Lehi, Utah 1986-1987
The farm in Lehi no longer had cows and various small livestock when we returned to live there in the fall of 1986, but there was an old horse on the property. My son David had returned from his mission to Taiwan and came to live on the farm with us while he attended BYU. I enrolled my young son Sam in Kindergarten at Realms and enjoyed the results as he thrived under the influence of a truly gifted, dedicated teacher. She showed me pictures he had drawn and took as much delight as I did in the way he hid his name in the line of crows sitting on the roof of a house. He learned to read and write and speak a little Spanish. The class climbed the trail to Timpanogos Cave.
Mary, Lucinda and Eliza were registered at the Lehi Elementary School. Lucinda and Eliza adapted quickly, finding friends, but it took longer for Mary to feel comfortable with her new school mates.
Soon after we moved to Lehi, on a darkening evening with a chill in the air, I returned home to find my house dark and the children sitting around a campfire in the yard where they were cooking dinner. A man from the power company had come and turned off the power. I was astonished by the lack of grace of the utility worker, and pleased by the resourcefulness of my children. I had the power restored the following day.
Someone was leasing the fields for horses. One day I picked out a little dog at the county dog pound. He was an attractive, lively little mutt and we named him Go-Go, the Chinese word for dog. He soon proved to have a serious problem. He was a scavenger, ranging over the countryside and bringing home bones and pelts and leaving them around the yard. We suspected him of chasing the neighbors' poultry.
He liked to chase the horses in the nearby fields. One evening he got too close and received a kick that broke his leg. I put him in the car and set out to find a vet, but it was growing late and I couldn't find any places that were open. I finally returned home and splinted his leg, wrapping it well and securing it firmly. He spent the night tearing off the dressing. For several weeks he ran around three-legged, and soon he was back barking at the horses. One day we discovered a little cocker spaniel that must have been lost for some time in the countryside. He was gaunt and covered with burs. We cleaned his coat and fed him and he proved to be a lovely pet. We called him Bur-go for the state of his coat when he was found.
Since I was driving up to Salt Lake daily to deliver my sons to their school, I decided to continue my college education. I applied to the University of Utah. The admissions counselor took one look at the first page of my transcript and said I couldn't qualify under the grade point requirements for transfer students. I assured him that I could. I had already determined that my later grades would more than suffice to counter the poor grades of my first quarter at the U of U more than twenty-five years before. I had confronted the same question when I registered at George Mason University more than a year previously and my grades at George Mason had all been fairly good. Finally the admissions officer agreed to calculate the average, apparently certain he would prove me wrong. He checked hiscalculations twice when I was vindicated. I was even able to get resident tuition since we had owned property in Utah for more than twenty years. I was accepted and planned to attend the U of U beginning after Christmas in the winter quarter of 1987.
I hadn't brought the artificial Christmas tree and decorations I had used for many years when I moved back to Lehi. It gave me the opportunity to start a new Christmas tradition. Everything I used to decorate my 'real' pine tree was silver, white or crystal, and it had to have some relevance to a traditional Christmas theme. Our family got together for the holiday with my husband Richard driving with his daughters Meg and Tisha. .
When I began to register for classes at the U, the course work in nursing required by the University was so different from what I had taken at GMU that I registered to study biology instead. I took trigonometry from a Chinese instructor who could barely communicate in English and passed the course. I also took general biology, Ethnic Studies,and Chemistry.
Meg called to tell us that she had become engaged. The prospective groom was someone we knew slightly, but her brother David knew him better, having served with him on his mission to Taiwan. When David heard the name he bowed his head and said a brief prayer and told her he hoped she would be happy. He knew too much about Skip to be particularly thrilled.
The trip between Lehi and Salt Lake City took place at or near rush hour every day. Although my son David was attending BYU and usually home as backup, the children left in Lehi were Mary Jane, Lucinda, and Eliza and I was concerned about leaving them alone for any period of time on the isolated farm. The bus would sometimes get them home before David could arrive.
On Mother's Day, 1987 my sister Katie called me and told me that my parents had been burned when the propane in their camper exploded. They had been picked up by an ambulance and were being cared for at Richfield hospital. We drove down to see them and
found them in terrible condition, looking like huge versions of Cabbage Patch Kids with the swelling from the burns. I slipped a few tiny tablets of Cantharis, a homeopathic burn remedy, into their drinking water. My father had an immediate reaction, swearing and wondering why the water tasted bad. Since the dosage was only a couple of tiny 'sugar pills' which normally could not have been detected in the 12 ounces of water, I felt that he was already feeling the effects. Katie and I insisted that the hospital transfer our parents to the burn center at the University of Utah hospital, feeling that the Richfield Hospital was not only too far for us to visit daily as we intended, but did not have the expertise of the Burn Center.
My parents spent some time at the Burn Center, having their burnt flesh 'debrided' and being watched for signs of infection. We learned to help with their bathing. I can remember seeing my father, looking like a pixie in his hospital gown and the little stocking cap that covered his burned scalp, stalking across the central area off which the open rooms of the patients were located, and commanding my mother to eat. She began to define herself as an individual by bringing in some of her paintings to decorate her room. I noticed how the doctors and nurses responded when they began to see her as an artist and not only as an elderly patient. They were released from the hospital somewhat earlier than might have been expected because we had demonstrated our intent and ability to take care of them at home.
Meg decided that six months was sufficiently long for her engagement and she married Skip that Spring not long after my parents were able to go home. I flew to Virginia to attend their wedding and made plans to give them a reception later when the other family members could attend. I purchased round lace table clothes and blue fabric to make dresses for her sisters. Meg had chosen a wedding dress in Utah, asking her sisters to participate in the choice, in case they should decide to use it in time.
In June, when the school year ended, I drove my children back to Virginia. We arranged a reception for Meg and Skip that was held in the party room of the apartment complex where they lived. Many of the invited guests didn't respond and the attendance was light, but we had a good family reunion and enjoyed the food.
When I returned to Utah I found that my mother felt that I had abandoned her in her need. She couldn't understand that I had to spend several weeks away from sharing in her care. My sisters had certainly kept up with what was needed. Perhaps in some way she regretted not being able to attend the festivities surrounding the wedding of her first grandchild.
I felt that the drive from Salt Lake to Lehi with its attendant incipient neglect of my younger daughters could not continue. I wanted to locate to someplace near the U of U. With five children at home I was unlikely to find an apartment so I looked for a house and located a little turn of the century cottage on Bueno Avenue at about Eleventh East between Second and First South. It was rundown, but the price of $26,000 suited me. It had two small and one large bedrooms. The boys could sleep in the small bedroom, the girls in the large bedroom, and I chose the small bedroom downstairs. David was working at the MTC teaching Chinese and he moved from Lehi and became a Resident Assistant, living at the MTC and providing supervision to the missionaries. I found some renters for the farm house in Lehi and moved to Salt Lake City before school started again.