Silence is Golden, or Poison

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 duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.
The book is titled, Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Up to now we have been jumping from one memory to the next in more or less chronological order. My hope is that I have planned and lived generally with a long perspective. Now I’d like to look back with the focus of the second part of the title, “Learn a little.” Everything I have learned came through some kind of situation, not always breathtaking, sometimes boring, but couched in some setting. The experiences brought not many epiphanies, and not always happy endings, but often a fact or lesson worth adding to my modest store of knowledge, and maybe even a little wisdom. Including…

Learn a Little

My father liked this saying, “Better to keep quiet and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.” I think there is some wisdom in that. I could write a book, maybe a set of encyclopedias on the things I have said that were less intelligent than silence. Usually these pearls of foolishness spilled out when I was angry or under pressure. Inevitably sooner or later, sometimes years later I have wished I could inhale these words back.

But, as the late Paul Harvey used to say, “It’s mighty hard to unring a bell.”

So I decided a long time ago to take responsibility for my words and actions. The current buzz word is “accountability.” To paraphrase the song, “I was country when country wasn’t cool”. I like to think I was accountable when accountable wasn’t admired. Full disclosure: I often didn’t/don’t live up to my lofty goal. But I believed in it, still do.

To achieve accountability, I vowed that under pressure my first response would to shut my mouth. Later when I had time to analyze the situation and prepare a proper response I would do so. Alas, like most silver bullet solutions, this has its limitations. It can even cause its own problems. I have a pretty good collection of times when I should have spoken but didn’t.

I was a hot shot Sunday School teacher in my church with all the wisdom and insight of 18 years when I picked up a piece of chalk from the ward (congregation) “media center” a closet containing a few battered copies of the scriptures, a short stack of faded pictures, chalk and an eraser or two. I was in a hurry as usual, and I snatched a piece of chalk and started for my class room. I heard a shriek behind me. “Put that back! That’s our chalk. You’re a thief that’s what you are! You’re a thief!”

I looked around to see if I could help catch the thief, and saw Sister Haskell, one of the older (all adults were older to me in those days) sisters in our ward pointing her threatening finger at me.

Only she wasn’t in our ward any more as of the previous week. The ward had been divided, and so had the closet. I didn’t stop to figure that out. I just smiled and said, “Whatever.” Or whatever the 1955 version of “whatever” was.

I remembered later, but tossed it off. Even now I think she was trying to kill an ant with a sledge hammer. But still wish I hadn’t let her go to her grave thinking I was running an underground crime ring peddling stolen chalk.

Why didn’t I say something at the time? Youthful pig headedness I think. I didn’t cotton to the idea of humbly asking forgiveness of this screaming woman.

Same story, different scene: I am standing in the middle of my hay field by an irrigation ditch when a car comes speeding up the field toward me, stops and two men jump out. One I recognize as the water master who turns water into my ditch. The other man is a stranger to me. I hope he remains so from the look on his face. I take a firmer grip on my shovel handle in case it comes to that. I think it won’t because I have the law on my side in the form of the water master.

I already know the problem. Every week I order water from the canal. The water master turns it in, and this hydro-thief on the same ditch line sneaks up and opens his head gate half way to siphon off some of my water. He thinks I won’t notice because the canal head gate is way up a hill. Most people wouldn’t walk up to check if somebody up stream is stealing part of their water.

But I am not most people. Suspecting I was getting less than I had ordered, I have checked it out over several weeks. Always it is the same; a discretely half opened head gate is sending part of my stream to his reservoir. “The wheels of the (water) gods grind slow but exceeding fine,” and he’s about to get his comeuppance.

They take their stance. The water master speaks first, “What do you think you’re doing. Every week you order a foot of water. He orders a half foot for his reservoir. I turn a foot and a half into the ditch, and open up his head gate to give him his share. You come along and close his gate and steal his water.”

I stand stunned, processing this new scenario. Instinctively accountability kicks in. I say nothing.

“Don’t let it happen again.” The water master and the water thief/victim jump back into the car, throw it into reverse and burn rubber out to the street and away.

My mind grinds slow and not exceeding fine. I think, “I am a voiceless idiot. Why didn’t I say something?”

Later that night I call my neighbor and add to the evidence of my guilt by offering to give him some of my water. He says, “I don’t need your (bleep) water. I can take care of myself,” the implication being why don’t I do the same.

I go through several speeches I could have made. None of them would have solved the problem. They include to the water master, “Why didn’t you tell me that is what you were doing.” To which he would have said. “Everybody on the line but you knows how it works. You city slickers come out here and think you know everything.”

Or I could have said to my water neighbor. “What would you think if you found somebody tapping water out of your stream? I figured you were stealing my water.” To which he would have said. “You calling me a thief? You getter get a good grip on that shovel buddy. Nobody says that to me and gets away with it.”

The only response that might have worked would be, “Whoa, I am sorry. I didn’t know that’s how the system worked. I’m really embarrassed that I didn’t understand. I hope you will forgive me, and let me repay you the water that I took by mistake.”

They would have said, “You got that right Slick. You’re either stupid or lying. Don’t let it happen again.”

They might even have said, “Say aren’t you the same guy who stole chalk from Sister Haskell’s ward 56 years ago?”

OK, I’m paranoid. The trouble is, under pressure pride trumps accountability, and clogs my brain and my voice box. I’m working on the problem, along with a long list of other shortcomings I would just as soon keep quiet about.

Your next installment is: Learn a little

What do you think about this part of the book?
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 receipts
3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary
4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to
5. 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, but since that that would probably be from my mother and she has passed away, 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.

Live as long as you can

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 duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.
The book is titled, Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

You can copyright a written work, of course, but you can’t copyright a title. And so it happens that uncounted songs have been titled, “I love you.” That’s nice. Surely there are no more blessed words in the language than those three arranged in that order.

But to get your full attention, sharpen your focus and reevaluate your priorities, nothing beats this little three word sentence, “You have cancer.”

