Writing My Life

Now and Then


Memorial Day – aka “Decoration Day” – 2012

This is actually one of my favorite holidays, and I am touched when we make the cemetery rounds and find hundreds of families and folks still paying homage to their loved ones.

Today, we left mums, small versions of Old Glory, and lots of love at the grave sites of our fathers and mother. We have not forgotten you, Daddy, Chuck, and Pat. AND we miss you oh so very much.

Love Renae and Gary

Our traditional, yearly photo op: Connie B, Cute Mama, and me.

The “past-its-prime” flower and note are from a Cub Scout den, and they are saying thanks for Dad’s service to his country. Sweet, huh?

This man was a great son to his parents, and he’s a wonderful husband to me!

It’s wonderful to see that their 5 children honor Charles Harold and Jenny (Pat) with flowers and loves!

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… one more Memorial Day tribute … maybe ….


Dad dressed like this while serving as a Top Turret Gunner in a "Flying Fortress.

When I was young I thought Memorial Day or Decoration Day – as it was also called – was set aside to honor ALL whohad departed. And Americans do that, but I did not realize it is primarily a day to remember those servicemen who are no longer with those they fought for. While we attended the grave sites of both my father’s and G.E.’s, I thought of the time a few years ago when we learned more about my Dad’s’ war by visiting the Mighty 8th Air Force Heritage Museum near Savannah, Georgia. It was a great experience for us both, and the biggest thrill was finding Dad’s name carved on the long veteran’s wall.

Here is just a taste from that day of learning and thanksgiving.

The Mighty 8th Air Force Heritage Museum 2003

The 379th Bomber Group

What they all fought for - PEACE!

G.E. points to Daddy's name on the Veteran's Wall

My hero!

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… a day to honor Dad and the Grad …

On the 28th day of May and of posting, G.E. and I enjoyed memories PAST and PRESENT. We visited the cemetery this morning to decorate the grave and honor my sweet father who has been gone from us for nearly 4 years. Seems impossible.

Mom, Sis, and 2 helpful husbands reminisced for a few moments as we set 3 pots of colorful mums around the site. We admired the headstone with its etched flag on Daddy’s side and carved flowers on Mom’s. Then we recalled once more how much my father loved Old Glory. Mom reminded us how he had to hang a flag at every house they ever owned – and there were several over the years. Connie talked about the time they first moved to Oregon, and she and Daddy drove all over Gresham to find a store that sold flags.

“That’s when we discovered Fred Meyers,” she said. “And it soon became Dad’s favorite shopping place.”

Mom had been tearful when we first arrived, but remembering and chatting and laughing soon brightened us all up.

A short time later, G.E. and I watched our Joe cross the stage at the Maverick Center to OFFICIALLY receive his MBA diploma from Westminster College. Yup, he was CAPPED, GOWNED, and HOODED, and I didn’t snap his picture fast enough before he shed the heavy and HOT regalia!!!

It was a joyous and lengthy occasion highlighted by that 15 seconds when the announcer called out our son’s name, and our small contingency of his supporters – Kara and the two little girls, Cindy – Mom-in-law, Dad and Mom, and Uncle Carl – shouted HURRAHS and clapped, Clapped, CLAPPED!

The college was organized in 1875 by members of the Presbyterian Church, and one of the great delights is Westminster’s tradition of employing bagpipes and drums to introduce and dismiss the graduates.   The group was amazing, and the music brought chills and tears. What a great day. I LOVED it!


… Memorial Day ~ may be one of my favorite holidays …

Those who know me will say, “Of course, Memorial Day is your favorite! It’s your birthday!”

This year that is true, but since President Nixon relegated the day of memories to the last Monday of May, sometimes the holiday is and sometimes it isn’t on May 30th – the ORIGINAL Memorial Day AND my birthday. While I am THRILLED to celebrate another year here on earth, birthdays don’t quite offer the same delight they did when I was 6 or 10 or 16.

