Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Power of Art

My mother is in her late 80's. She has always enjoyed the art pieces that she that used to decorate her home and now adorn the walls at her small assisted living apartment. The white walls are covered with art collected from her early days of marriage to more recent pieces, but mostly it's art my brother, Brian Thayne has painted as he is a professional artist. 

Just like many in their declining years, she is very forgetful. As she often says from the forehead down she is doing very well. She can seldom tell you what she did the day before and often the hour before. She remains though the lovely person she has always been, content, cheerful, intelligent, and grateful. 

A few months ago, my brother was a part of a large art show at Zion's Bank in Provo. This is a huge affair with 4 floors of art and lots of amazing food that servers offer to you every few minutes. I Well at the art show, she fell in love with a painting that was next to my brother's work. This is it. It's by Jeremy Winborg from Cache Valley. 
My mother honestly couldn't stop staring at the painting. We walked slowly from floor to floor. Mom talked to many of the artists and told them what she liked about their work. She has a great eye for composition and knows what she likes. But when she made it back to where this painting was hanging she told me she wanted to talk to the artist. He was usually talking to someone, but when he was free, I told him how much my mother loved his work and especially this painting and that she wanted to talk to him. He said she'd already told him. See she'd forgotten that she'd already talked to him, but he was gracious and told her he'd love to sell it to her, but that it was already sold. Besides it was large, an original and very expensive. So I talked to Jeremy and he gave me his card and said that he can do a print of any of his work. These days artists don't have to do a huge run of say 500 prints like they used to have to do. They can do one at a time. I contacted Jeremy and had him do a small print for Mom. When I went to pick it up from Jeremy's studio, he said, "I hope your mother enjoys it." I told him, that I was sure my mother would not remember the painting, but that she would fall in love with it all over again. I knew that if she loved it once, she'd love it the second time she saw it. 

But boy was I wrong. The print of the painting was given to my mom at our family reunion as a gift from me and my brothers. When she opened it, she immediately got tears in her eyes. She could hardly talk at first until she recovered, but then she said something like, "I saw this at the Zion's Art Show, but didn't know that I could have a print of it. The reason I love this so much is her eyes. She's looking forward at the future. It doesn't matter what your background is," at this she pointed at the background. "It doesn't matter what your past is, but it's where you're looking. It's about the future. I don't know what the name of the painting is, but I'll call it ''future." 

Somehow this beautiful painting reached through the cloudiness of mom's mind and embedded itself there. And a month later, she remembered every bit of the painting. She remembered the "native flower girl's" eyes. She remembered how the painting made her feel. She remembered where she'd seen it and hadn't forgotten it. Not a bit. That is the power of art. 


Sunday, July 9, 2017

It's Been One Year Since You Left Us

Dear Judi, 
It's been one year since you left us. I'm sad today. It was a hot day like this one that I got word of your passing. I was in Brooklyn, NY as you slipped away, back in Cache Valley, Utah.  Nearly everyone who was most important to you had been to the hospital to bid you farewell, except for me. I'm hoping as you were in and out of consciousness, you heard my farewell as told to your son on the phone, of my love and all my best as you passed on. But I wasn't there with you and that still breaks my heart. So today, I once again reflect on you and the friendship you so generously shared with me. 

In my lifetime, I've lost some really important people to me: my dad, both sets of grandparents, my husband's parents, uncles, aunts, neighbors, and some friends. But I've never lost a friend like you. I've never mourned a loss quite like this one. You knew my heart. That we shared our discouragements and joys with each other is something I will always treasure. 

