Memorial Day

Love,  unlike flowers,  never dies

I must be a maverick for last weekend as I passed by a couple  cemeteries and saw  crowds going and coming with arms full of flowers, and graves covered with them,  I kept saying to myself, “Why?  Why?  Why?  Haven’t  they read their Bible?”

It isn’t because I didn’t and still do love those whose bodies are buried there, either, for few days go by without me thinking of them in some way.  Often my husband, for as I long have actually been able to see him sitting at the table, or reading in ‘his’ chair,  I now see him in his descendents, and dear Gram, because I use so many of her ‘things’.  Others less often, and oddly, though Uncle Vester was not  physically long with me, his influence and thoughts, deep,  good, and strong,  have remained.

Nope, it’s not lack of love, but after fighting traffic for several years, carrying wilting flowers, vases, etc. etc. etc. and in and out of different cemeteries, I began to think.  And when I think . . . I act upon my words, and I usually write about it, too.

If I believe what the Good Book, our Bible, as well as all other spiritual teachings I’ve delved into,  say, I must believe the words told to those who sought the body of Jesus, “Why look here?  He is not here.”

Our loved ones are not under the smooth green sod.  I just happen to believe there is a part of me that has nothing at all to do with the skin, bones and flesh I walk around in.  Those just happen to be the covering . . . the outer coat. .. which the Real Me uses.  And so, when we die, then the Real part of all of us is not buried. That Real part goes on into what James Barrie, of Peter Pan fame, called “The Great Experience.”

So, why, I asked myself, do I take flowers to where they are not?  Well, I finally decided it was probably to satisfy some need within me, or maybe , and this I settled upon, is just  because everyone else does.   And most of us hate to be too different.

My loved ones are not there.  Oh, I ‘m not wise enough to know where they are, although I know they’re often near by me. (But that’s another story)  I just happen to believe they’re not in those deep graves that I stood beside and watched bewilderedly as they were gently lowered.

My loved ones are not in some cemetery to receive flowers, and I’ve come to believe that, like Valentine’s day, Mother’s day, Christmas, et al, are just big    Sales pitches.

Our loved ones receive bouquets daily from my thoughts, for that is how I remember them.  Gram, who was a Mother to me, is a most happy remembering.  I have scattered her dishes and furniture among the family and it gives me joy to see them  used, and know the pleasure that would be hers to see family that she never lived to see, using them.

That, to me is worth dozens of roses left to wilt out on some slab of stone   that happens to bear her name.

And I remember AW.  Oh yes, I remember him, though he died far too young, and so has been so long gone.    We had our sad times, I know, I know.  But I also know that he loved me and that my sons came from him and that he loved them, too.  And my first thoughts when Grandchildren arrived and matured  and Great grandchildren came into the family, were how much he would have loved to experience all this with me.

No, my loved ones are not buried.  They are free.  Free in some marvelous way I can not yet realize, and so on Memorial Day weekends I make a point of doing something that I know all those people would have loved being a part of, and that they would rejoice with me, knowing that my life, too, goes on happily and that family genes are strong.

Now this may not be your way, but it’s mine.  And to me, the thoughts of remembrance that we send through the days of our lives are the real bouquets.  ‘Flowers’  that can not fade in the sun and or wilt no matter how many years have passed since I physically held them in my arms.  See? Love,  unlike flowers,  never dies.

Like Homosexuality Is New?

And there was Sappho,  who lived on the Isle of Lesbo

Today, we’re daily bombarded with articles about same-sex marriage and other ‘different’ relationships.  So many, in fact, and coming from all directions, we might think homosexuality to be a fairly new phenomenon and probably the result of our free way of life with drugs, alcohol and such.  But how wrong such thinking is.

The Bible has many tales and references of male-male and female-female love, and the most famous one, perhaps, is that of the love between David and Jonathan, and in 2nd Samuel, 1:26, at Jonathan’s funeral, David publicly declares that he and Jonathan loved in a manner greater than from women.
There are many other Biblical notations on this facet of life, with Ruth and Naomi also well known, but more close to home, I tell of my own experiences with those of that large group.

