Monday, August 1, 2022

One Page Stories

An Eye Problem           


One day I noticed a slight irritation in my left eye while I was playing Pickleball. Later I noticed some blurred vision. I tried eye drops which helped. My wife was insistent, “You have to go to the doctor. You may have a big problem.” I told her nothing was wrong, just a small case of dry eye.


Inside I asked myself, “Could I have an eye infection or maybe cataracts or something else?”  I decided to see how my eye progressed. Three months later my wife put her foot down. “You must make an appointment today.”


After an hour of tests Doctor Griffin said, “The eyelashes in your left eye are rubbing on your cornea. It is called lower lid blepharoplasty, you need an ectropion repair.” Eye surgery!


September 15 came quickly and I was wheeled into surgery. When I awoke, I looked like a prize fighter had punched me in the left eye. Purple bruising radiated around the eye socket. A rivulet of blood went from the inner edge of the bottom eyelid across to the outer edge ending in a puddle of dark oozing red blood—still not dry. A white ice pack hung across my eye. “How is your pain?” a cheerful nurse inquired. 


“Zero,” I replied, “no medication needed. It just feels a little itchy,”


That night as I adjusted my head on my pillow so I didn’t disrupt the 16 stitches holding my left eye together, a thought came to me. Two weeks ago, I didn’t know that blepharoplasty was even a thing. Now I know that things are not always as bad as you imagine them.

Living or dead
Recently my wife Deborah took a grandson to the Bean Museum on the BYU campus. They have many animals on display. As they walked around our grand son said, "Grandma, That animal is dead but it was once alive." He did that over and over. After visiting the museum Deborah and Crew went over to the BYU Bookstore. Upon seeing a display of BYU football mannequins Crew said, "Grandma, they are dead but they were once alive."

Which grandmother?
Another grandchild came into town recently. He has two sets of grandparents who live locally including us. Upon arriving in town he said, "Mom, I want to go over and see the grandma with ear rings."

Waiting Nine Years
Nine years ago my wife and I were walking around the neighborhood. We greated Terry who was mowing his lawn. We knew he wasn't a member of the church so Deborah said, "Hi Terry, it is nice to see you. We'd love to see you join us at church." Terry replied, "Before this we lived in Riverton and the members of the church made fun of me and avoided me because I have tattoos." My wife replied, "Does anyone in this ward avoid you because you have tattoos?" He replied, "Well no."

This week we visited Terry who had been coming to church off and on for a year. He said, "Early one morning last October my wife knelt down and prayed my heart would be softened toward the church and I would be baptized." That very morning when I got out of bed I had the distinct feeling I should get baptized. When I told my wife she was shocked. My father-in-law is baptizing me on February 24th."

Jean DaBell by Ashley DaBell
Last year my daughter Ashley’s mother in law, Jean DaBell went in for a gallbladder operation. When they opened her up they found she was filled with colon cancer. Over a period of three months she tried various cures with to no avail. She was in tremendous pain. Once Ashley visited her at the Huntsman Cancer Institute in SLC. Ashley got there after hours but went in anyway. They talked and laughed and had a wonderful time. Finally Ashley said, "Are you in pain?" Jean said yes, but I can't call for help because if they come in here they will see you and kick you out. Ashley had a special relationship with Jean. Last Sunday the 12th of December 2021 Jean, bedridden, in pain and tired started to fade. Her exhausted husband slept next to her and Jean’s daughters and Ashley woke Jean up every hour to administer pain meds. Late in the evening Jean took her last breath with Ashley watching. Her husband, Dan, slept. The daughters asked if they should just let Dan sleep. Ashley said, "No, we don't want him to wake up by himself to a dead Jean." So they woke Dan and told them Jean had just passed away. One of the daughters turned to Ashley and said, "You seem comfortable with death."

Pistol Packing Mamma by Leo Mathias
I was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas in 1948. I mostly got around the country by hitch hiking. In those days, soldiers were held in high esteem. One day as I walked onto the highway in my uniform, three cars stopped to pick me up. However, this one day I found myself on a lonely road with very little traffic. A lady stopped to give me a ride. As she drove, she shelled peas with one hand and drove with the other. I helped her shell the peas. I asked her where she was headed and she told me to the next town to pick up her kids. I told her that very few ladies that were traveling alone have stopped to pick me up. “You must be a very trusting person.” She said, “I don’t know how trusting I am, but I am not afraid of anyone, including you.” She wore a long flowing skirt that came to her ankles. She then lifted it up to her knees. She was wearing a leg holster and in it was a 44. It had a pearl handle and a short barrel.

