Dear children, children in-laws, grandchildren, and great grandchildren: I dreamed in the night that I heard a knock on the door. I opened it, and there was Velna to greet me. And so I woke up and she was gone and I just lay there amazed and yet devastated that she was gone and wiped a tear or two or three from the corners of my eyes. As I sit here some days in my living room looking out at the beauties of nature's gifts to us all my thoughts often turn to my family. Whether my descendants like it or not, each of you have gene or two from me and from Velna, maybe hidden behind your ear or in your brain but, like it or not, we passed something along to you. I like to think of my family as a beautiful garden, like the tulip garden above from Thanksgiving Point, where children and grandchildren and great grandchildren are growing and blossoming and spreading beauty and acts of love and kindness to everyone in their circle of life. Old people tend to think they have learned a thing or two and I can tell you that we have. One thing I have learned is that I under appreciated those I loved at times in my life. Perhaps I never gave enough credit, or listened enough, or spent enough time, or was as thoughtful as I should have been or forgiving enough. Maybe I spent too much time thinking about things that worried me rather than concentrating on the blooming tulips and the beauty and kindness that we can all share with the world. And many of the life lessons I learned from the quiet example of my dear Velna, who would get extremely irritated every time she got up from her chair and I would cheerfully ask her, "Where are you going?" Since she had few options about her destination at that point, she tended to manifest rare irritation at me. But we can all ask, "Where are we going?" "What is our preferred destination?" And, "How, exactly are we going to get there and what must we do to arrive at our chosen destination?" But Velna's life exemplified the blessings of faith, of never abandoning the teachings and the anchor of life that faith gives us. She never tried to go it alone but always leaned on the faith that permeated her long and exemplary life.
I sit here in my lonely existence, knowing that my children and grandchildren and grandchildren and their families are living exemplary lives. I think about everyone going about their daily work, of Alan, who is having a birthday today creating something new every day of his life, of mothers raising children and changing diapers and doing the thousand and one jobs that being a mother entails, of those who go to work at banks and offices and hospitals and who write music and create films and mentor those who benefit from their mentoring and who go to court to object to something or other and who tend their yards and go to Costco and WalMart and prepare a thousand meals a day and I think of those who hurt and have hard days and still persevere and smile and those who read books in the night and struggle some times to get through the day. And I cherish the lives of honesty and integrity and hard work that my family exhibits as they go about their daily commutes, their daily routines, their daily challenges, their successes and their not-so-successes. I marvel at the families you have raised, at the patience and love and effort that it has taken and will continue to take for the rest of your lives to provide the glue, the inspiration, and the example for others to follow and emulate. The load is so much lighter when we have less and less to worry about and when we can unload the worries from our backpacks.
I wrote on Facebook yesterday that life is a life of infinite possibilities. It's sort of like a big roll top desk with a hundred compartments, like my grandpa Wasden's rolltop desk now reposing in son Ron's house. We can choose a compartment, we can seek out a possibility, but the compartments and the possibilities that we choose have infinite effects and we hope and pray those effects are for good. If I could offer any suggestions these suggestions would be to simplify life, forgive more, hold fewer grudges, smile more often, offer more words of kindness, pray more often even if you have gotten out of the habit, offer more encouragement, look for the bright side no matter how dreary the day, pay more attention to each other and show that you care.
Velna's and my greatest blessing has always been our wonderful family. Velna never tired of reviewing the progress and news of each of you, of your trials and tribulations, your marriages and your births, your jobs and your successes, and yes, there are always a few bumps in the road and she and I always share those with you and wait for you to pick yourself up and activate the Velna gene for good and get yourself going. And if you get bored, try walking down the other side of the street and get an entirely new view of life.
This mother's day has been a morning of deep reflection for me since I no longer need to worry about sending flowers or writing a card showing how much I love and respect my wife for her role as the mother of our family. So, instead, I have tried to show all of you in my family how much I treasure each one of you and how, though the days get lonely and long some times, I am never really alone. After all, I can watch Hallmark reruns. And somehow my tears dried and I feel better for having written this. Though Velna would offer her usual advice that I am too wordy and I should have shortened it by half. Forgive me, dear wife, but I had words to say and I hope they are for the good. And happy Mother's Day to you all.