That was the straightforward announcement from the doctor following my biopsy. This was new territory for me. Most of my life I had whipped through obligatory physicals for sports, scouts, mission and other adventures. The results were always, “You’re in great shape.”

As the years piled on, the medical folks began to qualify their happy reports. “You’re in good shape for a person your age.”

I appreciated their delicate wording, but it reminded me of the well meaning country boy who complimented his partner, “You sweat less than any fat girl I ever danced with.”

Roger Williams, a popular pianist of the 1950’s said near the close of his career. “I was a child prodigy, performing in public when I was three years old. People often said to me, ‘You play so well for your age.’ They are starting to say that again.”

I reluctantly, faced what President Gordon B. Hinckley used to call with a chuckle, “the golden years… laced with lead.” Of my own journey to wrinkle city, I chuckled some, grumbled some, and wrote a song parody on the subject. Occasionally I quoted to myself the poet Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night…Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” And sometimes I resigned myself to the words of Omar Khayyam, “The moving finger writes and having writ moves on. Nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line,.”

On my less grumbly days I considered starting an FMA society. I would sell T shirts, posters and certificates saying, “I am (fill in the blank) smart, strong, handsome, healthy, attentive, a good driver, quick witted, sexy, or all the above FMA*”

*For My Age.

I have gained a new respect for those who have traveled the highway of senior citizenship in good spirits. Full disclosure: it’s not a highway, more like a bumpy cobblestone street with more than occasional potholes. But I was chugging along, fairly well maintaining my “native cheery temperament,” as Joseph Smith described his. Until that gentle slope down the aging road rolled off a cliff and dropped me into the dark canyon below with the news I had cancer.

I began to add to the list my father had joked about in his later years. “Time to stop buying any green bananas, or filling the gas tank all the way up.” I might have added batteries in bulk packages, ten pack razor blades, or two liter bottles of Worcestershire sauce. Oh, and don’t start reading War and Peace, but do forgive those who have trespassed against me, and get notarized receipts from them that I did.

According to my doctors it wasn’t time to check the Yellow Pages for funeral homes yet. Anyway I figured I should call Berge Mortuary first and let them submit a bid on me. In my glory days of high school basketball, whenever I had a good game and got my name and picture in the paper, I would find in the mailbox a few days later a nice letter from Berg with a laminated copy of the news story. I thought then, “This is the longest running marketing program I’ve ever heard of.” It still is.

Another reason I didn’t schedule my obituary mug shot was I had a couple of things going for me. First: Even though about 30,000 American men die from it annually prostate cancer is relatively slow growing. Since I’m relatively slow at most everything else I thought that might bode well for me. Second: I was in pretty good shape (I know “for a man my age.”) I couldn’t qualify as overweight with a barbell in each hand and in a pair of lead wading boots. I work out pretty much every day but Sunday, and I’ve been running since long before it was fashionable, Back then when I was on the road touring or speaking I would look for a quiet road outside the city to run on. Dogs would chase me and little old ladies would peep through their curtains to see if I had a stolen chicken under my T shirt.

Like every American, even those who dine mostly out of Styrofoam clam shell boxes, I thought I was eating a healthy diet.

The doctor gave me his highest complement. He said I was a prime candidate for surgery. I asked him about radiation or other treatments. He commented briefly and vaguely on the subject. His specialty was surgery. I was reminded of philosopher Soren Kierkegaard’s observation, “To a man who has only a hammer, everything is a nail.”

The doctor said, “When would you like to schedule your surgery?”

I said, “I’ll get back to you.” I called him later and told him I had decided not to. It was quiet on the other end of the line.

I appreciate dedicated doctors and nurses including our daughter Callie who has blessed the lives of many people as a registered nurse. I have benefited from medical treatments in the past, and may well use them in the future. But this time the options of getting nuked or sliced and diced didn’t feel like the right approach to me. But there seemed to be no other protocols available.

At first I didn’t want to tell anybody about the unwelcome inhabitant I was sharing my body with. Who wants to be known as The Guy With Cancer? Even now I don’t recommend it as an ice breaker at social gatherings. “Hi, my name is Duane. I have cancer. Looks like we may be in for a dry spell unless it rains.”

But as 10 plus years have rolled by and I find myself still running the mountain trail behind our house, and haven’t seen my picture in the obituaries, I have decided to tell my story so far in case it might help someone else. I emphasize again that I am no expert. I am just telling you what has happened to me. The experience has changed my outlook on many things.

Following my diagnosis, I read what I could find on the subject. I talked with people who might have expertise or experience. Among others, I consulted Dr. Mark Lafferty, a chiropractor whose father in the same profession had helped me keep a straight spine, and put my hip back in place when I got banged up in high school football. Dr. Lafferty offered me the most optimistic prognosis I had heard since the fateful three words were dropped on me.

He said, “We can control prostate cancer with nutrition and life style.”

I was relieved and exuberant. Then he said, “Unless the Lord has decided it is your time to die.” I was sobered and focused.

The first thing we did was open the pathways of exit for the toxins I had collected in 65 years of living in our less than pure environment, and eating the “Great American Diet.” The premise of this approach is that the PH of the body is vitally important. On a scale of 1-14, a level of 6.4 to 7.0 is healthiest. Numbers below this indicate the body system is too acidic. Above 7.0 the system is too alkaline. The American diet includes much sugar, processed white flour, red meat, and other foods which bring down the body’s PH. Food additives also contribute. The best foods for regulating PH are vegetables, especially dark green leafy, the stuff your mother always told you to eat. These are best when grown naturally in nourishing soil with as little air and water pollution as possible. Some meats, especially fish are good protein sources.

Exercise, both aerobic to strengthen the oxygen and blood circulation systems, and isotonic, weights, pushups, sit ups, and/or yoga to build muscle and skeletal strength are part of the regimen. Plenty of good water, and adequate rest and sleep are also helpful. I had been practicing this life style for decades, but not as strictly and focused as I now do.