I imagine if you had been here this last year, here are some of the things we would have discussed. We would have been shocked and dismayed at the president who was elected for the US. We could have spent hours wondering what would become of our country. We would have talked about our health issues. I loved how you understood that being well and feeling good is all relative when you have chronic pain. Though my suffering was and is a drop in the bucket in comparison to yours, you still got me. We would have talked about our grandchildren and children and swapped stories. We would have discussed how the LDS church still has a long way to go when it comes to treating our LGBTQ friends, sisters, and brothers the way we believed they deserve and should be treated. This Spring we would have watched the new colts out your window. We would have discussed the box elder bugs and how they aren't quite as bad this year as they were last--at least not yet. You would have loved to hear about our trip to Italy, as I would have condensed it down to the highlights. I'm sure you would have thought of some new quilt designs and made a few more. And I would have loved seeing them. I would have continued to water your plants each Sunday. 


One of Judi's plants I watered each week. I put it on my table today in her honor 

But the best part, the thing that you would have loved the very most. The thing that would have brought you so much joy was to see your son get married to the love of his life. You so worried about leaving your oldest, your single son. You so wanted for him all the joys that come from finding that person to share life's journey. Your youngest son had that. You would have loved seeing how he and his family supported in every way possible, as your oldest started his new life. I hope you were there. I don't know what is beyond this life, not for sure. But now you do. And this is something I know about you. You would have been there if there is any way. And knowing you, you'd find a way. So you could see your granddaughters and grandsons dressed in their best, matching attire.To see friends and family come together to support your son and marriage in true equality. To meet your son-in-law and welcome him to the family. 
Me with Judi's son on his wedding day


You would do anything to listen to vows exchanged with the sound of the Logan River and birdsong in the background, to see the Swallowtail butterfly dance in the sun highlighting the love in the faces of your son and his partner as the Buddhist Bhikkhu joined them in marriage. You'd love the beautiful cake with a silhouette scene of Rio and Salt Lack City in honor of each and seeing them cut the cake, sharing in the happiness. For your son it was a dream come true, but it also was for you. It was just what you wanted for your family--united in ways that wouldn't have been possible not too long ago. This is a year that some wonderful things happened for your family. Maybe you had something to do with that. 


So today, I remember you Judi. I miss you. I will always miss you. You made a safe place for me to talk and share and no one listened quite the way you did. God speed dear friend. 

Love, Carole


Friday, June 16, 2017

Some Summerfest Stories

Every summer for the past 25 years or so, I've participated in Summerfest Art Festival which is held in Logan, most of those years on the beautiful grounds of the LDS Tabernacle in the center of town. I suspect that I have hundred of my creations in kitchen cupboards, on tables, and displayed in homes all over town, and beyond. I hear stories about my pottery every year from returning customers, but tonight I heard one that really broke my heart.

My husband was watching my booth for me while I took a break. When I got back,  a woman was buying a platter that had only been on display for an hour or two. As I wrapped up the sale, I learned that the younger woman was buying the platter for her friend, who was of my generation. That woman said she and her husband visited my booth every year and that my pottery is all over their house. She said her husband bought her a new piece every year. I nodded thinking that was very sweet and flattering. Then she said, this is our first year without him. It took me a few seconds to figure out what was happening. I looked at her again and saw that she had tears in her eyes. I said, did your husband pass away. She said he had. Now her friend bought her a piece of pottery because her husband wasn't there to do it.

This was quite a contrast from a story another woman told me years ago. She came by my booth and wanted me to know that when she and her husband had divorced that year, they had fought over two things, the dog, and a vase that I had made. The vase had a lizard on it and I remember it well.

One of my favorite things about making pottery is meeting the people who love my work.  I've had people tell me that at the time of their mother's passing, they each got to choose my pottery. Whether it's to celebrate love or to end love,  or at the end of life, it's gratifying to find that my pottery is a part of the story.
This is very similar to the platter 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day to my MOM


My mother never yelled at me. Seriously—never. She didn’t spank me either. It just wasn’t in her nature to yell or spank. Dad, well he shouted once in a while. Where Mom was the calm, Dad was the storm. It was the way they balanced each other. Our house was the place that we could throw all the cushions on the floor and play the ground is poison. It’s the house, where we could climb trees, paint murals on the utility room walls, make popsicles, and play basketball in the driveway. We made hideouts in the garage attic, the doghouse, and in the storage room. We slid down the stairs on pieces of cardboard and climbed through the laundry shoot. 

