Passing of sand; Mr. E. E.

Today waiting for a stop light, I looked for a number in my cellular phone.  There I noticed a number for a friend who passed away a few months back.  I don’t know any reason to keep it anymore, so I deleted it.  The thought crossed my mind of another friend who had passed away and found his number.  I deleted it as well.  Again I find myself reflecting with the passing of another life.  There seems to have been a number of them lately.  Terry McCombs, David Donaldson, Justin Rose, and now Evan Elliott.
I learned of Evan’s death on Halloween.  Apparently he had a massive heart attack and died at home on the 24th.  There was a pang of guilt for having not written him back two weeks before when I had felt the prompting to do so.  I wrote some others I thought would be easier to write.  I guess I am absolved of the responsibility now.  His graveside service was just a few hours ago.
Once again, I reflect on the influence of another in my life with their passing.  The flood of memories come back.  This is a relationship I don’t know I will fully understand while in this life.
On my left knee, up a few inches and outwards is a scar I carry about an inch in length.  I still remember climbing over the industrial vacuum equipment and slicing it on the corner of duct sheet sitting there.  It was a deep cut and it bled nicely.  I didn’t have stitches but whenever I think of scars it is one of the two which first come to mind on my body.  I must have been only about 6.
I remember the morning I awoke with mom sitting on the bed.  It was downstairs at the old house along the freeway.  I was about 8.  Mom came to tell me that Grandma had found out about some things with Evan and that they would be getting a divorce.  I had no clue what that meant.  But he disappeared.  That is what divorce meant to me for several years.  The tone in which she told me was one of disappointment in Evan.  There were no harsh words of his character or personality which Mom would later spew about him.  I remember not understanding but feeling it would be okay because my Mother told me so.
I remember fishing many times with Evan as a young boy.  I don’t ever remember catching anything.  But it was fun to sit on the shore and fish.  I don’t even know that we ever really even talked.  The most common spots were fishing at the lake near Hwy 27/I84 and the lake near Hwy 30/I-84.  For all I know there are not even fish in those lakes.  I think they are man made.
It seemed a regular occasion we drove to the Paul Cemetery to maintain the long flower box seated on his parents grave.  I assume it is near the place where he and his wife Shirley are buried.  It was on those days I remember playing in the cemetery and enjoying the day.  I remember the day I stumbled on Wes Charles drunk next to a tombstone.  I knew him from Dad’s work and couldn’t understand why he was different.  I think that is the first time I realized people were different when they were drunk.  He was beside himself sobbing.  Evan explained to me that those stones were not just there for looks but were monuments to people who were buried beneath.  That was why Wes was upset, he presumably had family buried beneath.  I think this was my first introduction to understanding death.  Cemeteries horrified me afterward.  It wasn’t until my Great Grandmother’s funeral in 1987 that I saw a dead person and understood more of those people buried beneath the tombstones.  A large tombstone near the entrance of the Paul Cemetery became the image of my nightmares.  I have since made peace with death, but still the image of the large “Duff” tombstone seems to be the epitome of death for me.  It proclaimed the finality of death.  In later years learning the gospel and about the resurrection removed much of the nightmare, but it haunted me for a very long time.  I imagined in my mind the placing of a body into the ground and when nobody was around who remembered, as Evan regularly did, you were forever gone.  While Evan probably had no clue the effect of all this, he played a very real part of it.
There were many, many homes I went with Evan where he did sheetrock work.  Oddly, it is with Evan that I have my first memories of my Aunt Sergene.  We stopped at her and Bert’s place for something.
Growing up, Evan always seemed to be seated in the big leather chair in the family room at Grandma’s.  Somehow, I was oblivious, or he was just always good enough, that every time it seemed I passed the chair, usually at high speed, this arm would appear and scare the daylights out of me.  I guess he was just always in the chair enough that he became a part of the chair.  Perhaps it was such a rare thing he was in it that it scared me, I don’t know.  It was a good scare, not a bad scare.
Evan grew up in a home that was on the same property that Grandma’s house was.  I don’t remember the house standing, but I seem to remember the day it burned down.  The old barn out back of Grandma’s, the little tar paper shack, the hayrake were all part of what was once his childhood.  I felt a connection to it as he did.  I remember filling in what was left of the foundation years later and feeling the sadness of what passed with the house.  There was some debate that somebody burned it down, I don’t remember who was the one accused.  There were tombstones on the other side of the canal I remember Evan taking me to in the trees.  There was a tombstone there by the barn which would move around through the years.  I don’t know if they had anything to do with Evan’s ancestry, but he knew their location and felt enough to watch over them.
