Murdo Girl…How long is this drive?

I think about Mom all the time, but even more so between her birthday on May 6th and Mother’s Day. I should write things down as I think of them. Actually, from what I have seen, all I would have to do is contact Facebook. It seems to me, they know my every thought. The other day, I “thought” about buying some new washable rugs. Later that same day, there was an ad on my reel… or whatever you call it. It was a video of a dog pooping on a variety of washable rugs. If you’re on facebook, here is the link. The rugs are actually kind of neat looking.

I’m not afraid of what Facebook knows, but if they’re getting into my head, they should know it’s not safe…


Anyway, back to Mom. After they sold the Chalet Motel, Mom and Gus enjoyed traveling and RVing. Mom loved the road trips. They pulled a travel trailer behind their car, so Mom would give the front seat to their dog, Trouble, and she would stretch out on the back seat and sleep or just lounge.

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Mom and Gus at Ella’s

We loved it when they came to Wyoming and stayed near us for several months at a time. Gus worked construction and Mom worked at the Rock Pile Museum. She loved it! When they settled in for good, they ended up moving closer to Billy and his family. Mom said they weren’t going to follow me around anymore. She had to get a new address book because she ran out of space for all of our moves.

Later on, Mom started having back problems and didn’t particularly enjoy spending much time in the car. I remember one of the times I visited them. Billy picked us up and drove us all to his house. By then, Mom had started having a few memory problems. She had been to Billy and Liz’s home many times, but with her memory failing her, she began to ask the same question each time they went anywhere.

“How long is this drive?”

I started to speak up and tell her it was an hour or more depending on the traffic, but Billy and Gus quickly butted in.

“It takes twenty minutes,” Billy said.

“Twenty minutes, just like always,” Gus threw in.

I still didn’t get it. Somehow, I finally understood what they were doing before I completely blew it. I doubt she would have taken my word for it, anyway. She asked the same question on the way back. I quickly reassured her it was only a twenty minute drive. She had remained perfectly happy with that answer, before. She hadn’t complained the whole hour it had taken us to get there, however, she verified my answer with Billy and Gus before she settled back for the short twenty minute drive back. About forty-five minutes into it, I should have asked Billy, “How many more miles??”


(We’ve heard this story a million times. Mary is getting to the age where she doesn’t forget to remember, but she remembers to forget.)


For several years, most of Mom’s pictures were of the left side of her face. She asked her friend, Audrey, which was her best side and that was the only side she turned to the camera. It didn’t really matter as the Sandersons never look towards the camera, anyway. I think Andrea is the only one who goofed up in this picture taken at Mom’s sister, Ella’s house. Uh oh, I just noticed Valerie looked at the camera, too.


(Elna Miller, Andrea Sheehan, Stephanie Miller-Davis, Valerie Halla, Ella Leckey, Loretta Gustafson, and Sugar Nyquist Parker).

When Mom called me, she would ask me all kinds of questions, but she would always preface her need to know with, “Don’t tell me anything bad.” She said she couldn’t handle bad news. I understand. What you don’t know can’t hurt you. It’s better to be told bad things after it’s all over and everything has turned out all right. It might be another Sanderson thing. Cousin Lav told me her dad used to say, “If Ella doesn’t have anything to worry about, she worries about not worrying.”

So, everyone, honor your mothers, your grandmothers, and their grandmothers, tomorrow. Go all the way back to the beginning of time. If it weren’t for that long line of mothers, none of us would be here. Same with the dads, but we’ll get into that next month.


Murdo Girl…Here is the deal

My major goal in life has always been to find humor in every situation. Lately, I have been challenged to meet that goal, but I’m getting there. I’m going to share something with you, because if I don’t, I will always feel like I’m leaving something important out of my stories. I have written about almost every major and minor event that has occurred in my life since I was two, but I never imagined I would be writing about losing body parts. The good news is, I haven’t had to give up anything I can’t live without. I learned how to do that from my brother, Billy.

Billy lost a kidney and a percentage of one lung. The kidney died and filled with fluid that would have meant disaster if it had leaked into his body. The doctor found it by accident. Fortunately, you can live with just one kidney. He lost part of his lung when he had a malignant tumor removed a couple of years ago. I can’t help him with the lung and if he needs a kidney from his sister, he had better hurry, because, my body parts are going fast.