The greatest gift my mother gave me was the freedom to be myself. After four boys, I was her long awaited daughter. I’m sure she had hoped for a frilly bundle of feminine joy, but instead she got a creative, fun-loving tomboy. I wore jeans to school before they were allowed. I resisted rules and pushed the limits. In a time period and place when girls were expected to follow I pushed ahead. When girls were expected to be quiet, I talked. When girls were expected to agree, I argued. I saw the world as inherently unjust and asked a lot of questions. I was never discouraged from doing something because it wasn’t ladylike. At least not by my mom. 

The world teaches girls early on what is and isn’t acceptable. I don’t think I knew there was a difference between me and my brothers until I was about four. I wanted to play outside without my shirt on, like my brothers did, or at least have it unbuttoned and my mom said I couldn’t because I was a girl. That didn’t make sense to me. From then on, more and more wouldn’t make sense to me. Others let me know that I should be quiet, that I should be feminine, that I shouldn’t be “bossy,” that I should let the boys lead or win at sports (seriously that was taught) but it wasn’t my mom. 


Today I’m feeling grateful that in a time where it could have been very different, I was encouraged to just be me. Because being me is all I ever wanted to be.

Addendum:  So after I wrote this post I went to a Mother's Day dinner at my brother's house. My mom is in her late 80's and is getting quite forgetful, but she told this simple story about her own mother. My mother grew up in a small town in Eastern Montana. She said that her mother was different than all the other mothers in the neighborhood. Her mother never said "shoo!" Whenever the kids went into a house to play, they were shooed outdoors. The moms in the neighborhood didn't want to be bothered with noisy children. She said her mother welcomed the kids and even fed them. I said, I grew up with a mother just like that. And she said, you grew up with a mother who loved being a mother. I did. It made all the difference. Thanks MOM! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

From an Non-professional on Self-Care

I posed a question on Facebook and asked a serious question about how to cope during this politically charged time in our nation. I got a lot of good answers and more people responded than usual, which means I’m far from the only one feeling stress. In fact, I talked to a close friend the other day and she said, she and her husband were so confident about the outcome of the election that they’d gone out to the movie only to come home and find that their teenaged daughter had, had a full-on panic attack. 

Not matter where you fall on the political spectrum, there is no denying that these are polarizing times. I feel a personal responsibility to be politically active. My parents were both very engaged in the political process. I remember voting booths being set up in our living room. Dad was often a speaker at 4th of July breakfasts and after Dad's death my mother sometimes spoke. It was considered a patriotic duty to be informed. Dad watched the News, both nationally and locally like most men watch sports. 

I would not be able to sleep at night—still have a hard time—if I was silent about the direction our country has turned, but what has given me hope is seeing millions of people (#resist) assemble, meet, march, speak out, attend town halls, write letters, make phone calls, and engage in the political process. To see the sleeping giant awakened can be both frightening and heartening at the same time. To see the media stand up and call the administration out on the misinformation “lies” that are being peddled by #45 and his minions is what makes this country great. No apologies to DT, this country already is great and will continue to be great as long as defenders of democracy refuse to be silent. I’m feeling more at peace when I see the national security advisor resign and NO the problem was not just the leak that Flynn had been communicating regularly with Russia, the problem is what he did and then lied about it. To hear Stephen Miller defend the president and say that he should not be questioned makes me shudder and if it doesn’t make you shudder than I would dare say that freedom of speech is not a priority. 

