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.

The Ducks Came For A Visit

Everything that’s physically mobile, has a built-in homing instinct. Ocean fish, whales, etc. travel thousands of miles on annual treks, butterflies from the tropics to their second northern homes, the swallows of Capistrano, ants, (the dang things) travel yards and yards, in single file, from their basic ‘home’ to wherever they sense food, and when filled, find their way back.

I again saw proof of this Home Instinct a week or two ago, as three Mallard Ducks came and sat stoically where . . . easily twenty-five years ago . . . three of their ancestors had been born and bred. My heart went out to them and their loyalty, but beautiful as they are, I wished them well and then ignored them. Well, my sons would have loved a ‘duck dinner’, but in this neighborhood, the time   one can get away with such shenanigans, is long gone.

My story began years ago when I noticed that a Mallard hen had built a nest close to my basement outer wall, hidden and protected in the midst of my bushes. I watched her and her visiting mate, with interest, and in a week or two there were fluffy baby goslings in my yard, and in response to their peeping and how sweet they were, I began giving them food, and chose a spot of lawn where I could watch them during the day .

All went well and within days I was feeding both Mama and Papa Ducks and their five   Goslings. Soon the ducklings began losing their Down and getting real feathers and it was fun to watch.   And then, almost suddenly, it seemed there were seven ducks coming and staring expectantly at my door and gobbling up every crumb of food I put out. And I had to take a ‘second look’   to see which were the kids and w hich the parents.

Fun, and by then I ‘d found a shop in the old Cottonwood Mall that catered to food and the care of all genre of pets we bring to our homes, and I became a familiar customer, for seven ducks eat food, and I mean FOOD. In quantity.
I explained to ‘my’ demanding ducks that there was a pond right down in the field and not more than five seconds flight away, and where they would have both water and natural food, but t hey didn’t hear me.

So, I cut down on the amount of food given them, and they began digging in the lawn. I smiled, thinking they were getting worms and bugs, and when they had eaten all of them, the ducks would turn to the nearby pond. But then I found the dang ducks were actually eating the ROOTS of my lawn and I had about a 12 foot patch that was quickly becoming NOT lawn, but plain bare ground. And they were pushing back the edges each day. In desperation, and torn between love of those sweet ducklings they once had been, and anger at the predators they’d become. I asked the fellow at the Pet Food Mart what I was to do.

He laughed at my bewilderment, but then stopped chuckling long enough to tell me I had to simply stop feeding them. He reminded me of all the signs around ponds, picnic spots and in every Park, that say ‘DON’T FEED THE DUCKS’.   And then, he stopped laughing, got serious and told me that unless I planned on my back lawn becoming nothing but a Duck Restaurant and Rest Room, I’d have to stop feeding them and force them to look elsewhere for food. They, he assured me, would not starve.

He grinned as he assured me he’d be glad to keep selling me feed, but sooner or later, it would be either the Duck’s back yard or mine. Really, he said, it boils right down to those choices. Their yard or Ethel’s

Well I decided I wanted to use my lawn, and so, I stopped feeding them and they didn’t die, but they didn’t like it, either, and let me know with their squawking. It was a slow business, and their transfer of Feeding Stations did not come about without lots of protest, but, after a month or so, I watched them as they paused, first at my Closed Shop, before winging over the hill and to the Pond for nourishment.

But that’s not the end of my tale.   For the funny part, is that every spring, Mallard Ducks come to my lawn and sit and wait right in the exact spot their ancestors had landed and waited.

They know where Home Base is and though scores of years have   passed since I gave food to their fore bearers, they still return. Loyal as all get out, and though I hate to put a stop to their built-in instincts, I have to keep reminding myself that my purpose here on earth is not to feed generations of Mallards.

Wisdom Via Ham Radio

Ham Radio Operators are members of a unique group. Whether they operate by Morse Code (no longer a requirement), phone or computer, they share an almost mystic companionship. And it doesn’t matter if they live here or in Timbuctoo the relationships and understanding hold.

AW, my husband, was a Ham and for several years after his sudden death I received cards from around the world as Hams heard of Brad’s death and wanted to tell me they were sorry. I loved their words.

It pleases me that one of my sons, WR, is also a Ham. It is a little known hobby, but when a large disaster strikes, destroying other lines of communication . . . it is the Hams of the world who step out and provide lifelines.