Hit by a Wave by Gayle Reese
“My brother, Kent was very protective of me. I remember swimming at the Santa Monica beach with our family. A huge wave came right over the top of all of us. I was little at the time. I can still remember what it felt like to be totally out of control under the water, hitting the sandy bottom and being tossed around. I felt like I was going to drown! A hand reached down and grabbed me and pulled me to the surface. It was Kent!”

The Generator by James Gardiner
In the midst of the great depression of the 1930s, many of us were delighted and fascinated by the marvels of radio. For our family, scratching out an existence from the dusty, alkali flats of southern Idaho, owning a real operating radio seemed impossible. We did not have electric power nor could we afford a battery-operated set. On General Conference Sundays, some of us walked the mile and a half to town to listen to the radio a local storekeeper provided for KSL radio conference coverage. We enjoyed hearing President Grant and the other authorities. For some of the Joe Louis fights, we walked about a mile south, to the checking station, to listen to the radio report of these matches. We loved the contact radio brought.    From a single headset, a crystal radio leaves a lot to be desired for family listening. We were delighted when Grandpa Hulet sent us a battery operated “Airline” radio, complete with gooseneck speaker. We dipped into our savings and mail ordered “B” and “C” batteries. We pulled the 6-volt battery from our 1926 Chevy to power the filaments. It worked. We had a celebration and were soon fans of the great radio programs of the 30s. That radio brought a new world to us. We were very frugal radio listeners. Only important listening was allowed. But the batteries were a problem. Especially the “A” battery from the car. We seldom ran the car because we could not afford the gasoline. As a result, the battery seldom got charged. After we ran the battery down on the radio, starting the car was a chore. We had to crank the car or pull it with a horse to start it. That can be a problem on an icy morning. For all my life, I had seen my parents toil to exhaustion trying to keep up with farm and family needs. Washing clothes had always been a difficult task for my mother, who insisted on cleanliness. I recall her boiling the clothes, then scrubbing them on a wash— board, then rinsing and wringing. Even with the help of children, it was a tedious, never—ending burden. But once washed and wrung, clothes were hung out to dry in the ever-present south Idaho wind. They were gathered in dry, fresh and wonderfully clean.

At the end of a summer, my brother and I were looking at washing machines in a Sears catalog. We knew our mother needed to be spared from some of her burden. We checked the prices on washers driven, not by an electric motor, but by a one-cylinder gasoline engine. Remember, we did not have electric power. As I recall, the price was about $43. We pooled our savings and found we could handle that much. But hold can! The catalog showed a gasoline driven washing machine that came with a generator to charge a 6-volt battery! How much more to include the generator? About $5. With that feature, we could do the washing and charge the battery at the same time. No question, we decided to order the machine with the generator. We would have only a few cents left. Then our mother got involved. How about your tithing? The bubble burst. We paid our tithing and ordered the washer without the generator. We were disappointed but were pleased that our mother and the family would benefit. As delivery time approached, we were excited by the difference this machine would make. Each day after school, we dropped by the post office—freight depot to check on the arrival. Finally, it came. We checked the sturdy, wooden shipping crate and noted the address. It was ours. We peered between the case slats and admired the shiny new machine — complete with a small gasoline engine and a coiled, flexible exhaust pipe. But alas, there was something extra connected to the engine. Could that be a generator? It looked like a generator to me. What a cruel twist of fate! Sears had sent the wrong machine. Obviously, the washer would have to be exchanged for the one we had ordered and paid for. We were out of money and discouraged—another long wait for the matter to be corrected. Our father picked up the mail, including a letter from Sears. They said, “We are sorry we could not supply the unit you ordered. We hope the unit shipped will be satisfactory.” It was.

Bad Habits by Leo Mathias
I can’t remember how old I was, but I was quite young. I lived with my Aunt and Uncle Edith and Nelson Cane on their farm near Basalt, Colorado. My uncle was a professional cowboy, hired to ride the range, where ranchers sent their cattle to feed on the grass in the high country. He had 75 different cattle brands to identify. He rode his horse 22 miles to get to the area where the cattle were grazing. He then rode through the herd to check for sick or downed cattle.

One day, he bought a 1929 Chevy coupe with a horse trailer. He loaded the two horses on the trailer, and we rode to where he worked. I enjoyed the ride in the old car. As we traveled up the winding dirt road, he put it into second gear, and the gearshift lever would rattle and vibrate. I would then hang onto it. I loved to hear the engine labor and the gear noise the transmission made. It would often lull me to sleep.

One of my duties was to roll cigarettes by hand for my uncle. I took some cigarette paper and loose tobacco and roll it into a cigarette. I rolled 25 cigarettes for him and 20 for my friends and me. In the evening, we would smoke them. We looked forward to that each day. It was fun. It was like a reward. When I got older and entered the service, I never really continued the smoking habit, except in the evening after a successful day. It was like a reward. Some years later, when I joined the Church, I had to quit the habit. When you develop a bad habit it becomes part of you like a fabric woven in your body. But even now after a good day, I will take a toothpick and make believe I am smoking it.