Now back to the SELF-CARE which is what this post was supposed to be about. I’m both luck and unlucky in that my time is my own. I am self-employed and have no children at home. I love this chapter of my life, but it also allows for a lot of ruminating, worrying, brooding, and so on. I know many friends who are really too busy to worry. For me keeping to a schedule is helpful. I like to start my mornings with a long hot bath infused with epsom salts and essential oils. I know that’s relaxing and many would argue with that, but I have fibromyalgia and wake up with considerable pain and stiffness. In the tub, I read from a daily meditation guide called “The Book of Awakening” by Mark Nepo. I love this book and have gone through it several times. Then most days, I spend 15-20 minutes doing Yoga, thanks to a daughter who has kept encouraging me to do so. This also helps with the Fibromyalgia pain. On a good day, on a scheduled day I might spend a few hours making pottery, then sometimes meet friends for lunch or book club or whatever else I have going on. Often my husband and I will go for a hike or at the least a daily walk. I try to keep all this up even though now I’m also consumed by news 24-7.  Spend time daily posting political articles,  and writing emails to government leaders. And because I have a phone phobia and my husband would rather call than write, I sometimes dial the phone and hand it to my him. We make a good team that way. I’ve teased my husband that he is a closet liberal, but this season that closet door has swung open and he has stepped up and out. It would be extra challenging to our marriage if we were not on the same page politically. Our love for each other would be strained if he and I didn’t share many common values and beliefs. 
From one of our recent hikes in Logan Canyon

I made a list of some of the great ideas that came from my Facebook friends on Self-preservation. 1. Scheduling lunches with like-minded friends so we don’t feel alone. 2. Setting priorities (family first.) 3. Joining secret or closed groups where you can safely vent (and plot) strategies. 4. Some people expressed the need to move from the US, hmm not sure if that’s a valid option. :) 5. Holding dear to values and truths and being mindful and balanced. 6. Reminding oneself of the good in the world, limiting news to stay informed but not immersed. (Harder for some of us who feel the need to be keeper of the flames) 7. “Let the beauty of nature soothe your fears. I believe our foundations from the constitution will save us.” Sue Cannon Spencer 8. Balance. Engagement yes, but balance with escapism. 9. Laurel said “I’ve found my tribe, changed my diet, use essential oils. I stay informed, but refuse to stay scared.” 10. Jennifer who is very politically engaged and speaks out whenever possible has changed her alarm to the Philharmonic orchestra. 11. Joy believes we are stronger together. It helps her to sleep knowing she has groups of friends who share her concerns. 12. Watch movies such as “Loving” about a mixed race couple who eventually helped change the laws of the land through the supreme court. It’s not unlike the civil rights movements of our lgbtq friends. 13. Looking forward to 2 years from now when things should change. 14. Playing tennis (or other workouts), working overtime, and unfollowing some people on Facebook. 15. Going to Baskin Robbins (or fill in the blank)  and getting that banana split (or whatever) you’ve been craving. 16. Sarah suggested reading the book “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided on Politics and Religion" by Jonathan Haidt. Similar to people having different taste buds. 17. Gayle learns to forgive others their political leanings by remembering that not everyone shares her same education and experiences that helped shape hers. (This is something I try to remember also). She also engages in activism. 18.Maria  enjoys the humor that comedians offer while shining a bright light on important issues. Problems such as racism that have always been there are being exposed. We can do better and I think we will… 19. Recognizing our circle of influence and change. Ann thinks of one thing she can do each day as she has her morning coffee. She’s also ordered mini-constitutions and bill of rights from the ACLU to hand out to her students. 20. Some are increasing their faith and reliance in a higher power.   
From the peaceful Women's March in Ogden, Utah 

I’d like to add that I’ve been ordering my old favorites from Disney on Netflix. This might be weird, but we’ve re-watched, The Parent Trap, Pete’s Dragon, That Darn Cat, and Freaky Friday. Tonight I’m watching Pollyanna. This is such fun nostalgic escapism. So ta ta for now. I’m off to go on a walk with my favorite man, catch some Vitamin D, and listen to the black birds sing—yes they have arrived! 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