There were the occasional day when he would appear at our house along the freeway to visit.  Mother did not make him welcome from what I remember.  He longed to see us.  I always felt he favored “Sissy” over me but that was okay.  I knew he loved us.
I always remember keeping him at a distance.  I remember seeing Grandma crying a few times and she would tell me how much she felt betrayed and hurt by Evan.  Add that to Mom’s sharp denouncements and I locked my heart to him.  I remember one time seeing him at the house along the freeway and nobody was there but Andra and me.  We went up to him and Andra hugged him but I refused.  I remember the tears he shed that day.  I do not know if he understood what was in my heart and thoughts that day.  I have never been able to overcome that emotional block.  I do remember he came to visit less and less over the years.  Christmas and birthday cards were about all that remained.  He remarried about two years later to his highschool sweetheart.
Due to the nature of him leaving our lives I always called him Mr. E. E. in the present of Grandma and other family members.  Mother had other choice words.  I don’t remember Grandma being harsh on his memory, just more disappointed.
My next memory has him at my missionary farewell.  He came for all of the church service and gave me a monetary gift and said he was not staying to not cause concern with Grandma and the rest of my family.  I do not know if he stayed for the farewell or not.  I tend to think he did.  I do know he was there at my missionary homecoming two years later.  Grandma had passed away and he sat in the overflow section.  He lingered after the homecoming crowd of well wishers had dispersed and I walked him to his Buick in the north parking lot.  He had a cane at the time.  We visited for a moment and he shed some tears then.  He told me my Grandmother would be proud.  I don’t remember holding ill will, but a bit annoyed that he came to the homecoming.
Since that time we have kept in contact via mail.  We responded through letters several times a year until the past year it has increased in number.  Mostly because he collected spoons and I was a traveling maniac with Amanda.  We purchased spoons for him in nearly all the places we would go and would send them to him.  He repaid us for all of them.  I don’t know I would have done it just out of the kindness of my heart or at least so many.
Some time in 2004 Evan called me and told me he was heading to Salt Lake to a doctors appointment.  He knew I was spraying lawns for Larry and wanted to know if he swung through Cache Valley if we could do lunch.  I wasn’t particularly interested but was nice and agreed.  We ate lunch at a little Mexican Restaurant in Smithfield.  It was good food and we discussed just the lighter topics.  Nothing of too much interest other than the fact he brought me an envelope of pictures.  I had been mining him for information about Grandma and the family.  He had not been very forthcoming until this day.  I finally quit asking him about Grandma and asked him about him.  He brought photos and I took them and scanned them all for him.  He had very few pictures of him and Grandma, at least that he shared.  You will notice that I have added the Elliott Family Album to my pictures with Evan’s passing.  These are the photos that had only to do with him I kept copies of.
He did finally disclose information on how he met Grandma, some of their courtship, their leaving each other, and their activity in the church.  Some of which comments I believe I have even posted here on the blog.
In reflecting upon his death I have a variety of feelings.  I still feel a sense of betrayal and emotional blockade.  A distancing I maintain for reasons I do not understand nor would I know how to dismantle them.  There is also a pity or sadness I feel.  Evan always seemed like such a lonely soul.  I don’t believe he was depressed or anything like those types of feelings.  He was married three times I know of.  The first two ended in divorce.  The third one was his highschool sweetheart for which he had pictures of from that time.  He had no children.  Even in his death, it was a time before someone found him after his death.  In looking back I see a man longing for belonging and love and I feel some guilt for offering none more than friendship.  He loved us as his own children, he told us that many times.  I feel a sense of release in a commitment that seemed to be a burden.  I have no ill feelings for him and want to weep that I feel a release in his passing.  This doesn’t seem my nature to harbour what appears to be some malice or bondage to another.  I do not understand the array of feelings I feel with Evan’s death or in reflecting on what I know of his life.  I am not sure I will ever truly understand in this life.  I am saddened by his death though and that the relationship we have has been growing and increasing incrementally over the years since the mission.  Perhaps it is the loss of what could have been in the healing of our relationship.  That is certainly a brighter light to look at the scenario, the disappointment of my wanting to mend the broken bridges of the past.
Regardless, I have taken an inventory of my life to a degree.  Are there other people who I can do more in extending love and fellowship to?  Is this a tragedy?  Was he really lonely or my imposed desire for him to be lonely from the betrayal I felt of him in hurting Grandma?  He mentioned his fighting in Korea and how he still often thought of it.  What happened?  Does that explain some of the rest of his life?  I will not know in this life.
