Memories they hope they'll never forget

Memories they hope they'll never forget

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Connie Vs. The Drive Thru by Heber Collins Duncan Cannon

Connie has control over a lot of things. The relief society, thousands of people running around the backyard for her swim school, her own children, and the TV. (We don't like to admit that she has power over the TV, but have you been in the house when she starts counting down from 10?). One thing Connie's that continues to elude Connie, is the Drive Thru.
To give me comfort whenever I broke a bone, went to the dentist, and sometimes after a music lesson, Connie would take me to McDonalds, Wendy's, Burger King, not so much Taco Bell, but that could have been in the mix.
On one such occasion I broke my wrist, and on the way home from receiving a cast we stopped at McDonalds. This particular Golden Arches is kiddy corner to the St. Marks Hospital. Somehow Connie pulled into the drive thru going the wrong direction, pulling up to the take out window first. We then had to back out onto the street, and pull back around to the correct starting position. Once we placed our order, we pulled up to the first window to pay. As Connie was pulling out her credit card to pay, the card jumped out of her hands and ended up under my seat.
Connie did not have any cash and this card was our only way of paying for the food. The card of course ended up under my broken wrist side so I couldn't easily slip my scrawny wrist through the seat and reach it. Connie of course got the giggles while I struggled to reach between my legs with my right arm. My attempt to get to the card with my right arm proved worth fruitless. To get more reach I positioned myself upside down in the car. By this point the person at the McDonalds window was wondering what prank was being played, because Connie was now cackling and I was upside down struggling to get my hand far enough under the seat to get the card.
After eight minutes I finally managed to get the card, but they may have just given us the food for free to keep the line moving.
Connie is great at finding joy in the little struggles we face every day, and has the most contagious cackle ever.
I love you mom!

The Gardener by Sheesh

There is no question that Connie’s gardens are world class. They are colorful, weed- and snail-free, and easy on the eye. All Cannon neighbors have garden envy, and wish that they could make their flowers bloom with the same vigor and fullness as Connie’s flowers. Indeed, baby petunias, begonias, tulips, and azaleas across the nation grow up dreaming of somehow ending up in Connie’s garden.

However, such beautiful gardens come with a cost, including countless hours invested in weeding, planting, watering, trimming, dead-heading, pruning, and snail-baiting. The hours spent distributing mulch around the gardens cannot be numbered. But, such is gardening. It’s a labor of love. Connie’s love for her garden, whatever house she’s lived in, has also caused her to miss several memorable events, listed in no particular order below:

5) Chad comes home from a date several hours into the AM, finds Connie planting in the back yard, fears a lecture is on the way for failing to be home on time, but ends up leisurely reporting on his date while Connie finishes up some petunia planting.

4) Heber sneaks out through the back yard at 1:30 AM while Connie weeds the front yard.

3) Curtis sneaks out through the front door at 1:00 AM while Connie weeds the back yard.

2) Chase’s friends wait in a car out front from 1:00 AM to 1:30 AM as Chase waits for Connie to stop weeding and go to bed. Finally, at 1:45 AM, Chase sneaks out through his window, hops the front fence on the west side, and heads out on the town, while Connie finishes up snail-baiting.

1) John Stockton hits buzzer-beating 3-pointer over Charles Barkley in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, sending the Utah Jazz to the Finals for the first time in Jazz history. As Stockton’s shot hits the bottom of the net, a unanimous and unified cheer echoes through Salt Lake City as Connie, on her knees in the second tier of the backyard garden, wonders what catastrophe has just occurred.

Whatever the cost, Connie has mad skills when it comes to gardening, and her gardens will always be a thing of beauty.

The Honeymoon Suite by Pops

“Won’t you want the honeymoon suite?”

My bacon was saved! In May 1967, I got a weekend pass and flew home from Selma, Alabama where I was completing flight training with the Air Force, to escort Miss Connie Duncan to the Chi Omega formal. During the weekend, I also convinced her marry me. We settled on a wedding date of August 17th, and I returned to Alabama where I got my wings in June. I returned to Salt Lake for a only a few days before leaving again for Minneapolis for transition training in the Boeing C-97. Thus, Connie made most of the wedding decisions and arrangements, thus sparing me the personal agony of endlessly shopping for and selecting just right dinner ware, table ware, etc. And, I was delighted with all of her choices.