My Bests and Worsts of 2016

The most disappointing thing about growing older is that years fly by. Remember how long the months seemed when we were growing up, waiting for Christmas, waiting until birthdays, waiting until the last day of school, waiting, waiting and waiting? Now it's a blur. Cliche, I know. I used to hear my parents say such things, but life is flying by. The same with this last year. I know there have been some overwhelming tragedies and some good things nationally and internationally. You can get those on the news stations. For me, these are my own bests and worsts of each month. I know a lot of people struggled with 2016 and some are saying that for the most part those who think it was a bad year do so because of their privilege. I acknowledge that I am privileged with a life of blessings and wonderful things that I often didn't have a lot to do with. Looking back over the year, I see an abundant life. Still, with that said. I experienced a lot of sadness too. Sometimes we are just sad, in spite of the good.

January
Best: A Thayne reunion of cousins, aunts and uncles to celebrate the foresight of our parents and the many blessings we have because of them. Already there weren't many of the generation that we honored and before the year was out two more of my uncles were laid to rest. It was great to see some who I hadn't seen for many years and this time for a party instead of a funeral.

Worst: None

February


Bests: Disneyland with all of the grandkids, our son and his wife, and our daughter flew in from NYC. We could have been anywhere and it would have been fabulous, but since we hadn't been there as a family since our children were the age of the grandkids, it couldn't have gone better.

Worst: When we landed in LAX, we waited for a long time at the wrong place to be picked up by a shuttle. It was dark and coldish. The kids were running around, impatient and hungry. We all were. Then we finally figured that out, got picked up and taken to the rental place. They had no place to stand and wait, except outside--in the dark! Finally after another hour or more, we got in the rental van and made it to the hotel. What an ordeal.

March: Worst! On March 7th, I saw my friend Mary for the last time. For some years, she has been in a book club that I started in 2000. She hosted many times. She offered such grace and intelligence and in later years, her tender heart and fragility emerged. Although she had failing health, she was a bright and sensitive soul. The night after book club, we were shocked to find out she had been the victim of a murder/suicide. Her husband had been suffering from a mental illness.


Best: Mick and I took a little trip down to Capitol Reef, Goblin Valley and Little Wild Horse Canyon

April
Best: Mick and I celebrated our wedding anniversary of 37 years by traveling down to Arches, Mesa Verde, and Hovenweep. I credit my dear friend Judi Berry for instilling in me the desire to see the Native American artifacts and ruins. Another best was celebrating Mick's and our son's birthdays by seeing the Tulip Gardens at Thanksgiving Point. I'm very lucky to have these two great guys in my life.

 

Worst: My Uncle Lew passed away. He hadn't been well for a long time so in that way it was a blessing to have him go. I loved seeing cousins and my family at the funeral. His wife, (my dad's sister) had been gone for several years.

May
Best: Visit from this family. Approximately 25 years ago the beautiful woman in the middle came to live with our family for her senior year and quickly became part of the family. Here she is with her lovely family. She has been through major trials and is a great example of resilience. Her daughter was killed in an accident leaving behind the littlest guy who was just a toddler at the time.

June Bests: I really love June. The art festival sand Cache Valley Gardener's Market is in full swing. The snow is melted at the cabin in Montana. We hike and hike. We have a lot of fun. Our first trip of the summer was partly with friends and party with family.


 As a person who has struggled with anxiety and depression the last few years, I like to surround myself with happy people. These are some neighbors who spent time with us. See how fun!
I love to start traditions with my grandkids. This little waterfall is just a short hike from the cabin. I've been going there since I was the age of my granddaughter.
June Worsts: I missed walking in Salt Lake Pride. The first time in three years. It's a highlight of the summer. There were a rash of suicides in Utah. Many involving LGBT youth. His mother was a Mama Dragon (fierce protector of her LGBT son). I sat amongst my Mama Dragon friends at the funeral. Sad times. 


