Marriage Is Not A 24/7 Deal

24 hours per day, 7 days per week just doesn’t work . . .

       I learned to hear and respect the ideas my Gram would so casually (?) say, and many of her words are with me yet.  I wish I could tell her how those twelve I write of today, have helped along the way.

“Ethel”, she said, “a woman has to find something, in addition to her family, that will bring joy to her life.  And the more ‘hobbies’ she has, the better off she’ll be.”

Her generation also had a phrase I  tucked away, too.  It was, “I married him for life, but not for 24 hours a day.”  A dozen words that are priceless, to me, to you, and to every man,  woman alive.  No matter where you live.

Of course, when she was telling me these words of wisdom, I didn’t believe her at all.  Oh, most surely not for me, for I was still in that euphoric stage of marriage we all experience, but I learned.

I knew, Gram did not speak lightly and so, when the day came, when ‘family’ was not enough, her words resurfaced, and I followed her pathway right on.  See, she’d been there and done that.

Pearl Buck, author, also said that if a woman tries to confine all her energies, attention and love, into the sole outlet of husband and children, she will put a burden on them as well as herself, that none of them were ever meant to bear.

The husband (or wife) will retreat (escape) in self defense to the TV, newspaper, golf, nearby pub, or ski club.  And children, more outspoken will tell you to ‘get off their backs.  or stay in their room, ‘live’ at some friends home, at the mall, retreat into silence, and rebel in any thousand other ways.

At first I felt guilty when I did something that my husband had no interest in.  but went ahead and was startled to find that he liked those times  when my activities didn’t demand his presence or participation.

What Gram had learned (as we all must if we ever hope to gain any measure of happiness), is that not one of us can or wanted to spend 24 hours (see above, second paragraph)  with one person.  No matter how beloved.

Gram knew kids do grow up and leave home.  Death does come, and jobs, life and sickness, mental and physical, can separate people, and  so, for our own balance, we must find  outlets that absorb and bring delight to us.  In addition to families.

Gram had several.  Different generations, different opportunities, different outlets, but she cooked, crocheted and she gardened.  Who can say which was more beloved, but, at her table,  I learned the surprise and wonder, of dishes I thought would be found only in magazines or on TV.  I never even tried to match her kitchen skills.

Winter was a prison to her as she waited for spring to come so ‘she could get outside’, and dig, so that was when her cooking, crocheting, and bridge club really came into play .  And, oh those women were wonderful.  I substituted when needed, and not only learned how to play bridge, but listened and learned for more.  Their conversation was every bit as ‘with it’ as what goes on today. Different wording, oh yes, but nothing was verboten or unknown to those women.  My eyes popped and I not only learned, but  marveled.

I found many outlets for my ever growing interests,  and if you haven’t yet, given your husband and children a break and start looking.  Today.  Right now.  There are times in every one’s life when spouse, children, job and even life seem to fail  us.

Some hobby or avocation can be a life saver for you, the family and, no fooling,  your own sanity.  There are words of today, that speak what I’m saying.  “Get a life, get a life.”

Sounds harsh, but oh how true Gram’s words still are:  ‘I married him for life, but not for 24 hours a day’.   Yeah, yeah, yeah, and I’m a  happy woman, for I’ve found those words keep right on working,  no matter what your age.   Thanks, Gram, wish we could still talk, and I would listen more seriously today, for now I know you were an expert.

The Little (Big) Joys In Life

Thank heavens for the little joys of life, for they can be the biggest.

Yes, we all have epiphanies when our world suddenly turns up-side down, but those moments are few and far between. And you say yours come often?  Come on, don’t kid me, for most of our lives are spent on ground level and life would be dull if it weren’t for the bright moments that I call God’s Little Extras.

Little joys, coming often and lifting us over many a weary time.