Usually they just gab back and forth, chinning away, but odd bits of lore and information are also often sent out on the airwaves and can be picked up by those interested.

And that’s where today’s words come from. Mike, a ham radio operator in New Mexico sent them along their way, my son shared them with me, and now I pass them along to you.

There’s nothing to them that’s actually ‘new’, but dang it, I like the slant and mood they create, and so, with no more reason than that, I   hope you like them, too.


1. You will receive a body.
You may like that body or actually hate it, but it will be yours for the entire peiod of t his time ’round.

2. You will learn lessons.
You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called LIFE. Each day in this school, you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or you might think them irrelevant and stupid. It doesn’t matter, they are yours.

3. There are no mistakes, and no accidents. Only lessons.
Growth is a process of trial, error and experimentations.   The ‘failed’ experiments are as much a part of the process as the experiment that ultimately ‘works’.

4. A lesson is repeated over and over until it’s learned.
That lesson will be presented to you in many forms, until you   have learned it. And only when you have learned it, will the next lesson come to you.

5. Learning lessons never end.
here is no part of life that does not contain its lessons. You can be certain that if you are alive, then there are still lessons to be learned.

6. ‘There’ and ‘when’ is no better than’ ‘here’ and ‘now’.
When your   ‘there’ has become ‘here’ and your ‘when’ has become ‘ now’,   you will simply obtain another ‘there’ and ‘when’ which will again, look better than ‘here’ and ‘now’.

7. Others are merely mirrors of you.
You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you either love or hate within yourself.

8. What you make of your life is up to you.
You have all the tools and resources you need.    What you do with them is your choice, and no person or any circumstance can change that opportunity.

9. All your answers lie right inside you.
The answers to all life’s question lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen and trust.

10. You will forget all this.
No matter how often you read this, no matter how deeply you believe it, or how often you promise yourself you will never forget it . . . within one minute , you will. OH, yes, you will, you will, you will

The page these came on was signed Anonymous, but it has all the signs and subtlety of some Zen or Sufi teacher. I love it all, and even if only one small part speaks to you,love that small part. For actually its wisdom of the ages. In ten small lines, and No. 7 makes me jump every time I read the page.   Oh me.

How To Take Over A Church Meeting

I’ve waited a long, long time before I’ve dared write this story, or someone moved out of State, or . . . and I’m not telling . . . but  died, but now the needed event has passed, and I’m brave.

My friend, an accomplished pianist, was asked to play a Beethoven piece at an LDS meeting, and, figuring an hour or two in church wouldn’t hurt me, I said yes, when asked to go along.

You know how those meetings go. A little girl sang, a young lad said a few words; both taking no more than five minutes and then my friend was introduced. But I soon felt edgy, for I knew the piece he had chosen was no five minute piece, but more like 45 minutes.

But I decided he’d stop at the end of the first movement, but no, no, no. He passed by that coda as if not there, and one glance at his face told me, he was going to play Beethoven to the last note, and to heck with any time limits or rules.

I felt nervous, but I noted that the man in charge was doubly so, for he soon began fidgeting and glancing toward my friend. I tried to tell myself that the problem, the pianist and the leader’s nerves had nothing to do with me. But every nerve in me was standing at attention.

After about 15 minutes the man in charge was about to ‘have a cow’ as the kids say. Sweat was pouring from his face and he motioned for a young lad to come to the podium. They had some whispered words and I saw the kid’s face go white in horror. But the leader nodded firmly and the child, like a lamb to the slaughter, edged toward the piano.

He glanced back for mercy, but the leader was firm, and all the child could do was try to tell my friend to stop playing. And every person in the congregation was watching in fascination as my friend brushed off any message like some bothersome fly and the wonderful music continued.

Somehow I felt that I was part of the problem but also, I was fighting an almost uncontrollable urge to laugh. In fact I gave a couple of chortles, (disguised as coughs) and wondered if I had better leave the chapel. But I didn’t. And by then the entire congregation was watching in horror/fascination/humor/indignation. They realized this was very different from the usual Sacrament Meeting. But most were watching the battle to see whether Beethoven or the leader would win.

