Writing My Life

Now and Then


… 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.


… mamas, daughters, and washdays …

As I mentioned in one of my tributes to Bonnie Howe Behunin, my cousin wrote several poems about her parents. I shared the poem she wrote to honor her father, my Uncle Pete, and promised to include lines dedicated to Aunt Ida, too. Actually, there are several poems about Bonnie’s mama, and it is too hard to decide on one because each reveals a different facet of this kind woman who was large in stature and heart. (In fact, Meryl Streep’s physical appearance as Julia Child in Julie and Julia reminded me of Aunt Ida’s height and breadth.)

As I reread the tributes, some verses stimulated my own memories, and I realized that’s another reason I feel compelled to share Bonnie’s work. For example, the following poem talks of a time LONG past, but many of us can remember that in our childhood,  household tasks were backbreaking chores! Take wash day, for example ~  now we can throw a load or two of dirty clothes into the washer and dryer EVERY day, completing the job in under an hour. (I don’t particularly care for that task and have often repeated that I hate to RUIN every day by washing clothes, and so I still leave that chore for Saturdays.) Back in the “olden days,” however, moms NEEDED at least one WHOLE day to process shirts and blouses, pants and skirts, sheets and table cloths through the wringer washer before hanging them on clothes lines strung between poles in every back yard.

I remember our family’s “wash room” was located in the basement, and Connie and I sent our soiled clothes sailing down the laundry chute,  that was disguised as a drawer located near the baseboard in the hallway. I was terrified of the washer as I was sure the wringer or the cogs would grab my pudgy little  fingers along with the pillow cases and crush them, thus forcing immediate amputation! (Sadly, that horrible scenario actually happened to G.E.’s mom when she was a little girl, causing a life-time of embarrassment for her as she always hid her 1-jointed pinky behind the folds of a hankie.)

Pencil Art by Don Greytak

Maybe my mom worried about the same thing because I don’t remember helping with the wash as much as I do recall sprinkling and rolling up  handkerchiefs and pillow cases after pulling them from the clothes lines. At some point I also learned to iron those items. While none of this may sound the least bit fun, the companionship of working together as mother and daughter is what often lingers in our hearts and minds. Here is Bonnie’s recollection of those days.


~ Bonnie Howe Behunin

Slick and soft, and smelling clean,

The soapy laundry smell

Of when Mom rubbed the extra lotion

From her hands to mine:

Mom and wash day.

A round washtub for soaking clothes,

The agitating, guiding of each piece

Through wringer to the rinse and bluing,

Then to the line.

We brought the clothes in:

Mom piled them, fresh, high in my arms

Until I could not see over

Or breathe past the clean to the sky.

We folded and stacked and finally finished,

Sprinkled the clothes to be ironed tomorrow.

Then Mom shared her lotion,

Cupping my small hands,

First one, then the other

In her big ones.

I think of those nights in my bed

With my hands on my face,

Breathing my mother

As I cling to wash day.


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.

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… a time to “tributize” hubby …

One night this past week, Hubby and I couldn’t stop laughing. The chuckles and giggles erupted over something ridiculous, the details of which I cannot begin to remember. But that’s not important! Gar’s goodnight comment, still laced with laughter, is what I’ll never forget. He rhetorically asked, “Who would ever know that living with someone could be so much fun?”

Now this observation delighted me because he said it after 40 years of marriage to ME. You see, I am NOT the easiest person to spend a lifetime with, let alone all eternity. I’m not saying he’s the easiest man to live with either, but there is NO ONE I’d rather laugh, cry, or argue disagree with. The miracle of our marriage is that we have grown to love each other for the people we really are – not the IMAGE of our dream mate or the spouse we THOUGHT married.

I adore Gary – my nit-picky, occasionally grumpy, chronic teaser of a husband! Over four decades I’ve learned to appreciate his many, many strengths and to either ignore his idiosyncrasies or snicker at them. I’m not going to dwell on his oddities, but I have to share a couple of them.

Unlike many males, Gar picks up after himself and anybody else who happens to live under our roof. I’m not saying he tidies up after us with a smile on his face and a song in his heart, but these days he tries not to growl too loudly. He’s also a great multi-tasker. If he comes home early, for instance, he’ll have the wash nearly finished, the lawn mowed, and dinner started before I arrive home. If I get home early, I’ll get my clothes changed before he shows up. Hmmmm.

