Monday, July 10, 2017


July seems the sort of month to look back with gratitude at your heritage.  There's the patriotism, there are the pioneer remembrances (the Mormon pioneers first reached the Salt Lake Valley on July 24), there are my grandparents:

Margaret and Harvey Dahl.

They have the same birthday (maybe that's why marrying someone with my same birthday seemed like such a good idea), July 7.  My July childhood memories revolve around a Dahl reunion to celebrate their birthday.

We'd convene at their house and there would be jockeying for position in the complicated social structure that was the girl cousins.  (Talk about queen bees and wannabes!)  We'd have lunch and crab apple fights and play in the creek and lilac bushes and barn and climb up to the treehouses and get in trouble for climbing out on the roof from the attic window and get gloriously dirty.

We'd have a wiener roast around dinnertime with hotdogs slid onto freshly cut willow sticks, sharpened by boy cousins' pocketknives.  Our parents would sit around in a circle, cowboy hats tipped at angles to avoid the sun.

We'd play No Bears Are Out Tonight after dark and then all kneel for prayer before we went home.

It was marvelous.

Saturday, even though my grandparents have both passed away, we met at their home for a reunion.  Happily some of my very favorite cousins were there.  All of the fraught cousin interaction is long gone and forgotten.  There doesn't even seem to be much difference in age any more.  There was reconnecting and pointing out our children to each other and there was asking each other surreptitiously, "now who is that?" about spouses or children we didn't recognize.

We laughed about the childhood things only we know about and the aunts and uncles sat around in a circle with the cowboy hats in place.  It felt right (and we missed everyone who wasn't there).

When it was time for pictures, Leslie first requested "the adults" and she meant this (thank you Marianne for sharing your pictures):

my dad, Drew, Jennifer, Demar and Joe
Not pictured are Olivia who is serving a mission with her husband Brad in Sweden and Claudia who was watching some granddaughters in a rodeo but came later.

There are 38 cousins so this is just a small sampling for you, not even half:

back row:  Britta, Hannah (unfortunately not looking at the camera but trust me she's beautiful--the struggle was real with a lot of people taking pictures at the same time), Olivia, Marianne, me, Sarah, Dixie, Jessica and Leslie  front row: Alexander, Cedric, Enoch, Nathan, Tabor, Ira, Lincoln, Micah (he really is as goofy as he looks in this picture--that kid cracks me up), and Jordan

I just saw another picture on Olivia's blog.  Hannah's facing forward in this picture but I'm keeping the other one too.  Mostly because Micah.

Through some sort of optical illusion, I appear to be the shortest (and there's a bit of a slant and Dixie Jessica and Leslie are downhill).  Where was Elizabeth during this picture?  She is the only one that is shorter than I am.
Late in the day, Lincoln built a fire and pocketknife sharpened willow sticks were produced.  The wiener roast commenced, complete with kids rinsing off the ash from their hot dogs in the nearby

Around that time too, two distant fires erupted from lightning strikes.  My dad and his brothers stood together in a little clump and decided one of the fires looked like it was in a field where my uncle Demar has some cattle.

First Demar and his wife Lora went to check it out, then eventually Enoch and my dad and Lincoln and his son Isaiah all joined the effort, taking horses to go move the cattle away from the fire.

Another part of my childhood (and I hate lightning).

Adam chatted with people (happily Robert is one of his favorite people in the world so that's convenient) and patiently stood by but after about 9 hours of reunioning, he was ready to be done.  I feel like I could have stayed another few days.  It was just wonderful.

It all made me miss my grandparents.  I still see them in my mind's eye, standing on the front porch when we used to depart.  My grandpa would have his arm draped around my grandma's shoulder and they would call, "Come again!"

At church yesterday, Robert was there and presiding over the meeting as a member of the stake presidency.  He had Lincoln and Tabor speak briefly.  They are both bishops and spoke eloquently and wisely.  Listening to their words, I thought more about my grandparents.  They loved the Lord and served wherever they were asked.   They would be proud of those two and grateful for their lives.

I have to think that maybe Grandma and Grandpa took a little break from whatever it is they are doing in heaven and looked down on us briefly.  If they had, they would have seen kids playing in the barn, a volleyball game over by the orchard, little ones playing in the creek, catching snakes and crawdads.  They would have seen their sons and daughters and their spouses enjoying each others' company.  They would have seen their grandchildren hugging and reconnecting and laughing and remembering them very very fondly.

I think they would look down and see all of us and think, "We had something to do with that."

I think they would call out, "Come again!"


Olivia Cobian said...

How nice. This makes me tear up.

Marianne Johnson said...

Oh, you have such a way with words! This is beautiful.


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