Monday, April 9, 2012

Rex is 9!

Rex has turned 9! Hard to believe! His birthday kicks off the celebratory season in our house with Theo's birthday coming next, me in May, a June anniversary, Drake and Corbin in July, and Bowen rounding it out in August! It gets to be a whirlwind sometimes.

Rex was extra lucky this year. His birthday actually fell on a Monday which normally would not be awesome, but it just so happened that his school district had a snow day scheduled. Since we had such a mild winter, the kids never took any snow days, and hence, a day off! I took the day off of work, and we enjoyed our Monday off as a family.

Since Theo still had school, we went to meet him for lunch. Rex's first pick, Texas Roadhouse was actually closed, so we had to settle for the Olive Garden. We let him open his presents at lunch since he didn't want to wait until the evening when we would all be home. He was pretty pleased with a pocketknife and a digital camera (I am so glad these have become so inexpensive!). He declared that it was his best birthday yet. Score. In the evening, he got to choose our dinner, and we had the traditional cake and ice cream. It was a delightful and low key day. Happy birthday to my youngest man, Rex!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter in Amarillo

During the years that we lived in Page, Easter has been somewhat of a production. Theo has an incredibly large family, and many of his relatives are in the Page area. Every year, they have an Easter party at a hogan out in the desert. This would necessitate the making of extra eggs, preparing some kind of side dish to share at the big potluck, rounding up our baseball gear and camp chairs, busting out the sunscreen, and so on.

This year, we are in Amarillo, and I have to say that I was secretly happy to have our own family celebration and call it good. I have this thing about going overboard on holidays, and even though I am always guilty of buying way too much candy every single time, I hate it when my kids gorge themselves on it. I know, I know.

One of the things we had to be mindful of this year was making sure that Ruby was unable to get out of the house in the middle of the night. She has a dog door, and she often goes out to do her business and make her patrolling rounds while we slumber. However, last year, we had no hard boiled eggs at the end of our egg hunt in the backyard. At first, we were baffled. Where had all the eggs gone? Needless to say, some of the shells made an appearance as evidence in the ensuing 12 hours or so. You get the drift I think, so I won't elaborate. All I can say is I can't believe that Ruby packed in more than two dozen eggs in a single midnight feast! I wouldn't be surprised if some of them are still buried somewhere in that yard.

Happy Easter from all of the Texas Martins!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Dorothy Amelia Buck Peters

On Friday, April 7th, I had the opportunity to attend a memorial service for my maternal grandmother, Dorothy Peters. She actually passed away in January at the age of 93. She had been living in Salt Lake City for the last couple of years. First, she was in my mom and dad's home, and then moved into a nursing home at the end of her life. When she passed, we planned to have a service for her, but with scheduling conflicts along with her desire to not have a funeral, a gathering was postponed. This last weekend, all of my siblings as well as all of my mom's brothers and a handful of my cousins (most of whom I have not seen in 20+ years) gathered to celebrate her life.

Many of my childhood memories of the summer included a trip to Grandma and Grandpa Peters' house. This was always a great opportunity for me to have a story to tell. My grandpa was an eccentric exotic animal enthusiast, and he had just about everything you can imagine from spider monkeys to buffalo at one time or another. My grandma was always a chatty giggly women who never seemed to stop talking. Though I never felt very close to my grandparents, they were certainly interesting.

I arrived in Salt Lake (sans family) on Thursday night in time for a brief visit with my parents and one of my mom's brothers. Friday morning, my sisters, Laurene, Lauren, Elise, and I treated ourselves to a little spa time. Lots of the Peters clan wouldn't be arriving until that day, and we had time to pamper ourselves and bond. Delightful. That afternoon, we had our service in the clubhouse at my parents'. Skip conducted the meeting and two of my cousins, Michelle and Julie had prepared talks to share. Brad delivered the eulogy. It was very well done, and I wanted to include it here.

She was born February 7, 1918 in Salt Lake City, Utah to Francis Morgan Buck and Ellen Louise Pederson Buck. She married Ralph Peters on Aug 19, 1940. They were the parents of five children: daughter, Eva Ross, and sons, Leon, Alan, Orin, and Westley. She was a successful wife, mother, and business partner with her husband, who preceded her in death. She died January 3, 2012. She was 93 years of age.

She is survived by her five children; 14 grandchildren; 27 great grandchildren; and four great, great grandchildren.
Born just as World War 1 came to an end, her life spanned some of the most exciting and challenging times in the history of mankind.  She experienced first-hand: the Great Depression, World War 2, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, two Gulf wars, and the war in Afghanistan.  She has witnessed the implementation of flight, radio and television, the mass production of automobiles.  Plus countless other things, too numerous to mention.

She has lived through 17 different presidents starting with Woodrow Wilson and on through Warren G Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Dwight D Eisenhower, John F Kennedy, Lyndon B Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H W Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and Barack Obama.

She lived through an era where there were no financial safety nets, no welfare, and no unemployment insurance benefits.

She was fiercely independent. In spite of all the sweep of history that was swirling around her, she remained focused on her immediate responsibilities. When challenges came her way, she faced them with courage and gritty determination. If there was a dominant attitude, it was reflected in the often stated philosophy:
“We did the best we could.”

As a little girl growing up in Salt Lake City, just two short blocks from Temple Square, she had some delightful memories.

She remembers the clanging of the trolley as it passed by the house, and the big spinning brush they put on it in the wintertime to dust the snow off the tracks.

