A Little History:
Our story begins in Pocatello, Idaho, circa 1972, when the lovely Debby Christensen agreed to a first, though fateful date with admirer, David Croshaw. Long story-short, he bade her follow him, and they went arm-in-arm to the Logan, Utah temple for establishment of an eternal family unit, Generation 1, on May 23 1973.

From their first blissful summer in Salt Lake City, educational pursuits took them to Provo/Orem, Utah, birthplace of Leslie and Rebecca, and to San Francisco/Oakland California, birthplace of Colin and Matt. Then, for establishment of livelihood, expansion of the tribe with Abby and Dana, and for raising/unifying of Generation 2, it was back to the roots in Pocatello for a rewarding sojourn.

In time, driven by a raging, but commonly shared sense of adventure and independence, one-by-one, Generation 2 escaped the homeland to distant regions of the country and the world, each ultimately developing their own tribal expansions by pairing with worthy mates and initiating Generation 3.

Now sensing fulfillment of their purpose in Pocatello, Generation 1 has also left those roots and transplanted to Cascade Idaho, from which base, they anticipate more abundant contact with The Posterity, Generations 2 and 3, in the future. That contact however, awaits fulfillment of a call to LDS missionary service in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, wherein they hope to help the state of the world by sharing the love of Jesus Christ.

So now, including Generation 0 (Grandma and Grandpa Christensen) home base includes Yuma, Arizona, Pocatello, Idaho, Cascade, Idaho, Vancouver, BC, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Spokane, Washington, Boise, Idaho, Los Angeles, California, back to Boise, Idaho, and on and on (Generation 3+) to infinity.

Our Mission Statement:
This is the blog of our eternal family unit. Initiated years ago, it served well as a journal, but even more so, as an archive of our personal interaction. It was a gathering place, a confabulation instrument, a unifying force for four generations of widely dispersed and progressively prolific posterity, and their valued associates. Though it served these purposes well for many years, it eventually took a back seat to new-kids-on-the-block, Facebook, and Instagram, and was sadly forgotten.

We now move to resurrect this blog with an added functional purpose of archiving the missionary experiences of Generation 1, of their movements and activities as they participate with The Gathering of Israel in the land northward. In so doing, we hope that via their own comments and posts, this blog will again serve to gather and unify the posterity and their friends.

As in the past, that the young and vibrant may know the old and tired, that enduring bonds may be fostered and maintained, that experience and encouragement may be openly shared, that posterity may embrace truth, and that hearts may be knit together, we must resist detachment despite our geographic divergence. We shall do so here.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lessons From Old Friends - Second Installment

I know everyone is too busy to read long posts, but these are what they are.  I have to tell the story as it comes.  To preface this post, you should read at least the first paragraph of the last one.

Friend # 2
As suggested before, the influence of old friends is integral to the fabric of our lives.  Yet, as we focus on our separate concerns, we tend to lose track of them, even though they may live but minutes away.  Sometime in November, I was reminded of such an old friendship.  I had an office visit with an elderly patient, referred by his daughter Annette, who I knew to be the second, but covenant wife of my old high school friend, Curt Selders.  As I recognized that connection, a flurry of memories went through my mind, memories of many good times with my old friend. 

I don't remember the origins of my friendship with Curt, but I suspect it was related to high school football.  Circled in this 1967 photo of the senior Highland Rams is myself at center, and Curt at left tackle.  As a humerus side note, enlarge the picture to see Curt and the tight end holding hands.  They were anything but gay, but they thought this would be a funny gag for the permanent annual photo.  That may give you a feel for the type of sense of humor we shared.

Outside football, Curt and I were not absolute best friends, but Friday and Saturday nights would commonly have us together, pursuing some kind of antics.  Sometimes we would go rabbit hunting together on a Saturday morning.  Curt was not LDS at the time, but he knew I was, and he respected that.  We never really talked about the Church much, but hopefully, some positive examples were conveyed.  I don't think he was part of the sizable drinking clique, and maybe that is why he gravitated to activities with me.  We had fun that we could remember the next day.

About the only discussion we had about the Church was in relation to Liz Morrell, an LDS girl in our class who happened to be in my ward.  Curt had a major crush on Liz, although it was from afar.  I had dropped her hints, but you see, she was the steady girlfriend of Jack Davis of rival Poky High, and there was no budging her.  Strangely coincidental, Curt and Jack also shared a common interest in cars.  They both drove red '65 GTOs, a highly sought sports car of the day.  Curt had added some hot after-market features to his car:  a souped up 327 engine, with a Hurst shifter, a rear spoiler,  and broad profile slicks on the rear axle.  It was built for speed and quickness of the line.

