculous that was, but then it sounded romantic).  I also dreamed that my Danish ancestors near Elsinore, the site of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Kronberg Castle, were possibly royalty. Years later my brother served a mission to Denmark and wrote me that if our ancestors were at the castle, it was only as servants— we had no blue blood in our family at all. My grandmother instilled me in a love for family history that has never left me. I love researching the pedigrees, finding out the information about each individual, preserving each record, and documenting each story.

Me at Grandmother Hansen’s house in Monroe–1950s.jpg

Another gift that my grandmother shared with me is sewing. She was more than a seamstress—she was a dressmaker and hat maker.   Early in the new century, her husband sold a horse to buy a foot-pedal Singer sewing machine for grandmother[iii] so she could sew for others—a sewing machine that I inherited. She made dresses and hats that were unique and beautiful, and much more than just frontier ware. There in Monroe, Utah during that hot, dusty summer, my grandmother took chartreuse fabric from a drawer, bought an intricate Vogue pattern, and taught me how to make a blouse on her latest model Bernina sewing machine. I had to baste each dart, mark each mark with tailor tacks. 

My mother did not like to sew; but from that day on, I was the seamstress in my family. I sewed for my younger siblings, my mother, myself. I took sewing classes in home economics in junior high and high school, and designed costumes, doll clothes and curtains. I wanted to someday be a dressmaker like my grandmother; I never attained her stature, but I have loved to sew, and I have tried to share my love of sewing with my daughters and granddaughters.

What as grandparents do we teach our grandchildren? I remember those three things my grandmother taught me that summer. But most of all, she taught me how much she loved me, and that was the greatest treasure of all.

Me at Grandma Hansen’s house 2005

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All biographies sited below are in my possession

[i] 1862: “From New York they went by train to Omaha where they were to wait for the emigrant wagons, the prairie schooners of the nineteenth century. While waiting in Omaha, the men sought employment as best they could in the fields or farms. One day while father was working in the fields, a black cloud appeared in the southwest sky. The American workmen began to run, and soon threw themselves upon the ground. Father and other immigrants followed their lead, wondering what the excitement was about. They soon found out. A tornado had struck, followed by the inevitable rain ending in a flood. Queer how nature sometimes slaps us in the face. The immigrants were allowed only 75 pounds of luggage—less than we take on a vacation today. My mother was airing her little wardrobe that was damp from the ocean voyage when this cruel wind struck and one of her best shoes was carried away along with small keepsakes from her girlhood and her home, among which some poems and eulogies written to her on her 19th birthday that her friends had celebrated in her honor and tintype photographs of relatives and friends. To mother’s last days she was saddened when she recalled her loss.

      “Although my parents had planned to be married in Salt Lake City in the Endowment House, they were married in Omaha. Father contracted a fever and became so ill that he could not leave with the friends with whom he had crossed the ocean and whose leader he had been. Instead they came to Utah in J. R. Murdock’s Company, leaving Omaha June, 1862.” Biography of Hans Peter Hansen Miller Sr. by Eudora Miller. (Hans Peter, grandfather of Imelda Miller Hansen, although Danish spoke English fluently even before he came to America and was leader of the group before they left Denmark.)

[ii] “In 1928, at the age of 63, Hans was thrown from the back of a truck and fractured his skull in three places, with every bone out of place.  The x-ray also showed that the awl had moved nearer the top of his head, and the injuries impaired his voice, causing him to lose it for weeks at a time.  He also had a problem that although he could walk around, he could not look up or to the side without turning his whole body without becoming dizzy and losing his balance.  This went on until Jan. 1933 when his son, LaRue, was leaving for a mission to Germany.  Hans was         so ill with the flu and a cough, in addition to his other problems that family and friends felt that LaRue would not reach Salt Lake before Hans died.

      “About a week after LaRue had left for his mission, Hans suddenly recovered miraculously from his cough, and he was well enough to go out to help with the evening chores.  In addition his neck seemed so limber that he had his wife check it and every bone was in place, and it was as smooth as it had ever been.   He completely recovered from the dizziness and loss of voice that he’d suffered from since the accident and was healthier than he’d been in years.

       “A few days later he received a letter from LaRue which said:  “As we elders were being set apart for our missions, and it came my turn, Elder George Albert Smith placed his hands on my head and said, ‘Young man, you are worrying about something at home.  Don’t worry any more everything at home is all right.’  This blessing was given at the very same time that his father, Hans was healed of his injuries and flu.” Biography of Hans Peter Miller, Jr., father of Imelda Christina Miller Hansen.

[iii] “We thought we were pretty well off when we married, and were happy, very happy. We had bought Aunt Martha and Uncle George Crosby=s furniture from them because they were moving to Arizona. Bill had rented a farm for us, and had a very nice team of horses, a new wagon and two racehorses. And we had $50.00 in cash to start on. It didn’t last long, however, as only two months later I took sick and was in bed for seven weeks. Bill sold one of the race horses to pay the doctor bills and buy me a sewing machine (1905).” Autobiography of Imelda Christina Miller Hansen.

2020 WHAT A YEAR!

2020 What a Year!

The year began very nice—we had some good snowstorms and things were going well.

