Saturday, December 24, 2011

"If Cows Could Bark" ...A short parable by Quinn O Heder

     On a small farm surrounded by fenced pastures filled with grazing cattle, a lazy hound dog kept watch from his kennel beside a small chicken run, while not far away worked a steady handed farmer to whom the house, fields, cows, dog and barn belonged. Unknown to the farmer, one hapless cow had gotten her foot entangled in a loose strand of barbed wire, and was trying desperately to free herself. The other cows moved freely about the large pasture, eating and mooing to their hearts content, but Penny, as we'll call the struggling cow, suddenly found herself only able to move as far as the sharp wire wrapped around her foot would allow. Several times more, she pulled against the barbs but the tightly wrapped wire only cut deeper, and deeper into her foot, so finally she gave up trying, hoping her loud calling would alert the farmer and bring him to help.
     Long into each night and through the days that followed, Penny raised her voice to the sky, sure that she was important enough that the farmer would leave the thing he was doing and come to her rescue, but to her dismay, he never came. Twice each day he would pause by the gate and gaze affectionately on his herd, before continuing on, but despite her incessant calling, he paid Penny no mind, seeing no reason to even venture near the crippling fence.
     Unable to comprehend the good farmer's lack of sensitivity to her plight, Penny continued her calling until the pain grew unbearable, and no longer able to walk, she could only stand still, while her cries grew ever weaker. Night after night, the farmer emerged from the house to check on the dog whenever the faithful hound began to bark. Once his bowl was without water, while another time he was just cold. A fox ventured near on another night, and several times the barking was prompted by a cat, or passing tumble weed.
“Why?” Penny cried in despair, “...why do you come out anytime he calls and just ignore me?” As the door to the house slapped shut behind the farmer, and the lights dimmed within, Penny sank to the ground, resigned to what ever fate the coming morning had in store.
     At sunrise the following morning, as the farmer paused for his customary gaze into the pasture, he noticed in the growing light that Penny was no longer standing in her usual place. Quickly he crossed the field and climbed over the fence to where she lay groaning in the tall grass.
“Oh Penny!” he cried, noting for the first time her swollen and bleeding leg, “...what have you done?”
“I don't know, but somehow I got caught up in the wire,” she replied, “...and before I knew it, it was so tight I couldn't get free”.
“It's OK,” he soothed, stroking her gently as the end of her life drew near, “...I just can't figure why you wouldn't have let me know you were in trouble, so I could come help you.”
“But I did Farmer, Sir,” she moo'd weakly, “...I called to you night and day, but you didn't hear me over the other cows. 

             Perhaps," she paused, "...if cows could bark.”

     Merry Christmas everybody, ...Please remember in all your doing to be attentive to your seemingly well neighbors and friends, not everybody knows how to ask for help, and in this tumultuous time, there are so many, and they're all around us.  God Bless and keep you,


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Half Alive?"

"So are you 49 or 50 this year?" came the question last week at a holiday get together.  In an ill attempt at humor, I answered, "I'll be half dead on the 28th."  "Half dead, ...or half alive?" came my friend's response, causing me to do a quick psychic self evaluation.  As I inventoried my personal vault of "what's going on with you's", I suddenly found my comment much less humorous than unsettling when put into proper holiday perspective.
     When the news seems extra ordinarily full of negatives in what should be the happiest time of the year, it's sometimes hard to see life as half lived rather than half gone.  The truth of the matter is that the raging battle between good and bad in the world is still being won by good, yet for some reason we allow our attention and focus to remain riveted on obscenity rather than the virtue.
     My thought is that we must consciously tear our eyes away from the carnage of life's train wrecks, and look instead at the busy rescuers, who rush in and through the wreckage, giving aid, comfort and lifting the spirits of hapless victims.  With every news cast, on every facebook page, amidst thousands of tweets, in supermarkets, on the streets, in shelters and charities, Virtuous people champion goodness in our human cause, even while all around them their attempt to change the world appears hopeless.
     For the past week, gifts have been showing up on our doorstep counting down the days of Christmas, while all around, in neighborhoods, churches and businesses, hearts and minds have been uniting to lift struggling families.  Family and friends have reached out to each other with loving and compassionate service, while school children have collected food for the food bank.  Still, there are those among us who suffer unnoticed, quietly in their own private form of despair.  As a whole, we are pretty good at identifying the physical needs of those who are willing to let them be known, but to become conscious of less obvious financial, spiritual, and emotional distresses, we have to tune ourselves in a little different way.
     A close friend called me the other day wanting to get together.  "I've had an impression all week," he said, "...and I'd hate myself if you need me, and I didn't answer the call."  Well, I did need him, but like many people, I keep personal struggles hidden from public view, and only share them with God hoping that he will somehow come to my aid.  
     Sunday night, I gathered with my parents and siblings for our annual dinner together.  It was a wonderful night, lending an emotional support unique only to family, that I had been starving for.  It may sound silly that a fifty year old man needed his mother, but I surely did, and sitting next to her, holding her hand, while basking in the safe, comfortable, nurture of loved ones seemed nearly perfect.  It's unfortunate that as children of God, we don't always view each other as brother's and sisters, ...moms, dads, and grandparents.  We do a pretty good job with our universal love for children, but it's with each other that I think we need to adopt a different perspective.  As for me, I just want to say thanks to you who have already done this, who listen with your hearts and act.  I for one have been richly blessed by you.
     Merry Christmas everybody, and God bless you 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

