Family Calamities

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

I was once asked to give a pep talk to a Red Cross meeting. Before I spoke they gave a report on the goodly works they had performed that year. Among their rescues, humanitarian efforts and community services, they mentioned a considerable number of what they titled “Single Family Disasters.” In my opening remarks I said, “Thank you for giving me the proper title for Single Family Disasters. We have been calling ours “Family Home Evening.”

If “Family Home Evening” is a new phrase to you, it’s a Mormon practice where we gather on Monday evening for counsel, activities, and a treat. It has sometimes been described as an evening of arguing that begins and ends with prayer. But even as we joke about it, we all agree that years of weekly home evenings chronicle some of our most treasured memories and character development.

And like most families, we have experienced stiffer crises than an evening of wiggles, pokes, jokes and “he/she started it.”

I remember the larger crises best by the tag lines with which they were brought to my attention. :

“Let me tell you first that we are all still alive”

“You can still shut the door if you use both hands.”

“I wondered why they weren’t eating as much.”

The first of the above lines was spoken to me by one of our sons when he and a few other siblings joined us a bit late for a family gathering out of town.

Since I generally assume our family members are all alive unless I hear differently, my fatherly sense told me this announcement might be a set up for a bigger story.

It was

Our barn is up a hill behind our house. The truck hauling hay up to the barn was spinning its wheels on the grade so our son hooked the tractor to the truck’s front bumper. His younger brother was the designated driver of the truck. Older son jumped on to the tractor seat, revved the engine and popped the clutch. The tractor leaped. Chained to the truck it couldn’t go forward, so it rotated on its back wheels like a rearing horse, launched its nose into the air and performed a back flip on to the hood of the truck.

Cat-like reflexes he didn’t even know he had launched older son off the bucking tractor seat safely to the ground. Younger son froze in fright as the somersaulting tractor crashed down inches from the windshield. Younger son flipped open the “unsafety” belt holding him to the seat and flew out the door to join his brother on the ground.

And speaking of car doors, they are not the best tools for knocking down trees. Diane, my wife discovered that while backing up near a husky trunk. She was looking over her right shoulder out the back window with the driver’s side door partly open, then totally open, then partly folded between the tree and the front fender. Her opening line to me was, “You can still close it using both hands.” A rump bump also helps we found later. Full disclosure, I did something similar to the right rear view mirror of another car a few years later.

Egg production was slipping day by day in the hen house. I went to check. One possible reason was the chicken bones I found littering the coop. Some varmint (we’re suspecting a badger) dug up out of the ground every morning, enjoyed a chicken breakfast, and went back down his hole until the next day. Apparently this had been going on for some time. There appeared to be more bones in the coop than chickens.

I asked a busy and oft distracted son whose chore was feeding the chickens about this. He answered, “I wondered why they weren’t eating as much.” (The chickens I assumed, not the badger.)

Family calamities; some tragic, some funny; often the difference is how long ago they happened.

Your next installment is: Meanwhile back at the ranch

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.