Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sagehen's Eulogy

I thought that for all the friends of Alleen who couldn't come to the funural and I thought that I would share the eulogy that Alleen's brother-in-law Gordon gave. Apart from the memories of family members the majority of the eulogy was taken from Alleen's blog and scrapbook pages. Here it is. David

Alleen’s mother wrote this about her.
Alleen was always a quiet thoughtful child. She had a patient loving disposition and was seldom a bother to anyone in her home or at school. One of her friends recently told me that some of her classmates took advantage of her shy good nature and made her life miserable. She has since forgiven them. (ReNae’s note: The classmate who told her this was one of the advantage takers, who, in spite of making Alleen miserable then is a good friend now.)
She was mostly a happy child and she could come up with some good wise cracks. When she was very small she said “Time goes faster than I do.” and this has become one of our family’s favorite sayings. Alleen had a way with words, an excellent command of the English language and a love for learning. She enjoyed reading and was a good student. However, she was a poor speller which proved to cause her a lot of grief in her chosen profession as a newspaper reporter, writer and editor. When she first started to work they did not have computers with spell check. She taught herself how to use a computer and was an expert at it.
Alleen always loved paper. We have a picture of her about 2 years old sitting at a table with pencil, crayons and paper completely absorbed in what she was doing. She was fascinated with shapes and fitting things together. She was very creative in her writing and in her artwork.
She learned to sew and took top prizes for her sewing and 4H work at the Lincoln County Fair. She had a lot of good friends and was loyal to her friends forever.
In high school she was on the yearbook staff. This helped her with her chosen profession. She learned to take pictures and develop them in the dark room. Photography was one of her talents.
As a child Alleen lived on the family ranch in Crow Creek Idaho in the summers and in their Afton home in the winter to go to school. Her father was a cattle rancher and her mother was a school teacher who taught High School Art and Home Economics.
Alleen wrote this about how much she loved the life we had growing up on a cattle ranch in Idaho.
When I dream of home
I am always on
the ranch
in the two bedroom house
where our
family of seven
spent the summers
of my childhood.
I dream
of long golden days,
Dad haying from dawn to dusk,
home exhausted.
Mom cooking huge meals every
day to feed the
hay men.
I remember playing with the grape hyacinths and
our Siamese cat, Ming. Who usually gave birth to
a batch of kittens each summer.
With no television, we gathered
In the living room at night to read.
Just family. It was enough.
Alleen has a long and distinguished pioneer heritage on both sides of her family, with ancestors who were part of the church in Kirtland, the Mormon Battalion, the Willie Handcart company, and who have served the church in in many ways. Her Mormon heritage is very important to her, and she loves the gospel and has always been glad to serve in the church.