It’s awesome that we have our Peaks but we shouldn’t underestimate the small joys that are mole-hills compared to the Mountains, but just the same, fill us with joy.  How about the unexpected shared laughter with some stranger, along with the unplanned meeting of your eyes, and for that moment, you are not strangers?  A letter from a dear one.  Crisp clean curtains framing shiny clean windows.   New fallen snow untouched by foot step, shovel, or plow. A smiling child running to you with open arms.

Oh, begin recalling your own, but I go on.  Seeing trees you planted, now stately, tall, and sheltering your home as you long ago dreamed they would.  And for the moment you’re one again with the loved one who helped you plant them.

Watching the moon cast its silver spell over a familiar landscape and recalling watching the same magic with a loved one who is no longer with you.  But the two of you saw that magic, while standing right in the very same spot where you stand. Tears come, but so does joy.

Sitting at the dinner table and suddenly really seeing each one and realizing how blessed a moment it is. A commonplace rite, but something to savor and treasure when they’re older with their own lives, and then bring their precious wives or husbands  with them, and added joy, the beloved grandchildren who follow.  All at your table, and the  decades of changes pass before you like a TV show, and you feel that loved ones who have died, are also with you again.

Life’s Little Extras.  Casually staying at the table long after the food is gone, listening to good talk tossed back and forth, and you see deeper into their lives than a million questions would reveal.  They open a door to their lives, and you know it’s a favor given, not a right to demand.  God’s Little Extra?  Yes, and to be remembered forever.

The joy, when, after short friendly chat with a stranger at the local coffee shop while waiting for your de-caf to get made, and when you get to the Pay Counter, find that he also paid for yours.

There are times when the world is dark and you think happiness will never again be yours.  But then, one day your eyes are opened and for the moment really see that the sun still rises and sets, and you, no longer ‘blinded’ by routine, as we sometimes are, again  really see it.  God’s Little Extras that pull us over the deep chasms that illness, distance, death, or divorce can bring to our lives.

You see that children still run to you.  That shared laughter is still precious, and letters, email and calls from loved ones still arrive and bring an inner rush of joy.  And you’re surprised to see that, as you age, new friends, new relationships, new ideas, new hobbies come, and each bring new joy to you.

Thought God had forgotten you?  Well, don’t try to tell me such nonsense, for just as the Mountain Peaks are God’s Gifts, so are His Little Extras that shower us, but so often don’t even look for much less, really see.

For me, keeping my eyes and heart open for those Extras, makes such a difference.  Remembering that as we change, our Mountains also change, and just as we ‘know’ there are no more high Peaks for us, we glance up and there, dropping right into our lap, eyes and heart, we shiver as we experience another Mountain.  And large or small, they are all God’s gifts.  Just for me, and for you.

Sex In Spaaaaace

I like to think that you and I have the same kind of mind: ie, earthy and easily amused. And so, a couple of weeks ago I read an article about sex in Space, and for some reason my mind   zoomed back to sometime around 1980, when New York had a long, long electrical black-out   and nine months later, their hospitals were over run with children being born. The story went world wide and everyone laughed.

And now, as space travel extends, the possibility of a man-woman couple being sent as part of some future Space Crew is creeping into edges of news stories, and of course, is met with innuendos, off-color jokes and I say, What’s the big deal?

We know they’ve experimented in space with frogs, insects, and other forms of life, so why not get volunteers and find out if sex, as practiced since Adam and Eve , would also work on Space’s Cloud Nine?   Yeah, the real Cloud Nine, too.

Vacations are often followed, by pregnancies, and these two space travelers will have been on the ultimate vacation, and if they choose to enjoy the excitement of it all . . . who cares? And more to the point, ‘Whose business is it, anyway’?????.

God made us to want to cuddle with the one we love, and, here in our valley, watch the moon come up over Mount Olympus . . . . . or some place along the eastern rim of the Wasatch Mountains       . . . and let nature take its course.

I recall, that back in the 1980’s. the illustrations all showed that future Space home, with parents, and, what else? Their children, of course..