About my only duty was to finalize the details for the honeymoon, including a room for our wedding night. While in Salt Lake, I was on full-time duty with the Utah Air Guard at the SL Airport. A brand new Holiday Inn on the west side of town on the corner of North Temple and Redwood Road seemed an ideal choice, as we were heading to the California coast for our ‘moon. Thus, it came to pass that on my lunch hour I proceeded to aforesaid Inn to make the reservation. Though nearly 26 years old, I was still new to the idea of sharing a room with a woman. With that as a backdrop and dressed in my AF uniform, I walked confidently up to the reservation desk. To my dismay, it was staffed not by mature and discrete adults but by two quite young and not unattractive ladies. I panicked, did an about face and proceeded to the restaurant where I enjoyed lunch. Nothing at the desk had changed as I left, so I just decided to take care of it later.

As we left the Wedding Breakfast following our marriage, Connie indicated she would be busy all afternoon with the last details for the reception and asked, “What are you going to be doing?” She was more than a little chagrined (and probably seriously wondering if she’d just made an overwhelming mistake!) when I responded, “I guess I’ll find us a room for tonight!”

I assumed it would not be a problem on a Thursday night, not realizing that most hotels and motels are busier during the week than on week-ends. Hotel Utah, Little America and all other downtown hotels had the same response to my increasingly anxious calls: “Sorry, we’re booked!” Starting with the listings on west North Temple, my fingers did the walkin’ through the Yellow Pages. I got lucky on my fourth or fifth call with the Se Rancho Motel, located west of the railroad tracks at about 6th West where I-15 now crosses North Temple. “Yes, we have rooms!”

I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Wanting to be sure he’d hold the room (no Master Card or Visa in those days), I said we’d be arriving quite late as we’d be in a reception all evening. “So, are you getting married?” When I replied in the affirmative, he said the special honeymoon suite was available. “Wow,” I thought, this is indeed the best day of my life!

Connie had planned for this night in a big way. After I assured her that I had belatedly made all appropriate arrangements, her dreams of wedded bliss returned as she envisioned a beautiful bridal suite with a large, mirrored bathroom. Her plan was to change into her beautiful new VaLoy’s nightgown and robe and make sure everything was just right in the mirrors before presenting herself to her new eternal mate.

Alas and alack, the “suite” turned out to be a room about the size of a large, walk-in closet, adorned with a cheesey love seat/sofa, a cheesier tufted chair, embroidered with alternating pink and white rows of hearts and “I Love You”, and finally a small, four-poster bed, that was so high it had me looking around for a ladder or at least a foot stool. Prayer time had our heads truly pointed heavenward. Connie, obviously dismayed, but displaying her grit and being the good sport she has always been, took her suitcase into the bathroom to change. It was so tiny that she had to put the suitcase in the tub to close the door, and the only mirror was the small one over the sink, which at least didn’t shatter along with her dreams!

But, she could not have been more beautiful in a room of splendor with all of the expected accouterments as she walked back into our “suite”. I don’t recall laughing about all of this until at least the next day, but it has brought many a chuckle since.

I do regret not returning there for an anniversary celebration before the Se Rancho was demolished as part of the highway expansion. Marge Hinckley, when asked about what adjustments she made as a new bride to Gordon B. said simply, “Well, I lowered my expectations!” If there was a positive to come out of my ineptitude, it was that Connie lowered her expectations, and that has made all the difference!

The Temple Dress by Jenna

Connie is one of those people that you strive to be like. She is
bursting with admirable qualities that would take forever to list, but the quality that I admire most in Connie is her unwavering kindness. This kindness can better be explained with the help of a story…

As all brides know, weddings are incredibly stressful and far too
expensive. The cost of getting everything ready adds up nearly
instantaneously and the smallest little details seem to have been
sadistically created to push a budget over the edge. Because of this, I was feeling stressed and worried about money for mine and Heber’s wedding. I had acquired all of the necessary items for the event, but there was one thing in particular that I desperately wanted: my very own temple dress. Unfortunately, my budget wouldn't allow such a lofty purchase. I am aware that temple clothing is available for rent, but I thought it would be nice to have my own. I was worried that I would end up in a rented dress that was way too big and utterly unflattering. Feeling frumpy on one’s wedding day is rather unsettling
so I was sincerely hoping that I would end up with a half-decent dress for the ceremony.