Just a minute! I’m sitting in the car waiting for Kip to save a turtle. We’re parked on the side of the road with the flashers on, but I should probably pay attention. Kip has saved hundreds of turtles. If he sees one crossing the road, he stops and carries them to the other side. You’ve got to love a man who puts himself and his wife in danger to save a poor, helpless turtle. At least I’m not sitting in the turn lane like last time.

So I only lost nine inches of my colon. I didn’t need chemo or radiation. Even though I developed an incision hernia, I felt blessed and went on my merry, Mary way. I told Kip that I wasn’t going to go through colon surgery and then die of breast cancer, so I scheduled a mammogram. You can imagine my surprise when two weeks later, we found ourselves hearing the news that I have a malignant tumor on the right side and suspicious activity on the left side. I haven’t actually met the surgeon yet, but she has reviewed all of my tests and is aware of the colon surgery, so she does not have a problem with my decision to extricate (not her word), a couple of body parts I don’t need…my final answer. I won’t know about chemo or radiation until the pathology report from the surgery comes back. It’s okay, anyway. I stopped taking biotin, which was keeping my hair from thinning because my doctor told me it was bad for the kidney that Billy might need. My hair is falling out, again.

I have talked with several women who have shared their stories with me. Just today, a new friend told me about a woman she knows who is in her seventies, and also had colon cancer and then breast cancer. That was two years ago. She is substitute teaching now. Another lady I met ten years ago, when she was at the end of her treatment for breast cancer, shared her experience with me. She talked about the emotional and physical things she experienced… I’m ready!

So here is the deal…

I am telling my family that I am not one of those people whose courage people admire. I know I’m going to live, okay…but I might be a big baby because, I hate what I will have to go through to get rid of the cancer in my body. I told my son that if a person dies before they are seventy, it’s considered dying young. He said, “Mom, I haven’t heard that before.” I will not be dying young, anyway, but it was something I felt he should know.

They like Kip best, too

I told all of my kids that they could smother me with a pillow when I reached 85. I was only 50 at the time, so I have since amended that to 95. I also said that if they have to run to catch me, then don’t do it.

I laughed when I read a Facebook friend’s comment. She told her husband she didn’t have to cook supper because she has cancer. He’s had something equally traumatic and he had his trauma first, so she had to cook, anyway. She said that’s how they make decisions at their house, now.

We’re all faced with the inevitable. We all come from a long line of people who are no longer with us. I’m going to share a song with you. Don’t worry, I’m not singing it. Before I do that, I want to say that Kip and I know you are praying for me, I mean us. Kip is the kind of guy who will take whatever I dish out and still love me. I am very, very blessed with the most wonderful family and unbelievable friends.

The best thing I have going for me, is that I’m a believer. Thank you for all of your prayers. I can feel them coming my way.

I am not trying to minimize the suffering and loss that cancer has caused so many, but this is the way I have to be, because it’s the way I am.

So here’s the song I got a kick out of years ago. It kind of puts the cycle of life into perspective. Libby Roderick also has a song called, “How could anyone say you’re anything less than beautiful.” I read that it’s about someone who has lost body parts…

Murdo Girl…Forgot where I was going with this

The shortest of  the four Sanderson girls, Mom was the only one who took after Grandma, who was even shorter. Though not heavy, she had Grandpa’s stockier build. Uncle Wayne, who was the oldest of the six, was stocky like Grandpa, but tall. Uncle Jeff was slim and I would say of medium height.  Ella, Helen, and Elna, were all tall and slim and the perfect ladies. You know, the kind that never raise their voices. I often wondered about that.

Helen, Ella, and Loretta Sanderson in the early thirties. Elna Sanderson was six years younger than Loretta, who was the next to the youngest. Grandpa called Mom, Babe, because he thought she was going to be the baby of the family.

Maybe Mom felt different from the others. The girls, including her, were all beautiful, but she was more the outdoor type. She worked outside and the others helped Grandma in the house. Mom told me that Grandma once said, “Aren’t you glad both Billy and Mary got their dad’s disposition?” Mom got a kick out of that.

When she was eleven, the family moved from Horse Creek to a house near the cemetery outside of Murdo. Mom bragged to the Osborn kids that she was no longer going to go to country school with them. They said they would miss the others, but they wouldn’t miss her. I think Loretta is overdue for an interview with Yram…

Yram: Hi! My name is Yram Sicnarf. I’m a crack-up reporter from Gun Barrel City, Texas where everyone shoots sort of straight. This person with me is Lav. She’s sort of my sidekick. She currently resides in California, but Murdo is sort of where she longs to be. Mind if we ask you a few sort of interview-like questions?