Sometimes even good foods may not supply enough of a certain nourishment I need, or my body may not be processing the food well enough to extract the nourishment from it. For example, after age 50 most people produce insufficient stomach acid to efficiently digest their food. I take concentrated food supplements to supply these needs.

In addition to the physical benefits, I have found mental, emotional, and even spiritual advantages. We joke about some foods being “sinfully delicious” or about eating “guilt free.” I think those are more than just figures of speech. I think it no coincidence that spiritual leaders of history including Gautama Buddha, Confucius, Mahatma Gandhi, and even Jesus practiced fasting and controlled eating as ways to strengthen themselves, and influence for good their followers. I have also found that the changes were not as difficult as I had expected. The human taste buds, muscles, heart and mind are marvelously malleable and adaptable once we convince them we are committed to the program.

I’m no medical or nutrition expert, but this system seems to work quite well for me. I prefer it so much that if I got a call from the doctor saying, “Hey, sorry about that. We pulled the wrong file. You’re fine,” I wouldn’t go back to my old ways. I have pretty well re calibrated my appetites, so that I am controlling them instead of vice versa. I feel now that my body and I are much more on the same page. We have an agreement; I will only put into my body what is good and nourishing. It will in turn serve me to the best of its abilities. Neither of us is perfect in our role yet, but we are much better.

I believe my present fitness program is giving me more peace of mind, confidence, and optimism for the present and future. It seems to help me “live long” both in years, and more important, in perspective.
I am also reminded of the words of J. Golden Kimball, a country boy who brought his homespun wit and wisdom to his calling as a general authority of the church. He once gave this counsel on health. “Get an incurable disease. Then you’ll take care of yourself and live to a ripe old age.”

Your next installment is: Learn a little

What do you think about this part of the book?
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 receipts
3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary
4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to
5. 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, but since that that would probably be from my mother and she has passed away, 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.

Good Walls Make Good Families

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 duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

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

The poet Robert Frost famously quoted his New England neighbor saying, “Good fences make good neighbors.” Frost had misgivings about the absolute truth of that saying commenting, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down.”

The truth and wisdom of wall making is still open to (sometimes heated) discussion at neighborhood, city, state, and even at national levels.

Families also have fences, or walls, and that first Christmas I was trying to keep ours intact in the face of an emotional earthquake we had gone through seven months before when. Diane died.

Further complicating the situation, we were about to receive a magnificent Christmas gift, another wife and mother. Like the verdant coastal plain of Israel from which her name is derived, Sharon would bring new life and beauty to our family. I was overjoyed and grateful. Some of our children were not so sure. Two of our daughters said, “Dad, you don’t need to get married again. We’ll take care of you.”

I reminded them that they had their own lives to live, and when the time came for them to start their own families I didn’t want to be an obstacle in their path. Or maybe I said, “Sure you will until some handsome young man sweeps you off your feet, and then it’s ‘hey dad call if you need something.’”

I reminded them that their little brothers and sisters needed a mom, and I needed a wife. While I valued their input, I felt the final decision should be mine. But I wanted to launch our new family life with a clear understanding of our relationships.

I had prayed and pondered and felt guided in my decisions. My conviction was strengthened when a young woman I had never met came to my office. I don’t know how she found out about my marriage consideration, but she said.

“Let me tell you my story. It’s your situation only looking from the children’s perspective. Our mom died of cancer like your wife did. Almost immediately our dad went out looking for another wife. He dated a lot, and we missed having him with us.

“One day he came home with a woman and told us they were getting married. They did. We didn’t get along well with his new wife. When we crossed with her we often went to dad. Dad usually sided with us. This left her alone. Even though I didn’t agree with her, I felt sorry for her situation. My point is when we needed dad he wasn’t there. When we didn’t need him he was. Their marriage didn’t last very long. My advice is don’t let that happen to your family.”

I thanked her. She left. I haven’t seen her since.

Later I called a family council and said,” I love each and all of you more than I can tell you. Next to Jesus and Heavenly Father, you and your mom are the most important people in my life. We have been through hard things together, especially the passing of your mother. I appreciate your being frank with me on your feelings, and even your fears. I will always support you and love you.

“But there is something you need to know. If there is ever a conflict between you and your new mother, I will be on her side. I will do this so we can build and maintain a strong marriage. You need that, so do I.”

Sharon and I married, and our family is still in the process of living happily ever after. At first we did hear some “new family blending” talk. “You’re not my Mom. I don’t have to do what you say. You haven’t paid your dues.” I don’t remember any of the children threatening Sharon with, “I’m telling Dad on you.” Sharon tells me she always felt my support. She also strengthened our marriage by not only loving and caring for me, and our family, but also for Diane’s family. To do so sometimes she had to ration the time and attention she gave to her own family. It was a conscious decision she made, and a powerful subconscious magnet pulling us together.

Sharon and I expected and were confirmed in our anticipations when the children wanted to bang against the walls of our marriage and family. They have since told us that they were also secretly glad they couldn’t knock the walls down. Their world had been unraveled by the passing of their first mom. It was a source of security to them to know that this new family was as solid as the one they had they had known before.

Breaking down barriers between neighbors may well be a good idea. Building strong and loving walls around families always is.

What do you think about this part of the book?

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.

What kind of woman marries 15 children? (16 including me some times)

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 duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

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

When I first called Sharon to ask her to go out with me, I hung up the phone thinking, among other things, “Sharon is a returned missionary, a former student stake Relief Society president, director of the area singles organization, a totally dedicated saint. She has never been married, and she has a little boy. Interesting. Well, we all make mistakes. Far be it from me to throw the first stone. Not only is that condemned by Jesus, it might scare her off.”

I soon learned again, “Don’t jump to conclusions, and more important, don’t stumble over them.” Sharon’s little boy turned out to be a foster child who needed special care, so she would bring him to her home on weekends, teach him so he could keep up in school, and enjoy one on one companionship with his teacher.