There Isn't A Better View

     The sweet smell of pine floated on the crisp air yesterday in the towns of Layton and Kaysville Utah, and will likely persist for the coming week.  Not since our experience waiting through Hurricane Hugo, have I seen first hand, wind damage like what we found as we left the freeway and entered the old, and normally sleepy neighborhood where my parents live.
     Each home we passed, seemed damaged in some way, whether suffering structural damage, or having their beautiful trees blown down, few if any escaped last weeks wind storm unscathed.  The farther in we drove, the more my expectation of finding a sad and down trodden people became likely, but when we pulled up to the mountains of fallen tree limbs and debris behind which my parent's little home was hidden, I found something quite different.
     The dull whir of gas generators, acted as the constant background for the symphony of chain saws, wood chippers, power tools, adult laughter and playing children.  I was immediately greeted by five adult men, two younger, while the other three were closer to my father's age, but all smiling as if they were the excited hosts of a huge party.  People thronged the neighborhood, where more pickups and trailers had gathered than would be found at a redneck world fair, was truly unbelievable.
     My cute little mother was in her work clothes and in the thick of the clean up, while Dad, having only a week ago suffered a bout with Pneumonia, remained inside the house.  My brother in law Chad was there with two of his beautiful girls, as was Lane, my older brother, the consummate care taker of our aging parents, as well as us, his younger siblings.  All were red faced and breathless in the cold, yet still smiling and happy, as was everybody I saw.
     Having arrived late, I hurried to get busy on the damaged roofs of both the house and garage, perhaps the best job of anybody, because of the beautiful vantage point it offered.  Feelings of goodness radiated all around as literally thousands of people for miles around all united in a common cause.  Seemingly oblivious to the loss of electricity, giant trees broken or uprooted, crushed cars, sheds, and homes, the elderly residents of my parents neighborhood couldn't have projected more happy faces, and with the added spirit brought by car and truck loads of eager loved ones and friends arriving to help, I felt treated to be there with Marianne and the kids. 
     The wonderful smells of fresh cut conifers, beautifully chaotic sounds of busy hands, machinery, friendly chatter, and intoxicating feelings of brotherhood were enough to make a believer of me.  My niece called up to me as I was just finishing the last roof repair and asked,
     "How does it look from up there Uncle Quinn?"  I joked back at her that I had the best job, but taking a moment to really look, I thought to myself,
     "It's like looking down on Heaven." 
When helping each other, the human family truly resembles God, its literal Father and in my opinion, there isn't a better view, ...from Heaven, or here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Hole

Again I find myself apologizing to you my friends, for having been silent for so long.  It's hard to express the way I've been feeling, so I haven't tried for fear of depressing you to tears.  If this morning's attempt leans that direction, please know that it's not my intent, but perhaps my using this forum to express some repressed feelings, might just help to release the demons binding my heart over the past few months, and who knows, ...maybe we can help each other.
    As most of you reading this blog know, my family has suffered extreme loss over the past year and a half with the passing of first Van, and then JoLyn.  I learned while supporting my sweet Marianne through the death of her father and brother several years ago, that grieving is a personal thing, the lengths and terms of which must not be dictated, or even suggested in some cases.  Knowing this, however, I somehow failed to realize that it also applies to my own struggles, and that like it or not, my mind cannot dictate to my soul, how and for what length of time it will ache.
     The other morning while working at my desk, I absent mindedly glanced over at a small photograph that stands at the left of my work space.  In the picture are my two departed siblings, standing with their arms around each other with the majestic Glacier Mountains rising up and away in the picturesque back ground.  Before I knew it, I was drenching my paperwork with tears, shaking uncontrollably in my lonely prison cell, and try as I might, the gaping hole that seemed to be ever widening in front of me, would not go away.  Finding me in my moment of grief, Marianne did her best to console me, offering every conceivable virtuous thing in our life together as reason to lift my eyes and heart to loftier images.  In time, the pain subsided some, and I was able to resume my day, but with each forward step I take, as it has now for some time, the cavern of emptiness before me remains, moving steadily along at my pace.
     I know I'm not alone, not in my personal grief, or in the mutual pain felt by so many of you and countless others around the world, so I ask with most tender feeling, How are you coping? ...with the hope you will be willing to share your thoughts.
     This morning someone tweeted a link for a ten year old girl recently diagnosed with leukemia.  As I clicked on the link and Rascal Flats Song "I won't let go" (I think that's the title) began to play, I instantly was drawn back to the times I shared with my loved ones in the months, days, and minutes before their passing.  Again, unable to control my emotions I wept, reveling in those precious moments, each so purposeful and even sacred to me.  Not everybody dies from cancer, in fact, more and more are surviving with medical advances, but in my case, and that of my family's, and all of you who's loved ones lost their battle, we are left faced with the gap in life that only they could fill.  All we have are the memories, and the hope of reunion in the next life, and for now must find a way to bridge the chasm of depression which seems to always be dragging our focus downward into its blackness.
     For today, and this week of Thanks Giving, I plan to look up, knowing they're with God, and work hard on keeping their smiles, virtues, and the love we shared continually in focus, with my thanks being that God was merciful enough to warn  us before calling them home.
     Have a wonderful Holiday.  Thank you for your friendship, and so many wonderful thoughts and kind words that have come my way.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Going Crazy

"There's no place like home...There's no place like home...There's no place like home!"  Help me I've been sucked up in a funnel cloud and can't get out!  Have you ever been so consumed when busy becomes blown out of proportion by stress, health issues, family responsibilities, kid's sports,church, community and even weather that you feel like you've been flushed?  You name it, and I'll guarantee it's got its claws in me right now.  I want so bad to write, but there's no time except when I've no longer got anything to give.  I'm about to yell Kalgon take me away! ...for crying out loud.  Not sure I spelled that right, but any of you old enough to remember the commercial know how desperate that makes me.  It's been three weeks since my last blog post, not because I have nothing to say, more because I don't want to bore you with senseless dribble, which is about all I would have been able to manage.
     I tell you what's nice though, where I live.  My most favorite time of the year is fall, and it's here, and for a bonus, my home is located on August Street and out my front window is a mountain painted with a fierce array of color.  The morning air takes my breath away, football is in full swing, and I have the greatest family I could ever hope for to bless my life. 
     Once or twice a week I manage a few minutes to work on my second novel.  I've had the manuscript finished for two years now, but haven't yet gotten it to where I'm completely satisfied with it.  Now, just when I thought all I had left was to tighten it up a bit, I've been flooded with ideas that will enhance its feel, but not having the time to get them down is killing me.  I'm praying for tons of snow, bury us neck deep so the only things left for me to do are plow, sleep and write. 
     Search For Yesterday is doing well, ...I think.  I don't really know how to gauge it, but I still get the occasional blog order, and run into people here and there who have bought elsewhere and read it.  I do about three signing events a month which is nice as I'm able to become acquainted with readers.  I really should stop complaining huh, and count myself blessed just to be able to have such a cool opportunity, but my impatience is a proving to be a problem.  I've decided to get an agent, and see if him/her pitching my work to some bigger publishers might move this wheel along a little more to my liking.  If you know anybody good, I'd love to hear from you.  I'll be querying, (submitting samples of my manuscripts) to as many credible agents as I can in the next month and then wait to see what happens, cross your fingers for me please.
     Sorry, time's up, football coaching duties are calling.  Thanks for following me, I hope you're all well as the holiday season nears.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"The Promise"

