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.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lessons From Old Friends

I've procrastinated writing this post for a couple of months now, and you would think I would forget about it in the interim, but it just keeps coming back to me. so I will write.  In early December I had a couple of poignant experiences with old friends (high school,) that took me down memory lane and stimulated recollections of lessons learned from them.  I've discovered that the longer we live, the more such experiences/memories/lessons we acquire.  They become part of us, and we eventually realize that even our oldest friends and acquaintances have most certainly contributed to who we are.  Coincidentally, both of these experiences related to life threatening illnesses contracted by these friends.  It is unfortunate that it often takes someone's demise to help us recognize the impact they have had on us.  Learn from this. 

Friend # 1
The morning December 9, '09, had me impatiently awaiting a pre-operative blood-test at the hospital lab.  The tech was taking his sweet time.  I was scheduled for surgery on my injured finger that afternoon, and I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.  I was fasting for the surgery and I was not in a good mood.  While sitting in that small waiting room, in hobbled an apparent old man - scruffy, long hair, unkempt clothing, fragile, gaunt limbs.  Depending heavily on a cane, he could barely shuffle through the door and across the room to the chair next to me.  As he approached, I realized he was a very decrepit Dave Balls, an old high school acquaintance.  I was shocked at his present appearance.  I had seen him around town, and even chatted with him just a few years earlier, when, as most of us do, he had aged a little, but was otherwise intact.  At that time, our chat covered present concerns, but since things were status quo, no deep recollections of the past were awakened.

There in the waiting room, Dave explained to me that  some time ago, he developed progressive weakness and pain all over his body but mostly in his extremities.  The problem went undiagnosed and the condition got worse for several months, until finally, x-rays showed major depletion of bone calcium throughout his body.  Further testing verified an extreme level of  blood calcium and parathyroid hormone.  The later moderates bone density.  It was then determined that he had golf ball sized tumors in two of his four parathyroid glands, which should otherwise be the size of a kernel of rice.  The increased levels of hormone had leached the calcium from his bones, resulting in some internal organ damage and numerous microfractures of the weight-bearing bones.  Unchecked, it would have ultimately crippled or killed him.  Fortunately, surgical removal of the tumors combined with medication to reverse the process, and he was improving as we spoke, but he would likely never be normal again.  As he related this story, I not only lost any concern for my puny little hand and my schedule, but my mind was shocked into deep reflection of who Dave Balls had been to me.

This is a photo of the Highland High School track team of Spring, 1966- the end of my sophomore year.  Back row, far left, you will see a younger version of me, and to my left is senior, Dave Balls (horn-rim glasses.)

Throughout that school year, I remember developing a reputation as the class clown.  I had teamed up with another joker in the class and we performed popular comedy routines at assemblies.  As such, I remember being generally well liked by my class, which in turn gave me substantial self confidence.  Yet, looking at this photo, reminds me that I was actually somewhat of a nerd as a sophomore, and I had my share of insecurities.  I can also now see that my focus on entertaining the class for popularity sake and for the self image it was creating  were shallow, ill-sought goals. 

During that Spring track season, still being focused on status, I learned that Dave Balls, a senior at the time, was considered by the cool guys to be a bit of a reclusive oddball, though a better runner than many of them, and certainly better than me.  As a sophomore, I felt awkward with track.  I was slow off the line, so I gravitated to the distance events which is where Dave excelled.  I had joined the track team at the insistence of my football coaches (spring conditioning for fall football, which was my game.)  Dave however, was a serious runner.  He had a graceful long stride and was built for distance.   He enjoyed it and competed well.

Although I was generally accepted, I had no tight friends on the track team that year.  I knew Dave was somewhat of a loner, and likewise had no close friends.  I had been around him for years at church (same ward) and he had always been respectable.  So even though I recognized him as a loner, I tended to look up to him as older and wiser.  I think he also  recognized his responsibility to be a good example to me.  He was certainly less self-centered than I was, and I soon realized that he never judged me harshly for my poor performances on the track.  As a result of all this, even though we were two years apart and never associated much outside track,  we somehow met one another's needs for a friend in that setting, and we would hang out together at that season's meets.

Through that 2-3 month association with Dave, I may have learned many lessons, but the one that surged back to my memory that day in the hospital waiting room was vital.  I remember the circumstances as though they were yesterday.  We were at a regional track meet at Twin Falls HS.  There was a lull in the events, so Dave and I took the opportunity to warm up on the track, and then we sat in the bleachers a chatted for  a few minutes.  It seems there were no other people immediately around us.  I don't remember what person or thing was the brunt of a comment I made, and I don't even remember what the comment was, but having developed a tendency to be flippant, sarcastic, and course, I'm sure it was crass and rude, possibly even profane.  Dave's response to me was not what I expected.  I had made the comment to be clever and get a laugh, but the few simple words of his response were obviously based on serious disappointment.  He simply, but sternly said,  "We should not talk that way."

I knew he was right, and I knew I was guilty.  Even after 40 years, memory of those feelings and recollection of that exchange have stayed with me.  It took time, but I believe his advice turned me away from a damaging misdirection in my life. Dave took the opportunity to teach his younger priesthood brother, a lesson  that has stuck with me through all these years.  I am so glad my lab work that day in the hospital was delayed, keeping me there until Dave hobbled in.  I don't know if I will ever see him again, but I will remain grateful for his good example.

This post is long enough.  I will continue with Friend # 2 another day.  Thank you all for reading.


Jason and Dana said...

I would bet you $10 he doesn't even remember saying that to you. It's amazing how little things you say can make a huge impact on someone.
I'm glad you got to see him again.

Leslie said...

Agree with Dana. Becky Bywater was my Dave Balls. She was such a good example to me at a time when I really needed one. She probably has no idea.

By the way, I think I went to high school with someone related to Dave, maybe his son? His name was Nick Balls. I think he was the student body president or something like that.

Great story, Dad. Can't wait to hear about number 2.

Crystal said...

I read this last night then dreamt of it after I fell asleep. I bet Dave would love to get a letter from you recalling this to him. He likely will not remember it, but feel the peace that is being an example that someone remembers still 20 (:-) years later.

What an excellent story.

David and Debby said...

Leslie, I think Nick Balls is Dave's nephew - Dad is Dan Balls, Dave's brother. I grew up with all of them.

Crystal, Debby also suggested I write Dave a letter to let him know what a difference he made to me. I plan to do that, and just copy this story to him. We really should let people know how much we appreciate them.

rebeccaV said...

Thanks for sharing this story, Dad. I love reading things like this and I agree that Dave would really appreciate a letter from you.