This is quintessential Sharon; the same woman who volunteered to be the guide for a member of their college choir who was blind, in a performance tour of Europe. The same who launders the clothes and helps care for Lynette, the sister of my first wife Diane, in a nursing home, who takes meals to the sick in our neighborhood, who can’t bear to see a grandchild leave the house without a treat in his or her hands, who didn’t sleep easy if she suspected the wigglers in our little worm farm might be missing a meal.

In the Bible Ruth’s husband dies. His mother decides to return to her homeland in Israel. Ruth pledges to her mother in law, “Whither thou goest, I will go. Wherever thou lodgest I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy god, my God.”

Sharon and I shared the same God, but she also committed to herself to be one of our people. She said to herself, “If this is going to work, I will have to become a Hiatt.” By that she meant becoming a Robertson so the children would not lose touch with Diane’s family. At times she has done this at the expense of connecting with her own Johnson family. Diane, our children and grandchildren, and I have been blessed by her willingness to do this.

Sharon is a woman of strong faith and effective prayers. I have no idea how many lost articles we have found, car wrecks we have avoided, sicknesses we have dodged or been cured of, or miscellaneous blessings we have accumulated by way of her prayers. I do remember walking down a street in Santa Domingo, the capitol of The Dominican Republic. Somewhere between somewhere and our car, the keys fell out of her purse. I mean no disrespect to the wonderful folks in The Dominican Republic, but theirs is a hard life. Some people there are prone to not hurry off to lost and found with a treasure they pick up, especially on a public sidewalk. My concern was not only someone would keep the key, but that he would find a slot it worked in and keep the car. We searched the sidewalk and gutter for a few blocks; nothing..

“Sharon that key is history. The only way we would ever get it back is if were found by the national minister on honesty and ethics if there is such a person.”

Sharon walked ahead a few steps, stopped. and bowed her head. I paused on the sidewalk straining my brain on how I could get into the car, hot wire the ignition, and not get arrested by the passing “policia”.

Across the street came a smiling dignified gentleman who greeted us in English, “I saw you walking up and down the sidewalk, and wondered if you were looking for these.”  He held out our keys. When I caught my breath, and thanked him profusely. He replied, “De nada. I was on my way to my office over there when I saw them on the sidewalk.”

I asked, “What business are you in?”

He replied, “I am head of the national government ministry of honesty and ethics,” or words similar to that.

I thought, “Of course. Why did I have to ask?”

Instant answers to prayer are not uncommon to Sharon, but she also possesses the ability to as the Bible puts it, “wait upon the Lord.” As a young woman she was promised in her patriarchal blessing that she would have a family. That fit with her plans. Her mother had eleven children so as a girl Sharon planned to “one up” that and have twelve. Then she heard of a mother of 14, so raised her goal to 17 to be safely ahead of the pack.

“I had no idea what that would entail. I just had to one up everybody,” she explained to me.

Her life didn’t unfold like a storybook romance. She dated a lot, and had lots of friends, but nothing quite clicked. Meanwhile her mother tried to improve Sharon’s cooking skills. Her father counseled her on her hair styles, and wardrobe, except when she asked him for a blessing. He, like his daughter, was a man of faith. In his blessings he only spoke what the Lord inspired him to say, which didn’t include dresses and hairdo’s.

Once in her young adult frustration she told her mother, “I’m going to marry the right man even if I have to wait until I’m forty.” They were both a little shocked to hear her put a number on it.

But for Sharon waiting didn’t mean sitting around for the Lord to usher in her knight in shining armor. It meant developing her abilities and talents, expanding her friendships, getting her college degree, and teaching credentials. She sang in choirs, taught piano, special needs children in elementary school, and severely handicapped children in the state training school. She served a mission and learned Spanish in the process. She worked her way into the hearts of her nieces and nephews who adored her. I know this list of accomplishments pretty well because when I served as a bishop in a young adult ward I used her example to counsel and encourage other young women. “Be ready for whenever in the Lord’s timetable Mr. Right appears,” I encouraged them.

Sharon also has the courage to walk to the edge of the light and then take a step into the darkness. On the wall of her home I saw a little picture of a boat with the inscription, “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” Her prayer as we were dating was, “Heavenly Father, if you don’t stop me, I’m going to marry this man.”

Sharon and I agree that in her case our Heavenly Father had a wonderful plan for her, and for us. He didn’t make her wait until she was forty years old. She was two weeks short of that date. And contrary to her young woman expectations, he dumped the whole family in her lap in one fell swoop. She was ready and prepared.

The only complication was that she had made so many friends in the process that our wedding packed the church and exhausted both of us by the last hug and handshake.

Your next installment is: Good walls make good families

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.

Coming out party

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 duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

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

When Diane died I pondered, prayed, and also read what the experts had to say about my next steps.  I assumed I would get married again. Diane had asked me to. The children needed a mom, and I felt like half a person without my beloved wife.

The experts I read, however counseled that I not rush into anything. They wrote that losing one’s spouse is the 800 pound gorilla of grief to your mind and emotions. “Don’t make any important decisions for a year,” they said. One even warned about driving heavy equipment since a person’s wisdom and decision making ability might be compromised. At my best, my wisdom and decision making are sometimes suspect. Compromising would bring them down to my math grades in school. That was a scary thought.

Then one day, November 14, 1987 to be exact, the telephone rang. A sweet and inviting woman’s voice said, “Are you ready to come out yet?”

I stammered. I hadn’t really thought through the question, much less the answer.

“I’m not sure,” was my feeble, but honest answer.

The sweet voice was from Gayle Peterson, a stake singles chairman who took her calling seriously. Instead of the usual mass dances and firesides that the singles programs in the church usually put together, she would organize friendly little parties in her home or someone else’s. She would look over her list of single people, and invite those she felt would enjoy each others’ company. She thought Sharon Johnson and I would have music and perhaps other things in common.

