Sweet Pea

Christmas 1958, I was 12. I received a gift from my older brother, Douglas. It was a beautiful ceramic horse. I was in my “crazy about horses stage”. I loved it. I put it on a display shelf in my room. Then my birthday came along in the last part of March.

Time for presents. Doug once again gave me a statue of a horse. His name is “Sweet Pea”. He was the ugliest horse I had ever seen. Yellow, with black spots. Angular, he looked like he had not eaten for months. He looked like he was ready for the glue factory. I laughed and I was in love.

My Mother later told me that Doug had intended to give this to me for Christmas, but she did not think it an appropriate gift for Christmas.

I proudly displayed “Sweet Pea” in my room. When I went to California with my girl friend looking for a new slice of life. “Sweet Pea” came with me carefully packed and wrapped so he would not be damaged.

When I moved back to Cedar City after my heart was broken, “Sweet Pea” came with me. Wrapped with the same care.

When I went to Yellowstone National Park to work for the winter of  1968-69, “Sweet Pea” came with me. Carefully wrapped and padded.

When I got married and we moved to Everett, Washington. Along came “Sweet Pea”, with me, not the movers, they could not be trusted to take care of my “Sweet Pea”.

When I moved back to Cedar City after my husband was killed in an automobile accident, There was “Sweet Pea”. The one steady object in my life. Carefully packed and wrapped so no harm would come to him.

Then eventually it was on to Provo. With two kids in tow and “Sweet Pea” bringing up the rear. We eventually settled into a house of our own and “Sweet Pea” had a home also.

Then in 1979 I was married again. As we were moving my household into this new home, once again I carefully wrapped and packaged “Sweet Pea”. But this time the move was not so kind to him. As we were unloading something heavy was dropped on top of  ”Sweet Pea”. He sustained injuries. I gathered up as many of the pieces that I could find and carefully glued them in place.

Looking back it was a symptom of what the next ten years would bring. Broken hearts and dreams.

My brother Doug is now gone, I doubt he ever knew that his “gag” gift would become a treasured item.

“Sweet Pea” is still with me tattered and torn but he is still standing. Ugly as ever with a few more nicks and scratches.  To me he symbolizes staying power, he has been with me through thick and thin.

Mother Learns To Drive

I was about five or six before my Mother learned to drive a car. My Aunt Wanda was the only women on our street who could drive. I guess my Mother just got tired of not being able to go to the store by herself.  One of the grocery stores in town had a converted bus that would be driven around town. It would come down our little dead end street once a week. I really don’t know if that was how my Mother got her groceries or not. I would guess not, the prices would be too high. The best thing about the grocery wagon was the penny candy and ice cream bars.  But I digress.

Mother would use this new ability to take us on picnics up the canyon or to Zion National Park. We would picnic and hike some of our favorite trails.  She was not the sit and wait for us to go on our hikes. She would come with us. She was not afraid to tackle the hard trails.

We would make our annual trips to Pocatello, Idaho every summer. On one such occasion we stopped in Salt Lake for my Father to make a stop at the Utah Power Company office. A car full of kids, hot summer day, did I say restless kids.  ”Can we get out of the car.” “Mom, how much longer”? After thirty minutes of this Mom decided that she would take us for a ride.

She didn’t know the streets of  Salt Lake very well. Remember this would have been sometime in the mid 1950′s. Our car had a standard shift. Salt Lake has lots of hills. We wanted to go up into the hills to see the pretty houses. The hills have stop signs in the middle of the very steep hills. I think my Mother was very courageous to try going up those hills. I remember we were on one of those hill streets and there was that stop sign. We had to stop. Remember how hard it is to shift into gear and go forward as gravity is pulling you backwards.  Mother and five kids, cars stacking up behind us. Every time she took her foot off the brake to gas the car would drift backwards. We all got very quiet as she struggled with the problem. At this point in the narrative I don’t remember how we got out of the predicament. But by the fact that I am here today and not a headline in the Deseret News, “Mother and Five Kids killed as car rolls down 3rd south and crashes because Mother could not shift into 1st gear.”  is a testament to the metal of my Mothers determination and courage.

I found myself in somewhat the same situation years later. I had moved back to Cedar after my husband was killed in an automobile accident. I was teaching the 11 year old boys in Primary and I needed to take something to one of the boys. He lived up on one of  the hills south of town. It was winter and the roads were snow packed and icy. I headed up the hill with my two little kids in the car. The road was steep and slick, it curved close to the edge of the hill. No guard. As we tried to navigate the curve the car started to slip and slide toward the edge of the hill. I tried to get traction on the soft shoulder. I realized I was in a very precarious situation. There we were on the edge of the hill, no traction, no cell phone, no one around. We said a prayer and walked to the nearest house. I called my Uncle to come rescue us.

Later as I was reflecting on the events of the day my mind returned to my Mother as she struggled to move that car ether up or down. I have been in that situation with a standard shift, especially  when I was still not a very experienced driver. I appreciated my Mothers situation and her courage to even try to navigate the streets of Salt Lake City.