July Bests: Trip to New York with Daughter and DIL. We had such a great time going to shows and exploring the city. Another good thing was taking darling granddaughter to the old family cabin my grandpa built in 1960. Just the three of us. Also Mick and I had the great time at a James Taylor concert.  And I got to attend a day of Sunstone conference with dear friends. So fun. 
July WORST This is actually the most heartbreaking of the year. One of my dearest friends passed away unexpectedly on the last day of my trip to NYC. We got the news on the 8th that she had taken a turn for the worst. She passed away the next morning. I tried to make it home in time, but missed saying good bye. This still hurts. Friends told me that she had asked for me. That I missed being there will forever bring me heartache. I miss her so much. Judi was my confidant. And I hers.

August
Bests: Another trip to the cabin. The first part we hosted two couples who all like to hike. The best kind of friends, right? We did a fabulous hike viewing about14 lakes all in all, played games, and ate like royalty.  Lee, our friend for the last decade or so, is like a stand-up comedian keeping us in non-stop laughs. The last half of the trip, we picked up our daughter in Bozeman who flew in from NYC. We've raised our kids right and she loves to hike even more than we do and is in a lot better shape than we are. Then my nephew and his fiance (now wife) came and we had a lot of fun with them also. 

Another fun thing about August is Paradise Trout and Berry Days. I love selling my pottery there, talking to old friends, and eating the best trout dinner of the year. It's also a highlight of the summer. 

Worst: On our trip to the cabin, we got separated from our daughter on a hike (a big no-no) And it took us hours to find each other. By that time, we had called Search and Rescue. Whether your child is 3 or 30 something, there's nothing quite like the sinking feeling when you don't know where they are, especially in  very rugged grizzly bear country. 

September

My Mom with Uncle Mel (my dad's brother)
Worsts: My dad's only remaining sibling passed away. The end of an era. He was the glue of the entire family. I don't know how he kept track of everyone. For decades he made sure we got together for Christmas gatherings and summer parties. He sent letters and cards. He met anyone for lunch, made phone calls, and always remembered to ask about the kids. He wrote histories and made sure we knew all the good things about our father who has been gone for 37 years.  Up until two weeks before Uncle Mel died, he was still swimming laps daily. He was 92.

Another worst is Paradise lost an adorable little girl in an accident. I know her parents, grandparents, and have been good friends with her aunt for 20 years or so. It's so hard to see people you care about suffer so much with such great loss. 





Near the old family cabin. 
Here's a group of fabulous women that I'm lucky enough to call cousins. Somehow we all ended up as like-minded good friends. Since I wasn't blessed with sisters, I'm so glad to have cousins on both sides who I would claim in a heartbeat. 






The year I turned 38 (over 20 years ago) I was in my 1st mid-life crisis. I took a friend and we went for a birthday hike. I've been doing it ever since. Here's a group of friends with my on the trail to White Pine lake. Lucky me. Consider yourself invited next year. 
 



This last picture was taken in Colorado. We had a great trip with a couple of the friends in the above photo. We hiked a lot, sat in a hot tub and played a lot of pool. It was a great trip. 





October: 


Bests: Logan Utah had it's first Pride Festival. I've met so many fabulous people from the LGBT  community and allies. Some people don't really get why I'm involved since I don't have a gay child, but it's for selfish reasons. I enjoy being associated with fabulous people who come together to support one another.


My friend Peter invited me to Equality Utah dinner where I got to hear Gloria Steinem speak among many others. It was a fabulous night. 





Worsts: My husband's Uncle Jim, the man with a mischievous twinkle in his eye and a skip in his step finally slowed down at age 98 and passed away. This is my husband, brother, and cousin at his burial. Uncle Jim made friends whether he was on top of the mountain at his fire look-out post (well into his 80's) or at the ranch, or passing out his homemade cookies. 
He was such a delightful man. 
Another best and worst was the end of the summer Cache Valley Gardener's Market. Here I am with a couple of my favorite people on the planet, Natalie Bodrero (Wander Often) and Amy Dunn (Amaloop) if you want to follow their art. I love doing the market. It really feels me with joy. 