Memorial Day does bring me a HUGE dose of nostalgia, and for a person who is ALWAYS nostalgic, that is saying something. Tonight is a case in point. I decided to rummage through some boxes of old photos looking for who-knows-what, and I found all but 2 of our sort of “official” family pictures. For a long time I have wanted to post them, and decided that I’ll start off the Memorial weekend with these “happy family” photos. (Of course, we all know what goes into organizing a trip to the photographers – hence the sarcasm.)  So here we go down Memorial Day Lane.

We looked SO happy because we were!

I look at this picture and fall in love all over again.

The Bouffant and the Soldier Boy!

The beginning of the BOYS!

The boys have ALL ARRIVED including Teddy, the Cocker Spaniel.

TOTAL 80s look going on here!

We were all together for the first time in 2 years because Andy had just returned from his LDS mission.

We had gained AND lost some daughters-in-law about this time, so I'm just posting the ROOT of our family.

My niece took MANY photos of the fam, but I LOVE this CRAZY-FACES pose! AND we were happy to welcome the NEW daughter-in-law who married into the family that year!

This is a terrible PICTURE of the PICTURE 'cause I don't have one that does NOT hang on a wall. It's WAY out of date because 3 more little peeps have joined the family. Maybe we can just "photo-shop" the new additions!!!


… celebrating cemeteries & birthdays …

Yesterday was my 62nd birthday, and as tradition OFTEN (as opposed to ALWAYS) dictates, I spent part of it in the cemetery. Because the anniversary of my birth no longer falls on Memorial EVERY year, there are those times when the rotating holiday lands a full week before May 30th, and grave decorating is NOT part of the birthday celebration. During those off-times, I actually miss the tradition as so many memories are wrapped up in that birth-Memorial Day observance.

While I am sweetly honored by family and friends on my special day, I am also happy to honor my father, mother-in-law, and father-in-law by placing flowers at their headstones. This year, I shook my head in disbelief as I realized Daddy has been gone for nearly 3 years. Impossible. G.E.’s father, “Chuck”, left us nearly 15 years ago; but Grandma Salisbury, “Pat”, passed away almost 25 years ago at age 62. (Did you catch the correlation between her DEATH age and my CELEBRATED age? Distressing!)

Ann Cannon, my favorite columnist and blog friend, wrote today about the reflective nature of visiting cemeteries. She should know as she lives near and walks daily through the Salt Lake Cemetery. Ann observed through the wise words of a clergyman that our earthly lives are finite, and that we’ll NEVER have enough time; therefore, we should “CHOOSE to make the time we have together SWEET.”

I am sure that my kind mother-in-law did not realize that when she left for her daily walk that September morning that she would no longer be able to sweeten the time she had left with her “Chuck,” her children, or her grandchildren. I know she looked forward to baking more “sweet” bread for all of us who loved it; to reading stories and playing the organ for grandsons and daughters; to attending missionary farewells, weddings, and baby blessings; and to talking and listening to family and friends reminisce, reflect, and predict about times past, present, and future.

Her unexpected passing so many years ago reminds me that while it is impossible for every minute of every day to be sweet; it is possible to find the sweetness in each day – even if it’s just a minute. And then when the shadows fall for the final time, we can hope we have tasted more days of sweetness than hours of bitterness.

That is my hope, especially this year as I turned 62.


Thankful for Daddy, Our WWII Veteran

Memories of Daddy
By Henry and Rebecca’s Daughters

My sister and I shared these thoughts at Daddy’s funeral 2 years ago. I decided to “post” our love with any readers who stop by tomorrow on Veteran’s Day. He bravely served his country and loved the USA deeply. We ARE so proud of him.      

Hank in uniform



As I sat at Dad’s bedside these last few days, I held his hands in mine. I tried to memorize what they looked like so I wouldn’t forget them. I began to think about all of the things he did with those hands during his life time.    

For those of you who think of my sister as the shy little Connie B., let me tell you that you don’t know Connie, the take-charge nurse! After Daddy’s passing, and we decided we wanted to speak at the funeral, she said she thought of talking about Daddy’s hands. Then she added, “And I thought you could talk about his feet.” No one says no to Nurse Connie; so my talk today is about Daddy’s feet and where they took him throughout his life.    

