Monday, June 29, 2015

The best day, worst day and longest day scenario

         My brother-in-law’s sister had returned home from a lesson on perspective (I think) and posted a thought about her best and worst Christmas – both which had taken place in 2005. It was a great thought, and I asked permission to share it on my blog.  She said that her understanding was that it was up for Church publication and it would be best if I did not share.  I figured when it was published in Ensign magazine, I could refer to the link.  But I don’t see any evidence of publication thus far.

         I saved a copy to my own personal files, but seem to have misplaced the ubs or it somehow got deleted or something.  I’ll find it eventually.  Meanwhile I have my own thoughts about one of the longest days of my life (starting out with a trip to the Medford Temple and ending with waiting for Greyhound)

         June 5, 2015.  What a day.  Denise and I had actually left the motel room early because she had wanted to go through the Medford Temple.  It was her main insentive for having had driven the much shorter but scarier route.  She had gone online to learn how late the temple would be open on Thursday night.  She failed to look at the hours of operation on Friday.  It was closed.  The gates were locked.  We had driven all that way and couldn’t get inside.  The temple in Medford doesn’t open until 3:00 p.m.  That seemed like the latest time that Denise would have had to leave Roseburg and be on her way to Newport. We had missed going inside.

         I had had a rental car lined up, but had cancelled believing Roland’s understanding of having someone physically take me to the address.  My main reason for being in Oregon was to secure a rental that was waiting for us outside Roseburg.  I had called the property management several times to let them know I was coming.  I was hoping that Denise would be able to drop me off at the rental and I would be able to get a ride back to Century 21 to sign the papers. 

         They didn’t get any of my messages.  We weren’t communicating at all.  I would still have to have a rental car.  What was I thinking?  I called a car rental in Medford, but they did not have anything.  They referred me to their location in Roseburg.  I thought I was all set until they called me back asking for either a major (non-debit) card and/or an Oregon driver’s license – neither of which I had.  So they had to cancel my reservation.  So I called the agency I had initially booked with.  They couldn’t find a car for me until 7:30 that night.  Property management would have been closed by then.  And it didn’t give me enough hours of sunlight that it was worth renting a car for. I can’t drive in the dark.  I decided that I would just take a bus home (originally I had wanted the plane – but the bus was a third of the cost – plus I didn’t have a way to the airport)

         Payments had to be in form of Money Order or a Courtsey check from the bank.  Oh, great.  I have two checks from a credit union that have branches in Utah and Nevada – not in Oregon.  I was frantic.  I did have a bank account number that Corey had given me.  There was a branch not far from Century 21 that I went to – but I had to open my own account and ask Corey to work with me from Las Vegas.

         The procedure seemed long.  I had a deadline for getting back to Century 21 and barely made it.  The girl who assisted acted like she had been put out.  Really?  What about me?  I had traveled three days to get there.  And then they wouldn’t accept my check.  I had to open an account.  It had been very painful.  And the day was not close to over.  Little did I know that I wouldn’t be leaving Roseburg until 2:30 the following morning!

         The location of the bus pick/up had changed.  We drove around the same street three times before Denise pulled over and I went into a sevice station to ask.  Denise hated the GPS and Siri and will probably never use again.

         She pulled up to a service station and had me go inside to make certain I’d really be able to purchase a bus ticket.  If you read my earlier post, you may recall that the bus was scheduled to come at 5:58 – but I had been told that it would be running late.  I did not share that information with Denise or Roland however as I did not want them to worry. 

         As the sun was setting, I started crying, knowing (or thinking) that Denise was still on the road and has bad night vision like I do.  I spent the last 6 hours of the fifth at the service station waiting for the bus.
         As long and horrible as I believed the day had been, there was so much that I needed to feel grateful for:

A kind sister (who was planting flowers near the gate) opened the gate to let us inside and Denise took several pictures and the sister took pictures of Denise and I sitting in front of the temple. 

Denise stayed with me.  She sacrificed several hours of being on the road.  She drove me to Roseburg to get the key and then to back to Mayberry to look at the house – which really is a nice house by the way.

