He was the cute one who seemed to get away with everything. So, Daren and I spent a lot of time making his life miserable, or so we thought. For example, when the whole family drove somewhere, we kids always had to sit in the back seat. So, we made sure Hal had to sit in the middle, between us. Heaven forbid we let little brother get near a window.
Fast forward to high school. I was busy trying to be a perfect student, working hard on those straight A’s which never quite happened. Daren discovered girls. Hal became a cheerleader. I missed most of his high school years because by that time I was married and no longer living at home. I do remember that he danced in quite a few musicals.
He and Linda got married when they were high school seniors. The interesting thing is, of the three of us, he is the only one who has been married only once. They recently celebrated their 40th anniversary.
After graduating from Brigham Young University with an accounting degree, Hal went to work for Sears for many years, spending much of that time as a traveling auditor. When he and their growing family moved to Chicago, then Ohio, I was busy raising my own family in Oregon, and we lost contact for many years. I’d get occasional pictures of their four kids, but they were too far away to make any kind of regular trips. Their kids grew up and began marrying and having children of their own, making my mother a great-grandmother several times over.
When Hal and Linda’s youngest daughter got married four years ago, my husband, son, and I flew to Ohio for the wedding and caught up a little with the family. But, after a few days there, we had to fly back to Oregon.
Several months ago, I drove my RV from Oklahoma to Ohio to get reacquainted. It was so much fun! Their oldest daughter and her husband and three kids flew from California, so I got to spend some time together with them as well as with the youngest daughter, her husband-to-be, and her almost-two-year-old son.
Hal and Linda now raise and show dachshunds; they have five beautiful females and one male. They also have a huge male Labrador as well as two horses that share a very comfortable life with them on five acres in northwestern Ohio.
I parked my RV in front of their large barn for almost a week, plugged into an electrical outlet in the barn, and became a part of the family again for a short time. I wrote on August 19 about my experience with the dogs in “Dachshund Adventures, or What Did I Get Myself Into,” so I won't repeat it. But, be sure to read it for a little hilarious vicarious fun. They invited me to live with them any time I'd like, parking the RV in the same spot. I might just take them up on that sometime, but not during the winter. For some reason, lots of snow and temperatures in one-digit figures doesn't sound like too much fun, at least in an almost-insulated motorhome.
Their daughter is getting remarried in May and asked if I could perform the ceremony. Although I'd love to, unfortunately I will be working in Utah during that time. But I'll be with them all in spirit all the same.
When I got back into the United States two days ago from a month in Baja California, I called Hal to wish them a Happy New Year and to make sure Linda checked her email for her online Jacquie Lawson birthday card. We talked for a long time and he let me know that he's now a "real" farmer. Linda bought him a pair of Carhartt lined overalls to go with his jacket, and he made good use of them several nights ago.
After dark, with temperatures hovering near zero, the water in the horse trough kept freezing. Although there was a water heater in the trough, he had to install a new one. So, bundled up in his Carhartt outfit, he spent a very cold couple of hours out in the barn, chipping away the ice in the trough and installing the new heater. He told me he got pretty cold, but his clothing kept him warm enough to finish the procedure and race back into the warm house. As an aside, we were all born and raised in nice warm San Diego, and even though I've spent lots of time in Oregon and Oklahoma, I find it hard to imagine weather that cold.
So, I'll lift a glass of Merlot to my little brother and his family and let them know I'll come back to visit again as soon as possible. In the meantime, I'll need to practice my card games in order to at least make a noble effort at winning once in a while.