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Every Life is a Story
    A place to share my own family stories

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Kathryn Partridge was the only girl surrounded by three brothers. Growing up, she spent time working with her mother who cooked for a logging camp. She loved music, and desperately wished that she could play the piano. There were no funds for a piano or for lessons, so she would pretend that the windowsill was a piano, and play that. She would also sneak down to the church and look through the windows at the piano keyboard and pretend to play it. She caught the eye of Milo Bernard Glenn one day as she was riding her bike. He thought she was beautiful and promised himself right then that they would be married. Years later, they were, and in time they became my grandmother and grandfather.

For many years, my grandmother worked at Ray’s Drugstore and Hallmark shop. Half of the store was your standard drug store- aisles of toiletries, and over the counter medicines with a few small areas for toys or candy. The other half of the store was the Hallmark shop- aisles of cards and gift items displayed attractively much like it is today. Because of her job, she began what became an important holiday tradition for my family. Every year, she purchased a Hallmark ornament for each of the grandkids. When I got married, my mother packaged up my ornaments and gave them to me. That first year of marriage they were the only things hanging on my tree. Now, I buy my girls Hallmark ornaments every Christmas just like my grandmother did.

My grandparents lived in a small country house out among the fields of Junction City, Oregon. They planted pine trees all around their yard to block off the view of miles of open field. It made the house cozy as the trees began to grow, but it wasn’t until I was grown that the trees were big enough to serve their purpose and to provide privacy and a great shelter from the wind. I have fond memories of their house. I stayed there many times as I was growing up. My favorite room in the house was the room we called the White Bedroom. It had a white carpet, a brass bed, with a quilt that was a white fabric surrounding pale calico pieces. It had white sheer curtains and one of those old fashioned windows that had to be pushed up to open. They had apple and cherry trees bordering their driveway, and beyond that a flower garden filled with every kind of Dahlia. When I got married, they decided to sell the house, get a trailer, and travel. I miss their house very much. I got their bedroom set when they moved. I still have it.

My grandmother always went to the beauty shop to have her hair done. For many years, she dyed it black- a very common look in the 1950’s, but one that got to be too strong a color for her as she got older. She started to lighten it to brown, then, as the years passed, her hair couldn’t hold the color anymore. Her color got lighter and lighter until for awhile it was nearly pink. She finally let it go white, but she still got it styled as often as she could. She was very generous, and always gave things when she visited. There was always a shirt that she had just never worn after she bought it, or shoes that didn’t fit just right after she got them home from the store. She once tried to give me a used pair of nylons. She loved writing cards and letters, and took great pride in her lovely handwriting.

My grandparents traveled the countryside for many years in their trailer. They loved RV campgrounds, and had joined RV communities. As they grew tired of travel, they settled for the winter months at an RV park in Southern California, then would take the pickup truck to visit family. When my grandmother fell and broke both wrists, it became apparent that both of them had deteriorating health. They lived with my parents, moving with them to Utah. My grandfather died after suffering from alzheimers and dementia. My grandmother lingered, suffering a series of mini strokes that left lasting damage. She died Saturday, June 18th. She was 90 years old.

My relationship with my grandmother grew strained when I was a teenager. I had a great relationship with my parents, and wasn’t rebellious with them. Instead, all of my moody emotional angst was directed toward my grandparents. I was angry and irritated with her because every time she came over she would criticize my hair, or my weight, or something else she didn’t like. She would do it in a roundabout way that wouldn’t directly insult. “Why don’t you go comb your hair before we leave?” meant that my hair looked terrible and she didn’t like it. “Have you lost weight?” meant that I was looking pudgy. She would do the same thing when she wanted something done. Rather than asking for something directly, she would hint and comment about it until somebody was annoyed enough to go and do it for her. Her passive aggressive behavior, and my teenage rebellion were not a good combination. I spent years trying to repair the damage. I never did reclaim the adoration that I had for her as a child, but I think I managed patience and polite respect.

It didn’t help that my family left the Methodist church to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My grandmother couldn’t accept our new religion, and would use her passive aggressive ways to make negative comments about our church. It was a big effort to stay polite, and it made us sad that we couldn’t share our faith with her. After my grandparents moved in with my parents, they decided that if they were going to move to Utah with them, they should join our church. I remember when my mother told me that they were getting baptized, my jaw hit the floor. I asked her, “What did you do with my REAL grandparents?” By the time my grandmother was baptized, she already had brain damage from several strokes. The church leaders determined that she was lucid enough to make the choice to be baptized, but I don’t know how much she really understood about the covenants she was making. I do know that it was a great joy to go through the temple with her, laying to rest one of the biggest sources of contention in our relationship.

I will miss my grandmother, the good and the bad. I hope to treasure the good memories, and to learn from her faults and make sure they never become MY faults. She loved her grandchildren, and did her best to show us how much she loved us in so many ways. I remember once when I was sick, and my mother was working full time. She had never left me home alone before, and worried that I would be afraid. My grandmother left the pharmacy and came to see me on my lunch break to make sure I was alright. She made me soup, and brought me comic books and treats from the drugstore so that I wouldn’t be bored. As her gifts got stranger, like the used nylons, I never forgot the generosity and the intention behind them. I look forward to the day when I can see her again, free of the damage caused by so many strokes. I want to hear her stories.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Going to Space!