In the Jewish community, I learned from vast research, namely watching the movie, “Fiddler on the Roof,” that the matchmaker is called a “yenta.” Gayle was a yenta of the highest order. I will be literally eternally grateful for her.

I went to the party. In came a woman who immediately greeted with a smile and friendly handshake everyone she met, including me. She seemed to know the names of most of the people there, including mine. We had a little program. She leaped to the piano and accompanied one and all who needed the service including a university voice teacher who launched into the Habanera from the opera “Carman.” Sharon later sang with us in a beautiful soprano voice.

I mentally tossed the experts’ books out the window, along with my resolution to not make serious decisions for a year. I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid, as the saying goes.

We talked. She had first heard The Three D’s at a youth conference. She was in ninth grade at the time. I said, “That’s interesting,” as I straightened up to my best posture, and flashed my most youthful smile.

Her father was a fan of ours, and had some of our recorded music. She graduated from Brigham Young University in music education, sang with the university’s excellent a cappella choir, taught developmentally delayed children at the state training school, and presently at an elementary school. I found that behind her late arrival and sparkling smile was a full day helping with a Special Olympics gymnastics tournament. She was too tired to enjoy a party, but decided to come anyway. Our yenta was getting help from the other side of the veil I figured.

Sharon told me later as we were dating, “I was through with the dating scene. I prayed, ‘Heavenly Father please help me to just be in the right place at the right time, and be prepared.’” I am convinced that’s exactly what he did.

Not wanting to scare her off with my enthusiasm, I didn’t call her until the next morning. I drummed my fingers by the phone until about 9:04 a.m., then dialed the school where she taught. The principal accommodatingly called her out of class. I cued up the classical music in the background, and asked her in the best sales commitment style if she would sooner go to the theater or a football game Saturday.

She chose the game. “Great, a football fan too,” I checked that on the list. Turns out she wasn’t but thought (correctly) that I was. Sharon said she would like to go, but would have to find someone to take care of her little boy. Thinking on my feet, I said, “No problem. We have a houseful of baby sitters. And I’m sure we can match him up with friends his age. We have them in all sizes.”

She said it might not be that easy. “Nate (not his real name) is deaf and autistic, and loves to ride his bicycle. He can be a handful to keep track of.”

“Hey, we have a herd of goats in the back yard. Getting out of the fence is what they do for a living. How hard can it be to watch over one little boy?” I was pushing my luck here hoping competence in child care would outshine the red neck image of goats in the back yard.

Fortunately Sharon was an Idaho farm girl among her other appealing attributes. She agreed to give it a try.

“Hey you lucky children, I’ve got a great activity planned for you this Saturday.”

Our children, even running relays were pretty pooped by the end of the day shepherding Sharon’s little Nate on his bicycle. But bless their hearts and their entire cardiovascular systems. Nate had a great time.

It was a beautiful day in every way for a football game. We won the game. That made sixty five thousand fans in the stadium happy, and one of them happier than all the rest.

Two months later we were all launched on the next phase of our eternal journey as a family.

What do you think about this part of the book?

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.

Follow the Prophet

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 duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

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

“Would you compose a song about the Old Testament Prophets for the new Primary songbook?” That was the request to me from the church music committee back in 1987.

“Sure,” I said to the voice on the other end of the telephone line. “I’ll give it my best shot.

“Thank you,” the voice said. “We want it to sound like a Jewish folk song, and be fun for the children to sing.”

As I began, I thought, “Hmm, these are three significant challenges, First, what should be the message of the song, and how can I distill the great words and stirring deeds of the Old Testament prophets into a few verses and a chorus? Second, how can I make it sound like a Jewish folk song, when I don’t know any Jewish folk songs?” And third, how can I write a fun song?” This was the biggest challenge of all. My beloved wife Diane, mother of our 15 children, had died of cancer just two weeks before. This was not a fun time in our family.

“What to do?” I have asked Primary children in many wards and branches when I tell them this story. Always they respond with the right answer, “Pray.” I prayed. The Lord answered by reminding me of Stillman Pond, a man I had written about in a script years before. Stillman Pond was a noble pioneer who buried nine of his 11 children and then his wife Maria as they crossed the plains. Later, moving on with his last two children, he himself became so sick he could not sit up in his wagon, but he continued his trek. How did he see to drive? He peered through a knot hole in the dash board of his wagon. Through it he could make out the trail of those who had gone before him including President Brigham Young.

I believe thoughts such as these filled his mind. “I believe in God and Jesus Christ and in the gospel. But I am so sad, so sick, so weak how can I go on? I will keep my eyes on the tracks in front of me. Step by step I will follow the prophet.”

“That is the message,” I said to myself.

True to his word Stillman Pond kept to the trail, kept his faith, made it to the valley and served faithfully for the rest of his life.

I thought, “If this good man could move forward through such trials, I can too with the help of Heavenly Father.

As always, the song took much work and many rewrites before I felt I had fulfilled the church music committee’s request. The song is about the Old Testament prophets plus one verse to bring the message up to date. The children tell me it is fun to sing, and several Jewish people over the years have said it reminds them of their heritage. I believe the Lord heard and answered my prayer.

I sent the little song in, and the music committee called me back and said, “We like this song. We would like some more verses.”

So I wrote more verses.

They said, “We like these verses. Send us some more.

I sent some more.

They said, “Send more.”

I said, “Look primary only lasts for two hours. Enough with the verses.” Actually I just said, “Thank you.” I was glad they liked the verses.

Maybe nine verses is about the right number. Leslee Ewell Lundgren from Orem Utah was an adult leader at a Young Woman conference where I told them the story of writing the song. I joked about the many verses. She said to me after the show, “I’m glad you wrote more verses. When I was a little girl none of my family went to church. Once I went by myself to primary because my friends talked about primary and I wanted to know what went on there. During the singing time the music leader held up a big Hershey bar and told us, ‘We are going to learn the song Follow the Prophet. We are going to learn one verse each week. At the end of nine weeks those of you who have learned all nine verses will win a big candy bar like this.”

