Saturday, February 21, 2009

Passing the Candle

A few days prior to Christmas 1970, I returned home after serving a two year mission for the LDS Church. Nan had written me letters fairly often for the entire two years. Before I left for Denmark, we had been close, but I chose not to ask her to wait for me. I was always hoping that she would be there, but I always expected her to date and enjoy life rather than to sit around missing me.
After our first meeting upon my return, I recognized that the feelings we had for each other had not changed. Sure, she had dated and attended college, but we both felt the same, even after two years.
We shopped around for a ring, and after finding one that she liked, I later returned and purchased it.
My friend Mark, a year younger then I am, having just gone through a divorce, counseled me to not get married. He was serious, and I could tell that he was still smarting from the heartache.
I was a little shy about asking Nan’s dad for her hand in marriage. Still, she insisted that to be proper, I needed to do it. It was the night of her family’s Christmas party. We were up at their cabin, and if you knew her family, it was a large group. Somehow, we managed to get her parents up in a small little balcony that overlooked the cabins main room. There, nervous and shy, I asked her father for her hand. He said yes, and promptly went to the edge of the balcony, where he called for everyone’s attention. There, to my embarrassment he announced to everyone present, that he was going to get a new “son-in-law.”
Nan’s dad had a large station wagon. It was a Chrysler as that is what he always had for his large family (12 kids). On our way home, Nan and I were sitting in the back. Packed in pretty tight, we couldn’t help but cuddle up to stay warm. When we reached my parents circular driveway, I leaned over to give Nan a goodnight kiss. Her dad must have been watching in the mirror, because he drove through the circle to the street and around again without stopping. I’m thinking it was three times. He was not only buying me more time for the goodnight kiss, but to embarrass me in front of the other kids. He had a wonderful sense of humor.
Another night not too long after that, I presented Nan with the ring and we officially became engaged.
Nan belonged to a sorority at the University of Utah. They had a tradition of “passing the candle.” What this consisted of was that the person who got engaged would leave a candle outside the sorority director’s door. Having found the candle, the director would, within a few days, call a meeting for the candle ceremony. The girls would sit in a large circle, sing some kind of romantic song, and as they were doing so, they would pass the candle around the circle. After the candle had gone full circle, the girls would pretend to blow the candle out, but only the one who was engaged would finally blow it out. This was their way of announcing the engagement to the others. Then to my chagrin, I had to come in and meet all the other sorority sisters.
After all these years, that night seems like a life time ago.
Four months later, Nan and I were married…still are. My friend Mark eventually married again too…still is.
All of these years with Nan have been a wonderful blessing. She has already passed the age of her mother when she passed away. A couple of years and she will pass the age of her father when he passed away. It makes me think of the poem my father used to share:
Lord, May there be no moment in her life,
That she regrets that she became my wife.
Keep her dear eyes just a trifle blind
To my defects and to my failings kind
Help me to do the utmost that I can
To show myself her measure of a man
But if I often fail as mortals may

Friday, February 6, 2009

Somebody Finally Listened

Does the government ever really listen to what the people want? Over the years, I’ve found myself pondering this question.
It’s been nearly a hundred years of people saying they were going to extend our street East from 1300 West, and West from 3200 West. The old house at the east end of our street looks like someone cut it in half. The reality of it is, that when the owner was building it, when someone said the street was eventually going to continue East, they stopped where they were and finished the house as it was without continuing further North.
As far as continuing West, with the advent of a large development a few years ago, the West end of the street was extended by a few miles. Just this last year, it was connected to another road which takes it to the further reaches of the valley near the western mountains.
It’s been more than ten years since we had a meeting where we each voiced our opinions about a route from the freeway to the western part of the valley. The zoning and planning committee agreed that it was best to move the road over about four blocks to the south so that it would have less impact on development. They gave their recommendation to the city council which totally ignored their recommendation and decided to leave it at 11400 South.
Somehow, this didn’t really surprise me, although I think that elected officials should be attentive to the voice of the people.
This past year, many meetings were held with respect to the upcoming construction. The voice of the government or its minions, again made itself heard. With the design complete, they told us that they had deviated from the original design in which there was to be a turning lane in the middle of the road. They informed us that they were going to put a barrier the complete length of the road, with turning lanes at the intersections. They told us that they wanted this barrier to have landscaping etc. so that it would look nice. They informed us that if we wanted to go the opposite direction, that statistics showed that it would be safer to go to the intersection and make a U turn then to have a turning lane in the middle of the road.
With many meetings on this issue, most people living on this street let it be known that the barrier was unacceptable. We felt we hadn’t been heard or were completely ignored. Neighborhood committee’s were formed and information was often exchanged. One of the state workers actually had the audacity to get up in a meeting about the barrier and say “it’s what everyone wants”! My response was “it’s good you’re serving cookies at these meetings, so at least one thing is not getting crammed down our throats”. I don’t know of anyone that wanted the barrier. Even our fair city didn’t want it, as they would have to help maintain the landscaping.
The design build team, a consortium of companies building the road, held a meeting about ten days ago. They wanted the people to know what was happening with the construction, its schedule, and to answer questions from the people affected by the construction.
It was a breath of fresh air to visit with these people. They’re the ones, basically where the rubber meets the road. They were considerate, polite, and as far as I could tell, want to make this thing work.
The best thing to come from this meeting was that in their design, they removed the barrier except at intersections where a turning lane was required.
At Last, someone finally listened to what the people want!