Well, I didn’t wonder, for I knew darn well that, short of whipping his music from the piano, my friend was going to play to the final note. But the man in charge didn’t give up easily, for then he walked to the piano and whispered in my friend’s ear.

I watched in fascination because I knew my friend and that he bowed to no one’s whispers. If he had been invited to play Beethoven, he was going to play Beethoven, whisper all they wanted. And he did.

Well, by then the congregation was split into thirds. One third closed their eyes and with smiles on their faces enjoyed the unexpected concert. The second group, like me, wanted to laugh and were grinning unabashedly at the tug of war going on. And the final group was angry.

They began looking daggers at me and I felt like standing up and explaining that I had nothing to do with it. I was an innocent bystander, too.

Well, eventually the concert ended (almost 45 minutes) and my friend rose in proud righteous indignation, and walked over and sat beside me. And no one was happier than I when the last prayer was said and we could get in the car and laugh.

But for heaven’s sake, there was no laughter, for my friend didn’t think it was funny and I spent the rest of the day listening to his indignation. By the time I got home, I was too tired to laugh. But the next day I shared the event with a couple of people who also like music and then the three of us laughed and laughed and laughed.

And the congregation that had gone to hear a routine meeting, instead heard a Beethoven concert they’d have paid big bucks in the concrt hall. Forty five minutes of solid enjoyment but to this day I think of it as the funniest time I’ve ever spent in church.

Do Doctors Ever Really Listen?

Make them hear you . . .

I sat down in the Doctor’s office chair, without even a ‘Hello’ she smiled and said,  “I’ve enrolled you in a weekly class on Controlling Chronic Pain.”  And  went on to tell me where they were held, who was in charge  and what to expect from them.

I thought she had me mixed up with some other patient and shaking my head and told her that ‘No, that’s not for me.  I don’t have chronic pain.’  She went on as if I hadn’t even spoken.

But as she called me by my name I knew she had the right folder, and, as if reading from a book, went on with what was to be expected for one in my age group and I sat there as if I were an inanimate object, hearing her but wondering when she’d get around to asking exactly why I had called for an appointment.

She never did, and I knew then that she had studied at some medical School where their major primers were books on what to expect at various age groups.  She very nicely went down the list of ‘taking blood samples’; asking what medication I was taking, vitamins and such, and soon my designated 15 minutes were over and that was that.  Oh, yes, there were queries as to whether I ate and slept well, and then that was that.

The first thing I did upon getting home was to call and cancel the Chronic Pain Clinic classes, and making a note to not let anyone assign me to that medic for my next appointment.  They (whoever ‘they’ are) have what’s wrong with us all figured out and I, somehow, just don’t fit in with their book for my age.

When you reach your Fifties there must be a well-read book on what illnesses and problems that age group will have.  Then there is a book for the Sixties (your age, not the date) and they’ve studied well the problems that age group will have.  Oh, and here is where Living Wills are insisted upon.  They’ve got it all down pat and a copy of such books are in every medic’s desk.

It continues right along in the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties, only by then the books tell about Care Centers, and ask how to contact your children to tell them what you need. They take it for granted that you are no longer capable of  hearing, answering or planning.  You don’t think so? Wait and see.

What’s funny, and I don’t mean ha–ha funny, is that all kinds of businesses read the same books.  At Fifty my mail changed and I began to get letters and pamphlets from well known clinics sent by high-powered medical universities, insurance companies, and investment firms, all eager to tell me about my own body and how marvelously they can handle my financial business.

When you reach each next decade ‘someone’ re-sets the switch and a new set of instructions and sale’s pitches come to  your mail box. This time they’re from the same schools or companies, but, the content changes into more dire diseases and horrors.  Now they begin hinting at care centers (Oh, so much fun), cemeteries, trusts and wills, and all such ilk and when you reach your Seventies, Eighties, and Egad, your Nineties???  ‘They’ become more blatant and you know that, with ‘them’, you are a naught but a statistic.  Out of the game. So why bother.  Period.

There are no (at least I’ve never found one) books on the people in those growing decades, and the numbers are growing by leaps and bounds, who are healthy, sane, capable and all the rest of the stuff we’ve been doing during the early part of our lives.