Curt never did get much direct satisfaction in his dreams of Liz, but on one fateful Friday night he did get some indirect satisfaction that would carry him for a long time.  He and I were cruising back and forth in his GTO on the Pocatello drag (between the Arctic Circle on the south and Hawkin's Red Steer on the north of the Yellowstone-Alameda Rd. strip.)  As we came to the north end and entered the Hawkin's parking lot (the gathering place,) who should we find there, but Jack Davis in his GTO.  Well, this was just too much for Curt to resist, so he drove up next to Jack and rolled down his window.  "You want to run it?" Curt challenged.  Jack hesitated, knowing that he would loose face if he turned down such a challenge.  "You're on." he returned.

As was the custom, both cars maneuvered out of the parking lot and a half mile up Alameda Rd. to I-15.  In those days, the interstate was a virtual ghost town at night with both lanes generally free of traffic.  Once up the north on-ramp, we came to a stop in the right lane, and Jack followed into the left lane, inching up parallel to us.  I don't remember who flagged the start, but I was sitting shotgun (no seat belts of course,) and when the arm came down and Curt popped the clutch, the tires screamed and we flew off the line, fishtailing down the road for at least 200 yards before regaining straight trajectory.  I think Curt must have had experience with drag racing and was in control, but never having been with him on any of those occasions, I didn't know what to expect.  For several seconds, I thought we might die right there.  Out of fear, I could only focus on the road ahead, but even peripherally, I never saw Jack from the second we left the line.  By the time we were half-way to Fort Hall, I knew we would be OK, having left him in our dust.  Curt had established his superiority, and that's what mattered that night.  Eat your heart out, Liz.

After high school, I went to college and then mission, and Curt pursued the plumbing trade.  I completely lost track of him until one day after moving back to Pocatello, I heard he had married Betty (last name?) a hot but loose chick from high school days. That marriage failed as she walked out a few years later.  Some time thereafter, he married Annette who as a member of the Church, took a chance on Curt.  I suppose she and her family worked on him gradually, but it was the LDS funeral of a close friend's baby that ultimately opened the door for the Spirit to convince him of the truth, and he joined the Church.  The Plan of Salvation was the magnet.  Thereafter, I would see Curt on occasion around town, and each time we would review the old good times, as well as the good present ones.  I detected that he was happy with Annette, and they were happy in the Gospel.

As I sat there in my office with Curt's father-in-law, the drag race and other memories flew through my mind. Our brains are interesting and amazing organs in the way they archive memories.  At the call of whatever stimulus, regardless of how long it's been packed in there, the brain brings out either a synopsis or the detailed memory, depending on wish, but it all happens within split seconds.  Among the memories, I also thought of my last contact with Curt.  A few years back I had occasion to see him and he told me that he had started to suffer symptoms of asbestosis, necessitating occasional oxygen use.  He had contracted the disease as a pipe-fitter at the nuclear facility on the Arco desert, where he had worked most of his adult life.  Before asbestos was determined to be harmful, it was used abundantly in all sorts of insulation products, including that on large plumbing pipe.  If asbestos fibers get into your lungs they embed in the lining and stimulate prolific inflammation and scar formation,  which  gradually diminishes the lungs' capacity to exchange air.  For Curt, original exposure may have occurred up to 30 years before.  The eventual onset of symptoms ushers a slow, but chronic process of incurable, progressive lung disease, ultimately resulting in death.  As it progresses, increasing concentrations of oxygen become necessary for comfort.   Diminishing blood oxygen levels cause general tissue damage and accelerate aging.  If one of the affected internal organs does not fail and cause death first, the lungs will ultimately become incapable of absorbing even the highest oxygen concentrations, and suffocation becomes inevitable.  It is a slow, miserable demise.

As Curt told me about his health issue, I knew in the back of my mind, that he would head down that road some day, but at the time, he was still working and seemed to be doing well.  So, I think I tried to avoid considering the inevitable.  After that contact, I lost track of him and though I now regret it, I essentially forgot about him until I saw his father-in-law in the office last November. Painting a grim picture of Curt's present status and mortal future, he advised me that the disease had advanced substantially, necessitating Curt's resignation from work. A covenant person himself, he expressed his love for Curt and his appreciation for the plan of salvation.