As I  left the Granger City Park parking lot after my 8 year old Andrew's football game yesterday, traffic quickly grew congested and it became clear we would  be a while getting through it.  On our right, walking as slow and feebly as traffic seemed to be moving, an elderly man caught our attention.  Dressed in a worn, long sleeved over shirt, gloved hands, and carrying a tattered plastic garbage bag barely able to hold the blanket and sundry personal belongings visible through its transparent sides, he walked with a tired hitch, but seemed intent on getting somewhere no matter how long his crawling pace would take.
     "Does that man need help Dad?" Andrew asked over his shoulder from the passenger window out of which head, both elbows, and chest were hanging as he occupied his boredom with distractions of the busy street.
     "I don't know, ...he's old, but he looks like he's getting along ok," I replied.
     "His stuff's gonna fall out of that bag I think," Andrew returned, "...we should see if we can help him."  Having already lost my morning to the "all time consuming" involvement in Andrew's football team, I grumbled silently, not sure what more I was willing to give at the moment, but my little boy's eyes held steady, piercing mine and reaching all the way into my reluctant heart.  Before I realized what I was doing, I was turning the car from traffic and into an abandoned convenience store parking lot.
     "What are we gonna do Dad?" Andrew's eyes beamed, "...are we gonna help him?"
     "Call to him and ask if he needs some help."

     "Hey Man!" he called from where he hung out the window, "...can we help you?"  I was surprised by Andrew's uncharacteristic candor, he's normally overly reserved when it comes to strangers, but he seemed free of reservation as he addressed the old man and waited his response. Finding a bill in my wallet, I tapped Andrew's hip, which apart from his legs and feet was the only part of him still inside the car.  Glancing back he took the money and immediately held it out toward the approaching man.
     "You're very kind young man," the stranger said, taking his offering and leaning  to peer into the window at me.  "Thank you sir," his eyes glistened complimenting a pleasant smile, " have a fine boy."  He patted Andrew's head and turned away.  For a long moment, I stayed, watching him go and contemplating what had just happened.  The sound of Andrew's questioning voice brought me back to reality, as while tapping me on the shoulder he asked anxiously...,
     "Is that doing our duty Dad?"  That's when it all made sense to me.  You see, recently I was asked to lead a den of beginning Cub Scouts, and in our first meeting during the week, Andrew had learned the Cub Scout Promise.  "I promise to do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country.  To help other people and to obey the law of the pack."
      Less than an hour earlier, when responding to an irritated coach in defense of his not making a false start call when several players on the line shifted prematurely, a game official yelled back...,
     "Come on coach?  They're only eight years old, ...what do you expect?" 
     To that, I now must say enphatically, I expect more!  When we as adults fail to recognize a child's ability to learn and implement values such as duty and accountability, whether it be in home, at school, or on a sports team, we also fail them in life.  In the past six weeks, our little players, as young as they are, have learned the rules of football, and understand the consequences for breaking them.  After less than an hour, learning and discussing the parts and meaning of  "The Promise" each boy makes when he joins the Cub Scouts, my little boy has become the helper of the needy, the protector of the week, and for at least one old homeless man and myself, example of proper humanity.   
     Maybe this week, the rest of us can be more on the lookout, quicker to act, and someone because of us will find their going a little bit better.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

"Keepin it real"

More than just a few times I have reached the end of a fluent and powerful writing session only to find as I reviewed my material, that it just didn't fit.  I've gone on in other posts about the importance of finding that pure place from which to pull creative expression, and about how if it is real, then it will have the power to affect the desired audience.  The question I would like to address in this post, is as a fiction writer, why am I not obligated, in the name of "keeping it real", to include every such powerful product of my creativity in the manuscripts I hope to make public?
     Three closely related considerations have helped me in my filtering process.  First; where are the ideas coming from?  If my story is generally inspirational, uplifting and positive, does what I have just written resonate those feelings?  Second; am I writing for my target audience, or could the instance in question be the result of my momentary need to exercise a personal demon or two.  Sometimes when writing fiction, I find my subconscious has taken over, spitting out imagery that though therapeutic for me, even though it may turn out as really good writing, would more than likely turn the stomach of most of my readers.  Lastly, in the end, what is my desired affect?  What do I want people to gain by reading what I have to say?
     Have you ever been to an art show, or in a concert, or poetry reading where the artist clearly has no concern for providing you, his or her viewer/listener, with an enjoyable experience?  Instead, you feel like you're being dragged through a swirling current of their private and very indulgent passions, good or bad, with little if anything in substance worth holding on to.  Some forms of art rightly slide more in this direction, where passions, feelings, prejudices and the like are the stuff of which it is made, and its intended audience is comprised of individuals or groups sympathetic to those things.  When the reading audience, however, seeks their escape in a book, whether it be to the light and happy or dark and mysterious, they have the right to expect that what they read will not only take them there, but reward them there as well.  While writing "Trail Of The Damned", my follow up book to "Search For Yesterday", I introduced readers to "pre Kid" little Cole Lambert, and as I progressed into the story, I became so deeply entrenched in making real the tragic event leading up to the destruction of Kid's home and family that in re-reading it, it literally made me physically ill.  Later, I allowed the story to lead itself a little too far as I neared the climax, and found myself heart broken over the death of a character I had no intention of losing.  It felt so real though, evoking emotion from me so painful and dramatic that I was compelled to change my intended story just to include it.
     Thank goodness for the long process of proof reading, editing and publishing, because had I not had time to let it marinate I may have published "Trail Of The Damned" as it was, thus treating hopeful and happy readers to a horrific tragedy at its end.  Sometimes the words come so fast when we're in a groove, that our fingers can scarcely keep up.  The emotion in such creative sessions is powerful, sometimes so much so that we feel bound, committed, and controlled by our craft, rather than the other way around.  "Keepin it real", as many artists with a cause or message say in order to justify their offensive material, is not at all what we should be about.
     We must never forget that we are the artists, the masters of our craft, and our art only gains its expression based on our ability and good pleasure to arrange and display it.  It's not alive, has no independant thought or feelings, but lives only so far as we give it life.  I don't suggest giving up those rare and passionate experiences in creating, only just calling them what they are, because for an artist they are surreal and beautiful.  I do suggest, however, for the benefit of loyal readers, that they be laid aside, in lu of subject mater which most often they are counting on being anything but "Real".
     How do we know?  It is a fine line in descriptive writing that separates tragedy and detailed gore, happiness and sickening bliss, romantic passion and literary porn, darkness and degrading filth.  For a writer, "Keeping it real" often leads to writing too much and going too far, neither of which gets our desired result which should be rewarding our readers for their investment of cash, time and emotion.
     I go by this rule, ...say it out loud to yourself before making it public.  With respect to writing, I ask after re-reading it, if what I've written seems like first and last it is intended for me, ...if yes, then I keep it to myself.  In order to share my creative voice with others, my purpose must be unmistakably aimed at providing a worthwhile reading experience for them, leaving the creative process for me, my reward.
     For those of you who don't consider yourselves writers, or artists of any kind, keeping another's  idea of "Real" isn't always right for you either.  Be true to what you think is best and you'll usually do the right thing.

