Memories of Grandpa T. by Grandma T.
Contributor: GravysMumsy Created: 5 months ago Updated: 5 months ago
Dictated by Carol Hanks Talmage in January 2018 - Transcribed by Lydia Brinton
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To my family! I love you all!
Burton Albert Talmage was born after his father died. His brothers teased him that he was adopted! His father was an archaeologist. When he was in first or second grade he brought a dinosaur bone from his father's collection to school in his red wagon to show everyone. When he was about 12, he got a brand new suit and at church and got sick all over it. At the end of WWII, Burt was a senior in high school and he joined before he finished high school and was able to get his diploma in the army. He ended up a Staff Sargent. His brother wanted him to stay in the military since it was good money but he wanted to stay home and take care of his diabetic mom.
Burt had a big combine and worked a farm after the military. The big machine would thrash the grain and had a spout where the grain would shoot out into a truck that I would drive next to the combine the first year we were married. He started his first year in college the same time I was finishing my last year. I must admit that I did most of his anatomy class work for him but he had to pass the test on his own. He finished his college degree in about three years since he went both summers and worked so hard.
Burt had an older brother, then a sister, then an older brother just two years older. He and his closest brother, Bill, were in charge of taking care of his father's headstone and keeping it clean on a regular basis. Bud, the oldest brother, ended up selling his mother's property after her death. It was hard on the family to divide up the family possessions and he had a brother die tragically. I called Bess, Burt's sister, when Burt passed away and we decided to bury him next to his parents.
Salem, Utah, where I grew up is a very small town and we all knew each other. I didn't know anyone who didn't belong to the LDS church. Growing up I had two brothers and we all helped on the farm, weeding and preparing the beets. I was very close to my Aunt Norma, my mom's youngest sister. We were the same age and spent a lot of time together. We had a lot of fun together but unfortunately, when we went to school, I was one year ahead of her because of our birthdays. It was like a vacation for her to come visit me at my house. I have a very strong memory of my mom leaving the house for a bit when Norma and I were little and we were supposed to do the dishes while she was gone. We were having so much fun and goofing around quite a bit so we were still doing the dishes when mom got home several hours later!
I was 13 when my sister, Linda, was born. I was so thrilled because I had two brothers and finally had a sister. We were so close and I went away to college when she was only three years old. I missed her more than my parents! I usually worked on the weekends but really looked forward to the weekends I had off and could go home to be with her.
I loved high school. I played on the softball team and was secretary to the seminary presidency. I have a strange memory of the dance during graduation: At that time, most of the boys were in the service and there were a lot of girls waiting to dance. One of the most popular boys asked me to dance, and I told him, "You should dance with one of the other girls, my Dad's here so I'll dance with him." He just walked away because he didn't want to dance with any of the other girls! He wanted to dance with me! I felt silly but was trying to be considerate of the other girls.
Graduating high school was a major change in my life. I had already investigated the nursing program in college and knew I wanted to study at BYU. My friends from nursing school became my lifelong friends. Most of them are gone now but I still see a couple of them regularly. It was my High School English teacher's sister that was high up in the nursing program and sparked my interest in nursing. I got to meet with her and thank her when I was farther along in nursing for getting me started on this wonderful path.
During college, I worked weekends to pay for nursing school at BYU. One weekend, one of the other nurses asked me to come check on a patient. I got the report and went into the room and there was a very attractive, tall young man who took up the length of the bed. It was Burt, he was recovering from an appendectomy. He wasn't allowed to have anything to eat or drink but he was allowed to suck on ice chips and have small sips of hot water. He didn't like that so he asked one nurse for warm water, and another nurse for ice chips and put them together and gulped it down. He had one upset tummy! I met him because I had to decompress his abdomen by putting an NG tube down his throat. His sister came right after and thought I saved his life! During his stay, he got my number and asked if he could come and see me and I said yes. Three months went by without any word from him and I was about to give up. Finally he called me and when I gave him a hard time for not calling me before, he said "I had to get feeling better!"
Burt and I dated 9 months and then were married in the Salt Lake temple. One memorable date, we went sleigh riding behind his car. During college, my last year and his first year, we went to some dances together. He would drive me to work on the weekends. We had a good time getting to know each other. We were married on September 20th, 1950. We had a reception in our chapel in the church at Salem. My aunt helped decorate with things that we made. We greeted people in the chapel as they came through and then we had a dance after. Burt didn't like to dance but he twirled me around a few times until my veil fell off.