“I really wanted a big Hershey bar, so I went to primary every week and learned all the verses. At the end of nine weeks I got a Hershey bar. More importantly, I’ve been going to church ever since.”

I said, “Thanks for telling me your story. I’m glad I didn’t stop at six or seven.”

I have received many stories from many places indicating the little song has traveled widely and with people in all walks of life. Truman Madsen told me his granddaughter Molly was shopping with her mother in a grocery store in their town near San Francisco. Molly was following her mother singing “Follow the Prophet” at the top of her voice. Her mother tried to get her daughter to tone it down a few decibels. But the store manager happened to be behind them. He said, “No, you let that little girl sing. She’s got a good business sense. You follow the profit; you’ll be successful in retail.”

Kia Heaton a little girl about five, was hiking with her mother and little sister and littler brother. She kept running ahead saying, “I am the prophet. I’m the prophet.” Her mother said, “What does that mean?”

She answered, “You are supposed to follow me.”

My sister Diane told me of a little family in Kansas who sang “Follow the Prophet” often for their home evenings and other occasions. One day they showed their small son a picture of President Hinckley and asked who that was. The boy said, “That’s Follow.” When I tell the children this story, I remind them that follow is a verb, something we do, not a name like Smokey the Bear, Kermit the Frog or Follow the prophet..

I got a note saying, Lyndee Bauman was teaching her best friend Claire Sherman verses of “Follow the Prophet.” They are both four years old. Claire is Jewish. Great; Claire; your ancestors spent 40 years learning to follow the prophet Moses. That’s even harder than learning nine verses.

Phil Carmack’s son who just started Sunbeams in primary came home singing. Phil wrote me from Redwood City California, “I heard him singing a new Primary song. He was belting out ‘Follow the Prophet you won’t go straight.’ A few weeks later he learned the correct words.”

After a presentation I gave in 2003 a woman told me her friend’s little son was learning Baa Baa Black Sheep and follow the prophet at same time period. In church he sang, “Follow the black sheep.” His mother got a note from the primary president.

Joseph Walker called me from Sacramento California. He had his primary class write verses to “Follow the Prophet.” One little guy wrote, “Abinidi was a prophet… and then you hum the rest.”

Our daughter Katy told me about a little boy in their neighborhood who adapted the song to instruct his younger brother in character development. He sings to him, “Follow the Prophet. Don’t be a jerk.”

Apparently the song crosses national borders fairly well. Ferron and Linda Leavett told me in Edmonton Canada a few years ago, “We just returned from a mission to Kenya, Africa. “Follow the Prophet” was a favorite song of the children there in primary.” They said the African children were asked to each learn a verse in English. But the children insisted on learning all the verses in English. They sang them with great rhythm and enthusiasm.”

Considering the number of verses, they should get college credit for that.

In Wales the branch primary sang in sacrament meeting. The primary consisted of one child. He sang “Follow the Prophet.” An older man in the congregation picked up the chorus, then others joined in. The whole congregation was singing by the end of the song.

A young man in Vancouver Canada told me on his mission in Eastern Europe (Romania as I recall) the children sang it with gusto and with a heavy accent. Travis Woolsey institute president at Vancouver told me on his mission to Bulgaria their primary children loved to sing “Follow the Prophet.” “They rocked out with Bulgarian accents,” he said.

That would be interesting to hear. Sometimes in those Eastern European languages, Follow the Prophet could sound more like a command than an invitation.

If you speak Spanish you will enjoy our little friend Jorjito Alverado in Puerto Rico who sang “Sigue al profeta, deja el arroz,” which translates, “Follow the prophet, don’t eat the rice.” His mother corrected him that it was “deja el error” which means “don’t go astray.” I assume she also said “Coma el arroz.” “Eat your rice.”

The song was written for Primary children, but apparently the age range starts earlier. At a primary leadership meeting in Riverton Utah Shirley Jolley about 6 months pregnant said her baby began to kick to the rhythm when we began to sing “Follow the Prophet.”

Christmas time at church headquarters in Salt Lake City families can arrange to dress up and appear in the nativity scene. Kim Wadsworth said President Howard W. Hunter, the president and prophet of the church at the time was in the audience. Kim wrote me, “As he was leaving in his wheel chair, a little child, 2-3 years old ran after him singing “Follow the Prophet, follow the prophet…”

“It was a most beautiful experience,” Kim said.

Young adults enjoy their own version. The students at BYU Idaho University particularly liked the verse about Jonah and the whale. They would follow it with their own version of the chorus, “Swallow the prophet.”

Apparently there is an appeal for the more mature also. Al Payne, a retired high school music teacher told me his high priests quartet features it in their programs, and they “jazz it up a little.” Way to go brethren, turn up those heart pacers and as they used to say in the big band era, “It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.”

One of my favorite stories includes a mature gentleman, a young man and a child. The gentleman was a stake president from Logan Utah who told me the story. A young man with problems in his stake had paid for a six pack of beer at a grocery store check out stand. He started to leave when the voice of a child floated from another part of the store, “Follow the Prophet… he knows the way.”

The young man paused a moment then started for the door. The clerk called to him, “Hey, you forgot your beer. You paid for it.”

The youth called back as he walked out. “I know I forgot the beer, but I remembered something else.”

Michael Moody head of church music told me when the song came out it was a favorite of the general primary board and their children and grandchildren. That may have been a relief to Michael. I got word through the grapevine years after the song was written that some of the music committee members were a little nervous when they heard I was asked to write it. One said, “You mean Duane Hiatt of The Three D’s? He’s the funniest man I know. How will we ever get it through Correlation?”

Actually the Correlation Committee was very encouraging, and their suggestions improved the song I think.

