A collection of distilled sarcastic wisdom, numerous photographs, discussions of books and stuff to learn and more stuff to think about from a retired economics professor turned blogger and photographer.
Once there was a cattle rancher who was hauling a load of horses from northern Utah to his ranch in southern Utah in the mountains near Richfield. He ran out of gas about ten miles north of Nephi on the way to Richfield. He pulled over onto the barrow pit on a slope that soon proved treacherous because the horses were bucking so hard my colleague feared that the truck would tip over. Car after car of people all dressed up to attend the Manti LDS temple went by him without slowing down or stopping. My friend was getting desperate. Then, out of nowhere, a battered pickup truck stopped. A whiskered man with a cigarette dangling from his lips asked my friend, "Having trouble?" "I'm out of gas," my friend replied. "I've got a barrel of gas in the back of my pickup so I'll fill you up." And so he filled the gas tank on my friend's truck. "Let me pay you," my friend said. "No, no, you don't need to pay me, the stranger said." "Then at least let me buy your dinner" my friend replied. "Just help the next man in need," the stranger said as he drove off.
The longer I have thought about this modern retelling of the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the more lessons I have learned. First lesson is that samaritans come in all shapes and sizes and colors and appearances. Second lesson is that samaritans expect no recompense, nothing whatever in return. They cross the road and lend a hand without expectation of any return. Their attention is focused solely on helping someone in a difficult situation. Thus, we learn that when we do something for someone, we should have no expectation that they will repay us, not now, not ever. We should have no expectation that they will do something we want or expect them to do as a result of our beneficence. We should have no less love or appreciation for them if they do not do what we hoped they would do. The Good Samaritan crosses the road, helps someone in need, and goes on his or her own way. Many times a person who has been the recipient of an unexpected good deed will, in turn, look for the next person to help, and then the next one, and then the original Samaritan may be repaid through a ripple effect of good deeds and helpful actions. Too often we may be full of what we think is good advice or helpful suggestions and we may feel hurt if someone avoids our suggestions or pays no attention to them. But if we are a truly good Samaritan, we will help someone no matter what their circumstances are, no matter how they may react, no matter what they may do. The doing of the deed with love and without prejudice or reservation is the pure act that truly defines the Good Samaritan.
Velna and four children among the marigolds at Penn State. Sorry Kim isn't in the picture.
Today is the first anniversary of the October day in 2015 when we gathered at Velna's bedside as she breathed her last mortal breath. Before she left, she asked, "Why is everyone paying so much attention to me?", and "Dwight, you must pay the tithing," and "Dwight you must send out the birthday cards." And then she was gone from her earthly struggles and constant excruciating pain from so many ailments. For her last several years, day by day Velna was thankful to see each new day despite the chronic and debilitating pain that wracked every part of her body. She still did not want to leave. I never could reconcile how such a beautiful and totally innocent person could be called upon to suffer as she did. Day by day I did my best to take care of her needs, to cheer her up, to prepare her meals, to arrange her bed at bedtime, to get her pills when she needed them, to spend days and hours recounting our family history, our prized jewels of memory of our life together and the lives of our children. When I told her that I wish that I could walk better after losing my balance several years ago, she said with tears in her eyes, "Dwight, I can't walk at all."
Velna was first and foremost a wife and mother. Her children were her greatest challenge and her greatest blessing. She never lost sight of the end goal, of the blessings and permanence of the family unit, of the love that bound us all together. She welcomed each grandchild, each great grandchild, each wedding, each graduation, each event in each family member's life. She never failed to send birthday cards with dollar bills to each of her posterity. When she could hardly walk even with a walker, she said, "Dwight, I've got to go to the store and get some more cards." She faithfully read each post on this blog, looked carefully with appreciation at each photo I showed her, admonished me for being too wordy, and studied carefully each foot long grocery store and Costco receipt to see where we may have paid too much or not gotten what we thought we had. She clipped the coupons in each Sunday paper, did two daily crossword puzzles, and then, no matter how much pain she was in, showered and fixed her hair and applied her makeup. She would come out afterward into the living room to her chair in so much pain from lifting her arms to curl her hair and apply her makeup and it took her more than an hour to recover. But she never wavered. As she lay dying, she worried about her hair, and our wonderful daughter in law Susan found a brush and comb and straightened out her tangles until she once again looked beautiful. She did not want to leave us looking anything less than perfect.
