Mount of Olives panorama

Mount of Olives panorama
A panoramic view of the Mount of Olives

Final Activities and Farewells

Our last two weeks in the States saw a lot of "lasts" as well as farewells.

In a sense, attending the Honors Graduation Luncheon on Thursday, April 11, was a farewell of sorts, because it saw the end of my five years of service on the Honors Faculty Council.  I have enjoyed working with the directors, the administrators, and my fellow HFC members.

The luncheon was important to me for another reason, because there I was recognized as the 2011 Honors Professor of the Year, an award based upon the vote of graduating honors students, course evaluations, and record of scholarship and productivity.

My family at the Honors Graduation luncheon, at which I received my award.

We jokingly called this "the funeral table." On it, my hefty (literally quite heavy) bronze cougar statue, my portrait for the Maeser Building, and some flowers.

Receiving my cougar statue from Rory Scanlon, director of Honors.

This week also saw my last two tapings, State-side at least, for Mormon Identities, my internet radio show on the Mormon Channel.  On Wednesday, I interviewed my friend George Durrant, a noted LDS writer, speaker, and story teller, and Friday I did a show called "Living with Cancer," which featured Dr. Steve Wallington, a medical oncologist, and my mother.

We have been trying to see our last movies, Elaine and I seeing "Captain America" on Wednesday, and Rachel and I "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" for our final Daddy-Daughter Date in Provo.  Came hoe to find Elaine taking products out of their packaging, putting them in bags and preparing them for packing.

Our anniversary, August 14, falls on a Sunday this year, so on Saturday, August 13, Elaine and I splurged and went up to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse in SLC for a pretty fancy dinner. Elaine called it "the last really good steak before we leave." Next year for our anniversary, we will be on our way home, hopefully stopping in Athens and Rome on the way back. 

It is not every restaurant where the hostess, servers, and all the staff call you by name . . . and when you come to your table to see a Happy Anniversary greeting and red rose petals

Wednesday, August 17, was one week exactly before our scheduled departure date.  It was a busy day.  After starting early with a workout at Gold's and a morning run, I taught two Education Week classes.  I then picked up Mother and Samuel, who went with me to SLC to pick up my new suits from Mr. Mac's and went to Deseret Book corporate to pick up the printed signatures of Good Tidings of Great Joy -- the book will start being bound in two weeks and be in the stores early October!

We then had our last "Hairy Toes" outing with Mother, our monthly trip to Salon Jace so Samuel and I can get our hair cut while she gets a pedicure.  Think, next time I get my hair cut, my barber may be a Palestinian!  We then had our usual lunch (and early dinner this time) at JCW's near Thanksgiving Point.

Hair cuts were once sensory overloads for Samuel, but with his Sensory Processing Disorder largely behind him, he now sits still for Mr. Jace all by himself .

I will miss our monthly hamburger and milk shake dates with Mother.
Came home and worked and worked on computers, trying to get things ready for the move (swapping out work computers, getting my lap top ready for the trip, transferring files).  I then took Samuel to his last Cub Scout meeting, which was a Rain Gutter Rigatta, where the boys raced boats by blowing on their sails.  It was frustrating for Samuel, who had a hard time doing it, but after working with him, I made it up to him on Daddy Night.

Samuel loves Cub Scouts, but this activity proved hard for him.  He blew and blew on his boat's little sail, but he had a hard time making it go forward properly.  In tears, he told me "My wish didn't come true."

"Daddy Night" was a tradition that we began when Rachel was little.  It was when I was serving as bishop and Elaine bore such a brunt of the childcare and other responsibilities at home.  I either take the kids out so Elaine can have time alone at home or I watch them while she goes out. It has become a favorite of the kids.

So for this last Daddy Night in the States, we took Samuel's boat up to the artificial stream south of campus.  After letting it ride the current for a while, I then took the kids up to the Provo Temple Grounds and then for a treat at Dairy Queen.