As those in attendance at the ceremony know, my dress fit perfectly and produced no frumpy appearance whatsoever. This joyous occurrence can be accredited to the gracious hands of Connie.

In passing, I had mentioned an interest in having my own temple dress. Connie, being the thoughtful person she is, must have taken this information to heart. One day, while hanging out in the Cannon kitchen, she told me that she wanted to buy me a temple dress as an
early wedding present. I was super excited to be getting the one thing that I thought I was going to have to do without.

A couple of weeks before the wedding, we went shopping to find the
dress. We had quite an enjoyable time on our search even though I was
indecisive and dragged Connie to several stores across the valley.
Fortunately, she was patient with me as I tried on dress after dress
with hopes of finding the perfect one. In my innocence, I thought that
the dress was all I needed, but Connie took care of this oversight for
me. She made sure I was ready with my dress and other articles of
clothing before we completed our shopping experience.

One of my favorite parts of this experience was the discussion we had
during our drive to the store. It was a very special conversation that
I will always remember and am grateful to have had. I am so thankful
for Connie’s thoughtfulness and for this experience we were able to
have together.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Instrument by Curtis Bennion Cannon

I had just come in from a long day, having driven all over the various random villages and trailer parks of Burke County, North Carolina. It was Christmas Eve, and my companion and I had spent the entire day contacting every single person we had been working with. We would show up on each family’s doorstep, my companion holding the framed picture of Christ (with our missionary budget we had made the most of the $1 frames from All A Dollar and our pass along cards), and me holding my violin. When they came to the door I would break out in some Christmas Carol and we would serenade them to a few carols.

It was the second best day of my entire mission (the first was the day we actually had a baptism in which I played a role in the conversion process). Some people we visited had never seen a real violin before. Others were just so excited that somebody came to visit them on Christmas Eve.

It was so great to be able to use this tool to bring so much joy into people’s lives. It was also the first time in my life that I felt truly and deeply grateful that my mom had made me practice so much.

It wouldn’t have been possible without Connie’s countless hours driving us to lessons, Suzuki Institutes, waking us up at ungodly hours of the morning to practice, using every carrot and stick she could think of to get us to practice. Not to mention putting together two Cannon String Trios to play at weddings, various car breakdowns en route to St. George and Cedar City, and the financial sacrifice that all of this entailed.

Since then I’ve thought often about what kind of impact those music lessons have made on our family in terms of discipline, hard work, and an appreciation for creativity and music. Cate’s music studio and Chad’s composition abilities aside, the results are not always tangible, but they run deep and broad for all of us.

So once again, thanks Mom, for forcing me to learn the violin.

Wonder Woman by Toots

I had met some of the Cannons before. We had lunch in D.C. and I’d met Cate in Hershey but it wasn’t until we returned to Salt Lake after our joke of a government internship that I was finally introduced to the other Cannon offspring. I picked out a cute outfit (a must when you’re meeting the greatest guy in the world’s family) and held Chase’s hand as we walked through his front door.

Upon hearing that this was a Suzuki family with Harvard bound children, I was expecting a quiet, serene atmosphere. As we walked in at first I felt confused, and then couldn’t help but smile at all that surrounded me. Chad, who was probably 14 at the time, was set up at the piano, well equipped with a harmonica attachment around his neck. With at least 50 other adolescents in the room, outside, and running all over the place, he was in his own little world. The music belting from his lips and fingers were only a whisper compared to the chaos that enveloped him.

He wasn’t the only one in his own little world. In the kitchen was Chase’s mom chopping vegetables (probably from her own garden) while a couple more teenagers giggled and doodled on the apple adorned chalkboard behind her. As if it didn’t even phase her, Connie stood at the kitchen island and although mayhem threatened to disturb, she just continued to chop and hum to herself. I think deep down she was the happiest mother in the world. She was surrounded by children, most of whom weren’t her own, but she was a mother to them all.