Temple Buddy by Leo Mathias

When I was serving in the Los Angeles Temple, I had a friend who was fun to be with. We kidded each other, laughed and had a good time. One of the Temple Patrons overheard me call him Brother Worthless. She was appalled, said I was insensitive and owed him an apology. He took advantage of the situation and told her that I made him feel bad daily and sometimes he was almost reduced to tears. She reported me to the Temple authorities and they told me to knock it off. The Patrons do not know when you are kidding.

Donuts by Leo Mathias
In 1950, I was serving in the Korean War. On occasion the kitchen crew would give us a treat. Sometimes they made donuts for us to eat. At about 2 am, I was on inner guard duty, which meant I was near the kitchen. The baker had just completed making donuts and went off somewhere to sleep. I looked at the pile of donuts and they smelled so good. I tried one and it was still warm. I had never tasted anything that good! So I had several more. I couldn’t stop until I had eaten a dozen or more. The outer guard soon picked up the donut aroma and he came to investigate. He also helped himself to the donuts, among others. In the morning, there were no donuts to be found. When the company commander found out about the disappearing donuts, he was furious.

Sometime later, the baker said he would make us some more donuts. This time the company commander said he would assign a special guard to watch the donuts. I was assigned to watch the donuts. During the night, a friend of mine approached me and asked me for a donut. I told him if I gave him a donut, I would have to kill him. I had been given special orders to shoot and kill anyone who takes a donut. If there were not 200 donuts on the table in the morning, the donut guards would be held responsible and would be shot. In the morning there were 200 donuts on the table.

Home Teacher by Leo Mathias
I was living in the Highland Park Ward in the Glendale Stake in the 1980’s. My junior companion and I had many widows to home teach. We had orders from the Bishop to bring our work clothes, our tool box, a song book, and the sacrament tray when we made our visits. Whatever was needed, we provided. If the door didn’t open properly, we fixed it right then; if there was a gas leak, we crawled under the house, found the problem and repaired it. We sang them a song and administered the sacrament.

There was one very elderly lady that we visited. One day, the visiting teacher contacted me and said that she would be out of town for two months so would we look after the elderly lady. We made our visit the first month. That Sunday as we drove by her house, there was an ambulance there. We stopped to ask the driver what had happened. He said that the elderly lady had passed away. I asked if it was from old age. He said, “No. It was from malnutrition because she had no food in the house.”

When we told the Bishop, he was very angry. He told us we were supposed to look after her and we let her starve to death. He told us that if this was not a volunteer service, he would have fired us. He was very unhappy with us and he didn’t let us forget it. The next family that he assigned us to visit, he told us not to let them starve to death. I don’t think he really ever forgave us for the elderly lady’s death and can you blame him?

A Near Fatal Mistake by Leo Mathias
During the war in Korea in 1950, our tank company had been engaged in heavy fighting for some time. We were all very tired. I was on guard duty. It was 2 am; I was exhausted, and kept falling asleep. My knees would buckle, and I would crash to the ground. This happened a number of times and was becoming quite painful. There were some nearby bushes and trees. I managed to hook my field jacket shoulder strap on the branch of a tree. As I hung there, I must have fallen asleep. Suddenly, I woke up and realized a figure was coming toward me. I tried to shoot, but I could not get my safety switch to release on the rifle. Try as I might, I could not get it to release. When you are on guard, you are supposed to holler out loud, “Halt, who goes there?” Then the passwords are exchanged. If the passwords are not correct, then you shoot. I did none of that. It was my error.

The next day I overheard the sergeant telling the captain, “If you go around checking on the guards at night, find out where Mathias is on guard and don’t go there, because he will try to shoot you.”

Elmo the Dog by Leo Mathias
This incident took place around 1994. We were living in Castaic on Gilmour Rd off Hasley Canyon. My dog Elmo was getting old and sick, so I took him to the animal shelter.
The attendant asked, “What do you want us to do for your dog.”

I said, “Put him down, he’s quite old.”

She said, “Ok say good bye to your dog.”

Elmo was inside the compound and the attendant held him with a lease. His back was to me and I was looking at him through a chain link fence. I said, “Elmo I guess this is good bye. We have had a lot of good times together. I took you every place we went and we lived in the fast lane. Often in the evening we would get a half gallon of chocolate ice cream and we would make it disappear together. I knew it wasn’t good for you but it was your favorite and I liked spoiling you. And when I get into the next world I’ll look you up and we will get another half gallon of chocolate ice cream and once again we will make it disappear.” Elmo then turned his head and looked back at me. When our eyes met he spoke to me with his eyes and said thank you. The attendant then led him away and he never looked back. He was ready to go and I knew it and he knew it. It was a pleasant goodbye and I left there with a good feeling.