The day Armstrong walked upon the moon, there was a young 9 or 10 year old lad in my home watching the TV with me, and I surmised (and later knew I was right) that he was Gay.  Years later, and then an adult, he sadly told me that as a child, he knew he was different, but couldn’t figure out what made him different, for he was sensitive enough to know he didn’t fit in with his brothers and their pals, or with his sister and her group.

He said, “Ethel, I cried so often at night because I was so alone, so isolated, that it was a tremendous relief, and to tell the truth, and also a welcome surprise to find that there were others exactly like me.  That I was not alone.” 

Gay and Lesbian people are all around us, if we just have the openness to see and accept.

Later on in my own life, there was a young man who had a Hair Salon and as he worked to make my hair all one color, he said, “I knew I was different, long before I knew what made me different.”  Which echoed almost the same words I had heard years before from that child in my kitchen. 

“My parents”, he continued, “were of no help at all when I cried and asked them “why?” but later,  when as an adult, I faced and questioned them, they both admitted they knew of my struggle. I suppose they hoped it would all go away.  How foolish they were, just like hoping the color of my eyes would change.

“It would have been a ‘life saver’ to me, and such a help if someone, anyone, would have told me what my ‘difference’ was, while I was still a youngster.  It would have saved me from many neurosis and deep personality problems to be coped with after they were so deeply and well ingrained with me.  How wonderful if help and understanding could be carefully given at the very beginning.

“See”, he reiterated, “we do not become homosexual, but are born as such, exactly the same as any child who is born with any other ‘difference’.  We need help in order to know and cope with the difference and the sooner the better for all concerned.

 “It was such an eye opener, surprise and consolation, to find I was not the only one, but was bitter for many a year, and although my parents loved me, there was no true understanding.  I forgive, but it’s such a common, almost routine relationship with parents and child, whether gay or lesbian, that most of us leave and escape from our childhood environment as soon as possible, to search and find understanding and solace with others who are also considered ‘different’. It was there that I received my first true education as to what kind of person I was and am.  Far too late for me to smoothly find a way to adapt and have a fulfilling life.”

But going back even further than the Bible was Sappho, an ancient poet who lived on the Isle of Lesbo, and wrote of love with both sexes and Lesbo, of course, became the root of the word Lesbian.

I also know of a two wonderful men who became very well known in both the academic and artistic life of western America.  They have most quietly been partners for decades and their fellow academics could not help but know, but  chose to silently ignore any ‘difference’ and center only upon their great intelligence and achievements.  The work and artistry created by this pair has been consistently quoted, referred to and exhibited in many ways and places. 

It’s wonderful proof that our world is not all of judging and crippling people.  There is much love and acceptance around us, once we dare ‘take off our blinders’ and bravely, and with open minds, look over the walls. 

Anyone who is seriously interested in the Biblical history of this phase of sexuality can turn to Google where the many references could take you days to explore, and many go far back before Biblical records. I make no claim on being an expert on this subject, except what has come into my life, but, I am on ‘first name’ basis with Google, and use it, just as most of us also do.

Moving The Furniture Can Be Murder

Read and heed . . .

Ever so often a woman rearranges the furniture. She can go six month or six years, perfectly satisfied, but all of a sudden the family finds it is pushing furniture around the rooms, and before the mood has passed the entire house is switched around and, depending on her mood, there isn’t one stick of furniture in the same place it was a few hours before.

It can be dangerous. Once there was a couple in my neighborhood, and as they’ve now moved out of the State, it’s safe to tell.  It was supposed to be a secret,  but his wife thought it so funny she told one person, and soon, it was such a good story, everyone  knew what happened, and the tale probably got better with each telling.

But the man came home quite late after a ‘business’ meeting and decided it’d be best to be quiet and not waken his wife. Probably a bit of libation at that ‘meeting’, but just the same, after a quick raid of the refrigerator, he  turned off all lights, doffed and hung his clothes on a hook in the bathroom, softly entered his bedroom and made a quick dive for his side of the bed.

And then all helly broke loose.  For some reason his head smacked into a chest of drawers and, in the ensuing melee, he thrashed his arms and legs into  tables, chairs and lamps which seemingly appeared out of nowhere.