To develop a long perspective and be guided by it, I know of no better counsel than to “Follow the Prophet.”

Your next installment is: After darkness comes the dawn

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.

Overcoming Personal Loss

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 duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

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

I looked down again at the little yellow card in my hand. It was dog eared from being taken out of my planning book every day. On the bottom of the card I read my handwritten note, “Turn every lemon into lemonade.” I laughed. I laughed a long, hollow, empty laugh that turned to sobs at the end. How ridiculous it seemed to battle the dragon of death with the puny sword of human optimism.

Time to ponder, even time to weep, is a luxury when you have a terminally ill wife and fifteen children. The tear reservoirs are soon emptied, and the dry sobs lose their ability to tap off the pressure on your mind and heart.

Then it is time to get up and put one foot in front of the other. I picked up my briefcase, went down the stairs and outside.

I climbed into my faithful but aging pickup truck. I eased it out of park, which didn’t hold anymore, into drive and gently pushed the accelerator. The truck was once a husky, three quarter ton with a hefty, cast iron block and four hundred cubic inches of plunging horse power. Its mechanical muscles were starting to sag from the many miles it had traveled. It was losing life too. Everything about me seemed a harbinger of death.

Diane met me at the door. She smiled with tired eyes and thin lips. We embraced, and both of us tried not to notice the growing bulge at her middle coming between us. Sometimes, we could almost imagine it was another pregnancy, like the ones we had worked through together. But those swellings were filled with life. This one, we knew, was filled with death.

We savored every moment we could be together during the following weeks. The cancer swelled within her. I contacted every resource we thought might help. I found that in the traditional medical circles as well as the non traditional, and even the folk remedies and unproved therapies, there was much more heat than light. Everybody knew something about cancer, but nobody knew enough. Each side often blamed the other for malpractice in treating the disease, but no one really knew what to do.

She had ovarian cancer. This is rare in a woman still bearing children, as she was. When they operated and removed the tumor, they felt they had got it all. We agreed to radiation treatments of the affected area to kill any remaining cancer cells. The treatments were hard on her constitution and digestive system, but they seemed to do the job. For several months she seemed cancer free. But then a routine checkup X-ray showed a tiny dark spot on her liver. That was the beginning of the end. A particle of the tumor, probably just a few cells, had broken free before the operation and floated into her liver. It was inoperable. She had received all the radiation her body could handle and we chose not to put her through the harsh effects of chemotherapy. There were no other options in traditional medical therapy.

We tried diet, homeopathic and other remedies. They may have helped some and slowed the cancer down, but nothing killed it. Diane grew weaker, thinner in all but her bloated liver. The blessings I gave her every morning kept down the pain but did not stop the growth of the malignancy. We chose to care for her at home with the help of home health nursing services.

Our third son, Joe, came home from his studies and work in Philadelphia. Robert, our second son, came from Arizona. Our fourth son, David, was counseled to stay on his mission in California, which he did. Our oldest son, Dan, and his wife were unable to come in from Japan. We gathered about Diane, talked with her, and listened to her last intelligible words. Then she grew too weak to say more than simple requests for water.

Three weeks later at 3:19 a.m., as I slept on the floor beside her bed, I had an unusual dream of travel and flight around and away from earth. I awoke and did not have to stir from my pillow to know that she was gone. I knew even before I realized that her labored breathing had stopped. As I examined her, there was no pulse, no breathing. The disfiguring swelling of her abdomen had already begun to recede. The cancer in its perverse nature had consumed its victim, and now would die itself. I called my neighbor Dr. Keith Hooker; he came and pronounced her dead. Then I called a mortician.

As I waited for him, I called the children. We met around the body of their mother. I told them to feel free to cry, now or whenever they needed to in the future, that I had cried and would cry again. But no one cried then. I said, “Your mother is not far away, even now. She is looking upon this scene and upon us and comforting us. We will see her and know her and be with her again. But for a time she has another work that she needs to do. We must carry on here. We will be together again in the future.”

The older children held the little ones in their arms. We talked about whatever they wanted to talk about. Mostly about what it means to be alive, what happens when we pass from this life to the next life through the portal which closes here and opens there, the door we call death. I told them, “Death has been pictured in an ugly mask by the superstitious and through horror stories and movies. But in reality, as you can see, it is a gentle and a quiet thing. Your mother’s face was twisted in pain, but is now relaxed. Her spirit, which was trapped in a diseased and helpless body, is now free, more free than ours.”

And so we talked and waited until the mortician came and took her away. Then we talked again. I have talked with the children many times since then, together and individually. Four-year-old Lucy, who watched in dry-eyed interest the work of the morticians, then later came to me in a quiet moment. “Daddy,” she said, “I cried when they took Mamma away. I cried inside.”

“So did I, Lucy. So did I,” I said.

At the end of that day at scripture reading and prayer, I complimented the children that we had survived the hardest day of our lives. Looking back, I think that is still true. There would be the funeral and burial, the long days of that hot summer, and our first Christmas without our mother; these were all hard, but the first day was the hardest.

It has been a tradition since as long as our children can remember that each night after scriptures and prayers they answer two questions from their father. The first is, “What was your happiest thing today?” The second is for the children over eight years of age. “What did you do to build the Lord’s kingdom today?” It might have seemed out of place, but I asked those questions again that night. The children all gave identical answers. “My happiest thing is that I know I will be with Mom again. What I did for the kingdom was I made it through the day.”

“That’s good,” I said. “That is enough.”

I understood for the first time how one could prefer to be in the next life rather than this one. If it were not for the children and for whatever work I am supposed to accomplish in this life, I would have preferred to move on.
Many dark dawns I stood at Diane’s grave and thought deeply. Sometimes I sank to my knees and wept hot tears on the cold headstone. But then I would have to stand up and plod homeward to the children and my work. Often I quoted aloud the words of Robert Frost from Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening

The woods are lovely dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep.

