Leap Year 2016

or How Will You Be Remembered?


Last night I told Dad it would shortly be his 25th 29th of February. We started talking about this little bonus day that every 4 years allows women to ask men to marry them. (No comments from outraged uber feminists, please. My dad is 101. Go with it.) The conversation led to remembered Sadie Hawkins Day dances in high school and college Preference Balls.

Then Dad began, “That reminds me of a girl I dated a few times back at BYU, Blanche Blanco.” (Blanco is not her real name but it is a synonym and is herein thinly veiled to protect the innocent.)

“Blanche Blanco?” I repeated. “When was this?”

“Sometime around 1935 or so. She’d heard I was driving from Provo to Salt Lake City and asked if she could come along for the ride to buy some white linen.”

Me: “Blanche Blanco buying white linen for what?” As you can see, sometimes I have to pull the details out of Dad to understand the point of the conversation. I also had an overwhelming desire to yell out STELLAAA! from some street corner. But I refrained and acted mature.

“She wanted to buy some white linen for a dress she was going to make for the Preference Dance. I was happy to bring her along because I assumed she’d invite me to the dance. But she didn’t. She invited someone else instead.”

“That’s terrible!” I said indignantly, looking down at the floor as I remembered the time I did something similar to a guy I’d been dating. “What did you do?”

Dad: “I was so upset I couldn’t sleep for one night. But another fellow I knew had also gone out with her and we decided she was just plain fickle. So I never talked to her again.”

I asked, “What do you think happened to Blanche Blanco? Do you think she ever got married?”

“Nope,” Dad replied shaking his head, “she was just too wishy washy.” And then picking up where he left off, “I saw her a few years ago.” WHAT?! A white ghost wrapped in white linen? “When was this?” I asked.

Dad: “At that Woolf family reunion we had in Park City when Wendy (my cousin) brought that lady with her.”

I had to think back since we’ve had many family reunions in Park City. There was that time… in 2004… when some of the cousins came and Wendy did bring an old lady with her…and come to think of it, she told us she was an old friend of Dad’s. I verified with Dad that that was indeed the reunion and she was indeed Blanche Blanco. I also recalled Mom sitting there wondering who this woman was that was being so friendly with Dad and happy to see him. And I did wonder why Dad was being sort of stiff and remote, barely acknowledging her. But I had a brand new grandbaby with me and didn’t think too much more about it.

Until now–12 years later for me and 81 years later for Dad. Poor ol’ fickle unmarried wishy washy Blanche Blanco. Or so Dad thought.

The internet is a wonderful thing. Dad went to bed and I googled her obituary. I haven’t told him what I learned. His opinion of her as the girl who passed up a great catch is better left undisturbed. Sadie Hawkins had a hard time catching a fella; I’m letting Dad think so did poor ol’ Blanche.

In fact, Blanche turned out to have an amazing life. She worked in Washington DC, met and married her husband there, had 7 children, was passionate about writing, gardening, traveling, and  performing and speaking at BYU Education Week and other occasions delivering approximately 75 different programs to over 3000 audiences. She served as a hostess at the General Relief Society building, held many LDS General Board assignments, supported her husband in his career and church callings as a Bishop and Stake President, and served a mission back east with him in their later years. At the time of our reunion she was widowed and Wendy was her caregiver.

So I ask on this extra day of the year, how will you be remembered?


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