Quite naturally, it scared his wife who jumped up screaming, switched on the lights and what do you know?  It was no robber, but her husband lying down on the floor trying to figure out whether he had the wrong house or if some of those drinks had been laced with dynamite.

It was neither one, it was just that his wife had changed the furniture.  His aim had been perfect for where the bed had been, but was miles off from where it was. Just draw the curtains on the next scene, but by all reports,  his wife won the match.

The desire to move furniture comes at strange moments and hit me about 2:00 a.m. one night.  The full moon shown like midday and I knew I was awake, with not a chance of dropping off to sleep.

So, as I glanced around the room I suddenly saw there was a different way to arrange the furniture, and it seemed so great, and being awake, I asked myself, Why not? and in a trice I was up and at it.

I closed the blinds, for after all, I was in my night shirt, and soon I was pushing and pulling away at chests of drawers, dressing table, lamps, chair and bed. 

Believe it or not, I did it, and it was such a good arrangement that I kept it that way for a long time.  But, anyway, by the time I finished, I was not only awake, but hungry.  So, I took off to the kitchen, prepared a meal, heard the  morning paper hit the porch, and so I took both breakfast and the paper back to bed with me. I looked around, admired my work, and then ate, sipped my coffee, and read the news.  But by then I was sleepy so I turned off the lights, tossed tray and papers to the floor and went to sleep.  I’d earned it.

Yeah, women . . .  all women . . . at some time want, no simply MUST  move the furniture, and any husband or handy male is just lucky if they don’t get caught up in the whole thing. But just the same, it’s best to let the family know what you’ve been up to.  The wrong timing can be pure ‘murder’, and the man who ‘accidentally’ hit his own bedroom, but at the wrong time,  was never allowed to forget the escapade, either.  In that respect he was glad when they moved to California.

Long Ago And Far Away

I remember my mother . . .

Mother’s Day, with is inevitable memories of the past, is here.  Because my sweet Gram was “mother” to me most of my adult years I must return to my beginnings for my own mother.

It saddens me to this day to know I was a heartache to Mama.  She had been raised in a certain close, loved cultural mold and when it became apparent I could not fit into that form, it bewildered me and hurt her.  To our consternation we had little common ground and I was glad my brother and sisters could give her the comfort of conformity I couldn’t.

But before our lives separated too far many things took place which remain with me still.  I remember Mama singing, and how she loved to sing.  I can close my eyes yet and see her at the sink, the ironing board (wash and wear were both in the future) or stove with her hands busy and her voice in song.  She would have scoffed at her ability, but her voice was clear, true and when she hit a note, it held and did not waver.

We all, except Dad, that is, sang with her and when it got too loud, he’d retreat to his shop with the parting words, “I can’t stay in here with all this racket.”  Poor Pop was out numbered five to one and never had a chance!

I remember Mom best though, at her sewing machine.  She sewed constantly for the five of us and when we were gone she turned her talents to arm’s full of clothes for the Relief Society.

I don’t know where she learned her dressmaking skill but she knew tricks I see explained in expensive pattern instructions today and when I occasionally sew and make a tricky seam come out just right I give my thanks to Mom.

She kept out home so clean you could literally eat off the floor and it shames me to know how little housework I do in my own house.  I learned her housekeeping standards, but the will to do it is missing and in desperation, I long ago turned that task over to others.

Mama was a worker.  A worker at a time when “labor saving devices” were fairly new and she refused them.  Her excuse was that they were too expensive, but her real reason, I know, was that she felt no job was done “right” unless she had her hands actually in it.

Oh, I console myself that in some ways I work harder than she ever did, but Mom couldn’t understand a woman not satisfied with home, family and church.  She has no sympathy for women who “gadded around all day” and it was years before I shook off my last vestige of guilt over not being under the shelter of  her approval.

One of my saddest, yet strangely dearest memories of Mama was when we knew her remaining days with us were few and I watched her dust mopping her floors.  It stunned me with anguish to see her going through the old, familiar motions of cleaning yet leaving dust around and behind her.  And her not even knowing she did so.