When we were first married we lived in Provo and I worked at the health center. The first home we lived in was his Aunt's (where Carolyn was born). Burt had a job and was still going to school. He worked so hard, he graduated in 3 1/2 years. I worked some days while he watched Carolyn. One day, he was taking her in a bassinet home from a visit to his mom's and one of the handles broke and he dropped her on the grass. Oh no! She was ok though.
It was such a blessing to be a mom and I remembered holding Carolyn for the first time. She was so cute, she won first prize in a baby competition. Burt was so thrilled with her too.
Then they wanted to sell the home we were living in so we moved to a duplex with another couple. We lived in the downstairs when I was expecting Ron. The couple that lived upstairs had children about the same age.
When Ron was almost one, Burt came home very ill and had a fever. I put him to sleep for a while and when he woke up, he couldn't move his arm. They took him immediately to the hospital, diagnosed him with polio, and put him on a lung machine since Polio often spreads to the lungs. Fortunately, it never developed past his arm. He was finally able to come home and Mom and Dad came up to see him and help with Carolyn. The day after he got home from the hospital, it was quiet for a while and we noticed Burt was missing! He was out driving the car to make sure he could still drive with only one arm, he was so determined! After about a year, they did a surgery to help him lift his arm and be able to shake hands again because we're such a hand-shaking people. The doctor was able to raise his shoulder and give his arm better mobility and life went on.
Burt was employed at Salt Lake Technical College and he worked as the manager over the bookstore and admissions. He got a good salary and we started saving for a home. I was expecting Diane and we thought about building in Salt Lake but we wanted a more modest home and decided to live in Bountiful. He did the contracting on our home. When I was working one day, he went to check on the home with Carolyn and Ron and while they were there, Ron wanted to pretend to fill up the gas tank in the car and put sand in it! It took a great deal to clean that out! Finally the home was finished in December, 1957. It was thrilling to be in a new home for Christmas! I told Burt "We've got to have a Christmas tree!" and so he got me one. Our lives were busy. He was Young Men's president for a while and I taught primary and Sunday School. Later I was primary president and Diane told everyone I was president of the United States! Church was important to us.
Burt loved to load up the family and go on vacation. We went to San Francisco around Christmas for our belated honeymoon (he was working on the farm close to our wedding) and we visited his sister. We later took the family there. We had several trips to Southern Utah and other close places so he didn't have to take much time off work. He never used all of his vacation time but he was busy at work and felt responsible to do everything just right.
Sometimes the children didn't want to go on vacations; they would rather be home playing with their friends. We took them to Vernal to see the dinosaur bones and other fun places. They didn't enjoy being in the car for long trips (especially Ron being sandwiched in between his sisters).
Christmas was very big for me because my parents always made a big deal of it. Burt wasn't used to celebrating Christmas in a big way because he grew up without a lot of money so that was an adjustment in our marriage. He always helped make the tree look just right for me by adding a branch or two and I would decorate it. One Christmas, we headed to Salem to spend Christmas with my parents and Burt drove a separate car but forgot all the presents and my clothes! I wore a house dress all Christmas vacation! He often dressed as Santa Claus for Church or for family gatherings.
I grew up doing a hike and roasting wieners the day before Easter so we tried to continue that tradition with our own kids. Eventually it got hard to get everyone out on the hike (when there were a lot of grandkids) so my dad would build a bonfire in the backyard instead. I made the girls dresses and even made Ron a suit one year. We celebrated 4th of July and Pioneer Day with the town.
Burt was really sweet with all the grandkids and loved having them around. It was hard for him to hold the grandkids sometimes because of his difficulty with his arm from polio. Mostly we would go visit grandkids at their home. Burt's mom only visited our home one time when Burt went to pick her up. We spent a lot of time with my parents and they were very close to Burt too. He looked to my dad as a father but he never called him dad. He always managed to talk to them without saying their names. He helped me by putting a handicap access shower in for mom when it got hard for her to move around. He used to help a lot on my parents' farm but not as much after he got polio.
I got to spend the most time with Carolyn's boys since they lived close (except for the time they were in Arizona finishing Craig's medical degree). Cameron used to help me plant my garden and one time he planted radish seeds and when he finally got to try them he said, "I have to tell Grandma these are not good!" I took Dan to BYU football games. We would drive to a bus and he would always fall asleep on my shoulder on the way home. We were both at that famous game where BYU beat Miami. I took Chris to the symphony quite a bit. I took Cameron to the symphony the night before his mission farewell and he was focused on his talk for the next day so we decided to leave at intermission. Chris would tell me all the details of symphony and life.