Harley Motorcycle by Leo Mathias
I guess we all need some kind of therapy to cope with Life’s stresses. Activity in the church has proven to be the best for me. Guidance and direction are easily obtained through prayer. But as my days dwindle down, I remind my wife, Leona that we are in the middle of winter; however I still find joy and relief in mechanical things. One of my needs is to have a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Although I have been somewhat overtaken with age, my eyes have become dim and I can no longer keep up with traffic on the highway, I would still love to have one in my garage. My wife wonders what I would do with it. I would start it up daily and listen to the roar and thunder of the engine. As the excitement filled the air, it would become therapy to me and I would begin to heal from life’s wounds. As I walk away, I would turn for one last look and say to myself, “Is this not a thing of beauty?” Not to worry, I have a number of Harley’s and I keep them all in my head.

The Year Is 2010 by Leo Mathias

Bishop Parrish has moved to the southern states. He was our last bishop. He has a number of admirable traits; however I will only mention one at this time. During the sacrament service he keeps his eyes on the speaker and listens intently. I like that. It is an invitation for me to do the same.  We now have a new bishop his name is, Scott Muir. He has a manor about him that puts you at ease and you feel comfortable with him and you will know immediately that he is your friend.

Bandini Mountain by Leo Mathias
When our family took a vacation it was our practice to stop and visit a park where the kids could run and play so they would not become bored with the long ride.  One day we stopped at a place where there was a very large and high pile of what I thought was walnut shells.  The kids were climbing up the pile and rolling down end over end and having a good time.  As I stood watching, a worker in the plant walked by.  I asked him what they were making, and he said this is the Bandini fertilizer and processing plant.  Soon it was time to go and as we traveled down the road my wife asked what stinks.  I said, “I don’t smell anything.”

Mark by Leo Mathias

Our first son, Mark, was born with some missing parts.  He had only one kidney and there were some other things missing. So he was somewhat handicapped and chose not to marry. He had a good job and retired early but had a weight problem and passed away when he was 49. His mother had always thought that his physical problems were a result of some diet medication that had been prescribed by her doctor to take while she was pregnant. Some six months after his death he appeared to her in a dream and said, “Look Mom, I am all together, and I am happy.” Then he laughed and was gone. I wish he had appeared to me in a dream.  I would ask him where are the bolt cutters you said I had that I could never find.

When he was born I visited his mother in the hospital room.  I had an experience I will never forget.  As she lay there with the newborn next to her, she was glowing and beaming with radiance. As I stood there staring at her in disbelief, she said, “Haven’t you ever seen a baby before?”

I said, “I am not looking at that baby.” To me it was a new dimension. It was so unreal. She was exalted. She was a creator. She had achieved the highest rank that can be obtained on this planet. Nothing on this earth will ever equal what I saw in that woman that day.

The Stake President and the Corvette by Ronald D. Blunck


Paul drove into Stake President Naylor’s driveway in his shiny silver Corvette Stingray. (Start with action)

President Naylor raised his eyebrows and asked, “What is that?” (Dialogue is good)

Paul: “This is what we’re driving to conference.” 

President Naylor, humbly got into the front seat. 

As they were driving north on the 5 freeway, they stopped for gas in Las Vegas.  Paul asked,  "Would you like to see how my Corvette drives?" President Naylor said, “I’d love to," climbed into the driver’s seat and took off. 

It wasn’t long before they came across a hitchhiker along the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. President Naylor,  compassionately, slowed down. Paul excitedly asked, “What are you doing?”

President Naylor replied, “That man needs a ride!”

Paul quickly pointed out, “We only have two bucket-seats! Where is he going to sit?”

President Naylor replied, “On your lap!” and calmly slowed to a stop. Frowning, Paul opened the door and the man climbed in and sat on Paul’s lap! 

That was the last time Paul let President Naylor drive his Corvette. (Paul’s five second moment) 

Jeff’s Baby Blessing by Sandra Blunck
It was time for my brother Jeff ‘s baby’s blessing in the Glendale West Ward sacrament meeting. I remember Dad talking about what happened during the blessing. When it was time, Dad took Jeff from Elaine and carried him to the stand where those assisting in the blessing gathered around. Dad said, “. . .we present this child to give him a name and a blessing which he shall be known upon the records of the church and by family and friends and the name is . . . .” There was a long pause as Dad tried to remember the name he and Elaine had chosen. After a few moments he glanced around wondering what to do when he noticed the Certificate of Blessing lying on the podium and read, “Jeffrey Linn Gardiner”, and finished the blessing.