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Three score and ten or more

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

  • I am leaving tomorrow for Utah, where I have been asked to preach the sermon at my brother's funeral, and apparently I will also sing How Great Thou Art as a duet with my cousin (who has a wonderful voice). I say this as a man whose daughter refused (about ten or so years ago) to sing any more duets with her father because he always get so caught up in the emotion of the song that he sobs in all the wrong places.
  • This will be an emotional moment, and I look forward to it. (I may stick in a couple of stories like the ones I have posted here (and I will stick one more on the end of this post). If they bore you, go to the NEXT BLOG feature at the top of the page and double click. I am pretty nervous about this sermon.. It is not that I haven't done things like this before. I have referred to my service as a missionary, and , since I was married I have served as a Branch President (The pastor of a small congregation) in four different states, and have served as a counselor (assistant pastor) eight different times. It has been a sort of unpaid avocation for me. Since I came here I was on what is called the High Council (the group who spends time trying to help the individual congregations in a Stake (our word for a synod or group of churches linked together geographically -- my seventy plus year old mind won't come up with the protestant term.) and as such was called upon to preach almost every month, in a different congretation. I did this for eleven years. I have even conducted funerals in other faiths, which requires a lot of tolerance from the congregation.
  • This is more difficult. I hope I can prove worthy of the task. My brother was a serious person (when he reached serious age) and had a great influence on my life. When he went away to be a missionary I was a competitive high school debater, frequently championing the "great issues" of the times which were usually liberal in context. By the time he came home, I hosted a college political program that was broadcast on several stations, and I was using it to prepare the ground for Adlai Stephenson to be president.
  • Doug took me aside and reasoned with me, evidentially and carefully and unlocked all my latent conservative thoughts. I have been and am still a conservative to the core. MY program shifted gears in the middle of he election (though I did manage to get the Idaho Republican Candidate, a guy named Bob Smiley thoroughly ticked off at me. He was elected and was Governor almost forever) and was almost unhealthily conservative. The strange thing was that Doug then went off to graduate school and eventually became a social worker by profession. His political gears shifted radically ( I think it is a job requirement for social workers) and for twenty or more years he and I argued from opposite sides. I frequently kidded him that he was the one who convinced my "yellow dog democrat" father to vote for Eisenhower. He began a blog a couple of years ago and I smiled at his self description "Repented Conservative and Repented Liberal , Truth sayer and Truth seeker." . I wish I had convinced him to stay with it, but he became convinced that he was wasting his time. (the URl ; http://johnsooni.blogspot.com ) is still good for awhile.

My last story is not much of a complement to either him or to myself, but it typifies the time in small town Idaho. We lived in a small town called Alameda. It has since been absorbed into the slightly larger town Pocatello, but then, it was a neighborhood of shady streets with enormous poplar trees on both sides of the road, and where gardens were irrigated by water from irrigation ditches paralleling the road sides. Our town had no sewage disposal and most of the houses had "cess pools" (enormous deep holes covered with almost a foot of concrete) in the back yards. (Some of the newer houses had these new fangled septic tanks). One day the city fathers decided to install a sewage disposal plant and all the homes would have to be connected. They plowed and alley down the middle of every block and planted sewage mains deep into the soil. Each home owner was responsible for arranging a sewer hookup by a certain deadline. Some homeowners paid the town to dig sewer trenches and arrange the hookups. My father saw no need to hire a trench to be dug when he had two (barely) teen age sons.That began a summer of serious digging (Dad dug too) for the trench had to be about eight feet deep and about thirty feet long. After it was dug it had to be graded, that is, measured with a long two by four with a block on one end and a spirt level on top. One day Doug and I were finishing the grade work, and I was still down in the trench when he got out. Not noticing I continued to run the grade until suddenly I became aware of water down my neck (and other parts.) Looking up I saw Doug spraying me with the hose. I ran to get out of the trench and he went to the edge and sprayed the water directly in front of me so that I was not only all wet, I was covered with mud. There was no way I could scale the sheer eight foot sides of the trench so I ran from end to end under a constant water and mud barrage till finally I looked up and screamed "Doug, let me out you Son of A Bitch." The next sound heard by both of us was a roar of my father's voice from the back porch. "What did you call your Mother". It is surprising that after many attempts to climb out of the trench I think I levitated to the top, turning to see my father running in my direction, fire shooting from eyes and with his hand clutching a little hand garden cultivator that must have been in his way. Doug was nowhere to be seen. I ran, and in my innocence thought that perhaps some football training would have given me an edge over his age, but he tripped me up with the garden cultivator and proceeded to administer corporal punishment effectively. When it was over, he was in tears and I was in tears and he asked how I could show such disrespect to my mother, and I promised not to do it again, stating that I really had never thought that comment through to its literal meaning. He told me that it was something that anyone with honor should learn, that all words have real meanings. Although it was not a pleasant experience it was a teaching experience and I learned some important lessons. I couldn't help but which that Doug had stuck around to learn the lessons as well.


At 10:54 PM, Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

Don't you think Doug learned the lessons then? I haven't commented on your prior posts about his death because I felt like a stranger intruding. I did read his blog. (BTW you have a ; instead of a : after the http.) I can definitely understand why he repented both of being liberal and conservative as that is what I am feeling nowadays.

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Leon Basin said...

Hey, How are you doing? Hope all is well.


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