Have a terrific week

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Goodbye Sweet JoLyn

My heart is broken, and spirit tender this Sabbath morning, Marianne has soft music playing nearby and the sun is just beginning to cast sprays of light into our front room, ...a perfect setting for reflection.  Yesterday we laid JoLyn's body to rest in Logan Utah, in a grave overlooking the beautiful Cache Valley.  The services held in her honor were as nearly perfect as one could dare hope for, with friends and loved ones filling the church to overflowing.  Her white casket suited her perfectly as did the brightly colorful hand sewn hugs and kisses quilt draping it.  Feelings of love and gratitude from the spirit that permeated every space, person, and utterance of the sacred moment, still fill me nearly a day later, bringing tender emotions to balance tenuously at the edges of my aching soul.  Unable to  maintain constant control of them, I find myself frequently in tears, flooded with familiar sensations common to memories involving my kid sister.  I'll miss her smile, the soft, sort of low tone of her voice and chuckle.  I'll miss her always worrying over me, her sensibility, and the enjoyment she always brought to our family gatherings.

    I've had a lot of time to reflect over the past few months preparing for this day, on my own life, on the recent passing of my brother Van, and on the value I attach to personal relationships with my children, wife, parents and surviving siblings.  Friends have also been heavy on my mind and will always hold a special place in my heart, and I have contemplated all of it over and over as on a daily and often times even more frequent basis I have been reminded of my own mortality.  A lot is said about the evils of Cancer, but after yesterday, I am finding my heart changing, ...taking on a slightly softer tone when it comes to judging the disease that has now taken two of my siblings.  I have no doubt that had it been the will of God that Van and JoLyn continue in life, they would have both been given the where with all to win their battles, but it was his will that they come home to him and I struggle to excuse questioning his reasons.  That being said, I had to ask myself; would I rather Him take them suddenly in an accident or some other tragic event? ...or is not His allowing me six months of grace period to prepare for each separation, a much more tender, and merciful way.

     Having experienced the loss of two siblings in just over a year, I can say without hesitance, knowing how having that precious time to focus before saying goodbye to Van and now JoLyn has helped me and others to grow, serve and love, that I'll take cancer or another terminal illness every time if given the choice, even for my own parting.  I love my family more than words can express, I love the message of salvation, and plan of happiness offered in the gospel of Jesus Christ, allowing me to hope for a happy reunion and I pray for the day when all people of the earth can love each other with pure knowledge that we are the family of God, and as such, literal brothers and sisters.  Rarely in our world do we feel that, but yesterday, mid thoughts of 9/11 and my own loss, I did, as surrounded by so many motivated only by love, gratitude, and concern, I was allowed to bask in a small slice of heaven.
     Thank you all, whether there in person, thought, or spirit, was a beautiful day

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


"Hey Daddy," our four year old Danielle just called from the top of the stairs, "...I think I look hungry!"
"Hungry?" I asked, as she peered down at me from between the spindles on the banister.
"Yes, I look very hungry for sugar toast, ...Yup, sugar toast is what I look hungry for, ...I Love Sugar!"
     Giving sugar to Danny is exactly the wrong thing for me as her father to do, but I did it anyway, full blown sugar and cinnamon toast with white sugar glaze to boot!  Nobody else is up to catch me in the act, so if she doesn't tell, they'll all just think she's just having a bad day when the havoc begins.
     This morning I'm up early, I visited my email account, and then, as is my morning custom these days, clicked on to see if there was any new word on my sister's condition.  I think of her nearly constantly these days, but with work having piled up on me so much because of my frequent absences over the past couple of months I am forced to work longer hours than I seem to have strength.  Last Sunday was my most recent visit to JoLyn, ...not nearly recent enough for my liking, so thinking of, and praying for her is what I do.  (Sorry for the delayed post, a lot happened between Sunday Morning draft time and the Evening when I normally clean things up and publish. It's almost 7pm on Tuesday and I just though I'd better get this post up.  JoLyn has taken a bad turn, and all the big cancer guns have been turned in for strong meds. It looks like...  Marianne just handed me the phone, it was my brother Lane informing me that only minutes ago she passed away.  Funny how spiritual things work in us, respecting Chad's request for peace and quiet in their home until the moment arrived, I've reluctantly refrained from visiting, and as I sat down  to do this, I had strong feelings about her and felt the need to amend this post.  I hesitate to continue writing for fear of seeming sensationalistic, however, I think I will finish my thoughts, and perhaps add a few more.  I was about to say that it looked like seeing her a week ago might have to be enough, and I guess I just got my answer.  My heart is full, yet conflicted, so sad, yet thrilled for her as she is about to be reunited with God.  What could be better? ...even if we that are left behind struggle to find the joy in it.  JoLyn's fought like crazy the last few weeks, surviving three weeks longer than the three days the cancer doctors said she could hope for.  I didn't realize how tough she was, never really gave her credit for that, but I do now. 

     After watching my brother Van suffer horribly with his own battle a year ago, I've been observing with worry as JoLyn chose to continue her fight beyond traditional medical thinking, knowing that it would mean similar suffering to his.  She did though, sensative to the fact that some of her children needed  a little more time to come to grips, ...find personal closure if you will, even though the cost for her would be torturous at best.  Knowing her like I do, I get it.  She's always been selfless.  I'm blessed just being her brother, ...have been all my life.  Our relationship was always solid, so there are no regrets, ...sadness, heavy heart pain and lots of tears, but deffinitely not regret.  I love you my sweet sister, with all the tenderness in my heart I wish you the very best Heaven has to offer.  Say hello to Van for me )

(Pardon the interruption, here is the rest of Sunday's Post. It seems even less trivial than when I wrote it, but there doesn't seem to be any reason to send it back where it came from, so enjoy, and have a terrific week, Quinn)

