From September 17 1932 in a little two room house in Penrose Wyoming where I was born t0 September 17 2016 in my comfortable home in Utah has been a long and eventful journey. We may always wonder if we could have or should have done more with the gift of years and life we have been given, if we could have done something different, if we could have been a better dad, if we could have been a more loving and helpful spouse. Some times our good intentions and fondest hopes withered on the vine. And some times we reaped the blessings of life that far exceeded anything that we may have felt entitled to receive.
Yet this birthday today is different than any of my other birthdays. I woke up to an empty house. No one was there to give me a hug and wish me happy birthday. No one was there to make my favorite birthday cake with brown sugar frosting and give me a handwritten birthday card full of love and special birthday wishes. I pulled the blinds and looked out on the expanse of Lone Peak and Mount Timpanogos and wished that Mother Nature had endowed me with some pretty clouds to photograph for my birthday but, alas, she was stingy today and the mountains all had the familiar Plain Jane look of boring similarity.
I have thought so often of the pretty 16 year old blonde girl I took on a blind date in January of 1950 the first week that I came to Laramie to attend the University of Wyoming. And then three years later we got married and embarked on a journey of work, school, more work, more school, children, moving around the country, loading the kids in the back of our station wagon and traveling to Michigan, to Washington, D. C., to Pennsylvania, to Washington, back to Wyoming, and every place we could go around thia beautiful country.
I suppose my 84th milestone is an appropriate time to take inventory. If I had to tell you what I think my major accomplishments have been in my life, I would have to say that my most outstanding accomplishment was marrying Velna Black. And then the next major accomplishment that both of us together achieved was to raise our family of five children and to move past the trauma of teen age certainty and watch our children get educated, find a spouse, go to work, raise their own families, and live honorable lives. I give most of the credit for how my children turned out to my wife, whose patience, long-suffering, and quiet means of displaying a no-nonsense disciplinary atmosphere seemed to be the key to what we accomplished. My family is my most precious heritage and the greatest gift that life has bestowed upon me.
Yes, I am proud of my educational accomplishments and four college degrees which Velna and I achieved together and which I would never have been able to succeed at without Velna's hard work and faithful, non-complaining, support. And I am proud of my 45 years of teaching thousands of students in four universities. I loved my college students and I miss seeing them every fall, for a few days at least, after having been retired for 16 years. But what a wonderful and inspiring journey I had through the halls of academia and the classrooms full of students who didn't necessarily want to study economics but who often, years later, wish they had paid more attention.
So it has been a long journey from hoeing sugar beets and milking cows and traveling two hours a day for eleven years to go to school to the all-night work sessions to get me through the University of Wyoming and then Montana State and then the University of Michigan and then to my first teaching job at the age of 22 in two classes of 90 students each at Colorado A & M when I was given the textbook on Friday and told to be ready to teach on Monday. I wondered how I ever got to the University of Michigan the first day I arrived on campus and walked, spellbound, around the beautiful and impressive campus and felt that I had been more at home hauling hay in Penrose Wyoming.
Now my task is to make the best of my remaining days. I try to be of help to people with my photographs and with encouraging little tag lines of message each day and many people have told me how much they appreciate these photos and messages. I wish I was a better cook and get tired of some of my not-s0-hot culinary adventures. I wish I knew where Velna had kept everything and I wish I had someone to ask how do you do this or how can I fix that or how do I pay this bill and where did you file that and should I add more of this or that to what I am cooking and how do you tell when it is done and did you see the moon come up and would you look at my pictures I posted today and read my comments and what can I get for you and here are your pills and did you finish your crosswords for the day and what would you like for lunch and someone to tell how much I loved them after living together for two months shy of 63 years. But I am blessed by my children and their spouses and my grand children and my dear neighbors who check on me and bring me a loaf of bread, a container of soup and check on me to see if I am well and who tell me they will do anything for me any time I need them. I am learning to cope with life better than I have and I am starting to feel a little better after eleven months of what my physician tells me is "adjustment disorder" which puts a blinder on you when you lose your spouse and causes you to struggle each day feeling crummy and not knowing what to say when everyone asks what do you mean feeling crummy and you say I just don't know how to explain it any better I just feel crummy.
So I thank all of those who care about me and care for me for the incredible and wonderful gifts of love, of compassion, of help, of endurance, of patience, and I thank my family for their wonderful examples of good lives and lives spent helping others and raising good families. I am rich from the blessings of love and caring I receive daily. I don't know whether I will last for another birthday so I wanted to write this message while I am still here. Above all, I have the memories of Velna and her patient and loving example of kindness and compassion for everyone she ever came in contact with. And this, in conclusion: I love the psalm which tells us that, though we may weep at night, we will find joy in the morning. And this, one of Velna's favorite hymns, consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. What more could we ask for? My message would not be complete if I did not acknowledge the abiding love and admiration I have for my parents and my grandparents. My mom and dad worked so hard for so many years against overwhelming odds of making a bare-bones living. They were not able to help me through college, but my mother wrote letters of love and encouragement to me every week for the four years I was at the University of Wyoming and those letters together with my weekend dates with Velna were what got me through college against overwhelming odds. Not a day goes by without remembering, remembering, treasuring. And my beloved five siblings, as all six of us have bonded into an iron-clad and special fraternity that brooks no nonsense and which gives us the means of continuing through our trials and tribulations.
Now Velna would criticize me for being too loquacious, too verbose. But I had to say what I wanted to say. With my love and appreciation to everyone to takes the time to read my 84th birthday message. (signed) Dwight M. Blood, Penrose Wyoming.