When Daddy was three-years-old, those little feet powered his stick horse. But one day that little stick horse fell into a canal that ran along Thirteenth Avenue near his home in Pocatello, Idaho. When Dad reached in to grab his toy, he fell in. Luckily, he was with his little buddy Don Robinson who grabbed Dad’s clothes, held on and screamed until his mother came. We’ll be forever grateful to Don for saving Daddy’s life so that we could spend so many years with him.    

While a young boy, he would fold the Pocatello newspaper neatly into a square; the last corner carefully tucked away so when he tossed it onto a porch from his bicycle, it wouldn’t fall apart. H rode all over Pocatello delivering those papers.    

Yes, after so carefully folding all those copies of the Idaho State Journal, Dad’s feet peddled his bicycle up and down the streets in the early morning hours. But on Sunday, those feet walked to and from the Pocatello 2nd ward of the LDS Church where he attended Sunday School and Sacrament meetings. As a young deacon, those feet walked the aisles as he passed the sacrament, but as a teenager, he trudged up and down the bleachers at baseball games, selling popcorn, peanuts and beer to all those rookie league fans. Until one day, the Pocatello East Stake president attended a game and told Dale a priesthood holder should not be selling beer. Dad quit the job soon after    

He used those talented hands to learn to play the trumpet. Along with his brothers and sisters, he played in the Barrett Family Band. They played all over southern Idaho, even on Christmas Night, which didn’t make him too happy. But this did start a life-long love of music.    

His hands struggled to perform algebra and geometry problems – oh, how he hated math! A trait he passed onto his daughters – “Thanks, Dad!”    

Yes, as a member of the Poky High band, Dad’s feet marched in bands at games and in parades. Once part of the “best trumpet trio in Idaho” – as stated by his sister and our Aunt Margaret – he stood in the Mormon Tabernacle to perform as part of that trio. A few years later, his feet tapped out the beat of swing songs and serenades as part of the Gene Burton band – Pocatello’s version of Glenn Miller’s or Tommy Dorsey’s bands. They frequently provided the music for dances at Idaho State University.    

After graduating from Pocatello High School in 1942, his hands signed his enlistment papers in February 1943 when only 18 years old. As a member of the Eighth Air Force 379th Bomb Group, he flew 35 missions aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress. Because he was so tall, he became the top-turret gunner, using his hands to defend the country he loved so much.
At 18, he feared his flat feet might keep him out of serving his country during World War II, also known as WWII – the Big One. Actually, his love of Coca Cola almost prevented him from being inducted. During his physical, the doctors determined he had albumen; so his family doctor ordered him off Coke for a week and that did the trick.    

During the war, Dad proved he had no feet of clay as he quickly moved from one end of that B-17 to the other to keep it in flying order. This was no easy task because often times the bomb bay doors jammed and he had to hand-crank them open with very little between him and the wild blue yonder. Those feet rushed him safely from two crash landings – both occurring during his first two missions. Once I asked him how he dared go up for a third.    

On one occasion, he saved a buddy’s life in a most unusual way. A grandson of this crewmate wrote Dad to thank him for saving his grandfather’s life. It seems this young bombardier failed to dress in his heated underwear prior to one of their flights. It gets very cold in those planes, and after performing their duties, Dad held his friend on his lap, wrapping his arms around him to keep him warm until they returned safely to base.    

(Today we are honored to have one of Daddy’s crew members with us in the congregation. Paul Lineberry served with Dad as a ball-turret gunner on those 35 missions! We greatly appreciate his attendance here today.)    

At the end of the War, he sent home on leave. His sister Margaret wanted to line him up with her good friend from work. Upon picking them up at the shuttle stop, Dad took one look at Rebecca Howe, and it was “love at first sight” for both of them. A few weeks later, he took her hand in his, and placed a gold band upon her finger, and she did the same to him. That gold band remains on his hand to this day, a bit worn but a great symbol of their love for each other.    