With a married couple up there every magazine, newspaper, radio and TV station will make it their business to comment upon the pros and cons of a child being conceived in space, and it just could be that with our experiments with animals, we also found there is reason that ‘Space’ would not be favorable to human pregnancies and infants, but I’ve never seen where such cautions were even hinted.

Anyway, why are we so up tight about speaking of sex in space? What’s so different about it than what we see and hear every day here on good ole earth?   Test tube babies are no longer even newsworthy, sperm donor babies, abortions, no abortions, ‘right time’ advocates, condoms, pills, diaphragms, It’s constantly tossed at us, and in detail, too.

There have been enough short items, a word here, two words there, that anyone who reads the news, even casually, knows that there is nothing new to all I’m writing today, either.

And don’t tell me you’re naive enough to think it hasn’t been thought of, discussed, even planned, and if not, well, I have a few shares of the Brooklyn Bridge that I’ll sell you real cheap.

And why wouldn’t it be planned . . . The old windjammer Captains took their wife (or live-in) along, and many a child was born on the high seas. Children were born and conceived on the Mayflower, Mormon pioneers took for granted that Children would be conceived, born, some to live, some to die, on that trek across the Plains of America. And those who survived became proud that they were born that first summer, or first winter.

Yeah, and there weren’t private bedrooms, separate quarters, and all the other niceties the world is saying are absent in space capsules, either.  And I say it’s their business, just as it’s been of all exploring couples of all centuries.

I say good for them and my hat’s off to the gutsy chosen pair. How do we/they know if it will work in space as it does on Terra Firma??? Yeah, and I betcha there are thousands like me, (including you) all watching with the same amused smile on their faces.

Do those planners of space living want us to think children will be sent up in separate capsules? That immaculate conception will come back to us. Or that the women were pregnant when they stepped aboard the Craft.

No the process of a married pair on the same space ship is well planned, and will be well monitored. And I mean the results, not the actions.

Let’s get our heads on straight. Life is life and there always will be ways and means of keeping the generations arriving. And space travel is no different than windjammers, camel trains, wagons, tents or any other place men and women choose to spend together.

Yes, there will be those who will criticize and moralize but most of us will laugh and I’d be willing to bet that most of the complainers have children who weren’t all conceived at home while placidly watching TV.

No matter where people have gone, it’s happened. In fact, I’d bet dollars to doughnuts that those in command would positively deny it, but betcha they secretly hope a bouncing Space Baby will result. And I say, good luck and God’s Blessings on everyone involved.

Remember Marilyn, Free At Last


Marilyn  left such a deep impact upon those who knew her that a repeat of these words is a natural.  From the Medical Crew who helped her cope with her physical problems, (there was never any problem with her mind) to her family and friends, Marilyn still lives and is a lively force among us.


Along time ago I wrote, “Marilyn walked the other day, and her whole world rejoiced”. 

Today  I write that Marilyn  died the other day,  and her whole world shed tears of sorrowful acceptance. And, not  using the familiar trite words of, “You will be missed “,  I use words, which  to me are  the correct ones:  “Marilyn,  you are  missed..”

The day she took her first steps was later than with most children, because she had been born with physical problems, and it was a long time, filled with many operations, before the doctors had time, and Marilyn the stamina, to put their attention upon  her twisted feet.

Marilyn was born to Wayne and Bernice Ohlin Ursenbach,  a family of active people, and she fit perfectly into that category, except for having  a body unable to support the inner dreams and talents that came with the package.

She was born a twin, and, the bonding between Marilyn and twin, Maurine, was  classic, entirely over-riding any physical differences.  The doctors had carefully explained to Marilyn’s parents that there is ‘no mercy in the womb,’  and if the position of one embryo  is ‘better’,  it never lets go of that advantage.

And so,  there had been no mercy in the womb, and upon birth the doctors did not expect Marilyn to ever leave the hospital.  But those doctors  just didn’t know the Spirit that was Marilyn’s, and she fooled everyone. Everyone, that is, except her parents, and the day finally came when they chose to  take her home to live, not to die,  as the doctors expected.