Someone, and of all groups, you’d think it would be the medical world, would be the first to realize that our parents, at 45 and 50 were medically where we are at 80.  We’re healthy and not to be medically treated by some book that without even a question, just knows  that you should be enrolled in a Chronic Pain Clinic. They are using statistics from half a century ago and glued them upon us.  And unless things change, that means you, and you, and you, too.

If I Could Do It All Over Again

We were talking the other night, about what we’d do if we could turn back the calendar and ‘do it all over again’, and once the joking got out of the way, it set me to some fairly seriously thinking.

What would I do? Well, presupposing I could retain whatever bits of wisdom and smarts I’ve picked up along the way . . . I’d begin at a far younger age to do what I want, rather than what others wanted me to do

The trouble is, it’s not only hard to unearth such things, but much pain, guilt, resentment . . . and forgiveness . . . must come before we can live our lives as we want, and not forever be trying to please another. No matter how loved or even how long dead. Which is often the most difficult of the two

I wouldn’t smoke. It was thought cool to do so when I was a certain age, and it took me some time to realize that, in the first place, I didn’t like to smoke, and secondly, I found that those who did smoke, weren’t cool anyway. So I stopped.

I wouldn’t be so serious the second time round, would have more fun along the way, and I’d remember that I wasn’t responsible for the actions of anyone else, bur me. And, again, it didn’t matter how much I loved them, either.

I’d go barefoot in the grass and sand more often, and I’d never again wear a firmly set of hair style, but let it fly freely in the wind. And, I’d wear long flowing skirts which would whirl as I turned, and I’d turn a lot.

And when children arrived, I’d take more time to be a kid with them. Yes, there comes a time when that’s all over with, but until that time, I’d prowl the fields and pasture with them, getting down on my knees to discover the toads, frogs, bees and all the other things they once found and brought home to me.

I’d have more picnics . . . if only peanut butter and jam sandwiches . . and listen to the birds, crickets, and other sounds we only hear when we really listen.

I’d love a lot more and let more people know that I love them. And if you think I”m talking about sex here, well , you’ve got an awful lot to learn, but we’ll go into that some other day.

I’d be more open to changes that come with life, and not spend months, sometimes years, trying to make everything be ‘like it used to be’ . For, if changes didn’t come, I’d still be . . . well,   enuf of that, I’m just glad changes came.

Oh, and I hope I’d remember that the teen years are simply a phase and not the end of the world. I’d remember that there are always a few golden youths at that age that we all wanted to be like, yet . . . we found out later the golden aura didn’t always carry over into adult hood, and I wouldn’t change my life for a million.

I wouldn’t take marriage so seriously. Now, I don’t mean I’d be out on the town, but I’d remember that marriage is simply two people who happen to like each other a lot, and are trying to live together in very close quarters. It’s the only ‘war’ where you sleep with the ‘enemy’ and a little laughter and light hearted banter helps a whole lot.

I’d quit worrying over ‘what others might think’. What do I care what they think?   That’s their problem and, I’ve found, as I have gone ahead in my own way, others have found it to be not a bad way , either.

I ‘d remember that every situation, good or bad, that comes with my karma, and it’s my reaction to those situations, (what I do, how I act), that is putting my next set of karma in place.

I’d grow more flowers and fewer vegetables. Oh, I know we must have food, (and I like it, too) but the soul needs food, too and so I’d have a lot more flowers and would take the time to smell them as well.

And I’d remember, oh, I hope I’d remember, how once Ann and Jack Larkin and Brad and I, happily and light heartily sat on the deep curb up in Jackson Hole, along with a couple of others, and watched a big slice of the world go by. And next time, by golly, I’d sit on more curbs and . . . perhaps ‘d be lucky and have Ann, Jack and Brad there with me.

Yes, there are quite a few things I’d like to do over again. Oh, me, oh me, oh my . Wanna join me???????

We Used To Hang Our Clothes To Dry

When neighbors knew each other well, by what hung on the line . . .

There were usually 5 or 6 lines, each about 14 feet long,  5 1/2 feet high, and with long wooden poles that could push the lines UP so that the ‘wash’ wouldn’t brush against the  ground and get dirty and yet allow  the lines to be within  easy reach for the one hanging the clothes.

These were unwritten rules, but  every  woman  knew them by heart and followed them to the last word.

1. You WASHED the Lines each Monday, by  wiping their entire length with a damp cloth to remove any accumulated dust that would soil the just-washed clothes.

