Fifty years has passed with life bringing us as many varied experiences as we are ourselves unique. Yet in those fifty years we have all shared many of the same experiences.
Almost without fail we have seen the birth of a child. Be it the first, only or one of several we have experienced a joy that is difficult to exceed. Subsequently, we have reveled in a lifetime of our children’s firsts. From holding that very small body of wonder we have rejoiced the first step, the first tooth, the first word then the first sentence. We have experienced the joy and trepidation of the first day of school. Along the way we have experienced a cornucopia of tumultuous events. We then watched our child graduate from high school as we reflected upon the joy we had felt many years prior. College graduation saw us beaming and brimming with pride as we watched our child begin another chapter in their lives. With pride we have watched our sons and daughters join the military to help keep our country safe and free.
Many of us have been the proud parent who has walked our beautiful daughters down the aisle or watched our sons select a partner. We have seen our children leave the nest to start their own families.
Ah yes, the grandkids. “Ha” we say, now you understand. Yet their arrival reminds us of earlier joys. The promise of their future yet again fills us with the happiness of life.
Along our journey we have seen an array unfold on our personal voyage through life, our own graduation(s), finding the perfect job or finally getting a richly deserved promotion. We have found joy within ourselves, happiness in our families, wonder with our travels and thankfulness that life has allowed us to reap such fulfilling memories.
We have also seen the other side of life. Most of us have seen the passing of one or both of our parents. Whether the death was expected or quite unforeseen we marked the passage of those who shaped us, nurtured us and set us on our way with many a tear. We have seen the passing of siblings and unfortunately as few of us have seen the passing of a spouse or child. We have shed a tear or two on the passing of pets who have come into our lives and hearts. I extend my profound condolences to any who have suffered any of these horrific experiences.
The list of fellow students who are no longer with us is quite extensive and they will be missed and mourned by all of us. We have seen the passing of our friends from Highland and said, “I should have stayed in touch”. While most of us may have been close to one or two this list hit me particularly hard: Greg Backman, friend since Beacon Heights grade school and business partner. Layne Frehner, there was always fun changing the motor in his ’57 Chevy and the runs to Evanston were legendary. Dick Murray, how can the paper route not bring back fond memories? Laurie Smith, the first girl I ever had a crush on. Robert Pugmire, chicken dinners and the after graduation party will never be forgotten. Cary Theure was not in our class, he should have been, but was in the Class of 70 instead. There are lots of good memories of motorcycles and electronics. Take a moment and reflect upon those who have passed before us.
Some have struggled with their demons. Hopefully through solace and help from loved ones and others those demons have been put aside. With profound sadness and horror a few have watched as a loved child has chosen a road that has led them to the outskirts of perdition. To those I say “don’t give up on them, assist them in any way you can while expressing your undying love”.
My own road, these past 50 years, has seen many of the mentioned joys and sorrows. The many forks have given me unbridled joy. After one failed attempt a second marriage gave me the pride and joy of my life. A daughter Brittanie Cammeron was born March 1, 1982. Memories and pride abound as she reached adulthood, graduated from Texas A&M, then nursing school where she was valedictorian with a perfect 4.0 and gave the graduation commencement speech. She selected as her husband a man who is giving, ambitious and one I happen to like and respect. A granddaughter was born on April 12, 2018 after years of anticipation. Aurelia Ursa (golden bear) has brought new joy into my life.
After two more bad decisions I finally found the one woman who was meant for me and me for her. Renee has been my partner since we first met on October 30, 2006. Together we have formed a bond that will surely last beyond when we are both pushing up those metaphorical daisies. We have found support for each other, understanding of each other’s quirks and the joy reaped through love and friendship. With Renee came a son Justin, his wife Mistry and two children, Sean and Balyn.