     A reader contacted me this past week, he manages properties for The Boyer Co. and one in particular that my company maintains, and before getting to his business concern, he blurted out, "I read your book! Man! made me cry, ...twice!"  I had to chuckle to myself, enjoying thoroughly his every word as he continued on for another five minutes about his reading experience.  I love that my readers are getting me, and that Search For Yesterday is more than just a "fun" read for most.  When I first realized that I really could write a whole book, I placed my aim to a point higher than the majority of books I've read through the years, hoping more than anything else to find a way to transfer real feelings in attempting to tell a story.  I knew immediately just the places that had touched him, but was encouraged as he recounted other parts where his emotions were touched in other ways prompting him to want to tell me about it.  I know the places of which he spoke, because while writing them, I found myself choking back tears, I felt the stinging ache in my throat and chest as my heart broke reliving with my characters the hurt of a sometimes insensitive world.
     A couple of weeks ago, a close friend called me to tell me of the passing of his friend and room mate.  Having lost his wife and child because of personal mistakes, he finally arrived at a point where despair became his motivate and once alone in the house, took his own life.  I've thought a lot on the whys, and conditions that might together add up to something so seemingly hopeless as to make one feel life wasn't worth living anymore.  Several of my close friends have found themselves in a similar spot and lost their battle with reason, and all I can think is how I wish I'd have done more, been more, tried harder to lighten their burden.  In each instance, however, as I've wallowed in my own sense of guilt for not being enough of a friend to recognize and help, I've always come to the eventual realization that God is over all and his love is sufficient to heal even the most broken heart.
     I'm not sure why I'm writing about this, I guess it's just one of the random things on my mind this morning, but I do think that people need constant avenues of escape from harsh reality, which often becomes unbearable.  Perhaps through my, and other's writings, such despairing people may find relief from their sufferings long enough to gain enough perspective to fight another day.
     I read an article yesterday written about making a living writing fictional novels.  I wish I hadn't read it, because it as all about methodology of writing in such a way to take advantage of a particular audience's emotional need in order to become a best seller.  I feel almost dirty after learning how reading for many is addictive and indulgent, and that like a drug, if crafted and contrived correctly, my books could become their fix.  I'd be lying by saying I don't want to sell millions of books, but the grayed moral area of which I am referring isn't a place I ever want to be.  God help me if my motives change with success or because of my seeking it.
     In saying that, I in no way mean to condemn other writers who might follow this or another formula for success,  I'm just saying that my personal objective in writing is to provide a reading experience that compels by virtue of pure motive rather than stratagem alone.
     Wow! Now I'm having a personal dilemma as to whether or not I should hit the backspace button and take that back so as not to unintentionally offend, but I think I won't. To say that all writing must come to be without thought, form, methodology, strategy, or enticing, flattering and captivating words and structure, would be ridiculous.  I along with countless others toil over not just pages and paragraphs, but sentences and words, to find just the right touch, to create just enough magic to awaken the senses of our readers, enticing them to leave their own world and join ours.  I have read authors though, who seem after realizing their success, to get tired and begin losing interest in their craft in order to pump out their next money maker, and I personally hope to never be thought guilty of that.

   I met a nice guy this week, a fellow author Terron James, who traded me his book "Insight" for one of mine.  I don't usually read fantasy, but my curiosity drove me to sit down for a while and give it a try.  So far, I'm intrigued by Terron's story, and find his writing style easy to follow and fun to read.  Terron, in his own words, told me he wrote this book purely as an attempt to provide readers with an entertaining experience, and so far at least, he's done that for me.  I love creative people, who aren't just expressive for the sake of being heard, but who artistically express themselves with the intent of producing something beneficial, either for themselves, or the mutual appreciation of others.It's a beautiful Sunday morning, and I know this post may seem somewhat random, but I didn't have just one thing on my mind and thought an "as I go" view into what's going on in my head today might be fun, ...or not.  Have a nice week any way.  ... Oh crap, I'm busted, ...Marianne just asked Danny what she could fix her for breakfast...

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Not So Fictional Fiction "A Little Help From My Friends"

Yesterday, while at a book signing event hosted by my friends at the Purple Cow bookstore, I had the privilege of  spending a couple of hours speaking to, and fielding questions from a small group of reading enthusiasts.  The setting was intimate and very comfortable, which made for easy conversation and a terrific time.
     Of all in the audience, one young teen, a girl named Kelanie, very politely stole the show with her probing and very intuitive questions.  I loved that she was so eager to learn, and unabashedly laid herself out there in order to satisfy the passion driving her need for creative expression.
     The usual questions all came, "what was your inspiration to become a writer?", "is your writing biographical?",  "could you tell us something about yourself?", all questions I enjoy answering as often as opportunity allows, but then miss Kelanie offered up something that came from deep inside her own struggles as an aspiring writer.
     "I've tried to write more than a dozen books, but have been unable to complete them," she said, "...but I always reach a point where my story loses steam and I just can't find a way to keep it going.  Does that happen to you?  If so, how do you get past it?"

     Wow!  This is why I love to speak with students! Young people are so fresh, open and eager that it makes for perhaps the greatest reward of my whole writing experience.  My mind immediately went to my own first attempts to begin "Search For Yesterday" and the innocent mistakes that contributed to early failures to complete it.
     "Can you describe to me your main character Kelanie?" I asked.
     "Well," she replied a little bit shy, "...sort of just,, I guess."

     Not yet fifteen, Kelanie had run into the exact problem I had as a teen.  With only minuscule life experience to draw from in attempting to create a main character, we both found ourselves languishing in the frustrating realization of how "not interesting" we really seem when standing all by ourselves. Actually, I have confidence that she is every bit interesting enough, however, the key error in both of our dilemmas was and is, thinking we are compelling enough figures to drive and sustain the story by ourselves.
     Early on in "Search For Yesterday" Kid, finding himself completely alone takes comfort in just having his own voice for company.  However, as he passes through the monotonous minutes and hours of the days that follow, his voice alone cannot console him and his need, like ours, for outside contact becomes critical for his survival. In my original manuscript, Kid's story became  nearly unbearable to read, for with his gloomy situation alone to dwell on page after page, most readers would say enough and look elsewhere for their entertainment.  It wasn't until he finally encountered the Halliday family and began to live again, that he became an enjoyable character, and I discovered my mistake. 
     By themselves, even super heroes would be boring, so why should I think that a character based on me at the ripe old age of fifteen could possibly be any different.  As sympathetic as Kid's situation was, to become compelling, lovable, relatable, he had to have contrasting personalities who he could love, relate to, and be loved or hated by, to interact with.
     This discovery prompted me to go back and write in encounters with a baby deer, birds, squirrels, and eventually a hound puppy to fill the void, quietly reminding the reader in those early pages, that even amidst Kid's despair, normal life still existed all around him, and that hope of his own life returning to him wasn't unthinkable.
     In answering Kenanie's questions, I simply reminded her that if she wanted her artistic expressions to imitate and feel like real life, then all of the surrounding contributors and characters in her life, good and bad, dull and intriguing, happy and sad have to be not only present, but prominent in her story development as well.  With their inclusion, she as a main character will surely be interesting and compelling enough to carry any story to her desired end.  Good Luck Kelanie, you were an inspiration to me, and I'm sure you will be the same to many as you strive to reach your goals.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Stuff That Fills The Senses

