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Those Beautiful Children

We’ve seen the ads about the work done by Shriners’ Hospital for Children. Those adorable children grab our hearts and make us examine ourselves when we complain of pains and aches. There they are, little ones not yet in their teens who have deformities that bring tears to our eyes.

Can you even imagine what it would be like to be born without arms? Yet there’s one little fellow, learning to write by holding a pencil between the toes of his feet. The work the Shriners do is amazing, and we all applaud their work. Whenever I see one of these ads, I remember when my husband Van wanted more than anything in life, become a Mason and go on into the Shrine.

Van talked often about his dreams when we first met, and since my deceased father and some current friends were Masons, I knew what he meant. It was this wish that I was recalling in my mind the other day, about that time, way back in the early 1970s. Back then we lived on five acres just outside of the Stagecoach area. Van worked at Meyers Hardware in Carson City. He loved that job.

Meyers Hardware, at that time, was the oldest hardware store in Nevada. Their owner, Laddy Furlong, often boasted, “If we didn’t have the part a customer was looking for it wasn’t manufactured.” I was then working in a part-time position with a title company. We kept busy. Also, back then in Silver Springs, there was only one casino and one restaurant inside the casino, of course.

One Saturday night Van and I were sitting at this casino’s bar with our friends Mac and Sally Calico, owners of Calico Reality, from whom we’d purchased our property. The dining room hadn’t opened yet. We were enjoying that time talking when I noticed that Mac was wearing a Masonic ring.

Turning to Van, I gave him one of those nudges on the arm wives give their husbands to get their attention. I asked Van just what it was that he didn’t have that he wanted more than anything else. He replied, “That’s easy, to become a Mason.” Mac answered that was all Van needed to say. What ensued were nights of instruction for Van at the number one Masonic Temple in Carson City.

Van studied and fulfilled his wish. He became a Mason. It was later, after we’d moved to Cascade, Idaho, that he joined the Masonic Temple there going on — with some newly found friends — to become a Shriner. I’ll never ever forget the wonderful feeling I had as I placed his fez on his head in that beautiful ceremony in Boise at the El Korah Shrine.

Van assured me once that Shriners “weren’t just a lot of silly men riding around in tiny cars during parades.” Most importantly, they work to keep open those wonderful hospitals to help children, free of charge. That was also what he wanted to accomplish. I remember his talking about what Mr. Albertson, of Albertson’s markets did every spring when a group of Shriners filled the back of their pick-up trucks with assorted needs.

They drove them to the closest Shriners’ hospital. One person told Van that they took enough paper goods for the hospital to last them an entire year. I don’t know if this is still done. However, I do know how much Van wanted to be part of that wonderful procession. Van became a Shriner in November 1983; but sadly passed away March 1984 before he could obtain that goal.

One last comment. Yesterday I began complaining to my doctor during an appointment. I’ve been having an unusual amount of pain from my assortment of health problems. Poor me, the arthritis, the heart, the back problem, etc., etc. Okay, so I’m old and this is par for the course. Then my doctor reminded me that my mind is fine, although some might disagree, but you get the idea.

She said I should sit each morning and write down 10 blessings I have. I do have many, she’s right. I have a son who takes care of me, the house, the yard, and doesn’t complain. I have a beautiful home, food on the table, a great family and lots of wonderful friends and neighbors. Then I smiled thinking of something I often say — “God must have a sense of humor, he keeps me around.”

I’ve decided to stop complaining and count my blessings.

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at news@lahontanvalleynews.com