It was shattering first of all to even see dust on Mama’s floor.  Then, to see her going through the motions, thinking she was dusting up, yet accomplishing nothing, broke my heart.  In those few seconds I knew to my core I was saying goodby to that gentle woman and I wept.

Ah, yes, I remember Mama and though we grew to live in different worlds and there was small understanding between us, there remained love, and that love remains to this day.

And What Makes Up Your Days?

I watch, listen, remember and write it down.

                                                                                          Published May 5, 2012

A person has to have something to do to fill their days and so I write.  Of course, I wrote for the Green Sheet newspapers for many long years, both as Women’s Editor and also a column called From Out My Window, and in doing so, I  practically told my life-story, personal, inner philosophy, Gram’s best recipes, and truthfully, if anything exciting or interesting came to me, no matter how off-beat,  I told.

Those were wonderful times for me and so, when the paper’s stopped publishing, the habit held and I just kept on writing. Only then, my mind turned to the stories of old Pioneer Days that I’d heard about this neighborhood and soon I had so many that my son, Bill, mentioned the possibility of putting them into a book and that’s exactly what happened.  And continues so, and again, for me, it’s been great.

My first book was in collaboration with Beverly Wheeler Mastrim, who was born and grew up on the spacious Wheeler Farm and Dairy, and who developed into a very masterful artist with oil, water color and sculpturing.  Not a bad combination  at all.

We both had seen the valley’s broad farms, pastures and orchards broken up into subdivisions, and, inasmuch as she had painted so many of those rural  scenes while they existed, the two of us got together and put my tales of that great change, and her pictures of barns, fields and animals together in a colorful, appealing book.

That book is called “The Sunset of the Farmer”, and is, pardon me, simply beautiful.  Lots of others have thought so, too, and I say ‘Thank you. Thank you’.

By then, however, you couldn’t stop me and I (no, it was my son Bill) put all my old Pioneer family tales, both happy and not-so-happy, together into a book  I called “Our Road” and subtitled it,  Not a history, but stories of the people who made our  history.  It’s a nice fat little book and lots of people have found their ancestors in its pages, and others have told me, “Just change the names and it’s a history of my family, too.” 

Now, those are the kind of words that send a writer right back to the keyboard and the next not-so-fat book is a story of two, entirely different, groups of people.  Mormon farmers and dairymen made up one group, while Smelter workers from Southern Europe, made the other.  Different heritages, both living happily and prosperously, but  separately, yet in the same area.  The area which, in 1904 united and became, Murray City, Utah, USA.

I called that small book “A Tale of Two Cities”, and explained, “A classic tale of when  Industry and Agriculture collided but finally combined.  It is a story of how those two ‘cities’ joined to become our City of Murray, Utah.”   Like all tales of the early days of any area, it is filled with both rejoicing and tears.  But the rejoicing won and that’s where we are today.

I’ve written a small booklet I’ve called “Life’s Extra Innings” and relate how the final  years of anyone’s life can be different . . . but just as rewarding . . . than the earlier years.  Yeah, if done according to my way of thinking, (which doesn’t always agree with what some others might consider best), but, for me they’ve worked.  Good Extra Innings and I’ve seen a lot of them, too

And, because my mind doesn’t follow the usual pathway, there is another small  booklet I’ve named, “A Machine Called Ethel”, and I like it, but as with all writers, if I ever take time to edit and re-issue this one, I’d have some ‘real good thoughts’ to add.  But again, that‘s me.  Not always agreeing with others, and sometimes not even with myself.  Oh me.

Murray City remade Our Road again this past summer and so it’s not hard to know what I’m doing now, and I think I’ll call this book, “Our Road—Re-visited”,   Why not? 

It was fun watching them tear Our Road up (or down) and in doing so, unearth pipes our great-great-great-grandparents, as well as the ‘between’ generations  put underground beneath the road. And at the same time, I’ve gossiped back and forth with a childhood friend, Wayne  Bodine, who had been an Inspector of re-made roads in his town in Arizona.  Fun.  Both in watching and comparing. 

See, a writer never runs out of people, places and things to write about, and that’s how my days are spent. And for me, it’s good.

For Ethel’s books, go to