Denise drove me to the bank. She waited for me for over an hour (that is what it felt like anyway) and Corey waited in line in Las Vegas to assist me with my problem.  And it worked.  We had cut it very close bringing me back to Century 21 to sign papers. 

Denise waited for me.  I had called a cab so that she could be one her way. But she chose to stay with me and take me to the bus stop.  She did not get back on the road until after 5:00.  Heavenly Father blessed me big time through both Denise and Corey.

Though the bus had been late, I did not have to wait for it alone.  Jake kept me company for the first five hours – one hour after the station was closed. I also had the protection of Heavenly Father and a good book to read.

After an 8 ½ hour wait, I hadn’t missed the bus due to falling asleep or waiting on the wrong side of the building.  I was safe.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Not the Reunion We Were After

          My Uncle Ross had battled cancer off and on for I don’t know how many years.  His last time in the hospital was majorly hard on his wife and children – but he kept up a positive attitude, I believe for their sake. 
          When he left the hospital, he was told that he would have no more than a year left on earth.  (Probably not in those exact words – but you get the gist)

          My cousin, Michelle, had sent out a request for an early “Christmas in July” celebration – hoping that we would all enjoy one last celebration with Uncle Ross and have those treasured memories as we had for mom.  Only her request came as a plea on my part: “LaTiesha is moving to Oregon.  Let’s have our Christmas early this year before she goes” She didn’t want to say what she really meant “before Dad goes”

          The date was set up for June 14th – though not everyone would be able to attend.  I don’t think we’ve ever had a “Christmas in July” party in which all of us were there.  And yet when we had celebrated in December, I don’t remember anyone NOT being there – even if it was just to put in an appearance (which seemed to become more popular as the family grew) 

          The celebration for this year would take place at the same time when my family attended Church – which is why I had announced in my ward that the 7th would probably be my last week (I was still tired from bus trip mentioned in my last post; wasn’t thinking clearly)

          On June 6th I was on the bus going toward Salt Lake.  I had the option of using my laptop but did not actually make the discovery until the last leg of the trip, but chose not to deal with it in such tight quarters as it was.  Corey had texted me in the event that I wasn’t on facebook.  Michelle had messaged family members to let us know that Uncle Ross had chosen not to fight anymore.  Corey had just seen him two days earlier, and though he had lost a tremendous amount of weight, Corey said that Uncle Ross seemed to be in good spirits.

          Less than two hours later I received another text.  Uncle Ross had passed.  At that point I didn’t have (nor expect) any details about the funeral.  It may not have been until Monday that I learned that there would be a viewing on Thursday and the funeral would be on Saturday, the 13th.  So of course we wouldn’t be having the “Christmas in July” on the following Sunday.  

          Roland had graduated from his collage courses and already had his diploma in hand.  But he had signed up to walk across the stage in a graduation ceremony that same Saturday – an activity that I was never truly excited about to begin with.  I would seriously rather attend a funeral than a graduation or award ceremony that always seems to drag and make me feel like death would be an awesome option for ending the many hours I feel like I spend at said ceremony.  But it’s not like I wished for it to happen just so I’d have an excuse not to go.

          Meanwhile, Roland seemed to forget about it as well as he planned to leave Utah on Friday night after he got off work to take a load of furniture and packed boxes to Oregon.  He didn’t attend either viewing or funeral.  He and Bill both work late on Thursday and so Bill did not go to the viewing either.  Kayla stopped by with their three children and we rode to the viewing address together.

          The viewing, without doubt, is the most interesting that I’ve ever attended.  Corey would have loved it, I think.  There was a “celebration of life” theme.  Nothing wrong with it – just different.  It wasn’t something that Kayla and I are used to.  It just felt irreverent when we first arrived.  I felt like we had walked into a cocktail party rather than a viewing. But it was a great send-off. Made it easier on my aunt and cousins – who for the most part, were out mingling amongst the “guests”.  Uncle Ross was left in a room by himself (for the most part).  Aunt Fern said it made it so much easier for her not to be in the same room with his lifeless body. 