Thursday, April 18, saw me in the Provo Temple for the last few hours of my usual weekly temple shift.  Lots of loving goodbyes from my good brothers and sisters there with whom I have served for nine years.  That evening for my last Choir rehearsal, we did a lot of taping for a special program that will air in memory of the tenth anniversary of 9-11.

Friday, April 19, was my last day teaching Education Week.  I had great classes and felt good about my presentations, but the time prepping as well  as in class was a bit of a strain given all the deadlines and pressure we are up against.  I hurried home for my last traditional Friday "mountain run," quickly showered, met with my Mormon Channel staff to get trained how to use the mixers and equipment I am taking to Jerusalem for occasional "on site" radio shows, and then was interview by Steven Kapp Perry on my Christmas book.

That evening our friends Eric and Janet Schetselaar kindly hosted a party for our Choir carpool and a few other close Choir friends and their families.  John Maddox and I have carpooled together for over eight years.  My long-time friend Paul McGuire joined us soon after we got in the Choir, and later Eric S.  We were also glad to spend time with Brody Hart, Andy Unsworth, Ryan Murphy, and Cherilyn Worthen.  Our back yard lawn (for the parents) and pool (for the kids) going away party also turned into an ad hoc birthday party for Ry Man, who had just turned 40.

You would never know that we had six members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir present as we purposefully sang off-key for Ryan's birthday

Saturday, August 20.  Many of you already know that I am driven and compulsive (if not crazy), but the proof can be seen in my running a half marathon with Andy my last Saturday morning in the country.  I try to run the Top of Utah Marathon in Logan each September, but will obviously be missing it this year.  So this was a last minute substitution.

Making it across the finish line of the South Valley Half Marathon after a surprisingly difficult race, which included a six mile stretch uphill!

This was Andy's first race, but I think that I was the one who held us up.  It was my first race since my kidney problems earlier this year, I had been sleeping only two or three hours a night this week, I am nursing a bad cold, and I was too chatty as we ran!

Guess I will need to get used to wearing a shirt when running in Israel.

Open house at Scott and Saturday night our friends Scott and Shauna Barrick graciously hosted an open house for us in their lovely home in Draper.  Halfway between Salt Lake and Provo, it was a convenient spot for our friends from Bountiful to Utah County to see us.  Much of my extended family and some of Elaine's were able to come, as well as some friends from the Honors Program and lots of Choir people.hauna Barrick's. Here we are with Samuel's wonderful second grade teacher, Mrs. Olson.

Jon Rowberry, Deanne Scanlon, Larraine Allen Rowberry, Rory Scanlon, Elaine Scott Huntsman, Eric D. Huntsman, Karen Bradshaw Maxwell, Cory Maxwell

Elaine and her good friend Brenda Fairbanks

Some of Elaine's: family: Darris Howe, Maquel Clark, Gail Howe, Marlaine Scott, and her brother Kevin Scott

My family on Mother's side (though she herself was in Colorado for my nephew's wedding reception there): Donald and Renee Milne; Conner, Steve, and Michelle King; Alicia and John Tebbs; Chad Halversen

Maureen Hatch; our hosts Scott and Shauna Barrick; Elaine and I; Rick Elliott; Nathan Wright; Kristen Olsen.  Lori Drake I missed you!

Shaunna and Jeannie Gordon, who worked with me in Honors.
 SSunday, August 21, was the hardest of my "lasts" so far.  After singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for over eight years, this was my last broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word.  While I am returning to the Choir next August, because leaves are no longer than six months, it was necessary for me to "retire" today.

My final day in the loft . . . for now

Receiving congratulations and farewell from Dr. Wilberg
My family was not able to attend my "retirement," but I had some of my closest friends and the baritone section in the loft, as well as Ryan and Andy standing in as my brothers up front.

Our friends Paul and Denise McGuire held an open house tonight for us and Daryl and Mary Lee, who are taking their family to Paris on study abroad the day after we leave.  While it was mostly attended by members of our ward and neighborhood, a few other friends from work of the area came as well.

Elaine and I with Cecilia Peek, a Classics colleague of mine and our long-time friend