There were kids jumping in the pool completely dressed, and boys walking through the house half so. Connie never complained once. Who was this fascinating woman? Who did all these crazy children belong to? Which ones were Cannons? I wasn’t sure but I felt happy there. I turned to Chad at his piano, to Curtis laughing with his friends, to Heber with his shirt off boasting his 15 year old muscles, to Chase laughing with/at them, and to Connie who to me seemed like wonder woman, and I immediately fell in love…with the whole clan!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

CC-ing by Cate

Nose plugs, anyone? It's hard to believe that CC ran a swim school for 14 years, because like the many toddlers who started at the Lynwood Swim School, she herself is still not fully accustomed to the water. Besides the fact that water is usually cold – and CC hates being cold – water also messes up your hair, and occasionally goes up your nose. So I have ingrained in my head forever the image of CC plugging her nose each and every time she goes in water – whether it be climbing into the swimming pool, sinking into the lake after water-skiing (love those skinny legs!), or jumping off the boat at Lake Powell. Actually “jumping” is not quite the right action verb in this case, because she never actually “jumps” in. She just kind of falls/glides/hangs-on-to-the-ladder-for-as-long-as-possible-and-then-gracefully-sinks into the water. Anyone have a good word to describe this? Maybe we should call it "CC-ing!"

Note that CC is the ONLY person on the beach with not only a jacket but long pants and a turtleneck. She must have forgotten her gloves.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Canines by Chad

One of my favorite things about CC is her love of dogs (in this case, the word love should be taken with the largest amount of sarcasm possible). The last letter I got from CC had her return address sticker on it, which for some reason has a black lab with its tongue sticking out next to her name and address. She had written a note on the side pointing up to the dog that said, "My main campaign."

CC has long been able to express her love for dogs. Let's begin with Molly. Our sweet, loving, negro-puppy-bearing Golden Retriever, Molly. We all loved her. We all ignored her. Except CC, who spent many of her hours buring Molly's piles underneath the Cannon terraced gardens. We all know there was a reason she asked Ryan Livingston to take Molly on that newspaper route. Knowing Molly's innate ability to roam freely and to duke on large amounts of property, all CC had to do was let the dog go deliver newspapers with Ryan, and that would be the last of her. Yet I am still convinced that ultimately Molly is the one to blame for the Replenish Products venture, since there is a clear connection between the large and numerous piles that Molly left in our backyard and the even larger and even more numerous piles that would become the staple of underage Cannon employment later on. Watching those terrace gardens blossom from all of Molly's dukes inspired a business venture of the most exciting kind...

After Molly, there was Hiney (sp?). Hiney was the sheep dog without a tail that discovered so cleverly that if she just hung around at the Weber, different people would come outside and feed her. Her plan worked exceedingly well, and soon she was riding in the Cannon Suburban down to 2550 Lynwood Drive. Surely she would have fled the scene if she knew that her life would come to an end at that location. CC at this point was surely already feeling bitter about the dog (perhaps as a side effect of running a manure company subconsciously inspired by dog piles), and it's not too far-fetched to propose that the placement of the rat poison which ended Hiney's life in our garden (ironically a garden sprinkled with Repenish mulch) was no accident.

Nowadays CC's love for the canine world is largely expressed from a safe distance, where she can't get too intimate with the animals. Last summer, upon returning from Japan, I was in the car with Pops and CC, driving on 13th East past Sugarhouse Park, where the "Strut Your Mut" event was happening. CC, with a real zeal in her voice, exclaimed: "OOOOooo, this is totally my kind of event!!!" Later we passed a car, loaded with large dogs, each of which was sticking its head out the window and letting the wind cool down its tongue - drool slopping onto the hot pavement below. CC, with a similar zeal, cried, "Ooooo, let me get in that car!!! Mmmm...yes!" We also all know that CC actually wishes she had married Drew, so she would be able to have at any given time at least 3 dogs with her in the car, at the Weber, or maybe (if she was lucky) at church. We also know she was extremely jealous of Chris and Jari, since they were able to raise one canine child in Alpine before moving on to biped children in Holds and Mils. Her thoughts must often be full of regret - wondering why she raised six children instead of the hundreds of dogs she could have raised with the same amount of capital. Think how many terraced gardens she could have fertilized!!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Dictionary by Jari