Then in February Diana, Jason and Aiden Bowler joined me on a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii where we lived over 40 years ago (1978 to 1980). The Bowlers went to Oahu and Maui besides Hawaii, but I only went to Hawaii.

It was a trip back in time, seeing many of the places we lived so long ago, and so many memories. We stayed on Kona and went over to Hilo, then stayed at the Volcano Park in an old-time bed and breakfast.

I snorkeled, then climbed out onto sea urchins, which stuck in my right hand and arm. I ended up in an urgent care center where they checked me out and reminded me to soak my hand in vinegar. I went to the Kona Temple where I did initiatory work for six women. We also went to Church in Kona and it was so familiar, even to the people singing “Aloha-oa” after church to a lady moving out of the ward.

It was at the urgent care center that I heard the first rumors of the “Corona Virus” that was just becoming known. Luckily, we got back to Utah before the Pandemic really hit!!!!!

Marc & Jacci were in Italy the same time as we were in Hawaii, but Italy had become a super spreader, and they had to quarantine in a bed and breakfast in Utah County before they could move back home.

Suddenly we were all wearing masks and because of my age and health status, I was a major risk, so Marc and Jacci did all the shopping. I was able to go to the doctors and get epidural and nerve ablations. My lower back has stenosis and disk bulging on both sides, as well as scar tissue on my cervical spine.

May we finally yet together outside for a family get-together at Diana’s and I got my first permanent by Jacci. I still didn’t dare get my hair cut by Heather. After the summer I started getting haircuts from Heather, but she came to my house and cut my hair on the front patio.

In June Marlowe and the twins drove to Big Skye Montana where they had paid for a rental, and Diana, Aiden and I have joined them. It was a wonderful time to relax and enjoy a change of scene. The Layton Temple had a ground-breaking,

In July, Marc and Jacci continued to clean up the top of my front hill and dug up the old tree trunk. In August started performing in “Million-dollar quartet” and finally cut the hair that he’d let grow for eight months.

In September Marc and Jacci got married in an outdoor pandemic wedding (complete with masks). Marlowe flew out to join us. It was a wonderful day. In October we had a tremendous windstorm and the big trees behind our backyard were broken off and landed on our apricot tree.

In November I finally got the quilt I made to keep me busy quilted. We went to the new Veteran’s Park in Bountiful, and I took Digital Scrapbooking classes. December was a bust when I burned my arm with my curling iron, and I got cellulitis in it. Marc and Jacci gave me a new stove as a gift for letting them live with me. Then my granddaughter, Jenni VanderMeyden moved in so it got even more crowded. I alsp broke my left hand and had it in a cast for 3 months.

In December we had birthday with Arianna, around a firepit in the cold back patio. It was a super quiet Christmas, but the kids gave me a video where they sang “My Favorite Things” describing all the gifts they gave me—security cameras, ring doorbell, clothes, books, flowers, etc. What fun.

How to Have a Wedding During a Pandemic

How do you have a safe wedding during a world-wide pandemic? It isn’t easy, but its better than no wedding.
My son and his wife were supposed to marry in an ancient Abby in Tuscany, Italy in spring 2020. However, the pandemic and the many deaths in Italy put an end to that! They kept waiting for the country to open up, and it didn’t so finally they decided to get married at home in late summer. They were older—both were grandparents with many siblings and nieces and nephews. So they decided to have a family wedding.

They were both very safety conscious, so they wanted a safe outdoor wedding while the weather was good rather try to have an indoor wedding. So, they made plans to get married in a large park with a gazebo, wagon wheels, trees, and lots of scenery.

It was six months into the pandemic, so everyone’s hair was long and shaggy. So, the bridegroom’s family had a beautician come and cut their washed hair outside on the patio—with everyone masked. Many of the males got together and got haircuts and shaves at the local barber’s shop.

The invitations were very Italian, and they planned an Italian-style wedding menu, including a cappuccino-machine, a popcorn machine and an italian soda bar.

Everyone was expected to wear a mask unless they were at the table set aside for their immediate family and while eating. If you went visiting other tables, you were to put on your mask. For the ceremony, the chairs were set away apart, especially for the elderly guests.

The bride is escorted down the aisle by her 93-year old grandfather

The grandfather of the bride, in his 90s, walked her down the aisle, while the groom’s best man was his 6-feet 7-inch son. The officiator was a friend of the groom’s brother, an actor, with an online license to marry people.

The couple were so happy that they asked the officiator to begin the wedding by copying the first part of the wedding from the Princess Bride, “Mawage! Mawage is what bwings us togevuh today,” the officiator lisped. The rest of the ceremony was a beautifully voiced tribute to marriage and eternal love.

The Ceremony

Later, while the entertainer, a vocalist with a guitar. One of the shows the newlywed had recently watched was a “mockumentary” a fake documentary about a singing group and their fake new hit, “Slowly, gently. . .” The groom asked the entertainer to play the fake song during the entertainment, and everyone laughed, including the unsuspecting bride.

Lights were strung up diagonally across the wedding area, to bring added light as the evening went later.

There was also a fancy “porta potty” called the “Honeypot” (it was really nice in-side, not your average industrial stinky porta potty) and an actual sink to wash hands in was included in the décor. Hand sanitizers were everywhere.

When it comes down to it, that is what weddings celebrate—love, families , friends and celebrating life!