          They had dressed him in golf clothes and he held a golf ball.  Kayla and I tried to visit with family members while taking turns supervising the children as Anna wanted to go in one direction and Gary in another and the food wasn’t as important as they thought.

          Anna wanted to go upstairs in a closed area and Gary wanted to stand near enough to the water to play in it.  BJ was very good, but after a while he wanted to get down and explore as well.  Neither Kayla nor I were willing to allow that to happen as he could have easily been stepped on.  Didn’t seem like a very kid-friendly environment – but than neither is the traditional viewing that we are used to. Children acting up or misbehaving seems more noticeable at a viewing than it does at Church services.  But given the amount of volume level amongst those who had come to pay their respects, their behavior seemed to be overlooked by everyone except me and Kayla. 

         I had asked Earl how they had found the funeral home or made the arrangements. He said that the family had been introduced to the services after an uncle had died.  His mom liked the feeling of “life” as opposed to the mourning for death.  The family agreed and made the arrangements.

         Kayla and I did not stay long as the kids really needed to removed from the situation at hand.  I think all of us were tired.

          The Saturday service was really nice.  Three of my cousins gave talks and shared memories of their dad.  Michelle’s husband played guitar while Corey sang “Landslide”, a song that neither one of them were familiar with, but I had heard it before.  Michelle mentioned that the song had been chosen as her family doesn’t seem to deal well with change – at least where death is involved.

           Golf balls had been purchased for mementoes to take for each person who attended the services.  One son-in-law works with the police force and made arrangements for a police (on motorcycles) escort to be with the old fashion looking Hearst.  People may have seen it and thought there must have been an important person in the casket.  It was indeed a great honor.

After the services were over at the cemetery, we all threw paper airplanes.  A balloon was tied to one to send on high.  Just a few minutes later many of us returned to the church to have lunch with the family.  I went around and said my good-byes to all of the family members who had usually turned out for Christmas dinner.  Some who said they couldn’t or wouldn’t make it to the BBQ for an early July Christmas. It was Uncle Ross’s final farewell and everyone turned out for it.  And it was great.

Now he is reunited with his mom and dad and brother and sister. This picture is my dad with Uncle Ross long before they were my dad and uncle.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Greyhound or Fisher Price

Three weeks ago I was at a Roseburg service station waiting for a Greyhound bus.  I had purchased my ticket several hours earlier, but the bus was running late – so I was told by the worker who was frantically trying to wait on everyone.  He had us stand in two lines – those who were purchasing tickets for Greyhound and those who were patrons of the convenient store.

Fortunately for him there was another employee working the pumps.  Whoever had been assigned to be in the store with him had called in sick, had been fired, or quit without notice.  I guess he handled himself rather well.  Poor guy couldn’t wait until ten when he’d finally be able to turn off the lights and call it a night.

        There were probably about 15 people or so waiting for the bus going to Portland.  The man who had sold us our tickets said that the rumor was that the bus driver had had a nervous breakdown and had decided to walk out on whatever passengers happened to be on his bus.  I looked at it as kind of a good thing – after all I wouldn’t want to be stuck on a bus with a driver who was having a nervous breakdown.

        The time stamped on my ticket said June 5th @ 5:58 pm.  I was told the bus would be 4-5 hours late. Fortunately I had brought with me a book that Tony and Rochelle had given me for my birthday just the week before.  I had plenty of time to finish it.  Fortunately for me, I also had light.

        Most of the passengers had moved to one side of the building where they enjoyed their smokes – I don’t know how many or if they were all smoking.  I was waiting on the opposite side and so was a guy named Jake Wood (real name) In between reading, we talked for a bit.  I really enjoyed our conversation.

Jake lived in a different part of Roseburg (or so I had assumed) and had taken a taxi to the station and had purchased a ticket as far as Eugene.  He had planned to see a concert in Eugene with some of his buddies – and as the clock made its way around, Jake would say that there would still be time to see the second act if the bus would come right now.  Soon the concert was over, but he could still hang with his friends.  After 11:00 he decided to call it a night and announced that he decided just to walk home and shook my hand and excused himself.