I was about to enter the Cannon family. Chris had proposed earlier that evening and we were making the rounds – excited to spread the news of the event but a little nervous to meet the future in-laws (not that we hadn’t met before, but now it carried so much more weight). I had met Connie once or twice before (yes, Chris and I had a short courtship) and had always been impressed. She seemed totally together, the Cannon family was functional and they actually all liked one another (a fact I give Connie credit for). There was just one thing amiss. The first time I met her, Chris and I had been dating for no more than a few months but he had unilaterally decided it was time I met his mom. So in what I’m now convinced was a ruse to get me to 2550 Lynwood Drive, Chris enthusiastically told me about the cool dictionary he had received for Christmas that year that included ALL the words in the English language. Unfortunately, he kept the dictionary not at the house he shared with his roommates, but rather at his parent’s house. So we sauntered in one evening, frozen yogurts in hand, to gaze longingly upon this infamous dictionary. Chris must have staged it, because we walked through the garage and into the house, and there sat Connie at the dinner table, papers strewn all around her, obviously in the middle of a project. Chris asked her where his dictionary was (“How could he not know where his own dictionary was?” I thought). Connie knew exactly where to tell him to look. He went and got it while Connie and I, both unprepared for the moment, chit-chatted about nothing in particular. He returned, we gazed upon this most amazing of Christmas presents, and then prepared to leave. Then came the red flag: Chris left his dictionary in the middle of the kitchen table, obviously expecting Connie to put it back after we had gone. I was horrified, and said something to Chris about putting his dictionary back where he found it. He did, and as he did, Connie said something to me about being a good influence on him. I resolved right then and there that should this relationship progress farther, I would not be quite as accommodating as Connie. Call me the bad guy.


Summer 1986. Horns honking behind us, Mom at the wheel, flustered. Cate, alert new teenager who might have saved Mom from herself, is not there. Chase, Curt, Heber, Chad, all there, being ten, being five, being three and one, give or take a year, it’s all a repressed blur I’m trying to retrieve but also keep somewhat at bay, forgive me. The point is that I AM THE ONLY PERSON IN THE CAR WHO IS COOL. Correction: no one in the car is cool; but I cling to the delusion to ward off complete despair. (As proof of the delusion, I fully expect to meet some gorgeous California girl that day at an impossible moment when I will not be with or near my mom, as if that is the only hindrance, and go home with a phone number.) We epitomize all that is not cool: first, a large family with young kids trying to enter a very upscale mall in Beverly Hills, at a time when the Beverly Hillbillies still draws an audience; second, we are doing so in a Suburban a/k/a MORMON MOBILE—picture a minivan, but much bigger and with no other minivans on the road to provide anonymity, especially here on Rodeo Drive, where it is by a wide margin the biggest non-industrial motorized transport craft within a six mile radius; third, IT IS NOT BIG ENOUGH FOR US, and we are forced to publicly punctuate that fact with a luggage rack that is half as big as the transport craft itself and, apparently unbeknownst to Mom, adds significantly to its height; fourth, Mom is driving, already a dubious proposition, but here one of two facts that have doomed us, the other being the previously discussed new height of the transport craft; fifth, and my memory is foggy, but I hear echoes of The Safety Kids from my mind’s soundtrack, at high volume if I’m not mistaken; sixth, we’re holding up traffic; and seventh, the reason we’re holding up traffic is that WE HAVE JUST HEARD A SCRAPING SOUND ON THE ROOF telling us the transport craft is too tall to enter the mall’s parking lot, and there is a line of cars behind us that cannot back up. We are making a scene, and we are stuck.

What are my options at this moment? Do I jump to the rescue? What do I say? She has fainted! The driver is unconscious! PLEASE SAVE MY MOTHER! Someone call 911! (Psst, Mom, lie down NOW!) Okay, thank you, sir. Now why are you honking? What’s that? Height limit? What about the luggage rack? Oh, you think we didn’t know that? We weren’t pulling into the parking lot! Are you crazy? What do you take us for? She turned here involuntarily, right before she went under! Food poisoning, I think. DID SOMEONE CALL 911 YET?

But this all comes to me later, outside of the heat and urgency of the moment. Here, in the heat and urgency, I slump down in my seat. One great thing about the transport craft: tinted windows. Sorry, Mom. You’re on your own here. Can’t help you. Don’t even know if I’ll admit knowing you.