I know many wives reading this post are thinking, “That’s NO oddity; that is SAINTLY.” But it can be annoying. Sometimes Many times, I drag home, ready to prop up my feet and just veg, but NOT Gar. He’s busy picking up or working in the yard, and so I can’t stretch out on the couch while he vacuums around me or lounge on the deck while watching him weed or plant yet another daylilly. So I sigh and pick up a dust cloth or a garden spade and drag my weary self through the motions of helping out.

There’s a particular cleaning situation, however, that I steer clear of. If the University of Utah and BYU are playing football against each other, and the Utes are playing poorly, Gar can’t suffer through intercepted passes or fumbled hand-offs. Because he is not able or allowed to run onto the field and ignite the offense or tighten up the defense, he grabs the vacuum and tears up and down the family room carpet. If the game doesn’t improve, the kitchen gets scoured, the floors scrubbed, and the garage organized. It’s quite amazing. Unfortunately, the red team didn’t  throw many interceptions or fumble many handoffs last season,  so the pre-holiday cleaning frenzy wasn’t what it used to be. (Go Cougs!)

Although my Gar is 60-something, I think he’s still afraid of the dark. He denies it, of course. But if you’ve ever visited our home in the evening, you may notice that little lights start twinkling from one end of the house to the other as darkness sets in. Nightlights line the hallway and the perimeters of every room. Of course our grown kids noticed the indoor landing lights and expressed curiosity about the type of aircraft expected to glide down our hallway.

Just in case the nightlights fail

Just in case the nightlights fail

A couple of Christmases ago, one of our daughters-in-law found the perfect gift for Gar – slippers with “toe-lights!” Seriously. But our son pooh-poohed the idea because he thought $39.95 was a little too much to pay for a gag-gift. I wish they had gone through with the purchase because I’m pretty sure his dad would have been thrilled. He LOVES slippers as well as lighted pathways.

Our grandchildren have also noticed that their grandpa is unique, if their titles for him are any indication of their observations. For example, my oldest son’s oldest daughter dubbed Gary BawCaw/Baca (not sure of the spelling). Upon hearing her refer to Grandpa by that dubious name, a nearby stranger commented upon the term by informing us that it means “crazy” in Japanese. A little further research indicates that Baca also means cowherd, mulberry tree, and misery. (By the way, it’s not listed among the 1000 most popular names between 1990 and 2003. Surprise.)

Our second son and his wife taught their children to call their grandpas by Papa, as in Papa Gary. I think that sounds quite cute. And while our third son and his wife encouraged their daughter to use “Grandpa Gary,” she came up with her own term of endearment: Cra-pa. (Say it fast for the total effect.) I thought it was pretty funny until yesterday when she called me Cra-ma.

So far this entry doesn’t sound much like a tribute, does it? Maybe a bit of a “roast?” (Thank heavens, Gary has a GREAT sense of humor!) Unfortunately, the post is growing in length, so I am going to “bullet” SOME of his MANY attributes, and later I’ll post pictures that share the rest of the story. First, the itemized list:

  • He quietly worries about all his children and grandchildren; I don’t think they realize how much.
  • He’s the first to ask, “Do you think we should send/give the kids a little something to help them through this tough time/to pay for their gas expenses/to celebrate their anniversary?
  • Out of the blue, he’ll send Halloween cards to our faraway grandchildren because he misses them.
  • Without an invitation or request, he’ll jump on a flight to a faraway state so he can help drive the moving truck to the next residence in another faraway state.
  • He’ll load and unload moving trucks for any son if at all possible.
  • He’ll paint walls, help build patio covers or fences, and plant a gazillion bushes, trees, and perenniels to make his wife or his sons’ wives a little happier.
  • He’ll play lion or monster, tickle bug, or sports fan to satisfy the needs of a grandchild.
  • He spends countless hours serving the Lord and NEVER complains about the time and energy it takes.
  • His only hobbies are and have always been his family. His “boys’ night outs” were spent as Scoutmaster with his sons on campouts or coaching or watching their baseball/basketball games.
  • He adores his mother-in-law and shows it.
  • He is always trying to be a better husband, father, grandfather, church member, neighbor, and person.

Gary isn’t the “Ward Cleaver” of Leave It to Beaver

Mr. Perfect Husband and Father

Mr. Perfect Husband and Father

nor the Archie Bunker of All in the Family …

The original GRUMPA!
The original GRUMPA!

Which all adds up to someone who isMY Gar