She remembers a man who cleared the snow off the sidewalks with a pie-shaped, horse-drawn sled with a pointed end in the front.

I suppose she could understand young people today who are always wearing earphones. As a girl, she would listen to her cousin’s crystal radio until the earphones hurt her ears. She didn’t mind and said it was more fun than listening to the victrola that you had to keep winding every so often.

We grandkids always thought of grandpa being the one with a love of animals, but grandma had a way with animals too. She tells the story as a young girl of her dog and a neighbor’s dog that would fight for the chance to sit on her lap. She had kittens she would protect from other mean dogs, and dress them up in doll clothes.

She remembered how on Memorial Day they would ride the train to Sandy and take a long walk to the cemetery where they would leave flowers and remove weeds from the graves of her mother’s parents and brother. What would be a short trip for us was an all day affair for them.

In writing about her years during the Great Depression, she said her father was like most men and only worked part time two or three days a week. They had to put cardboard inside their shoes when the soles wore out. They would walk with a little wagon to a state-run office where they could get rice and flour.

After talking about some of the difficulties her family and neighbors faced during those years, she wrote, “It seems like we had a lot of tragedy in our young lives, but that is what life is all about I guess. Just make the best of things.”

Caring for others was a prominent theme in grandma’s life. As a girl, she wrote letters to a neighbor girl who was quarantined with TB. When her father was hospitalized for a year as the result of poisoning from a liquid cleaner, she would walk from her home all the way over to LDS Hospital, even when the snow got deep. Later in life, while living in California, she took on the responsibility of caring for her disabled cousin and her husband.  She would travel from El Monte to Long Beach nearly every day to provide them with loving care.

Add on top of that all the stuff that most moms have to worry about with the health of their family. She regularly recorded trips to the doctor or dentist for her children and husband. (It seems like Leon’s teeth come up a lot in those journals.) Dorothy had her share of ailments too.

As a girl she had measles, mumps, and even polio, though she didn’t discover that until late in life. It was a discovery that would explain so many physical battles that she had to face.

For example, her right hand was formed a bit differently.  Using it often caused her pain.  She frequently experienced strange pains in her feet.  She discovered that one leg was slightly shorter than the other. All apparently a result of that unknown polio infection.

In the early years living in Idaho and Montana, one of the most frequent entries in her journal was, “sure is cold.” Probably like most young mothers, the second most common entry was, “sure am tired.”

Ralph was often far away working where work could be found as a welder, mechanic, lumber jack, and/or machinist.  She would either stay home and await his return or pack up the family and moved to his new job site.

For nearly 25 years they owned and operated a small manufacturing business, making hot water heaters for trailer homes.  It was Dorothy that virtually ran the business side of the enterprise.  She did everything but build the heaters.

Many people think it was her husband Ralph who was the eccentric with a taste for the unusual or unique.  His cars, boats, animals, trailers, and countless other things would never have been possible without grandma.

He would buy a New Guinea jungle fowl and she would feed and care for it.
He would acquire a Mercedes-Benz gull wing sports car and she would make multiple runs to the parts store to get needed parts to keep it running.

He would build fish tanks and fill them with hundreds of angel fish, she would, first, give up an entire room in her home, and second, clean up the inevitable mess afterwards.

He would obtain a pair of breeding emus that would hatch out literally scores of baby emus.  She would go for food and clean up the mess.

On their numerous road trips, they certainly had their share of problems. Countless tire blowouts, wheels that almost fell off, wheels that did fall off, scrapes, slide offs on icy roads with giants trailers, brake failures, children who put the car in neutral and rolled it down the hill and almost into an intersection before Dorothy could run after it stop it, close brushes with oncoming trains.

My, what a life. And what a woman. I remember the eager anticipation that I felt as a young boy when we would have the opportunity to drive out to California to visit grandma and grandpa. While we were there, we’d always love to interact with the animals. Those animals have been a great source of ideas for a game we played frequently in college, “two truths and a lie.” I could tell people truthfully that I’d been pulled by a buffalo and chased by an swan. After the excitement with the animals, I could walk around the property with grandma or sit in the living room with her and she would just talk and talk. I loved it. I felt so important that she would spend her time to talk to me.

In her last years as she was living here in Utah, I felt privileged that my own children could spend some time with her. I hope the older ones will have some memories of her.

Thank you, grandma, for your wonderful life and the great example you’ve given to all of us. We daily reap the blessings of the life you lived. We miss you and hope your reunion with grandpa has been sweet.

After the memorial, we drove to the cemetery in downtown Salt Lake to dedicate her grave. It had been snowy and cloudy all day, but the sun broke through just long enough for us to pay our respects. Kim and Steve, ever the gracious hosts, prepared a fantastic dinner for the whole family, and we were able to enjoy our visit into the early evening hours. Saturday morning, I caught a flight home. It was a very quick, but extremely wonderful visit. My only regret was that my little family was unable to attend as well. They were the only Rosses missing.

As I have refelected on the passing of my grandma, I have thought many times how grateful I am that I have my own mother. As I said, I was not close with my Grandma Peters, but I am close with my own mom, and I know that the passing of her mother has been difficult for her. I am so grateful for the gospel that has made all the difference in the kind of woman my own mother became and ultimately how that has affected me in my own life. I am thankful that my Grandma Peters enabled my beautiful mother to be the woman that she is!

Until we meet again, Grandma, God be with you.