Who met him on the other side of the veil?  Has Grandma and him at any point met to bring any more reconciliation they did not find in mortality?  I sense tragedy in the life of Evan’s parents.  Were they present and are they all finding their ‘rest’ from mortal cares?  Tragedy seems somehow to be the word to describe Evan’s life to me.  Tragedy to me or to him?
As I survey the world around me I think how time marches on.  Each and every sand grain falls through the constricted glass.  Each is numbered and recognized in their place even though not every grain is noticed.  How much are our lives the same?  Some more recognized than others.  But each has our part, whether large or small.  “I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.”

May’s flowers

I know, I know.  It has been too long and I must do better.  Sometimes life seems like it is not worth recording, but at other times, it seems I never have time to record what I want to.  My journals obviously take precedent, but I can do better at keeping up the blog.
Just finished a weekend at Flaming Gorge with the Hemsley Family.  I had a very enjoyable experience.  I feel bad because I went with a bit of exhaustion and fatigue.  I slept and napped enough to overcome it, but at the loss to my in-laws.  I did take considerable time to read on in Rough Stone Rolling and found myself quite inspired by some of it.  Again, I think Bushman’s generalizations are far off the mark at times, but I do enjoy the historical facts and timeline.  I read the parts dealing quite a bit with the Kirtland years and was captivated.  Anyhow, fishing went well.  We got there at 2:30 AM on the first night which I was sure would kill me.  We slept in, went fly fishing, had breakfast, went back, was rained out, and came back to camp.  It was a really slow day.  However, it was great for napping and resting.  Fly fishing just did not go well though.  It was pretty dead.  Don’t know if it is my technique or what, but others around me were doing poorly as well.  However, the next day was great.  We did some fishing at the dam regular style.  I caught 6 fish in the time of the morning.  We kept two of them, both Bass.  That evening we went out again, and I caught another 6 fish.  Kept two more, both Bass.  For a side note, I ate a filet from one of my Bass last night, I enjoyed it.  However, a bit haunted by the thoughts of catching the live fish, then the memory of it being gutted, then the filet process, and now I was eating it.    I will comment about our rafting trip on the way down the Green on Saturday afternoon.  I was in the non-wild boat for making the trip.  However, the wild boat turned out to be pretty weak, and we ended up taking nearly all the rapids straight on.  It was a rush, and I very much enjoyed it.  One of the final little rapids, we went right over the rock and landed in the hole behind it.  We churned in the hole, taking on water, and spinning.  I ended up breaking my oar trying to get out of the hole.  Others claimed it could turned out to have been a dangerous situation.  I felt no fear for my life though.  I think it was just a panic they felt.  I thought it was a blast and was totally in control.  We went over, Bryan nailed me pretty hard as the boat bent, I about was knocked out then.  But I was able to pull back in, and worked at getting out.  It was hilarious the different responses people have.  The river was not very deep, and despite having waders (spelling ??) on, I did not think we were in any danger.  The other boat helped us get all of our floating objects that were flooded from our boat.  It was a great laugh.  I was dying to try it again.  Can’t wait to do the Snake or the Colorado.  Dad told me the time he went down the Colorado back in the 50’s.  Oh man, what a blast it must have been.  Spent some good time chatting with Bryan driving.  Man, he had quite a few concerns about my marrying Amanda.  I am glad they took everything in stride.  Over the weekend, I saw loads of characteristics in Bryan that Amanda possesses.  Interesting how much we get from our parents.
Last night we made the preparations for our trip to Richmond.  I contacted individuals for places to stay across the country.  I am really looking forward to it.  Our first night we will stay in Denver.  The second night we will stay in Independence, Missouri.  The next night and Sunday we will spend in Branson, Missouri.  The next night we will stay somewhere probably in Kentucky.  Don’t know where yet.  Then the next night we will stay in Lexington, Virginia.  The last day will be the ride into Richmond, unpacking, and returning our rented vehicle.  I am looking forward to it.  We will visit my family in Missouri on the Saturday, along with Liberty and Independence for church sites, and I would like to visit the Truman Library again.  We will have to see.  I visited with the Institute Director in Richmond, Virginia.  He gave me some good leads on people to contact and places to stay.  One of which I feel really good about I visited with today.  It is known there as Little Provo.  Despite my dislike for Provo, having other LDS people around, along with most of them at the dental school will be good.  Especially since Amanda can catch rides with them, and hopefully even be in classes with some of them.  The cost is a bit more than I would prefer, however, the other parts might make it worth it.  Especially if we have other people coming to visit.