Loretta: Shoot Yram and Lav. Just don’t say sort of again. Say, you two look really familiar. There were two girls that look like you who cleaned rooms for me at the Chalet Motel. Those two could eat their weight in Doris Haughland’s homemade cinnamon rolls. It was a cheap way to keep them working, though.

Lav: Never heard of them, Aunt Loretta. What were there names? (Yram elbows Lav in the side.)

Yram: Never mind her, she hasn’t been the same ever since she rode in that red convertible down Murdo’s Main Street. It was just too much! Tooo much, I guess.

Loretta: Yes, I heard about that. Only I heard those uh, girls were only slightly younger than Queen Elizabeth. I was only eighteen when I was Miss Highway 16. Are you taking notes, Yram? I said… I was Miss Highway 16! I even had a lady in waiting.

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Lav: Yes! I’m a lady in waiting. I even have a crown! Well I broke my good one, but I still have a Princess crown.

She’s not above stealing crowns from little princesses

Loretta: You two are the limit! Do you girls want to pick up a little extra cash? I have a trunk load of motel towels that I need washed and folded. I’ll give you some quarters and you can wash them at the laundromat down the street. I’ll pay you seven dollars. I pay by the job. Don’t put any bleach in the wash. If the towels look too good, the tourists steal them.

Before the girls know what hit them, Loretta drops them and a trunk FULL of towels at the laundromat. Lav is very excited to earn money.

Lav: Say, Aunt Loretta, How many hours will this take us?

Loretta: It shouldn’t take you more than five…six at the most… including folding. I’ll leave my car here with the trunk up. Put them in there when you’re finished.

Yram: Where are you going for six hours?

Loretta: I’m having my hair done. There’s a beauty shop in that white building over there, but first I’m going to Mack’s Cafe for coffee. I’m late! I sure hope I haven’t missed all the news. I hate to miss the news. If I’m not there, sometimes I am the news.

We used to wash her towels, but we clean rooms now. we EACH get a dollar a room. We’re saving money to get our hair done.

Macks Cafefacebook_1485658517345

We’re having coffee at the Buffalo
Who are those people climbing around in Aunt Loretta’s car?

 We heard there was a parade here. We love parades!

I just got my hair done…It took four hours
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I’m standing in front of Mack’s Cafe. Someone is supposed to draw my picture

Yram: You know Lav…we got hoodwinked. I don’t think we even got to ask her one question.

Lav: Yeah. She talked as much as Grandpa M.E. Sanderson. No wonder our photographic drawer didn’t show up.

I drew every one of those photographs.


Murdo Girl…Wakey, Wakey!

Here I am it’s 3:00 a.m. I’m wide awake for goodness sake.

Tried counting sheep, breathing deep, cookies and milk, but still no sleep.

Stressed about things I must do. Kept that up from twelve til two.

I know what those who sleep have said. When worry messes with your head, write down everything you can. Then wait for Mr. Sandman.

In the dark my thoughts are flowing. My worry list just keeps on growing.

I can’t wait til morning’s here, then all my fears will disappear. I wrote them down just like they said and then I tucked myself in bed.

I’m really tired but sleep evades me. Sandman won’t you come and save me? If I don’t drift off real soon, tomorrow I’ll be fried by noon.

It’s 6:00 a.m., I’m up again. When I’m finished writing this, I’ll look at my worry list.

The dark is starting to subside I see it’s getting light outside. I’m waiting for the light of day to throw my stupid list away.

Good morning!

Murdo Girl…Lav and Yram..Help Wanted or Help Needed?

Rerun of a fun Yram and Lav story

Those 70ish Girls

We’re not having fun, fun, fun, since Ruben took the convertible away!

When I first heard Lav and Yram were going to take a road trip, I was firm in my resolve not to document it. I thought like most of their ideas, this too would blow over. I should have listened to my Psyche. Unfortunately, my Psyche isn’t any smarter than my Psycho. So here is the beginning of what could be a very long summer. 

1-20160715_190409.jpgLav:on the phone with Yram: Guess what Yram..I just talked to Ruben at the Pioneer Auto Museum and he said we could come and pick up the red convertible tomorrow. We get to take it on our road trip.

Yram: Get outta here! Who is Ruben?

Lav: You know Ruben, he’s the guy who answers the phone at the museum. He said he’d have the car all ready for us about…

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