Gradually over the weeks and months, the desire to die dissipated. I picked up the threads of my life and began to reweave them into a new tapestry. A beautiful new strand in the pattern appeared when Sharon Lee Johnson consented to be my wife. I know that the blessing of remarriage does not come to every person who loses a spouse to death or divorce. For those who don’t, the recovery from loss will probably be harder than mine was, but I believe it is still possible. Recovery does not mean reconstruction of what you had or what you were before. That is impossible. But it does mean making the most of the new condition in which you find yourself.

My experience is that only an eternal perspective can bring hope.

Excerpted from my book Overcoming Personal Loss.

Post Script:

We are Hiatts, and Hiatts, at least our branch of the family use humor as a source of entertainment, a lubricant in our human interactions, and a defense against life’s harsher side. The mortician was my cousin, and shares the familial funny bone. He insisted we take the funeral parlor’s white stretch limo and drive it around for the day to impress our friends. We did, and the effort was a success. Even today, grown with families of their own, the children remember the sorrow of the funeral and burial, but also the kookiness of being millionaires for a day. I know looking from her new home in heaven, Diane smiled.

The opera Pagliacci includes the moving tenor aria Vesti la giubba (put on the costume) as the clown prepares to take the stage while laughing on the outside, crying on the inside. His story is tragic. .Mine was only sad. But life goes on, and two weeks later I would be praying for help to write a happy song.

 

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.

Twenty-six years, 17 pregnancies, 15 children

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 duanehiatt.com I hope you find it interesting.

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

Diane’s brother Don and his wife Carolyn have twelve children. Carolyn said one day, “I feel sorry for women who don’t have a big family.”

Don replied, “That’s ok dear. They feel sorry for you.

Family size is a personal matter. Even with our children, I have told them how grateful I am for each child and grandchild the Lord has sent us. But I have never pressured our children, and certainly not our sons or daughters in law about how many children they should have.

Diane and I were married just as the term “population explosion” was born. Then our son Daniel was born followed by five brothers, Robert, Joseph, David, John, and Matthew followed by two sisters, Angela and Callie, then Samuel, Benjamin, Kathryn, Thomas, Joshua, Lucy, and Maren. We also had a miscarriage, and a tubule pregnancy where the egg begins to grow in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.

Along the way people would sometimes ask, “Any twins?” then, “Any triplets?” nobody asked, but perhaps some thought, “Any litters?”

“Family planning also became a buzz phrase. We practiced family planning. Our plan was to welcome as many children as Heavenly Father would choose to send us. Then with his help, we would keep clothes on their bodies, food in their tummies, and a roof over their heads. This meant that for a good portion of her adult life and our 26 years together Diane was carrying a baby inside or outside. I am eternally grateful to her for accomplishing what we feel was the Lord’s will for us.

No man in his right mind would presume to comprehend what it takes to grow and bring forth a baby. Certainly easy and comfortable are not adjectives appropriate to the process. That said, Diane was a world class baby maker and deliverer. She often told me she was grateful she didn’t have the complicated and painful pregnancies and deliveries that many women do.

And, of course many couples would like to have children, but they can’t for one reason or another. Sharon and I experienced that.

I am grateful that by careful budgeting and planning, paying our tithing and church contributions first, the Lord helped us stretch our resources to cover everything else. We were able to keep Diane, and later Sharon at home which was a great blessing to all of us. I usually had a job or two plus freelance performing and writing opportunities. These seemed to be coordinated with how much we needed. At one time we had three missionaries in the field at once, all in expensive living areas of the world. This was before the church averaged out monthly missionary expenses. My freelance work picked up to cover the costs, then dropped down when they finished their missions. We had some significant medical costs, but we got through them The children helped with paper routes and other part time jobs. We passed down the paper routes so long whole generations lived and died without knowing any paper carriers other than the Hiatts. Or so it seemed.

Years ago there was a U.S. nickel with an Indian head on one side, and a buffalo on the other. The joke about the town skinflint was, “He squeezes every nickel until the Indian is riding the buffalo.” We did quite a bit of that.
We were a close family literally. (I once built a triple bunk bed, then unbuilt it after Tom rolled off the top bunk one night.) We had hand me downs, hand me ups and hand me acrosses. They made for interesting wardrobes some mornings. We drove our Volkswagon bus until it turned into a classic antique; at least that’s what I chose to call it.

Through these and other means and lots of heavenly help, we were able to pay our bills, keep up our emergency storage, and even put some aside for major expenses. I called it our monthly miracle.. I remember the day we went over our books and celebrated because we had a couple of dollars more in savings than we owed on our house.

I was mostly in charge of making the month come out at the end of the money. But Diane had the thrice daily (plus snacks) challenge of keeping the troops fed. She was a magician, pulling rabbits out without even a hat.

I have read the phrase, “an embarrassment of riches.” That would be us. We had everything but money. I sometimes thought, “Will we have to face adversity some day? How would Diane and I handle if we got that call some night from the highway patrol, ‘I’m sorry to tell you that your son/daughter has been killed in an accident.’” It never occurred to me that I might be taking that call alone.

Then one day I tightened my grip on the telephone receiver and caught my breath. It was from the hospital. Diane had been on her daily exercise walk with two of her friends when she felt sharp pains. They took her to the emergency room and called me. I hurried there.

“Tubule pregnancy,” the doctor announced. “Mrs. Hiatt, with this many children you might prefer that we remove your reproductive organs.”

“Give us some time alone please,” I said.

“Of course,” he answered, and left the room.

“It’s up to you beloved wife of my life. What shall we tell them.”

“I haven’t come this far to back out now. Tell them to take out only what they have to, but leave me enough to have more children if that’s what Heavenly Father wants”

I was reminded of another dedicated mother who was told by an angel that she would bear a Son. She answered, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)

When the doctors operated they found a tubule pregnancy, but also advanced ovarian cancer. The decision was out of our hands.

Your next installment is: Overcoming Personal Loss

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.