My post HHS education continued at the U of U. Unfortunately time and circumstance prevented me from completing a degree. After a couple of dead end jobs and one failed partnership in an Amoco service station and towing business I went to work for Conveyors and Equipment where I stayed for 17 years. When I started the company was comprised of the owner, one salesman and a part time warehouseman. I was hired as a jack of all assignments which included typing, filing, answering the phone and working in the backroom. As the company grew so did my responsibilities. Work took me to sites in the US as well as Canada and Mexico working with firms in construction, power generation, hard rock and coal mining, environmental concerns, agricultural support, warehouse and distribution centers and food preparation. The first X-ray conveyor at Salt Lake International Airport was built and installed by us.
On April 14, 1980 an industrial accident ushered in another one of those forks in the road. A badly damaged left foot brought an end to my very active lifestyle and my dreams of being a professional water skier. The accident also opened doors that otherwise might have been ignored. Wanting to obtain a degree, Salt Lake Community College provided night then day classes required for admission the U of U’s Medical Technology program. The non-traditional student experience started in 1992 and finally ended with graduation in 1995. Granger Medical then Pioneer Valley Hospital became the first outlets for my newly acquired skill set. Experience there led me to apply in 2002 for either a position in Microbiology or Virology at the Utah Department of Health Public Health Laboratories. As one of the two finalists it was my Email address that secured the Microbiology position. Section Chief Dan decided the abbeynormal address was indicative of the applicant’s sense of humor. Young Frankenstein along with Princess Bride and Dr. Stangelove are, in my mind, the three best films ever made. Tuberculosis testing was my first assignment. Testing was all hands on and microscope work. It was immensely rewarding and provided an understanding of the devastation caused by Cystic Fibrosis. A short two years later I applied for and received a Section Chief of Newborn Screening (NBS) promotion. As I had absolutely no previous experience in NBS it was a true trial by fire and a see one, do one, teach one encounter. The rewards obtained through making a difference in the thousands of lives touched are Herculean. A 2012 change in laboratory managers led to an early retirement opportunity in 2013.
Whoever described retirement as boring is invited to shadow me for a year. Renee didn’t retire until 2016 when we packed up or sold our belongings, sold our Salt Lake home and moved to our weekender cabin outside of Duchesne. A storage unit held the surplus furniture while an addition to the cabin was completed. Construction and extensive remodeling kept us surprisingly busy but did allow time for a river cruise from Amsterdam. After a few deep breaths and over two years on May 20, 2018 we headed for Canada and Alaska. Some 10k miles and three months later we returned home. There are a few roads we didn’t traverse but not many miles were left unexplored. We progressed to within 100 miles from Prudhoe Bay Dead Horse Point but deplorable road conditions forced a U-turn. To anyone considering an RV trip to Alaska I say, “You will see and do things a cruise just will not allow you to do”.
Renee spent years as a “road warrior” allowing her to accumulate a million Delta Sky Miles. These pleasure miles plus business trips has enabled us to visit Hawaii, Finland, Scotland, The Netherlands and Belgium plus New Orleans, Gettysburg, Minneapolis, Portland and San Antonio. And of course at least two trips to Houston per year to see our Granddaughter. This summer we leave for Ouray Colorado to become KOA work campers not returning to Utah till the first week of October. Sadly to say I will not be able to attend the HHS 50 year reunion. If any of you find yourselves in Ouray drop in and say “hello”.
My bucket list for travel: Back to Scotland/Ireland for three to four weeks, a train trip across Canada, a visit to all 50 states and as many national parks and monuments as humanly possible. A houseboat trip on Lake Powell, with all families is being worked out. We also hope to include Aurelia on some of our adventures.
Well folk, that’s the Cliff Notes annotated version of the last 50 years. Yes, life has brought tumultuous times but the highs certainly outweigh the lows. Looking back I wouldn’t change anything as each fork has brought me to where I am now. Life with Renee, sitting atop our little hill overlooking Coyote Canyon, is just about as close to “livin’ the dream” as I can imagine.
I fondly remember the warm spring day in 1969 when all the boys in Mrs Hansen’s English class left via the second story window, slid down the portico pole and left for early lunch. The girls reported it was about 15 minutes before Mrs Hansen noticed half her class was missing. She loudly exclaimed “my boy students, where are my boy students”.