Writing My Life

Now and Then


A Lone Woman in a Household of Guys: A Tribute to My Husband and Sons

One Saturday morning in early January 1989, we received one of those dreaded calls that many families have experienced: a “you have been laid-off/fired/let-go/get-lost” calls. We pretty well knew it was coming as the technology company G.E. worked for was always “restructuring”, and he had been pretty lucky to avoid the repercussions over his 10 years of employment. Nevertheless, we were devastated, and losing a job that provided a good salary at age 41 was more frightening than being laid off during the “entry-level” years of one’s life.

Realizing our luck would not always hold, I had gone back to college part-time in 1987 to finish my teaching degree. By 1989, I had completed my general education credits, but still had a long ways to go because I changed my major. I had long wanted to complete my degree, and I knew I should have started sooner as there was no career I wanted to undertake more than teaching. Nevertheless, I did apply to work as a secretary at my brother’s-in-law accounting firm, but I failed the typing test miserably, and we wisely agreed that secretarial work was not the best fit.

Of course, there were unskilled jobs I could have pursued, but after much discussion and many prayers, G.E. and I decided I should do everything I could to finish school as that would benefit our family more in the long term. This meant applying for every grant, loan, and scholarship I could find, carrying a heavy heavy class schedule, and attending school year round. It was a huge decision that placed a significant burden on our entire family.

For my husband’s part, he collected unemployment benefits – which barely scratched the surface of our needs – plus picked up every odd job he could find. These included janitorial work, delivering Yellow Page directories, and yard work once spring came round. He even worked construction with a fireman friend who also owned a small handy-man company. G.E. was willing to undertake any project that would enable him to provide for our family and put his wife through college.

For our boys it meant many things more than just downsizing a lifestyle that included activities and opportunities they enjoyed and planned for. Andy and Joe couldn’t go to the International Boy Scout Jamboree as their older brother Chris had because we didn’t have the money or the time to help them with fund-raisers. None of the boys could attend all the sport camps they had hoped for, but they were able to play Little League Baseball because of the generosity of the Draper Youth Baseball League who waived their participation fees – something they were willing to do because of G.E.’s long-time association with that organization’s board and coaching staff.

Because of the change in our financial circumstances, the older boys willingly helped their dad with his side jobs in addition to their summer employment. Over the years, Chris and Andy worked at some pretty “interesting” places – the smelliest and dirtiest of which was the egg farm.(I’m surprised they still like omelets!) Employment at the nearby elementary was a relief in comparison! Joe, 12, joined his brothers and dad in cleaning offices and delivering the Yellow Pages, and 8-year-old Tim became the resourceful entrepreneur who sold toys, video games, and other odds and ends to get money for the things he wanted or needed.

Like Tim, G.E. and I sold everything we could. The first to go was our fairly new Suburban. My parents gave us their old car to drive, and Gar’s father gave us a dilapidated 1968 seafoam-green stationwagon and a utility trailer to use for the yard-care business. Sometimes, out of desperation, 14-year-old Andy had to drive the thing because he was the only one available to complete the appointment to mow, trim, and edge!

Even with the class-load I carried, it took 2 1/2 years for me to finish my degree. This was the era of keeping in touch via pay phones and long distance charges. Because I went to BYU in Provo, I became a long-distance mother. I purchased a “1-800” card that allowed me to call home and check on the boys. Home-cooked meals for them often meant eating cheese quesadillas on the run or in between homework, chores, part-time jobs, church and school activities. For the most part, they handled it all splendidly – better than their mother.

I knew the toll it was taking when I read one of Joe’s school essays based on the book Banner in the Sky. The assignment asked students to share a challenging experience in their own lives, and our son wrote about the impact of his father losing his job. He earned an “A”, but the essay made his teacher and me cry.

While G.E. obtained employment a few months after the layoff, the pay was just over a third of what he had been making. That meant he and the boys continued to clean offices, mow lawns, and work other jobs. One year, Joe hired on at Taco Time and bought his school clothes and Tim’s.

Over the course of that experience, a neighbor tried to recruit G.E. to sell a multi-marketing product, but my husband said no because he couldn’t live in the “iffy” world of straight commission. We needed to know exactly how much money was coming in and when he’d be paid in order for us to meet our obligations. The neighbor’s response was that he would never perform manual labor as G.E. did to bring in a few dollars here and a few dollars there. But somehow our patched-together income was enough to keep us afloat for the several years it took us to “swim to shore”.