A little downtrodden by this news, I went home that night and told Debby about it.  I didn't know what to do. It was her charitable heart and spiritual sense that encouraged me to pay my old friend a visit, which I thought might be the last time I would see him.  As Christmas approached, I determined to I extend myself a little more than usual.  I contacted Annette and told her I would like to see Curt again.  She encouraged that and suggested convenient timing for it.  On a cold, brisk night, about a week before Christmas, Debby and I drove to their home, bearing gifts of treats and a book of the Christmas story.

Based on his father-in-law's description, I expected that we might find Curt bedridden, experiencing extreme discomfort an difficulty talking.  To my pleasant surprise, he came down from his bedroom, wearing oxygen, but otherwise fully dressed, and sat with us in the living room.  His face and body had changed, likely due to steroid side effects.  We reminisced again, the old stories of our younger, healthier days, and Curt was as cheerful as I had always known him, still cutting some of the same old jokes.  With my hand still in a splint, it  and my other recent health issues became a unavoidable topics of discussion.  Though my problems pale in comparison to his, I thought it might help him to know that he is not alone in that department.  We talked briefly about his illness and his perspective of that circumstance within his mortal and eternal existence.  He told us that he is still able to attend High Priest meetings where fulfills his present calling as instructor.  Overall, he extended a tremendous example of enduring cheerfully to the end.  I hope I can do that when the time comes.  As we parted, I was so pleased to know that he yet has more time with us.  I must commit to keep him in my thoughts and prayers, and to be there for him until the end.

A few days later, we received a card from Curt in the mail, thanking us for our thoughtful visit and gifts.  He ended his message with this reflection:  "We're just a couple of beat up old Rams."  Amen to that brother!


Colin & Lori said...

David, I loved reading those!! The story of Curt hits my heart because my Grandfather dies of asbestosis and, as you know, my dad has suffered from it. It's so great to reflect and remember the good influences of the past. Thanks for sharing!

David and Debby said...

Lori, I thought of your grandfather and dad as I have gone through this with Curt. Thankfully, it seems your dad's case is not advancing as quickly as Curt's has. Let's pray it never will. It's really a shame that anyone has to suffer that way. But, in eternity, only the positive lessons learned will matter.

Crystal said...

Great story! I had a GTP after high school that I LOVED- it was the newer version of the GTO. It was red with tan leather, moonroof, Heads-up display, onboard computer, and super charger. IT was fast too and yes, I used to race it. There was this one time... actually, even typing that scares me. I was way to daring.

My brother now has a red GTO and I am pretty sure it is because he never forgot my red GTP ;-)

Anyway, lovely story. It reminded me of my grandfather who passed away 2 years ago. Not only did he buy me the GTP (after he bought me an Rx-7; yes I was spoiled my high school years), he died of mesothelioma likely due to the exposure to asbestos during his years as an engineer on navy submarines.

If there is one thing I can't forget, but wish I could, it is the sound of him trying to tell me he loved me, good-bye, and to have my mom and my uncle call him. Holy cow, that memory will haunt me forever. I told him that I loved him and where he was going he would be able to take the cleanest, most-wonderful breaths and it would all be ok. He asked if I was sure, I told him I was. I am sure. Anyway.

When I was in high school, we were very, very close. We shared the same bathroom and he left for work before I got up. Every morning, I would get up to see a note with pictures and nice things written to me to encourage me through the day and I would see that the note I had written the night before and left on the mirror was gone. We both kept those notes in our separate drawers in the bathroom. I wish I had kept those.

He was a good man, he did not deserve to die like he did, but he did so nobly. I miss him every day and I am sad I did not get to tell him good-bye in person.

He encouraged me to get an education and to be of high moral standing. I am pretty sure I am where I am because of his influence on me. We are in a pretty scary situation, but we would be much worse off if I had not followed Grandpa Hart's advise all those years ago.

David and Debby said...

thanks for sharing that crystal. have you had temple work done for him yet?

Crystal said...

I am ashamed to say no, I have not. He died when I was pregnant with Asher and I have only been to the temple once since then. It is quite a feat or us to get up there, have child care and do my normal life stuff. I honestly tried to start his work, but came to a dead end fast.

rebeccaV said...

I just love reading these stories dad, keep them coming!

abbynormal said...

Dad, I love these stories.

Crystal, I am more than willing to help with the childcare or anything else I can when you want to come do temple work for your grandfather.