Life continues well here in Provo.  I am enjoying life.  I have not any complaints.  We are still in the Primary, so we don’t deal with the rest of the ward.  It is a great blessing.  The Sunday before last we stayed with Amanda’s parents (Mother’s Day).  We got to take her grandparents back to Payson, and I enjoyed that visit.  We also had a little get together with Jill’s family.  It was good.  I enjoyed the time and stay.  I sprayed that same weekend and stopped in to see my Uncle and Aunt Ellis and Geri Jonas in Smithfield.  They are doing well.  Three of their four children’s families were all represented.  It was good to sit and visit with them all.  Life is good.  I spray again for Larry this weekend.  I am looking forward to it.  Larry let me borrow an album and a basket of pictures, of which I scanned over an hundred photos.  All on the Andra line.
Anyhow, I think I am going to close.  I have to go pick up Amanda here in a bit from work.  I continue to study for the LSAT in June.  I have spent considerable time praying about the issue and feel totally calm about it.  I feel no more panic or concern.  I will do what I can and take the test.  The outcome is whatever happens.  How can I expect to be something I am not.  I know very plainly that God will put me where he wants me, even if that might not be where I would like.  But I know Richmond is definitely the next step to pursue.  I do not know what what the future holds, even if law school is an option, but only time will tell.  Things are being prepared and laid out.  We will just have to wait and see.  We are living right and doing what we are supposed to.
Hope all is well.  Please feel free to drop me a line.  I love to hear from people.

Hiroshima

Another crazy weekend.  However, I am proud to announce I received 8 hours of sleep on Sunday!  It was the first time in what must have been months.  I woke up with a hang over though from something.  Perhaps the body was not used to having so much rest.  Who knows.  Made my way down to Richmond again on Friday night.  I took Erika to Twin Falls this time, rather than dropping her at Jerome or Burley.  I stopped in Logan to pick up some books I ordered online.  The autobiography of Burton K Wheeler and Huey P Long, also a biography of Frank Church.  I am looking forward to reading them, although the one stenches of BO.
Amanda was able to come up and meet me in Logan so we went out for some World Famous Aggie Ice Cream.  The line proved that there were plenty of people desiring ice cream that late at night.  It must have been 9:30 and the place was crammed full of people.  Then to top it off, this lady stood and chatted with everyone at the cash register.  I had partially eaten my toffee crunch ice cream cone before she finally departed the store.  If somebody wants to get rich, they should invent an ice cream scoop that puts the ice cream clear to the bottom of the cone.  Unless of course, you like your cooled air inside the cone, slightly condensed with diary moisture.
Out to Richmond, moved in for the nocturnal visit, and spent some quality time together.  The Lundgreen’s had already gone to bed!  I had to get to bed early so that I could rise and be ready for Brad to arrive at 6:15 for work.  It seems I didn’t even fall to sleep the night went by so quickly and the alarm clock was off.  Up, breakfast, and off we go to Preston.  Sprayed lawns in Malad again.  A great day.  Visited St Johns, Pleasantview, and Malad in our spraying adventures.  This lady up on the hill had a cool horse drawn buggy in her garage.  We sat and visited with her about Grass Valley, California for a while.  It was pretty interesting.
Now, I have to tell one of the highlights of the day.  Lunch at the Dude Ranch Restaurant, Main Street, Malad, Idaho.  By the look of things, it looked a bit dingy and run down, but good friendly hospitality  Brad and I took our seat in a booth which was probably one of the originals from 1945.  Definitely enjoyed the old bottle bottom glass separating the booths, which seems to have faded since the 70’s.  We ordered a bacon cheese burger and I added a nice pineapple shake to my order.  I had to get my fruit somehow and didn’t think the potatoes in the fries counted other than as a vegetable!  They hand cut their fries.  I had a curly fry that when I picked it up must have stretched out over a foot in length!  Oh, they were delicious.  The burger, home made patty, with everything freshly cut was so good.  Oh yes, I have a new favorite in dining.  Too bad it is so far off of my normal routes of travel.  Eddies in Smithfield, Utah has some pretty darn good fries too!  Not to mention their Bar-b-Que.  Anyhow, Brad and I departed happy individuals from a good down home meal.  Sometimes I get so darn tired of the other foods.
Made our way back to Preston discussing the problems of the world.  Faith, diligence, and decision making in our lives.  We discussed politics, Supreme Court, Presidential Appointment, Idaho, Franklin County, Utah, and the role of law.  It was interesting.  We discussed other things, but due to my age, have now slipped from memory.