Lisa and Kory and Lillian came to stay with me during the summer from Japan from time to time. They sometimes got homesick (especially Kory). I remember I took Kory to a 4th of July parade and it was rather disappointing compared to parades in Japan. I remember he also had two days of Church in a row with the time change. Lisa had friends in my neighborhood from the summers she stayed with me. One time, Kory was at a ward picnic and stood up for his friend who was getting picked on. Lillian didn't come visit me for the summer but I am really enjoying having her close by now.
When we went to visit Diane's family in England, it was a real treat! Burt was so anxious to see Sarah and Lydia. He even took Sarah out for a special lunch date. He took them shopping in a fancy place in London to let them pick out something. Then we visited Scotland where his ancestors (the Gardners) came from. We even visited the grave of his Talmage great grandparents (James E. Talmage had lived with them for a while). We visited the home where my grandparents lived and the people living there let us go in and see it. It was a three story home in ----. I would go to baptisms and things in California for all the girls and even made it to one of Amelia's plays. I really enjoyed spending time with the girls when they were in college too.
My most special visit to Annette was their temple sealing but I always loved visiting them and am so grateful Issac and Isaiah were meant to be part of our family. Alexis stayed with me too sometimes during the day when Annette was working. I didn't get to spend as much time with Lamar but enjoyed meeting his family and Alexis's family.
When Burt passed, I felt like half of me was gone. Then I came to the realization that it was up to me to get to the celestial kingdom and I needed to live my life in a way to be able to be with him forever. That's what brought me to doing a lot of temple work. I kept all the notes that he gave me and I still put them around the house sometimes. I have his picture in the living room. Sometimes I find myself doing something and I think oh, that's right, that's how he said to do it. Like when I stack the dishes, he told me that it's better not to stack dirty dishes because then I have to wash the bottom of the dish too. I think about things he said to me and it makes me feel good and feel like he's close by.
The day Burt died, I had come home from having my hair done at Mary's and somehow forgot to bring my checkbook. I was frustrated with myself about it and on top of that, I was panicked and stressed out about a statistics class I was enrolled in. Burt told me something that day that was really important and kept me going through hard times. He said, "You can do it! Remember, your education is the best insurance policy I can carry!"
It was hard to finish my Master's without him but thinking about what he said kept me going.
My friend, Ruth, talked me into getting my master's degree and one of my coworkers was doing the same thing (she helped me get through a difficult chemistry class). Burt once told me "Don't you know your education is the best insurance policy I could carry." He really wanted me to finish my masters.
I taught nursing at BYU until I was 65 and retired. I enjoyed teaching but I didn't enjoy all the paperwork (I think that's typical of most teachers). I enjoyed watching the students learn and grow.
I did a lot of traveling with BYU tours. I enjoyed them very much. Sometimes when I watch TV, I think, "Oh, I've been there!" I loved seeing other parts of the world. There's a chinese ruler enshrined in a tomb and we visited his grave. It was so crowded and seeing so many people at once, I had the realization that the Lord loves all those people as much as he loves us. It really made me appreciate all that I have so much by seeing other cultures. It was a wonderful thing. Visiting holocaust sites in Germany glued in my mind how unkind people can be. We also saw so many good parts too all over the world: beautiful mountains and ancient ruins. We loved seeing ruins in Central America and it opened my mind. We visited Japan, China (including the great wall), Hong Kong, Thailand (I remember the extreme poverty and visiting a temple with a lot of steps), Europe, Israel, Jerusalem, Christ's tomb, Greece, Italy (The Leaning Tower of Pisa), Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Russia (St. Petersburg), Holland (where Jews were hidden during WWII), France (only one day in the Louvre, not enough but we did see the Mona Lisa), England, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua.
I loved working in the Bountiful Temple for so many years. To spend time in what we know is a holy place was a tremendous way to build my testimony. I was able to feel the Savior's love deeply. I realized what life is about: the atonement! To know that the Savior is there for us and all that he has done to make it possible for us to be with him and our loved ones again. To minister is to love the people around us and to go one step farther to help others. It's the love of the people around us that we must exhibit and show. I know this is true and I have such strength from and gratitude for the Gospel. It is the foundation of my life.