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!

Six Months of Quarantine—More disasters

Well, we’ve had pandemics (and they are ongoing), we’ve had protesting and riots, we’ve had earthquakes in Utah. We’ve had Economic upheaval and tremendous hardship financially. This week we had hurricane-force winds in a desert!

In Centerville, Utah, we’re used to horrible east winds with bursts up to 80-to 85 mph. Well we had up to 99-mile-hour bursts and a windstorm that lasted 36 hours. The devastation was tremendous. Our mayor and governor declared our community a state of disaster. It was worse than the December 2011 winds that caused so much damage, and it was far more widespread.

Our neighbor’s trees broke and crashed over our fences and trees. We had branches of our walnut tree break into our neighbor’s yard. At one time, 180,000 people lost power! But finally, we (in our house) have power after three days without!

So, what do you do in these dreadful circumstances? You work together and survive!

I was fortunate that my son, Marc, and his wife live with me and my daughter and her husband are half a mile away. The roads were blocked and live wires down everywhere, but my daughter and her family made it through all the obstacles to make it to the generator-run store and brought us cold deli food and rolls. We played board and card games together while we tried to locate generators. By then we knew it would be a while before we had power, and we needed help. Finally, we found two generators (one for each of us) in Sandy, and my grandson, Cody, picked them up in his truck and brought them to us!!!!

(Here I plead guilty! My husband bought a generator years ago, but I didn’t drain it, check it, maintain it—and it died! Although my son insists it can be resurrected with care, equipment and knowledge.)

We set up each of the new generators, so our fridges and freezers were okay, then we connected the internet—that was our next priority. We used huge candles, flashlights, and finally I had power to my room so I could run my oxygen and sleep apnea machine. The next morning, we connected my son and his wife’s computers so they could work all day.

My daughter’s power was on, so she loaned her generator to my sister; when my sister’s power came back on, she loaned it and set it up at one of my neighbor’s home to protect their fridge and freezer. It was generator, generator, who needs a generator!

Today a whole crew of neighbors showed up at our house to clean up the fallen and broken trees. It took about 26 people (including youth), and multiple chain saws, as well as a bobcat and ladders four hours to fix our yard. Then they raked up the small leaves and cleaned away the debris. Then they were off to another neighbor. Trailers picked up the branches and sawed logs and took them to the collection locations to empty them and come back again!

My large apricot tree, which had huge branches from our neighbor’s monstrous tree fall on it, ended up with a real haircut–2/3 of it was broken and sawed off! I don’t know whether it will make it through the winter, but we won’t have to prune it next spring.

All over the valley, neighbor crews have helped others with their broken trees, fences, damaged roofs and siding. Even torn-up playground equipment has been cleaned up! The power has been mostly restored.  

So, in a year that has been replete with all kinds of dangers and disasters, we made it through another episode! I will not take electricity for granted for a long time! Each time I flip a switch, turn on hot water, load another blanket on or charge my phone, I say a prayer of gratitude! I love electricity, and good neighbors and family!

Coronavirus Pandemic—20 weeks

When you think life can’t get any worse, you’d be surprised that it just goes on and on and on.

It is almost August and the pandemic which in April was becoming contained and number of cases and deaths were going down, is now out of control, especially in Florida, Texas and California! There, the economies were opened, and Florida doesn’t believe in masks.

Masks have become divisive, where those who protest that they have the right to not wear a mask, are endangering others (the mask doesn’t protect you, but  when you wear one, it protects others from you). Not wearing a mask is saying that you don’t care whether others become sick or not. You care only about yourself.  (see Why I’m Not Wearing A Mask: https://californiaglobe.com/section-2/why-im-not-wearing-a-mask/

We had a really exciting incident one Friday. Marc and Jacci were getting ready to go boating when police swarmed over the street blocking off the road. One of the neighbors (two houses down) had become suicidal and had a gun and the police didn’t know whether he would attack others. They got his wife and daughter out of the house and brought them down to our garage where we entertained the daughter while the mother tried to work with the police to disarm the situation! An hour later it was over and everything was okay. I was just glad to help out. We never know what is going to happen ever!!!!

Excitement!

I’ve made a set of six patchwork placemats and a runner. I’ve continue to work on my quilt. I have found ways to accomplish things that seem undoable (ordering groceries online and picking them up at the car), though I usually just send Bryan down to get them.

I’ve accomplished a few “home projects” that I’m excited about. I got my retaining wall on my front lawn so the steep drop off isn’t as pronounced. It cost $3500.00, and we had to plant new lawn, but it’s looking good.

I had to get my air conditioner fixed ($1500.00), and I finally fixed the pocket door to my bathroom that hasn’t worked in years!!!!!! It cost about $300.00), but all are projects that needed to be done. With Marc and Jacci here, they’ve improved the sprinklers, so my yard looks better than it has for years! (I also am paying a lawn service to fertilize and weed-proof the grass). So, I have done some good projects.

I’ve been able to attend Church virtually. They are having services with half the ward one week and half the next, but I don’t dare attend either because of my help. Brother Parker loaned me one of the handi-capped hearing devices and I’ve been able to sit in my car in the parking lot and hear the services. Then I have either Jason or Dirk give me the sacrament, because I can’t receive that in my car.

Marc and Jacci also are redoing the top of my hill where they pulled out the tree roots. But since it’s hot they’ve given up and it is covered with weeds.

I also was stooped over working in my rose garden when I lost my balance and fell and broke a bone in my hand. So now I’m in a bright red cast!

But life goes chugging on! Day by day, we’re surviving the pandemic and I’m still stuck home, but that’s okay.

I’ve had Aiden and his cousin over here slip and sliding, which has been fun.

Getting Away–in Quarantine!

We’re still in Quarantine, but I had the opportunity to visit Big Sky, Montana with some of my children and grandchildren. What fun we had!