On February 5, 1966, he took my mother’s hand in his across our Heavenly Fathers sacred altar in the Idaho Falls Temple, and there they were sealed as eternal companions.    

After completing a successful tour of duty, he returned home to Pocatello on leave. Those feet walked on air when he met that 5’3” brunette, Becky Howe. Not long after meeting her, he knocked her off her feet when he asked, “Where have you been all my life?” From anyone else that may have sounded like a great pick-up line, but from my dad, it was tender and sincere. He fell in love with her the minute he saw her and he never stopped loving her. His last conscious expression was to confirm his love for her and to pucker up for one final kiss.    

After a few years of marriage, Dad became a father. His large hand gently held his tiny daughter Renae. Two years later, on the day before Father’s Day, I was born. Daddy was always so gentle and kind. He loved his girls so much, he could never use his hands to spank us.    

When he would get home from work or a business trip, I would run and jump into his arms. He would pick me up, and I would hug him tight, give him a kiss, and then I would always ask him, “Any gum, Chum?” Sometimes I got it; sometimes I didn’t, but I always got a kiss.    

Through the years, Dad’s feet walked the floors with his baby daughters and wandered around the kitchen as he cooked our daily breakfasts or whipped up a batch of donuts. Yes, donuts. Dad loved to deep fry that yummy snack, and I especially liked the donut holes.    

Dad would hold our hands as we tried ice skating; his hands steadied a wobbly bike so a seven-year-old could learn to ride; and his hands tucked us snuggly into bed at night.    

Dad used his hands to cut up fruit, but being an Idaho boy, he also loved to cut up potatoes and eat them raw. One morning Mom looked over at his bowl of cut up fruit and noticed he had added raw potatoes in with the apples and bananas! Whenever I invited Mom and Dad up for dinner, I made sure I cut some raw potato just for him.    

Daddy loved to put many miles on his feet in community service as he and Mom worked with good friends for good causes as part of the Pocatello Junior Chamber of Commerce. We have one picture of this group raising money for the fight against polio. In later years, he served shut-ins through the “Meals on Wheels” program. His feet also walked the halls of a Banning, CA elementary school to tutor struggling students.    

In fear of making Daddy sound too perfect, I thought it only right to mention Dad also had a lead-foot. We could make the two-hour drive from Pocatello to Twin Falls in an hour and a half, and it only took 15 or 20 minutes to get to Arimo. Those speeding tickets created a slight bone of contention between Mom and him. Dad’s feet were even behind bars once and Mom had to bail him out – not because of unpaid speeding tickets, but because of unpaid parking tickets.    

His hands took great care of every yard he owned; put up an American flag, and covered his heart to honor his country.    

As Connie and I grew up, he stood as a witness at our temple weddings, stood in the blessing circles of babies. With feet planted firmly on the floor as he sat, he held each little one on the length of his long lap.    

During the past decade, Daddy’s feet betrayed him as he suffered from neuropathy. Nevertheless, he never gave up walking – first with a cane and then with a walker. Only the last week of his life did he stop walking.    

It mattered not that his feet failed, he always stood firmly beside Mom and she beside him. She tenderly served his every need as he struggled to fight his infirmities. One of Mom’s final acts of service as he lay dying was to rub his feet and his restless legs. When nothing else soothed them, that did, and she told us how he loved that sweet act of love.    

One of the last things I saw Daddy’s hands do was when I stood at the foot of his bed, he looked at me, pointed his finger right at me. I pointed back and he said the last words I remember him saying: “Connie B.” That little action meant the world it me; it said to me, “I love you Connie B.”    

As Connie and I close, Mom, Connie and I want to thank Heavenly Father for the great blessing of having Daddy in our lives. Henry Dale leaves the greatest legacy of all – a family who loved and adored him.    

We are also thankful for a Savior who, upon his resurrection, said to his disciples, “Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet.”    

I have no doubt that my sweet father is with the Savior this day, and that he is wrapped in the loving arms of his parents, his siblings and members of Mom’s family as well. For they all loved him so much.