Thunder clapped ahead, amid building breakers, natures not so subtle hint that caution might be in order as we made our way upward along the mountain trail. From perfect calm and cloudless skys less than an hour earlier, a storm had suddenly exploded into a tumultuous disturbance in the higher elevations, blasting ahead of it, misty gusts of rich mountain air.  Sweet smells of rain moistened trees, wild flowers and grass filled the air flowing to us from the hidden vallies that lay beyond our view. 
     "Think it'll turn?" I asked my son Kent, who rode along side me on his brown and white paint, aptly named "Hidalgo" after a similar horse from a western movie of a dozen years back.
     "Figure we're about to get wet," came his reply, his wide grin an obvious give away of his lack of concern. Frisco, my own horse, a big black Morgan, pricked his ears, lifting his head into the stiff gusts with nostrils flared wide to take in the new smells as he danced uncertainly on.  I leaned forward, whispering gently and patting him reassuringly on his huge neck. His ears flicked back for a moment and then returned to the front, his powerful legs eating up the steep grind that marked the last of our climb.
   Emerging high above the valley, we stopped to let the horses rest a minute before moving on.
     "Sure does suck living in such an ugly place," Kent mumbled.  Noting his sarcasm, I took in the sprawling landscape, marveling at the grandeur and vast beauty surrounding the valley where we live.
     "Yeah," I agreed, "...I hate it too."  Kissing to Frisco, I turned him away from the threatening clouds onto the ancient Bonneville shore line trail leading south against the steep mountain side.  Suddenly, abundantly aware of how small we were in contrast with the majesty fore and aft , we rode silently, ...reverently on. 
     Words can't adequately describe the powerful affect nature has on me.  I feel most humble in even trying, but since my boyhood years, growing through adolescence and on through adulthood, such places, as the one in which my son and I found ourselves watching the setting sun, are where I have frequently found communion with my Heavenly Father.  It was truly inspiring.
     The clatter of sliding shale burst our stillness, Frisco's head and eyes instantly directing our attention to a young buck in velvet on his way to higher ground.  Two does immediately joined him and all three turned to watch us before moving farther away.  Less than a dozen steps farther along the trail, a lone chucker burst up from the grass, then another and another.  Suddenly the ground seemed to rise up in front of us as numbers exceeding fifty exploded from almost beneath our horses hooves, filling the twilight sky momentarily before diving quickly back down the steep slope and out of sight.
    "My gosh, this place is awesome!" Kent whispered, shaking his head in disbelief.  Doubtless he felt to a large degree something equal to my own sentiment, as he and I, for his whole young life, have frequently enjoyed such places together.
 For a long time we lingered at trail's end, watching with intent awe as the sun dipped behind the western mountains and into the desert beyond.  Deep red and orange streaked the darkening sky, spraying the sun's spectacular exit toward us as an invitation home.

  "This is the stuff," I said back, turning Frisco for home.  Just then off to my right several yards, a large rattler joined the symphonic moment, finishing off the dazzling display that had filled our senses as if an unseen baton waving directer had given his cue.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Up Or Down?

Faith, Hope, and Charity right? Aren't we taught that these are the three most essential and important virtues in life? Their mortal enemy "Fear" would have something to say about that, sucking if possible, their healing tonic out of our hearts before we ever have the chance to feel the affect.
     "We have hope!"  my good friend and brother in law Chad whispered as I entered his home a week ago to check on my dying sister.  Intent on being supportive and positive, I remained quiet, my inquisitive expression begging him to explain, fearing my voice might betray me, revealing the flood of confliction that immediately coursed through my head.
     "A friend referred us to a Doctor who for his whole career has been researching and experimenting in hopes of finding a cure for cancer, and so, since our only other option is to wait for Jo to die, we went to see him hoping he might be able to help her." 
     I've heard hundred of such stories over the years of my life, few ending well, but seeing the look in Chad's eyes, and knowing that precious little time remained for JoLyn, I immediately jumped onto his hopeful wagon and tried not to think of the "what ifs".  The difficulty, however, has come in the days that followed, as I've had time to lay in my bed at night and think, or as I've allowed myself to fully embrace the thought of a possible recovery, only to have fear cut through me, gutting my budding hope, and in the end leaving me empty and conflicted.  How it is possible to feel anything other than pure elation over a possible positive outcome, I haven't a clue, but the revolving confliction of emotions is enough to make me want to scream.
     Today, more than a week later, JoLyn is still with us, complete with her awareness which at the beginning of her last ditch decision to battle longer, had already begun to leave due her liver failure.  She is in every possible way, battling from one second to the next to remain with her family, and it is her courage and unwavering resolve that gives me the strength to hope with her for a miracle.  The other day while visiting, I found myself alone with her for about an hour, a rare opportunity these days, and one that had not presented itself to me since she fell ill.  I loved the time, brief though it was, to sit with her and share in some one on one sibling love.  We talked about things, some heavy, but also others not so much, and in our time gained a level of closure ensuring us that, come what may, we will be well enough off together or apart.
     What an incredible blessing, and one that I am so thankful to have received.  So often we find ourselves feeling alone and forgotten in our tumultuous lives, and we forget that God is over all, seeing, knowing, and feeling even our most subtle concerns.  "Fear not, and know that I am God," He said, and after my repeated confliction, not knowing if I was up, or down, and fluctuating between sensations multiple times over in a day, I am truly happy to feel him near, to know that regardless of the outcome, he will still be near me to bear me up.
     Happiness is life's greatest oxymoron.  If we hope to experience its euphoric peaks of joy, we must first be willing to travel its deep vallies of sorrow.  I love my life, my beautiful Marianne, each of our children.  This week we have been graced by the company of our first grand baby Jordyn, a priceless treat for sure, and as I find myself languishing at times in unmeasurable sorrow, though seemingly impossible, I am also floating with the clouds. 
     Thanks be to God, for my life is truly a blessed moment in eternity.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Deserving Of Being Proclaimed"