2. Wash day was on a Monday.  Only death or dying permitted any other day, and even then NEVER on a Sunday.

3. Even if it were sub-zero weather, clothes would  ‘freeze-dry.’

4. You had to hang clothes in a certain order, always hanging whites (bed linen) with whites, shirts with shirts, sox with sox, towels with towels, pants with pants and so on.

5. And socks were hung by the toes, NEVER by the tops; Pants by the BOTTOM cuffs, NOT the waistband; and NEVER a shirt by the shoulders, but always by the tail.

6. Sheets and towels were hung on the OUTER Lines so that your ‘unmentionables’ could hang unseen on the middle Lines and some women, modestly hung their underclothes INSIDE  pillow cases, shielded  away from prying eyes.

7. There were Clothes Pin bags that you nudged along the  Lines to be handy when hanging clothes, and to put those pins  back in again, when taking down the dried clothes.  It looked ‘tacky’ to see pins on empty Lines and also they would get dirty and so soil the next Monday’s wet clothes.

8. If you were efficient, you would hang the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but  would share  pins by overlapping the corners of  two items.

9. Clothes had to be OFF the line before dinner time, sprinkled  and neatly rolled, placed in a clothes basket, and ready  to be ironed on Tuesday. Never, never Monday evening.


A Clothes Line was a news report for people passing by,

For there could be no secrets, with clothes hung out to dry.

It also was a friendly Line, for neighbors always knew

If company had stopped on by, to spend a night or two.

For then you’d see the fancy towels and sheets, upon the line.

And the special ‘company’ table cloths, with intricate designs.

And also of a baby’s birth, of those  who lived inside

As brand new infant clothes were hung so lovingly with pride.

The ages of the children could readily be known

And seeing how the sizes changed, you’d know how much they’d grown.

It also told when illness struck, as extra sheets were hung

With nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too, haphazardly strung.
They also said, “Vacation time”, when Lines hung limp and bare

And , “We’re back” was told, when crowded Lines had not an inch to spare.

New folks in town were scorned if clothes were dingy, gray

And neighbors carefully raised their brows and looked the other way,

But today the Lines are of the past for dryers make work less

And now, all that’s there within a house is left for us to guess.

But I really miss that way of life, ’twas such a friendly sign

When neighbors knew each other well, by what hung on the Line.

( anonymous )

I Really Shouldn’t Tell You This, But . .

There are many over used phrases that insure the audience (whether one or a hundred), will stop listening before the speaker gets started. I know, for I’ve been on both ends. A glazed look comes. over every face and before long they pardon themselves as they suddenly re-member they have a pressing appointment elsewhere.

One of those phrases is, “W hen I was your age . . .” and no one will listen. Those younger than you will rightly suspect you are seeing it all through rose colored glasses, And those y our own age, won’t listen for they’ll be waiting for a chance to break in and tell their own story. Which, you can bet your life, they’ll make far better than yours.

Any conversation that begins, “There are two sides to every question . . .” is generally trying to make the weaker side look as good as the stronger. And you know that least one person will always take the ‘other’ side just for the sake of an argument. And probably to-morrow he/she will be telling the praises of the other side.

Any statement which begins: “Now, if I were running things, I’d . . .” is scarcely worth hearing. For when or if they ever do have charge it isn’t long before they begin to look, talk, and act exactly like those w ho have been in charge before. And if you don’t believe me, just think of how different candidates for the Presidency sound compared to when they become President.

As, President Trump of today, and Candidate Trump of six months ago. Yeah.

Any conversation which begins: ” Well, you only live once. . .” is bound to be a defense of the sensual life with its no rules of drugs, alcohol, sex, and other facets of high living”. Actually that phrase is a concealed apology for doing as we want to do and to heck with any criticism.

And the phrase which begins: “I have an unbelievable offer (plan or investment, etc.). . . ” will turn out to be unbelievable and when you once actually see it in ‘black and white’, and read the fine print” you can’t help but wonder why you took time to even listen. It’s said that if it sounds too good to be true. . . it is. And just hope you didn’t lose any money with that ‘unbelievable’ plan.

Any story that begins; “I’ll never forget the day . . .” usually introduces an anecdote about a day that would be better off forgotten, and one you have heard several times before.