In all of our 63 years together, I rarely heard her criticize anyone. When I would make a critical remark she would say, "Oh he (or she) isn't so bad, look at it this way." She was a peacemaker. Despite differences, she always forgave everyone and never held grudges. She never made an unkind remark or looked down on anyone. She was always calm, always had a loving disposition. I went through our life together not always appreciating just what a remarkable woman I had been fortunate enough to spend my life with. Velna blessed the lives of everyone who came in to her life. She taught by quiet example, not with cross words. She had a board to spank the kids with that got hidden away in the freezer for years and which she never used. I feel her influence each moment of each day in my life, and know that Velna would or would not approve if I did this or that and for all I know she is still watching me and I may have to account for my actions again some day.
I will write more about the progress I have made during this last lonely year and about the events that have happened since you left. But I wanted to take this special opportunity to, once again, pay tribute to Velna's wonderful life, to our years of beautiful life together, and for the good that she did in all her days. I am so grateful, Velna, that you have the terrible pain released from your body even though I miss you every moment of every day. But we know the outcome of our lives, don't we? God bless you, dear girl, and thank you with all my heart for sharing your life with me, the greatest blessing of my life.
Since reading has been a bit difficult for me later, I have watched enough Starz Western movies to become an expert on making them. Thus, I am happy to offer my considerable expertise on this matter to anyone else who might want to film an oater.
To begin with, and most important, we must consider the actors, actresses, scenes, paraphernalia, and Western gear necessary to film an oater, as follows:
First, and most important, we need a saloon. Two would be better, but one will do. The reason is that usually all the important shootings, killings, gunfights, and action take place in a saloon. In the saloon we need a robust bartender with a shotgun, a piano playing "Buffalo gals won't you come out tonight," a card table, and some fake whiskey which everyone is always drinking gallons of. (bad grammar, but this is an oater).
Next we need some semblance of a Western town, fake or otherwise with store fronts, boardwalks, a couple of tumble weeds to blow down the street, and some horse pooper scoopers because no horse is ever allowed to defecate on the street in an oater.
We need a bank to rob.
A jail with a sheriff and a deputy.
A doctor to dig out all the bullets and buckshot in all the folks who get shot in the saloon and on the street in case they get challenged to go out on the street and be a man.
An undertaker to make wood coffins and bury all the folks who get shot. Actually, I learned that no one actually gets shot, they just get paid to act like a corpse that had the whatever blasted out of them as they fall across two card tables, all the time without a single spatter of blood or body parts.
Boot hill, where they bury the fake corpses who by now have been expelled from the movie set because after all they are now deceased and have gone home to watch TV and spend their acting fee for being a corpse on pizza and beer.
A minister or someone who can recite a scripture or two over all the folks being buried in Boot Hill.
Black mourning dress for mourning all the fake burials in Boot Hill.
We need two or three women actresses, maybe a school teacher, a saloon girl, and a rancher's wife who has been done wrong and greets all callers with a shotgun.
A general store which stocks bullets, cloth to sew long dresses to drag in the dirt, oats, gumdrops, boots, spurs, and everything you need to be a schoolmarm, rancher, cowboy, or bad guy.
Some really rotten looking evil guys wearing black hats and with big sneers like they know they can shoot better than anyone and who will likely end up being a corpse or corpses before the movie is over.
Some good guys who can twirl their guns quickly and can outdraw anyone cheating in a poker game or threatening them in the saloon or out on the clean street.
A stage coach parked outside of town which can come roaring into town in a cloud of dust at a moment's notice and disembark two lovely ladies who have ridden a mile in the coach and therefore haven't mussed their makeup or gotten their beautiful dresses dirty or dusty along with two or three mysterious looking men, one of whom has two hundred wanted posters out on him for doing evil deeds in five states.
A hotel, or at least rooms above the saloon where more shootings and hanky panky can take place.
A whole bunch of horses.
Cowboys who can ride lickety split out of town the moment they are enlisted in a posse to chase a bank robber, kidnapper, or other rotten person into the hills where they will be gone for two or three days or weeks eating beans.
A ranch house for either a good guy rancher or an evil rancher who is rustling cattle and making life miserable for everyone else in the oater.
A train station with a toy train that goes choo choo and which hauls folks off to jail in distant towns and brings in the mail.
Choose a plot: (1) bank robbery; (2) cattle rustling, (3) horse thievery, (4) murder in the saloon or on the street, (5) some combination thereof.
That's pretty much it. John Wayne didn't take any sass and merely knocked anyone across the room after which they got up and thanked him and behaved themselves thereafter. Gene Autry sang songs and strummed his guitar. Clint Eastwood had a beautiful sneer and never lost. You can work out some variation. Oh I almost forgot, you may have to dress up a few Indians who usually just end up being shot off their horses after they get themselves done up in feathers and such. Good luck on filming your western. I could have been a great oater actor but I'll just have to be satisfied with being a country and western singer.