In the meantime, I finished college and started teaching middle school and finances improved. Whenever I count my blessings – which is often – I always include the fine men in my life who made that possible. As a result, I enjoyed a wonderful career in an area I loved and was able to significantly contribute to our family’s income. When financial challenges struck again – which they did – we were able to tackle them in a better, less stressful way.

I adore my “boys” – G.E., Chris, Andy, Joey, and Tim –  who have all had to overcome many difficult trials in their lives, And today I want thank them for putting their mom through school over 25 years ago!

I love you all – and Happy Father’s Day, 2015


… SO thankful for my less-than-perfect hubby …

The love of my life for more than 42 YEARS!

Today is Father’s Day, and besides being grateful for a most wonderful daddy – whom I miss SO VERY MUCH – I am more than appreciative for G.E. – the IMperfect husband. Why? Because it would be difficult for IMPERFECT me to live with the epitome of perfection. Besides, it would NOT be nearly as fun.

Of course, it wasn’t and isn’t always fun, but what irritated me as a young wife, I’ve learned to pretty much ignore. Yes, he is a type A, right-brained, A.R. personality – almost obsessive compulsive at times. (I mean how many men do you know who not only REPLACE the toilet paper but who also have the back-up sitting near by when squares on the roll are down to 50?!?!?!?)

But he has SO many redeeming qualities that I cannot fault him for his Felix (as in The Odd Couple) tendencies when I am his Oscar (not as in “the Grouch.”) G.E. can be a grumpy husband and a GRUMPa, but beneath his sometimes prickly exterior is a tender heart that would do “almost” ANYTHING and EVERYTHING for me and for our children – I mean the man does have his limits.

Our boys know that they can turn to their dad in an emergency or what they think is an emergency, and he is ALWAYS there. Oft times they don’t have to approach him because he sees the need and extends the help without being prompted by them or me. In fact, MissOblivious here occasionally fails to see their problems, but their “hawk-eye” father can spot them from miles away.

In addition to some of his quirks, I learned early on in our whirlwind courtship that G.E. is a MAJOR tease. This characteristic might be intolerable for many women, but not for me. Of course, it wears thin at times, but on the whole, it endears him to me. Omigosh, the man can make me laugh and visa versa. I love that I make him laugh WITH and AT me. I mean, I am infamous for inadvertent craziness that cracks up family AND friends.

Naturally, these incidents of insanity did NOT always amuse him, but just as I’ve learned to work with his issues, he has learned to accept mine. We’ve stopped trying to change each other. And in the course of that acceptance of one another, our love and appreciation grows.

I’ve also learned to return his grumpy remarks with kind answers – most of the time – and he has learned to shake his head, roll his eyes, and laugh out loud at my MANY mishaps, mistakes, misplacements, etc. And in evening of our on-earth togetherness, we find joy in the morning, the noon, and the night.

I love you, my darling.


… a time to “tributize” the grandpa, too …

There are times I refer to Gar as “GrumPa” – usually when he assumes his Felix Unger identity, and the little ones combine to play his rascally counterpart, Oscar (as in The Odd Couple’s Oscar Madison, NOT Sesame Street’s Oscar the Grouch.)

Walter Mattau and Jack Lemon - the original Oscar and Felix

Oscar Madison, slob; Felix Unger, neat-freak

Both a slob AND a grouch!

He may not LOVE their MESSES, but he’s working on that patience thing because he absolutely adores his grandkidlets. Gar loved his Father’s Day with his little ones, and here’s proof!

Can you get it, GramPa?

Can you get it, GramPa?

We made it, Buddy!

We made it, Buddy!

Learnin' to walk with GramPa!

Learnin' to walk with GramPa!

Congratulatory Kisses!
Congratulatory Kisses!

Thanks to Unca Tim for these great pictures, and more will be on their way! We can’t pass up Kodak moments like these, now can we? (Especially when GramPa is wearing the preppy plaid Burmudas Gramma gave him for Father’s Day – the pale, white legs came free with the shorts! : ) )