Then, within a day or so,  I stepped into their home where Wayne was holding Marilyn and as I called out my greeting,  that little tyke,  immediately swung around in his arms,  to find the new voice.  And in that instant, I knew that no matter what her physical problems might be, all else was sharp as a tack.  She had  had only a few  days to  get acquainted with the ‘family’ voices, but she knew immediately that this one was different.  Not bad at all for a child the doctors had no hope for.

The  years passed and when she came home from different operations,  my sister saw that the twins had established  a routine of their own.  As soon as possible they would begin talking and Marilyn would, in detail, tell her sister what she had experienced, and  Maurine, in turn, would give  a similar report on what had been going on at home. Nice bonding.

And on one of those early days, Bernice,  their mother,  heard loud screams coming from her back yard and dashed out to see what was wrong, but all was well, for there were the twins, on the play area where she had placed them, and they were laughing as they were trying to see who could  scream and make the most and loudest noises.  That,  too, was good.

Now it so happened that Marilyn had been born with five fingers on each hand, and lest you shrug as if to say, “So?”  go back and read my words again.  She was born with five fingers, not as most of us are, with four fingers and one thumb.

But for her it was normal and she got along well, but when she reached 8 or 9  years of age, a doctor called and told the parents that there had been an operation devised, to make that one finger  into a thumb.  Did they want Marilyn’s hands changed?

Knowing Marilyn’s strong mind, they asked her if she would like to have that operation, and after a few days thinking, she said,  “Yes, I think so,  but I want it on my Left hand, and then, if it doesn’t work, it will leave my Right hand, the one I rely upon,  unchanged.”.  Yeah, Marilyn had her problems, but she also had a keen, mature mind.

She came home from that operation, returned to school, and with no word of prodding from her parents,  one day she told her parents she was ready to have the other hand done.  No mind???  Her mind was far beyond many her age, and the results were good.

Marilyn’s life was also filled with joy and triumph.   A graduate of Cottonwood High, and then from Brigham Young University,   when the twins decided it was the right time for them to begin their adult, separate lives. It was also when Marilyn served an LDS mission, and again the changes were good for both.

The years passed,  her siblings  married, and with varied careers,  their pathways branched out and soon  made homes in all corners of the world.  At the same time, however,  some of Marilyn’s  physical problems grew in scope, leaving her dreams undeveloped, and  ultimately it was clear that it  was best for her to live again with her parents.  Even so,  she was employed by Zions Bank until the day  when she stepped out of her body and entered the next of God’s Rooms.

It was sometime in those years that Marilyn found me  as a telephone friend, quite  different from the older generation Aunt she had known all her life, and certainly not as a contemporary and, again, it was good.  But in all our talks, as we exchanged “what we were thinking, or doing” never was there  a word of regret, anger, jealousy of her siblings or anyone else.   She was filling  whatever ‘mission’ she had come here to fill, and doing it  with acceptance and love.  The two words of  ‘if only’ were never a part of  her vocabulary.

I learned the true meaning of courage, from Marilyn, like  fortitude, laughter in the face of hardship and love for life.  She became a great, silent teacher and I say “Thank you, Marilyn, for sharing many of your thoughts with me”.

And then, only  a month or two before she left us, she found she had breast cancer, had a double mastectomy, and was getting ready for the second round of Chemo . . . when she silently said her Good bys and was,  for the first time in her life . . . free from the burdens of a body that placed limitations upon  her.

And so, Marilyn,  at last you are free.  Free from all physical restrictions and  I see you,  not walking, but running, dancing, laughing, traveling,  climbing, all actions that, for so long, were for others and only dreams for you.

At long last  you are free to go and come as you wish,  Or to step out boldly alone, no longer dependent  upon others for support.  Free, and Thank you  God  Almighty,  Marilyn is truly, finally and forever, free.

        Godspeed you along your way, Marilyn, and know that a river of respect, acceptance,  admiration and love,  follows you every step of your way.