Writing My Life

Now and Then


My “Uniquely Boring Life”: Turning Point – CaNcER

G before his scope and scrape.

Step 1: Awaiting the “scope and scrape”.

Lives have so many turning points that I wonder what kind of map is created by all the crooked cow-paths. I think most people could fill a book based solely on the turning points that direct their mortal journeys. But today, I want to chat about our latest turn of events.

Enter February, 2017. G.E. learns he is a candidate for Type 2 Diabetes and must check his glucose once a day. I panic. This man has NEVER watched his eating as long as I have known him – 48 years. He doesn’t know what “nutrition fact” food labels are, and he is confused about problems associated with carbohydrates. But he surprises me by taking charge of his health, learns the devastating truth behind sugar, and bids farewell to his candy jars and ice cream bars. Yay for him. Yay for me. He loses pounds and lowers glucose readings.  I don’t gain weight. A plus.

In comes March 2017 like a lion, a monster, a devil. After a month of “spotting”, G.E. starts bleeding before, during, and after peeing.  The episodes are similar to menopausal women’s periods in that they last a couple of days. Stop. And start again. After two trips to the emergency room because we can’t get into a urologist until March 20th, he is diagnosed with Urinary Tract Infection. In spite of antibiotics, bleeding continues and possible kidney stones are blamed.

March 20th finally arrives, and the physicians’ assistant suggests weekly urine samples after reassuring us that many situations can cause bleeding, but most are harmless. Relax. The on-again/off-again bleeding continues – but NOT when urine samples are due. G. doesn’t feel well, and urination becomes difficult and painful. Third sample is filled with blood, and G. refuses to leave the urologist’s office without talking to the doctor.

April 13th. Gar undergoes a scope ‘n scrape. (This procedure has a long official name and a short acronym, but I can remember neither.) I face the urologist M.D. all by myself to learn he removed tumors in the bladder and a larger one in the urethra to send to pathology for a diagnosis. Our conversation continues like this:

Me: What do you think of these tumors?
Doc: Do you want me to be forthright?
Me (thinking – No please lie to me, and then make it so.): Yes.
Doc: I think they are cancerous.
Me (pausing to process): If it is, what can be done?
Doc: Probably surgery to remove the bladder and penis.
Me (thinkingI don’t care as long as he lives. How am I going to tell Gar? I am totally numb. I can’t even cry.): When will we get the results back?

April 20th. We receive the results. The doctor is right about the cancer, but it is more serious than he thought. “Crazy”, he says. So crazy, he refers us to Huntsman Cancer Institute. And Dr. Christopher Dechet. And so our lives turn. But the urologist was wrong about one thing: no penectomy.

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Mom Remembered: Her Life Sketch


Rebecca Howe Barrett was born at home on October 15, 1925 in Arimo, Idaho, creating an even dozen children in Rebecca and Fred Howe’s household! (Youngest brother Lloyd showed up five years later.) Her mother wanted to name her “Laura” after her dear sister, but her father wanted to name her after his faithful wife, Rebecca; and so the discussion appeared to be over. It was only in 1971 when Rebecca the younger sent for her birth certificate to obtain a passport that she learned her mother entered “Laura Rebecca Howe” on the birth certificate!

Rebecca reaped the advantages and the disadvantages of being towards the tail end of a large family. She could sometimes get away with mischief, and she was often spoiled by her loving sister Wyoma; but she was also the focus of merciless teasing by her older brothers, especially Reed and Russell. Nevertheless, she thought the world of them, and they loved her in tender ways that she never forgot.

The Great Depression was the backdrop of Rebecca’s childhood, and she spent her teens supporting the home-front during World War II. After graduating from Arimo High In 1943 where she was active in the marching band and editor of the school newspaper, she went to work counting ration stamps for Kraft Foods in Pocatello. While there, she became friends with Margaret Barrett who was instrumental in starting her “on the road to happiness when she introduced Rebecca or Beckie to her brother Henry Dale Barrett. Her “heart literally stopped when [she] saw this tall, handsome man in uniform get out of the car and come towards [her]”. After dancing the night away in the student union building at Idaho State College, he took her back to the car where he kissed her and asked, “Where have you been all my life?” Three days later, her soldier proposed marriage, and after two and a half months, 19-year-old Beckie took the train to Champaign, Illinois where Dale was stationed, and married the “love of her life” on June 1, 1945.

After Dale’s discharge from the Army-Air Corps, the two lovebirds settled in Pocatello, Idaho where Renae and Connie were born, thus creating their little family. They spoiled their daughters with much love and all the advantages they could provide. Beckie worked for Idaho Bank and Trust and then Idaho Farm Bureau to finance the spoiling. She was so proud of her girls, and they never wanted to disappoint her. Those were such precious years.

In 1966, Dale’s job transferred him – first to Portland, Oregon and then to Stockton, California. Eventually, they moved to Southern California when Dale joined another company. These were rough years for Rebecca, and she had to overcome hard challenges, but overcome she did with the love and support of her sweet husband. Blessings followed especially when they retired to Sun Lakes Active Adult Community in Banning, California. While living there, the two danced and golfed and traveled.

When Dale’s health began to fail, Rebecca wanted to move closer to her girls, and after two years in St. George, Utah, she decided that wasn’t close enough. In 2004, she and her sweetheart moved to American Fork, just a few miles from Connie and Renae.

Dale passed away 2007, but Rebecca stayed for eight and a half more years so her daughters could grow even closer through many joyful activities with her and tender service to her. The three went to lunches and dinners together and sometimes invited Randy and Gary. Mother and daughters especially loved attending plays at the Hale Center Theater for seven seasons!

Rebecca looked forward to playing cards with her great friends every Thursday afternoon at Mount Timpanogos Village, and they absolutely loved her great sense of humor. Of course, Grandma Beckie especially enjoyed visits from her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was always so proud of who they were and that they were part of her posterity. In between times, Betty and Lilly, her furry Maltese-Shiatzu “babies” kept her company so she was never alone.

As her health declined, especially after celebrating her 90th birthday, Rebecca decided she had been away from her Dale long enough and went home to him on Friday, February 5, 2016, the golden anniversary of their temple sealing. We know their love and dedication to each other, as well as their spiritual growth over the years, have bound them together for eternity. We relish the vision of their happiness in being together again for their life is truly a romance for the ages.