And when your boss begins: “I’ve been keeping my eye on you . . .” just know that it might be a raise in title or such as a higher title, but be surprised if it means a raise in pay.

Any conversation that begins with: “I want to tell you something as a friend . . . will contain a piece of unsolicited, unnecessary and usually offensive bit of advice that will probably show more enmity that friendship. Take heed . . . that person usually isn’t your friend.

And when someone begins a sentence with: ” I don’t want to brag about my grandchildren, but . . .”   know that the person is a downright liar. I tell you, I enjoy bragging about my grandchildren, keep a mile long string of photos in my purse and I get them out , too, whenever I can trap some poor soul into listening and looking. But this is one time when you gotta be quick or they’ll interrupt and brag about their grandchildren before   you really get started.

Any statement that begins: “That’s funny. I know someone with the very same symptoms, and the doctor told her. . .” shows you have fallen into deep pit of conversation with one who is known as “The Health Bore”. He or she has read up on all kinds of odd, off beat diseases and can keep going for the next hour. And what’s doubly boring, is that they’re often right, too.

Any statement that begins: “If you ask me, the way to put an end to all this turmoil is . . .” means you’ve found someone who probably can’t even get along with his boss and co-workers. his children, neighbors, or in-laws, but . . . on the world level . . . boy, oh, boy is that one ever good. And for reinforcement, just refer to my fourth paragraph.

Any conversation which begins, in sotto voce “I shouldn’t tell this, but , , ,” means you’d better run.   Run as fast as you can. Anything that begins in that ‘confidential’ way won’t be for your own good, so don’t even listen.   You’ll only end up with a guilt trip . . . and resentment to the one who, ‘for your own good’, dropped the load upon you.

There are probably dozens more of these old cliches, and I’ve probably used the all, and so have you. but they are what I said, ‘cliches’ and should be dropped into the bucket that hold all those old out dated words. but before you do that . . . send your favorites along to me or post them here.

Kids Have Big Ears

and great memories . . .

Never underestimate the intelligence of a child. Their cognitive senses are operating at full blast long before they can communicate or comment. And the memory of what they see and hear stays with them. And sometimes they surprise you with what they not only saw, but heard and later on understood what was said. Wow, wow, wow.

My son, Bill, while yet in diapers, had a favorite cozy nook, between a corner and two hallways, where he could see pretty well what was going on in a good part of the house, and so, one day, I found that he heard and remembered for more than I thought possible.

His older brother, John, kept busy with ‘grown up’ stuff, but Gram and I talked about lots of things and people as I went about my daily chores. Later on as Bill learned to talk, we also found there had also been another pair of ears taking note of what we said. And was good at remembering, too.

Yes, one day, after he could talk Bill said, “Mom, do you remember when you and Gram were talking about . . . ?” and he then went on to tell me about that day, and, surprised, I answered, “Yes. Bill, I do.”

“Well”, he said, “that isn’t the way it happened.” And that dang kid went on to tell us exactly what had happened and Gram and I looked at each other in disbelief. And if he, the child was right, then my ideas of children’s abilities, in fact, children barely out of infanthood, took a great big turn-about.

I looked at Gram with eyes agog, and said, “Okay, thanks,” and the child casually went on with his play, but Gram and I knew then that it had been no unthinking child hearing our conversations, and I began wondering what else he had heard and understood. And stored away. Plenty, no doubt.

My sister tells of a like happening to her. Our mother, Nettie Ohlin, and her friends, did their summer quilting outside in a tree arbor of ours, with Bernice as a child, playing under the quilting frame the women used, and where she heard the women’s talk. She now tells me she knew story after story about our neighbors, long before she knew what it all meant. But, oh, what a foundation of learning.

I knew kids copied what they heard, for Bill’s older brother had proven that, also.  He too, was still in the diaper stage, and was sitting on the middle of the kitchen floor (where else?) and was swinging a small play plastic hammer his Dad had given him, and, of course, was pretending he was hammering with it. And of all things, over and over he was saying, “G. . D. . .   G. . D . . .”

Well, I hurriedly found another toy for him to play with, hid the hammer and couldn’t wait to tell his Dad that a few changes had to be made in everyday ‘shop’ language. Who told us that parent hood would be without shock? ? ?