People always say “I never win anything” when it comes to contests and drawings and all of those things. I used to say the same thing. I never won drawings or raffles or contests for things, at least until this year. This year the cosmic karma has turned around and I have won a recipe contest where I got a gift card to my favorite store, and THREE drawings where I won a Santa key, tickets to a chocolate event, and last but not least, a chance to go into space! Okay, not really actually space, but to a very cool and amazing event. Iworlds is the new exhibit at the fabulous Thanksgiving Point. It is a space shuttle simulator that lets a group of sixteen crew members have a science fiction adventure similar to Star Trek. The package I won was the Ultimate Party Adventure. My name was announced on television on Good Things Utah, and I won dinner and a two hour mission for sixteen people. WOW.

The hardest part of winning something amazing like this is deciding who to take, and who to leave out. It was a difficult decision. I ended up taking almost everyone in our regular gaming group, and my girls. We met in the lobby of the Museum of Ancient Life, and were led to their party room, all decorated like a jungle. Dinner was catered by Wallaby’s- an Australian grill in Lindon. We had pulled pork, rice and beans, salad, bread and butter, mint brownies and punch. The food was wonderful, and everyone had more than enough to eat.

At the end of the hour, we were met by someone from iWorlds, and led out to what was the trailer of a semi truck. The trailer was filled with all of the décor and equipment needed to take our group on a space mission. We met first in one section of the trailer where we selected jobs, and had a briefing on the background of the world we were part of, and what our mission was going to be. There were sixteen different jobs, each with their own responsibilities. There were jobs for damage control, engines, weapons, communications, navigation, scanners, transport, ambassador and security. My husband ended up as Captain of the ship, and I was his first mate. My daughters were chosen to be security- a good place for the two teens on the mission, we thought.

Our mission was complex, but the young woman doing our briefing did a great job explaining it quickly. We were a crew on a ship working for a democratic union of planets. We were assigned the task of traveling to the planet of New Earth which had been taken over by a dictator. We had information from spies on the planet that would convince another planet alliance to join with us in removing the dictator from power. We had to go to the planet, stay outside the cloaked satellites that would destroy us if we reached their range of detection. Then we had to wait for a shuttle from the planet bringing our spies, and a briefcase with the information. We would then get the information to the other alliance, then go down to New Earth to evacuate our embassy there, and return home. After the briefing, we were given uniforms to wear, and had to go into the “transporter” which was basically a tube with a revolving door. The door opened to reveal the “ship”.

The ship had computer stations for all of the crew members, and a large viewing screen in the center. As captain and first mate, my husband and I were led to a couple of very wobbly bar stools as our posts. We were all given ipods and headphones with a recording to play that trained us on our different positions. The Captain’s job was to make the final decisions and run the ship. My job as first mate was to make sure the Captain’s orders were followed, maintain order on the bridge, and to notify our home planet of our progress every ten minutes. I had a clipboard, a pen, and forms to fill out with those messages. I was to give those messages to our long range communications officer who then typed in the message to send back to command. Everyone else had their own set of instructions.

When the training was done, the mission began. It started with some simple introductions from the engine room, and the voice of the computer (played by iWorld employees who were watching from another room). We quickly got our ship to the planet, and waited outside of the satellite field. It didn’t take two minutes before things started going wrong. Our rendezvous ship was captured, the documents taken, our position was suddenly VERY bad without those documents. The adventure got crazy with us navigating through the satellite field, falsifying passcodes to get down to the planet, transporting refugees onto the ship, and escaping before enemy ships blew us up. Not to mention the intruders that were on board the ship, trying to shoot us from the transporter, the constant repairs from weapons damage, messages flying, and other endless things to scan, adjust, and navigate. Two hours flew by with every one of our sixteen person crew busy with something critical to the success of the mission- and their own little quests that kept them busy even when their job was not in the spotlight at that moment.

In the end, we successfully completed all requirements to win the mission. We had two “strikes” which were times when we needed to back up and start again. These were both for navigating the satellites- a very difficult job. This adventure used an average of three strikes, which made us better than most others playing this mission. We cheered our success, regretfully folded up our uniforms, gathered our things, and left the trailer. We stood outside in the fading light talking over the mission, all of us buzzing from the experience. We had so much fun! All of us said that we would love to come again, and that the group rate would absolutely be worth the cost. With reluctance, we said goodbye and started to drift off toward our various cars to go home.

I can’t say I never win anything anymore. This was such an amazing experience. I felt so very spoiled. All I can say is thank you Thanksgiving Point, and iWorlds for providing such a spectacular opportunity for us. Now, I can do my part, and tell all of you to try this! Schedule an event! Get your family and friends together and run a mission! This is a blast! I can’t wait to try this again!

"To be a person
is to have a story to tell."

- Isak Dinesen  

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