Far too seldom does Humanity acknowledge the individual building blocks from which it is made, and to which it owes survival.  When we stray away from our simplistic and protected early lifestyle as we grow and venture off into the complexities of life, the sole reason we somehow are able to keep hold of our spinning reality stems from our beginnings where we were taught, nurtured, comforted and coddled within the protective confines of family.  Some may contend that it is not the lot of every child to enjoy such a privileged start, and in fact, with relaxing morals, social standards and adding to that, the rapid decline of the human condition in general throughout the world, fewer and fewer children born will ever know such a thing.  Still, regardless of ever increasing challenges, and life tragedies, enough of our youth are growing into productive, honorable, and moral contributors to society, moulded and completely tooled, to more than capably carry our world into the future. 
     I had a wonderful Mother, and a strong principled, and moral Father.  I enjoyed close interaction with six siblings, older and younger, and never went a day of my life without at least the option of a roof over my head and plenty of food in my belly.  The blessed security of  family has always been mine whenever I chose it, regardless of social status, employment, success or failure, and to this day, their endorsement means more to me than any other, accepting perhaps God's.  As I interact with people of varying cultures, upbringings, and education, I find more and more that my affinity for family is neither unique, nor is it mine alone, but is possessed and cherished by nearly all who have ever experienced it.  Which brings me to this question.
     How then is it possible that so many who's lives from the very beginning are fraught with sadness, dis function, and poverty, still find their way above and beyond the oppressing fray to statures of glorious triumph in the world.  I find it difficult to see myself amounting to anything of significance had I not been so blessed as a child, yet somehow people all over the planet have and are yet doing just that and more.
     Minutes after the passing of my brother Van, in June of last year, I came upon an new emotion that I have since become convinced is the answer to that question.  All my life I have been taught that I was a spirit son of God, belonging to His Eternal family, and that all of Human Kind share the same condition.  But never until I experienced the feelings of loss that came with Van's passing did I fully appreciate that ideology or doctrine.  As I walked from the hospital, I felt as if a chunk of my soul was gone, and the feeling has persisted ever since.  My heart goes out to any and all who daily are required to endure such a tearing ache, especially those who's faith isn't sufficient to allow them hope of a reunion with their loved ones.  
     Several years back, a "Proclamation" by the First Presidency of the LDS Church, was given to the world.  "To the world?"  I questioned, and as a practicing Mormon, I am embarrassed that for a moment at least I questioned their rightful place to make such a proclamation.  Today I would like to add a resounding Amen to their bold words, understanding that "Family" is so much more than the intimate social condition that surrounds and shapes our early years of mortality.  "Family" is an Eternal condition, that extends way beyond the finite boundaries that we are allowed to see of our life on this earth.  I feel such a loss with the absence of my brother because he and I are connected spiritually, and inseparably regardless of the sphere of life we exist on.  The reason individuals of all walks of life, still raise to exemplary heights in spite of privilege, or lack of it, is because they too are connected spiritually and inseparably to God, and when they are willing, he lifts them to him.
  Now as I enjoy my own little brood of children, and have opportunity to watch them grow and even start families of their own, I thank God for the small glimpse into what he must feel looking on, as he lifts and helps me along my way.  Props to anybody who Proclaims, Celebrates, and Protects "Family"  Thank you.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Going Home"

         Having looked forward to spending Independence Day in my home town of Richfield Utah for several months, when last Monday Morning arrived, my eyes popped open well before the alarm set for 4:30 am sounded.  My last Fourth of July in the Richfield City Park, some thirty years earlier,  had  been spent with my buddies marveling at how cute the girls were and how huge post graduate life had suddenly become.  Things were as good as we could imagine them being as we lay in the deep grass watching the clouds drift by overhead.  John stopped by to report that he had seen Camille Mower, a sight that had made an obvious impression on him, as well as to give us the low down on who we could expect to see at the city pool later on in the day.  A truck load of local girls wanting to know what we had planned followed soon after John had left, and we assured them we had nothing definite in mind, but would be attending the dance later in the evening.
     The truth was, however, that we did have a plan, but it didn't involve girls, but rather a slalom  ski, a lifted pickup with a roll bar, and speeds from thirty to forty miles per hour along the winding dirt canal road west of town  "There would be plenty of time for girls later," we joked, and off we went.
I can't help as I roll back the memories, ...revisiting one particular classic that has stayed with me until today.
    How things had changed from my early years at the Milford park, where homemade root beer flowed for a nickle a cup, and orange Sloppy Joe sauce lined the lips of every kid in town.  Year after year I found a reason for not participating in the foot races, afraid of suffering the humiliation my other class mates annually subjected themselves to at the hands of Tom Bradshaw.  He was short, but quick, and had proven unbeatable for at least four years when I walked with killer determination flowing through my veins on my way to the starting line the summer before fourth grade.  I was tall, with long speedy legs and had convinced myself after a number of subtle speed checks on the school play yard, that all things being even, I could beat him, and so I prepared for battle.  Shedding my shoes and socks to make me even faster, I took my place on the line and waited for the starters gun to sound.
     "On your mark, ...get set," the man barked loudly.  My heart was well out of my chest and all the way up in my cottoned mouth, pounding with such a fury I thought I might pass out just waiting.
     The gun exploded and every muscle in my tense body sprang forward as if to cover the hundred feet or so in a single bound.  "Surely I would once and for all show Tom who was the fastest kid in our grade," I told myself, but suddenly the damp morning grass beneath my toes gave way, leaving my driving legs with nothing but air to push against.  Horror slammed me in the face even before the grass carpet did as on the far side I caught sight of Tom, fully upright and lunging ahead of the rest of the field. 
     I secretly carried that defeat more heavily than any other for the longest time, as the following summer our family moved to another town, removing any chance for a rematch from the realm of possibility.
     I've experienced Fourth of July's in three states and a dozen cities or towns, and although they all have their particular flare, none quite have the feel of Richfield's celebration for me.  When I was fourteen, I caught a ten lb rainbow trout in the youth fish grab.  We then floated the canal and spent the rest of the afternoon swinging on the third west cemetery swing.  At Fifteen I was arrested for the first and only time of my life and taken to jail for tossing a lit firecracker into some lady's huge teased mass of red hair.  Robert Oldroyd handed the lit cracker to me at the last second leaving me no choice but to flip it quickly away, and when pointed out to the authorities, he promptly named me as his accomplice.  I'm still a little sore about it Bitt if you happen to be reading this.  Not really,  ...since nobody was hurt and the Sheriff Huntsman didn't give us a record, it's still one of my favorite memories.  Paiute Reservoir and Yuba Lake became the after park recreational sites the next two years, when adult driving chaperons became no longer necessary and young pretty girls seemed to be blossoming more plentifully than the flowers.
     Monday, ...all these years later, when I walked from the car through the thousands of people lining main street on my way to the park, all came rushing back.  Suddenly I was in an old familiar place, where smiles and friendly hello's seemed to be in endless supply.  I had worried about whether or not I would be remembered and received, but my worries were unnecessary as my day became filled with nostalgic re awakenings and emotionally charged reunions.  What a wonderful day, complete with a back yard picnic at Darwin and Renae Jackson's and capped off with three incredible hours at Christensen's signing books and visiting with old and new friends there. Thank you Christensen's, Rick and Karen, and my dear family of Jacksons.
     Now, all this being said, I'm confident that towns all across this great nation hold similar emotions for you, whoever you may be, and where ever you're upbringing, and I wish you well.  Dorothy had it right when she said, "There's no place like home," and if you have feelings anywhere close to mine about your own wonder place and time, I hope you're visit back will bring you the joy and satisfaction mine did. 
     Here's remembering the men and women upon whose backs the hope of our lives was built, ...may we always remember, and earn our right to it by the things we leave behind.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

