Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, June 08, 2007

Observations on Time -- Special Guest Blog

by Jennie Hansen

Stephanie made some observations about time on Wednesday. I read her blog just after getting a note from my sister telling me how difficult it is for my father to fill his time and how he hates feeling “useless.” Stephanie pointed out that time goes slowly for children who have no concept of time and speeds up for adults with all of their responsibilities. I think it slows down again and is hard to understand when you're old.

During all those adult years when we're healthy and strong, have a career or job with its demands, a family to raise, grandchildren to spoil, Church callings to fill, vacations to plan and experience, and goals to achieve, time zips by. So many plans are made for each future stage of life and we dream of the time when we'll have time to travel, read, or get the garden in shape, but the time really does come when those things are done, bodies lose their ability to move properly, eyes dim, and hearing aids hurt delicate tissue. Then time drags again.

My father will be 100 on his next birthday, his mind is sharp, but his physical abilities are rapidly disappearing. He can no longer drag a hose across the lawn, read for more than five minutes at a time, or stand without assistance. It delivered a major blow to his pride to have to accept a walker, but he absolutely refuses to consider using a wheelchair.

He always used to say there just weren’t enough hours in the day, yet he squeezed more into his days than most. Arising at four in the morning to “turn the water” before milking a dozen cows by hand was the way he started spring, summer, and fall mornings when I was a child, yet in the evening after spending all day plowing, harrowing, planting, mowing, raking, harvesting or whatever the demands of the day were, days that usually included repairing a tractor or other piece of machinery, he milked cows again and still found time to take me fishing until dark and listen to me read a story before sending me to bed. During the winter he drove the school bus and sorted potatoes in addition to milking and caring for stock.

Daddy was the kind of man who allowed a little girl to put doll curlers in his hair, sang to the cows, and always had a story to tell of the days when he was a “Mounty”, drove a dog team along the Lesser Slave Lake for the Hudson Bay Company, rode broncs on the rodeo circuit, and trailed herds of cattle or horses across the Canadian prairie. He loved horses and dogs, straight furrows, and starry nights. He and my mother raised eight kids and we each thought we were his favorite.

Service has always been an integral part of his life. As a boy of just seven, his father worked away from the homestead, leaving him to do chores and help his mother and two younger siblings. At ten he and his mother were the only two people in the small town where they lived who didn’t have the flu. He chopped wood, carried broth, washed sheets, cared for stock, and helped his mother nurse all those who were too sick to help themselves. In Canada his mother was the only midwife for miles around and he drove her buggy and slept in strange barns while she delivered babies. As a Mounty he delivered small pox serum to the northern Indian tribes via dog sled. He was the first to volunteer when sand bags were needed, an injured neighbor needed his hay put up, and on those occasions when my mother was ill he made pancakes shaped like wild horses, bears, or trout.

Here's a man who always wanted more time to read, took pride in beautiful crops, was still participating in roundups on horseback until he was eighty, never had any use for television, and who must spend his days now primarily in the company of people who are senile and twenty years younger than he is. He spent nearly a century taking care of others, of the land, and of animals. For him, time passes slowly and he wonders why he must wait so long to rejoin my mother and other friends and loved ones. He wants to be busy doing things, meeting people, and showing some kid just the right way to do something. Unlike the children who don’t have an understanding of time, he knows all about it, and finds resting isn’t as pleasant as he once thought it would be. He’d rather have more to do than time to do it in.

Although she needs no introduction, Jennie Hansen is the best-selling author of more books than I can count on my fingers and toes, the most recent of which is Emerald. (Watch for the next book in the series coming soon!) She is also a book reviewer for Meridian Magazine . . . and pretty much the dearest friend I have in the world. (Thanks so much for bailing me out, Jennie!) Check out her website at


At 6/08/2007 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jennie, what a wonderful tribute to your father. What a remarkable man!


At 6/08/2007 5:29 PM, Blogger Cheri said...

I agree with Stephanie, Jennie. What a beautiful tribute to your father. People like him paved the way for the rest of us.

At 6/08/2007 10:30 PM, Blogger Jeff Savage said...


Wonderful hearing from you. You have been one of my heros since the first time I met you. I always assumed you must have come from good people. Now I know it. Great tribute! I wish I understood why God sometimes takes people too early and at other times makes them wait.

PS Kerry, I'm still waiting.


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