In Richmond, I completed my online class, visited with the family for a bit, and headed out for the Jonas family reunion in small Mantua, Utah.  Pulled in, drove around in circles at the Fish Haven Campground, and finally settled the car on a nice piece of grass.  Thought to myself, “Self, visit a few, catch up, get some e-mails, and get the heck out of dodge.”  Well, I appeared and various people came up and said hi and next thing I knew everyone was asking about Amanda and the rest of the year.  I never knew I was in the loop with the Jonas clan.  I thought I was descendant of a long dead brother whose family had fallen from the planet.  Trying to gain some information and knowledge of the family had been difficult in the past.  Now somehow, I was the center of attention and did not even come prepared.  Well, I went and located my car (it was not where I swear I had just parked it!) and pulled out my computer.  Sat down at the picnic table and started showing photos of the beloved Amanda.  After two pictures, I caught them all by surprise by moving it to the Jonas and Coley pictures.  Yep, had them then within my grasp.  They were chatting and talking about old times.  Laughing and identifying people in the pictures which I had given up hope on finding out who they were.  After a good half hour of changing the subject from me to the Jonas pictures, I opened Personal Ancestral File and started showing what I had.  They oohed and awed and started lining up to make sure I had the information correct, and gave me more.  Well, by the end of my 4 hour stint, I had gathered the contact information for 8 separate families, and loaded into PAF 6 entire new families!  I was pretty excited.  So over the next months, via e-mail, those names and families will be fleshed out with dates and places.  It turned out to be more productive than I though.  I had thought the Jonas family was not interested in their genealogy and I was a lone sentinel trying to amass information.  Alas, they are already lining up for me to put together a book and have it at the family reunion next year.  The best part, the bond increased amongst us and for once, I felt a part of the extended Jonas Clan.
The moment arrived when I had to depart from Mantua.  Off to Tremonton, I met Brad Hales again and we headed up to the Kasota home of the Ross’.  We crashed the night there and Sunday morning arose for our final leg to Nampa.  Brad was kind enough to prepare me a bowl of rolled oats.  I love rolled oats, don’t get me wrong, but the amount of so much I could not place any milk into my already oversized bowl was a bit much.  I felt like I had eaten too much afterwards.  The honey in it was really good though!  Hey, I lowered my cholesterol today!
We then made the trek to Nampa, and then Kuna, Idaho.  On the route, we discussed Brigham Young, being led and inspired of heaven, recognizing that guidance, and Oliver Cowdery.  Interspersed with our personal adventures, experiences, and stories.  It was interesting.
Nampa we arrived at the Hales Homestead and enjoyed some quality family time.  Really good Jello, and seared chicken too!  Then off to church for the baby blessing, of which I was even invited to stand in!  That was exciting.  No relation whatsoever, but I got to stand in for the baby blessing.  A very good testimony meeting, and then it was good bye.  Brad and siblings all headed back to Utah, and I headed to Parma.  Oh, I must comment, Brad’s sister, Amy agreed to go to Eastern Germany with me sometime to travel and do family history work.  I am excited!  Now just have to find that buried box of money…
Parma, Idaho was an experience finding.  I thought it was just one of the next towns from Nampa.  Nope.  A few miles to Caldwell, then to Notus, then to Parma.  It was like 30+ miles.  Oh well, it was a beautiful Sunday drive.  I was tempted just to go to Nyssa, Oregon too, but decided against it later.  I found Parma, and took a stroll around the Roswell and Parma cemeteries for the Ross Clan.  I don’t have a direct link to them, probably don’t but feel so compelled to assemble their family history.  Hopefully the future will reveal why.  I found 4 in Roswell, and 10 in Parma, including Charles Benjamin Ross.  That I was excited about.  Took a good drive around the area.  They must be raising something like grapes or something.  I have never seen the vines growing like that.  The Roswell Cemetery was surrounded by them.  There were also plenty of onion fields.  I swear I could smell spearmint too, but never got out to go into the fields to see if I could find a field of spearmint.  I also never realized Parma was the home of Parma farming implement.  Learn something new every day!
Headed back to Eagle, and crashed for the rest of the afternoon.  Did some catching up on the family history from Mantua, and visited on the phone.
On a sad note, I found out my 3rd Grade teacher, Ella Suhr passed away in June.  I was hoping to at least write her and say thank you for the influence she had on my life.  I suppose I will have to wait a while now.
Well, I will close.  Hope it was not too long and tedious of an entry.  It was a fascinating weekend, even though I am exhausted.  The usual state I am in as of late.  It is all worth it though.  I only hope my body will endure it for a very long time.