A Year in Review
It started as a way of remembering the events of the past 12 months. As I have gotten older it seems time travels faster while my memory cannot keep up. After moving to Arizona we found ourselves separated from family members who had become such an important part of our lives. In an effort to keep those ties close to our hearts and share our new adventures I began writing a newsletter that was included in each year's Christmas cards.
Dean Olsen was born on December 12, 1915. He was the seventh child out of eight born to Heber and Mary Eliza Olsen. They made their home in Logan Utah in what was referred to as “Little Berlin”. It was so named because of the German immigrants who made their homes there. Grandpa once said that when the residents of the neighborhood made sauerkraut, no one could stand to be in that part of town because of the smell.
He was very close to his family though like any kid, he sometimes had his differences. When he was a boy, he decided to run away from home and become a bum. Grandpa rode his horse to the train tracks and jumped on a freight train. He left a note pinned to the horse telling his family where he had gone. Grandpa got as far a Butte where it turned cold and started to snow. That is when he decided that the hobo life was not for him. He jumped the next train and went home.
When he as 18 or 19, Grandpa and three of his friends took and old car and went to Yellowstone. They ate moldy bread and fish and slept in a tent. One night a bear smelled the food and decided to join them in the tent. Grandpa always loved Yellowstone Park. He always referred to it as old “Yellowrock”.
Grandpa’s love of the outdoors started when his Uncle Ez taught him to hunt and fish. He loved to fly fish and duck hunt. Whenever he had a chance, you would find him with a fishing pole in his hand trying to land that special fish.
There are times when I wonder why I have been given the gift of writing. How should this gift be used? Am I to write a book that will somehow touch the soul of a reader enabling them to fulfill their potential? Am I to write in order to help society understand the world that is around them?
These are the types of questions I find myself pondering late at night as I sit at my computer or at a desk with my journal. Perhaps this is too philosophical. Maybe I am writing just for myself as a form of therapy helping me understand each experience I am going through.
I began to believe I would never quite understand why I have this gift at all. Then as my life progressed events occurred that helped me realize why I write.
I have always been close to my grandparents. From a very young age I spent time with them. They helped mold me into the person I am today. I learned so many valuable lessons from them and I grew to love them more and more every day.
But as always happens, as I became an adult they entered the golden years of their lives. One day I stopped to realize that our time together in mortality was quickly coming to a close. This was a difficult concept for me to grasp.
I always imagined my grandparents would be there throughout my life. I envisioned my children growing up learning from their ancestors and gaining the understanding of life that I had received from my grandparents.
That dream was shattered one December morning when I received a call from my mother that my Grandpa Olsen had passed away. It was a devastating blow physically and emotionally. I was not prepared to deal with this loss.
During that time my grandmother came to me and asked if I would write my grandfather’s life sketch. I was honored that she would ask but never felt as though I could ever do justice describing his life. I struggled to put into words what he meant to me.
At the funeral I stood at the podium and attempted to tell the story of my grandfather’s life. There were tears shed and more than a few laughs as I tried to pay tribute to someone I admired so much.
Over the next several years I lost my paternal grandparents. First my Grandma Summers passed. While funeral arrangements were made, my grandfather came to me to ask that I give her life sketch. It was her dying wish that I write this for her.
I was touched that she asked for me and gladly wrote a tribute to her life. A few short years later my Grandpa Summers died and he too asked if I would write his life sketch. Recently my maternal grandmother passed away meaning I have lost an entire generation of ancestors. These humble life sketches and the memories we have are all that remain.
I have written all of them from my heart and I list them here; not as a personal writing accomplishment but rather as a loving tribute to the wonderful people who touched so many people’s lives.
I would have never imagined that this gift would be used as a mechanism to ensure the memories of those we love would live on past the time they would walk this earth. I no longer wonder why I am able to write. I just take each day and give thanks for this gift and I pray that I will be able to put into words the love these grandparents had for their family and those around them.