And later on, I saw a daughter of a niece of mine do the same. Oh, not the cussing, just the awareness of what was being said. My niece was sitting near me, with her less than two-year-old daughter on her lap. She was telling me, that she was expecting another child, but decided not to tell her daughter (yeah, the one sitting ritht there on her lap) about it.

I laughed and told the expectant mother that she had already ‘spilled the beans’, and that the child on her lap understood what she had said. She looked at the child, the child looked at her, and the looks in the eyes of both, child and mother, was hilarious for both of them were surprised.

The mother to know that her child had understood, and by the look the child gave to me, it was evident that the child was surprised to know to know that there was an adult who knew that she understood. I laughed again in delight.

Stupid kids?? No, they’re all the same, and if you think not, you’re only fooling yourself. No, they don’t have the ability to talk, but my oh, my, they have the ability to hear and  remember.

Think back on your own life, you simply listened to what was being said, (that’s  how we learned to speak and say words) and it became part of us.  We knew and remembered. There are no secrets around children. They might not know all the inner meanings, or have the ability to comment, but, boy oh boy, do they ever know the facts, And have good memories, too.


Pearl Harbor – The End of Innocence

I was at Gram’s home that long  ago Sunday morning of December 7, 1941,  sitting in the upstairs east bedroom,  reading and listening to music, but  when the music changed to some kind of war story, I turned it  OFF and wandered downstairs.

Gram, Mrs. Archibald (Rachel Crozier)  Bradford, was  preparing dinner, and  as I stepped toward her, I paused, and didn’t know what to do, for I saw she was crying as she worked. 

She didn’t  speak,  and so I reached out with a loving   hug,  then  sat down at the kitchen table.   I wasn;t sure of why she cried, but  knew it had to do with what the radio told us meant War , and Gram, that dear woman,  knew what war meant.

 Her husband had served in the Philippine Islands in the Spanish American War, and   now she had two sons of the ages to serve in the war we were hearing  on the radio.  Gram knew  what war had meant, and  now would mean  to a new generation.. 

Jake  (Fenton Crozier Bradford), her son and  my brother-in-law, entered the room, had a folded newspaper  in his  hand, and as he passed me to go through the swinging door, to the upstairs,  he lightly whacked me on the shoulder with the newspaper and said, “This one’s for me, Ole.”

Jake had nicknamed  me Ole from my maiden name of Ohlin, so I  grinned at him, but he didn’t grin back or even stop to chat.

At that time, he was  36 years  old, a few months short of being too old (37) to be drafted  when WWII became a reality for the USA.  We  had been  helping England with Lend-Lease and many other ways, but that was the day when we were in that war. Over  our heads in it.

I saw that Gram  was taking care of whatever she was cooking, but was still crying and her radio  continued  telling us of what I had thought was  a ‘war story’, but by her tears and Jake’s comment, I suddenly knew that we were hearing no ‘program’, but Reality, firm, unchangeable Realty.

I suddenly’ k’new that we were being told of real Japanese planes which,  as we listened, were bombing and destroying, the entire USA Fleet,  and Air Force,  which President Franklin D. Roosevelt, had sent, ‘for safety’ sake, along with the thousands of our sons, brothers and friends aboard those Battleships, taken to military shelter in the Hawaiian harbor.

As  of that date, we  were  not yet  a part of  World War II, but that designation was shattered right as we listened, for we became aware that  Japan  had, with no world-wide notice joined that War on the side of  Hitler’s Germany.  And even as we listened, our USA Battleships, and their Crews, where we thought, would be safe from Hitler’s reach  were being  destroyed..

How wrong we were, and that Sunday morning, we were no longer bystanders of what was beginning to be called World War Two, and we were in it.  And over our heads in it, too.,

With Gram’s   tears, and Jake’s actions I realized they knew more about what it all meant than I did, and I shivered,  I was young, too young and unknowing, but we learned swiftly,  far too swiftly.

It would be five years before Jake could try to resume a ‘normal’ life, but even then he was one  of the lucky ones, for so many, many thousands never returned to their  homes,  but were killed and buried in places around the world that, before WWII, we had never even  heard their names.

We’ve never been so innocent since that December 7th morning . . . and never will be again.    In the hard way, we learned that truly,  the age of innocence was past.  And remains so .