"No More Meaningful Reward"

"Are you kidding me?" has to be my most entertaining response from a reader yet.  Readers of Search For Yesterday, already topping a thousand in less than three months since it's release have been emailing, writing, facebooking and calling with increasing regularity to tell me of their experience.  Comments range from the above mentioned disbelief that I was actually the real author, to reaching questions regarding motive, inspiration, and biographical content or objective, all the way to varying fascinations with individual characters.  Many have been quick to express their delight with Kid, his lovably sympathetic character and fun narrative describing his adventurous exploits.  Often readers want to talk about the romantic element, inquiring as to how much is my real life, or merely fictional filler, while still others are desirous just to hear from me how the writing and publishing experience has been.  All, however, to a person that have contacted me one way or another, have wanted me to know that the story reached them, and that on one emotional level or another, they were compelled to become involved much deeper than they had been prepared to be.
   In speaking with students, and other eager readers attending book signing events, I have been fascinated with their sincere desire to hear about the creative place inside me that somehow produced such a "wonderfully relate-able piece of writing".  (There have been many complimentary terms used to describe it, but that covers most if not all.)  All I can say to them is that I am only just now discovering the reaches of that place myself, and to analyze all of what makes it what it is, ...well, I'm still trying to figure it out.  I do, however, believe that similar to artistic performance in any form, when done with a sincere desire to make a meaningful impact, the one performing or creating has a much greater chance at success than if he or she is doing it in search of applause or recognition.
     I was recently asked by a journalist, "Does this book belong to you? ...or does it belong to the reader?"  The question surely has been asked before, but never until that moment to me, and I found myself surprisingly taken back in contemplation.  After a brief time I responded that the story belonged to me, but the published book belonged to the reader. I don't know if that is the correct answer, or if there even is one, but let me explain because I believe it goes to what I said just before.  In the beginning and throughout the creative process, everything I wrote, which by the way was originally nearly a third more than what actually ended up being part of the published work, was all simply to see if I could really write an actual book.  It wasn't until the editing began that I even thought of what a reader might think or need to get from their reading experience to make it worthwhile.
     Actors tend to over act when their goal is solely to make a name for themselves.  Painters, Poets, and lyricists often create in bazaar extremes in their attempt to evoke response, while some musicians become so dramatic in their expression that the beautiful tones of their instruments are drown out by the noise made by their gyrating demonstrations. 
     True artists, regardless of their particular craft, are concerned primarily with what I mentioned earlier in this post, " have a meaningful impact on their audience."  I thought as I toiled over the idea of releasing my work for people to see, "If I'm going to do this, I want it to inspire, entertain, and heal, ...and last in their minds.  I want people to feel enough to care."
     From the feedback I have received, I couldn't be more pleased than to hear that this sincere desire of a "I wonder if I could ever be an author", has at least on some level been granted.  I'm thrilled so many of you have, and are enjoying my book, and can't wait to share the second with you.  If  you are one who hasn't reached out to me in one way or another, I hope you will at some time, because there is no more meaningful reward.  God bless you all, have a wonderful week.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

"In less than A Blink"

It's Father's Day, and as such I want to send out proper respect and best wishes to all of you fathers who, like my Dad, have given so much to bless the lives of your sons and daughters, ...and often those of children who don't have a figure like you built into their lives.  Thank you and my very best as you continue in your necessary role.

Now to something even more pressing on my mind and heart.  Today I celebrate twenty five years of marriage with my beautiful bride.  For those who are not acquainted with Marianne and I personally, here's a little peek.
     On Tuesday August 3 of 1984 I arrived as arranged at Rick and Linda Hartley's front door step to meet my blind date.  Expectations were high that evening as I approached the screen door, having already met two of the Chavez sisters and found them to be extremely talented and drop dead gorgeous on all accounts.  The sound of cooing and mindless baby talk reached me and reaching for the doorbell, I peered into the living room beyond the screen door to find a figure of a girl with her back to me, bending down over a baby that lay on the floor.  The bell chimed, and my eyes widened as a stunning face appeared looking back at me between her legs. 

I would have said my vows right then had someone let me, and as it was, I immediately began dreaming of the day when I could.  Marianne and I had a wonderful evening that night in the company of Skip and Faun Jackson who kindly agreed to come along, and feeling the intense need to make a lasting impression, I cancelled dates for the rest of the week to spend every second I could with her.

Marianne returned to Puerto Rico with her family and for the next week, we wrote and called back and forth until the day she returned to attend school there the following year.  In the fall of 1985 I proposed, and on June 19, 1986 our marriage was solemnized in the Salt Lake City, LDS Temple, a day that still lives in my memory as the best day of my young life.

Pencil Portrait that I drew for Marianne while we
were apart that first yearthat first year.  It has
hung in our room all of our married life.

Together over the past twenty five years, we've worked to provide for and rear eight children, four girls and four boys, each of which have blessed our lives tremendously in their own unique way.  People say lasting marriages are a thing of the past, and while the statement may be partly true, it needs completing. What Marianne and I have is not only a thing of the past, but also very much a thing of the present with tremendous promise for the future!

As I reflect, our time together all comes back in less than a blink, and even though life is far from perfect, ...with my Marianne, at least I'm complete.

Happiness is not a destination, it's an unpredictable journey filled with highs and lows, joy and sometimes despair, but finds completion in forgiveness, love, and hope.

I love you Sweet Heart, ...I'd do it over a million times and not change a thing