November Worst: Donald Trump was elected president. If you don't understand why some of us are grieving because of this, then please just with hold judgment. It feels like the beginning of the end. Don't tell me it's ridiculous. Don't try to tell me that Hillary would have been just as bad. Just let my heart ache and let me feel sad. 

Bests: The day after the election we drove up to the cabin in Montana and had three days of glorious sunshine and shirtsleeve hiking weather. We didn't have any news to remind us of our sorrow. 

This little guy's third birthday. He's still really
easy to please. Give him some french fries and let him play and life is as good as it gets. 

Mick and I were able to have a fabulous fun night at Mama Mia at the Eccles (though his truck broke down before he got there and he missed the first 40 minutes. 





Thanksgiving: We had all of our son's family, our daughter and her bf, My niece and nephew, whom I adore--great food, great conversation, and fun games. What a beautiful day. On the down side most everyone got sick within the next few days. I'm still counting on that it had nothing to do with the food we served, since our youngest grandson was sick when he got here, but who knows for sure?


Another best and worst was our fun and short trip
down to Moab and Arches. It is one of my very 
favorite places and we so enjoyed being with 
our daughter. But both she and her friend got sick too. And her friend had a broken leg, so he could only hike short distances and even then was in a lot of pain. Poor guy, but what a good sport. 






December: 
 
Bests: The Winter Gift Market at the Bullen Arts Center. It's not the best for sales, but it is so much fun hanging out with these fun folks. Life is always better when you get to sell your art and encourage other artisans to sell theirs. I also got to do another sale at Suzi Bates house the next week. She's the one in the gray who is making us laugh. 


Christmas: Was both good and bad. Our daughter had invited us to NYC, but we decided to save the money and stay home. Our son invited us, but it snowed too much to go. We missed hearing our DIL sing, but a good friend spent the day with us. Then son and kids came the next day. 

We had a dinner party pre-New Years. Lots of fun playing games, talking, eating and staying cozy and warm in the house. Our grandkids spent a few days with us and we even sledded in the yard. All in all the year ended on a great note.  As I look at all the positives of this year and of course there were many that I didn't list, I have to say--it all ain't so bad thanks to my wonderful friends and family. 
 



Monday, November 14, 2016

Falling Far from the Tree

I do fall far from the tree.
My dad was just about as conservative as they come. His work for the state government made him subject to the Hatch Act, ineligible to display political signs on our property. He wasn't allowed to write letters to the editor, but that didn’t stop him from speaking his mind to anyone who would listen. Dad was a staunch, dyed in the wool, true to the core conservative. The Hatch Act didn’t stop him from pounding signs for his favorite candidates into other willing voters’ yards. He also wrote letters to senators and congressmen. We used to tease him that he was Orrin Hatch’s pen pal. He would proudly show us Orrin Hatch’s personal replies. 

Dad was horrified when he found out my maternal grandmother was going to vote for George McGovern. I heard him try to respectfully “teach” her why she was so, so wrong. I could tell he was just about to blow, but shut his mouth and stopped so he wouldn't offend Grandma. (In this way, I am just like my father.) I too, have to shut up or stop posting  or speaking before I go too far. I heard him say to my mother, “What is she possibly thinking? She said McGovern is handsome. How is that a good reason to vote for someone?” I’m pretty sure my Grandma just told my dad that to mess with him, she was after all, an intelligent woman. 

