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 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.