I had seen other potential passengers come and go throughout the night.  There had been some fair or carnival going on across the street.  But it had even shut down by the time a bus pulled in at 12:20.  It was going to Los Angeles.  I had to wait another 2 hours and 10 minutes before the one to Portland finally showed.  I felt rather blessed that I had noticed it at all.  It had pulled up to the side where the smokers had been waiting.  I guess that’s why they had been waiting there.  Somebody in the group knew that it came on the side.

So I boarded the bus at 2:30 Saturday morning.  According to my ticket I’d be arriving in Salt Lake that same night.  I asked the driver about correcting the dates and times which he assured me I could do once I arrived in Portland.  Nobody else was there to catch the bus.  I wondered how long after Jake left had I been by myself – well, maybe not totally.  There was another man asleep on the benches when I left.  He said he was waiting for the store to open.

The bus was nice.  The seats were comfortable.  Most of the passengers were asleep.  It was about 4:30 when the sun started to peek in the sky.  It was almost 8:00 when we pulled into Portland.
I took my tickets to the counter to have a new agenda issued with the correct dates and times.  I was told I’d have another four hour wait.  At least the Portland station was nice.  It was an actual bus terminal.  I ventured outside and walked around the area – but not too far.  I did want something to eat, but my sense of direction is not that keen.  Plus my backpack felt like it weighed 80 pounds.  I should have not brought the amount of stuff that I did.

I called Beth to tell her I’d be in Portland until noon.  She felt bad that I hadn’t called sooner.  I didn’t know.  Until after I arrived, I had no idea how long I would be.  

I wish the bus I had ridden from Roseburg was the same one that would take me to Salt Lake.  It was actually going from Portland to Denver.  Its outward appearance didn’t seem different from any other bus, but the interior was definitely smaller.  Even a person with anorexia would not be able to walk down the aisle without touching the two aisle seats.  Not a sweet deal for anyone even slightly overweight.  I can guarantee you that.  It was awful.  It was worse than waiting 8 ½ hours at a service station in an unfamiliar city.  
I did not get back to Salt Lake until after 6:30 Sunday morning (keep in mind that Denise had dropped me off at the station on a Friday when there was still enough light in the sky to get her to Newport) and Roland and Jenna met me there and took me home – where I slept for about four hours before getting ready for church (one of the few times when the 1:00 – 4:00 block is not so bad)

I thought it would be my last day at that ward, and got up to express my good-byes.  I thought I’d be going to a family reunion the following week.  But that’s also for another post.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Fresh Blueberries: One Dollar per Pound

          Blueberries are one of Jenna’s absolute favorite things to eat.  There was a time when Biff had purchased twelve cartons of blueberries.  She ate eleven of them.  She would have eaten all twelve, but as Biff had made the purchase, I thought it was only fair that he get at least one carton.

This morning we had the experience of picking blueberries from the DelEv blueberry patch at the end of Myrtle Creek – or so we believe.  The area didn’t seem to have service for cell phones or other such electronics.

Evelyn introduced herself to us and showed us where to pick the blueberries.  It took only 20 minutes to pick 5 pounds.  I think she was disappointed that we had not picked more – but we are not canners or freezers.  Perhaps in time – but we still haven’t unpacked everything for Heaven’s sake!  

Roland mentioned my blog to her and said I would help advertise her product – though I don’t know how many followers I have in Myrtle Creek.  I would guess zero.  I don’t know that I have followers in the entire state of Oregon.  But here is my plug.  And here is her flyer:

They are also looking for pickers (or a picker) to work for 75 cents a pound.  Roland and I tried to talk Jenna into doing it for the summer. Pocket change, we figured.  I could drive her there each morning.  She didn’t appear to be too interested.  I called our employment specialist after we returned home.

It was a fun experience.  Both Roland and I enjoyed getting to know Evelyn.  Maybe I’ll facebook the flyer I scanned.  I am fb friends with at least two friends who live in Oregon – only three to four hours from Myrtle Creek.  At least one of those two enjoys canning and preserving food.  I will post it to her wall.

It was a positive experience.  We’ll be back.