I grew up hearing the term liberal pinko thrown around in everyday conversations. I knew Dad abhorred “kooky environmentalists," and as far as he was concerned, Robert Redford was the worst of the bunch, along with Jane Fonda. But he was offended when a neighbor brought John Birch Society material for him to read. For those who don’t know John Birch Society is an extreme right-wing organization. I remember him wondering how the guy could think he was “one of those extremists.” He didn’t like extremism in any shape or form. Dad pined for a day when Ronald Reagan would be elected president. That would have been a momentous day for him and I wish he'd seen it happen. He died two years before, and I couldn’t help but wonder if my dad influenced the outcome from the other side. At the time, I voted for Reagan, even though in retrospect that wasn’t a good idea. Under Reagan's presidency, because of retroactive government cutbacks, my husband lost a good job that was in his field. 

I really had no intention of becoming the person I am today.  I was a slow convert to liberal ideas. I had once believed that being Republican was akin to being a good Mormon, practically a requirement for entrance into the Celestial Kingdom. I knew that admitting to a family member that I had started leaning Democrat would cause as much concern as if I had told them I was forming an alliance with Satan. I have to admit that the first time I checked a box for a Democrat, I felt my heart race a bit—pondering what my dad would think—and if I was indeed committing a sin. At first it was only in local elections  that I dared vote for Democrats. Even though by then, my core beliefs put me solidly on the blue team. Even still, Al Gore was the first Democrat I voted for in a presidential election. When I admitted to voting for Al Gore at what had been a peaceful Thanksgiving dinner, the stuffing hit the fan so to speak. A close family member said some pretty unkind things, including that my deceased father would be livid. I had to admit, Dad would not have been happy. Though I hope that after he passed he wouldn’t have cared one wit about something as inconsequential as a person’s political leanings. 

Through some tears and bites of turkey, I pointed out to the argumentative family member, that my dad had voted for  Democratic candidate Yukus Inouye. I knew it for a fact because I was with Dad when  he pounded wooden stakes of political signs into lawns in Utah county. When I had asked Dad why he was voting for a Democrat, he’d said, because he’s a really great guy, my friend, and the better candidate. To write this I looked up Yukus and found out that he had won in 1972 as Utah County Commissioner in a heavily Republican county. Yukus Inouye lived to be 91 and died in 2007.  

Well, at the dinner I sobbed uncontrollably, even though several of the younger generation tried to comfort me. Eventually that family member and I could speak to each other again. We both had to learn to bridge our differences with a little civility. We also learned never to ask who the other was voting for. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss. 

I’m almost certain that my dad would not have voted for Donald Trump, because my dad could spot a fraud. Once in high school, I came home so excited about the stories an LDS general authority Paul H. Dunn told in a huge seminary morning devotional. My dad was sitting in his home office, leaning back slightly in his solid wood swivel chair. When I got done telling Dad the fantastic war stories, he got a smirk on his face and said that they weren’t true. I couldn’t believe my dad, a bishop at the time, would call a GA of our church a liar. I’d said, how can you say that? He'd said, I’m just saying I was in the war and those things couldn’t have happened, and Paul H. Dunn is a great storyteller who stretches the truth for effect. Well, I was hurt and thought my dad was wrong to say what he did. My dad had been gone for a few years when the truth that many of Paul Dunn’s famous faith-promoting stories were nothing more than good fiction. Too bad he’d felt the need to claim they were true. 

There was another popular WW2 Veteran on a speaking circuit, telling amazing tales of his POW experiences and heroism. My dad only had to hear him once to declare that the man was a fraud. Years later he also was discredited. In this case, the man may have actually believed his own stories. 

My dad would have been appalled at the choices in this election. I have no illusion that he would have voted for Hillary. She is far too liberal for my dad. But he also would not have voted for Donald Trump. I’m quite certain he would have seen him as the con artist he is. Dad had strong opinions. He thought everyone should think like him, and he argued with those who didn't. But he also taught us to be politically active and to stick up for our principles. Though he might be turning in his grave to see me as the “liberal pinko” he would disapprove of, I hope he’d respect that I will speak out for beliefs, even when I’m in the minority, even when it’s hard, and even when it hurts so badly you feel like you can’t breathe. Because after all, he taught me to do that. Maybe I don’t fall as far from the tree after all.