Alleens sister ReNae writes:
Alleen always had the gift of making things happen. This has been a theme of her life.
Alleen Debra Sorenson Lang was born December 8 1958. She was the 4th daughter of Alf and Colleen Sorenson. Her older sisters were 9, 7, and 4 years old. It was getting to be a family and community joke that Alf only had daughters, so when Alleen came along the stage was set for her to be just another of the Sorenson girls. There were some important differences though. Alleen’s name was a combination of her parents Alf and Colleen’s names. She was the first child to be named by her parents not her maternal grandparents as the first three were. She was the only one of the girls to have a middle name, Debra, which was her father’s mother’s name. She was supposed to be the last child, so finally dad got to name her and he must have realized that a son was not likely, so he made Alleen his special little pal. Four years after Alleen was born dad finally got his boy! So Alleen didn’t remain the last child, but she remained daddy’s little pal. They had a bond built on their love for each other and their similar sense of the absurd.
Alleen is very easy to love; she was quiet and cooperative, but a little bit quirky. She would sit and listen for so long people would forget she was there, and she heard many a conversation that was a little too old for her tender ears. Sometimes when the whole family was in the car traveling with everyone bickering or otherwise making noise mom would suddenly say “Alleen, where are you?” And we would hear a little voice from the very back of the long old station wagon say “I’m right here.” Later she would say some innocent little thing in a clever way that made us all a little too aware of our bad example. Once after a long drive to the ranch with the traditional slapping pinching, whining and kicking dad stopped the car about 100 yards from the house and ordered all the quarrelling children out into the night, Alleen spoke up from the back “I ‘tay right here.” She was right; she was the only one who wasn’t guilty.
When Alleen graduated from high school, she went to Ricks College in Idaho for 2 years, then after graduation she went to Utah State University. There she became a part of the journalism team. She said that she learned far more by working with the irreverent and funny newspaper crew than she ever did sitting in class, but she did both class work and real work and graduated in 1981 with all of the skills necessary to produce a newspaper. She worked on the Preston Idaho newspaper for a year, and then for two years she was the mainstay of the newspaper in Montpelier Idaho. There she interviewed, reported, photographed, made the layouts, went to meetings and ball games and all of the thousands of things a small town newspaper requires. She became a loved and necessary part of the community very quickly.
As her sister in the middle of raising 4 young children I thought she had the life I was missing. She bought her own car with her own money in 1984. It was a red Pontiac Sunbird with a standard shift. To me the ultimate in freedom and sophistication. She moved to Cedar City Utah in 1984 and went to work for the newspaper there. She transferred to St George and lived and worked there for 7 years. I remember going to visit her and being impressed with her numerous skills and all the people she knew. She could do anything.
She was unhappy about her single status, but I don’t remember her complaining about it. She was a spectacular aunt to my kids! They all loved her and she made every one of them feel important. When she came to visit she was like a tropical bird that flew into their lives and for awhile everything was full of exotic colors and extra fun.
She created a group of dear friends everywhere she went. In St George she and some friends started a group that watched Star Trek every week. They became a wonderful family to her and she loved to do things with them. In 1992, even with her support group, her demanding job had begun to wear her out, she made a life changing decision. She had saved as much money as she could over the years, and finally she had enough to take a year off. She was getting tired of the deadlines and the pressure, and she wanted to be closer to her family.
She moved to Logan, Utah to a cute little studio apartment and let time help her sort her priorities. It was there in Logan that she decided to rededicate herself to the church, ponder the scriptures, and pray and there she made the decision to take out her endowments. It was a great time for her family having her close, and she spent time with her dad tas she hadn’t been able to do in St. George. The year she spent in Logan is memorialized in her oldest son Logan’s name. David Lang had been part of the Star Trek group, and had helped her move to Logan, and a year later there he was, helping her move back. She and Dave had been friends for quite awhile, and she was kidding around with him one night about how girls in love scenes in the movies always touched the guy’s face. She stroked Dave’s face and asked “does that make you fall in love?” Apparently it did.
Alleen bought a condo in St George about two houses away from Dave’s parent’s house. She furnished it with furniture she got from her grandparents, and moved a friend in to help with expenses. She and Dave were in the same ward and they became best friends. It must be true that best friends make the best marriages, because it wasn’t long before they were engaged.
Dave and Alleen planned a December wedding, and just before Thanksgiving that year her beloved Daddy died. She said she then understood her need to move. She had that year to be close to him and he was able to be with her when she got her endowments.
The marriage had an interesting start. Shortly after she got married Alleen received a penicillin shot. She had a violent allergic reaction, and spent many days swollen, and sick. She was also pregnant. It’s a good thing Dave is a good Mr. Mom. He had plenty of occasions to put his homemaking skills to use in that first difficult year.
Logan was born 9 months and 1 day after Dave and Alleen were married. He joined an exclusive little group of cousins. A month earlier Alleen’s brother had a little girl and 4 days later her 43-year-old sister had another girl. The family jokes that these are the babies Grandpa Alf sent when he got to the other side. Alleen was very taken with the triple cousins and always made a special effort to combine them for special events. She worked to make their baptism a special day. They were all baptized on the same day in the same place and it really was a remarkable family occasion.
Alleen’s life has never traveled in a straight line. She learned a lot from the zigzags it has taken, but it was not always easy. Logan was a very smart and active little boy. It was a good thing he was also a good baby, because when Alleen was pregnant with her second baby in 1997 when Logan was two years old she had to stay in bed for many months. This is not easy with a 2-year-old and a husband going to school. She had a nice big bedroom and a computer, and a lot of patience and love. Logan thrived, and she was able to hold on to the baby until he was old enough to be born. Duncan Campbell Lang lived only a few moments and Alleen and Dave were able to hold him as he died. Alleen was changed by the experience, as her husband wrote in a tribute to her:

“Most people never saw the sensitive side of her; she took her duties of motherhood very seriously. When Alleen had just given birth prematurely to our second son Duncan, and as the doctors and nurses were taking care of her, she held our little boy as his life was slowly passing from him she was sobbing an apology to him for not being able to protect him, and for letting him down by not carrying him to term. The nurse thought that she was apologizing to them for crying, ... she just didn’t get how seriously Alleen took her job as protector and mother.”

About 5 months later Alleen again was in bed with baby number three. She was deeply concerned and reaching the end of her rope. In our conversations she confessed to feeling like the worst mother in the world, unable to save one baby or care for the other and agonizing over the safety and health of the third. Dave was again a great help, as he worked and went to school, and Logan, older now, at age 3, became very self-sufficient. Alleen’s mom was able to stay with the little family and help as the time for Adam to be born got nearer. Adam was born healthy in December 1998. He was like a little miracle and Alleen devoted herself to his care and to Logan, as she was able to be more active.
The Lang family moved to Tooele in 2001. Alleen blossomed as a mother and her love for her family radiated from her. She had never been happier. Her home and her children were the center of her life. She began scrap booking, using the skills from her newspaper life, and her love of paper. She started a blog and submitted her scrapbook pages to a web site where she gained friends both online and in her home and church. She always had the gift of gathering friends around her. She began to work part time as a writer for the local newspaper and her busy life with her family became the subject of her blogs and scrapbook pages. Dave posted a tribute on Alleen’s blog after her death, and the last time I looked it had 73 comments expressing love and thanks to her for her life well lived. Many of them from people who only know her from her writing.
I’m going to quote from some of Alleen’s writings. They express her life and sense of humor in her own unique way.

About the men in her life:
“I have been truly blessed to have close association with some of the best men on the planet.
My Dear Husband is outstandingly patient and hard working. He is such a great father to my children and such a supportive husband; I could not have picked a better man for me.
My father. The man who taught me the meaning of the phrase "unconditional love."
My Eternal Father, who loves me not in spite of myself, but because of myself.
My brother, long suffering and patient in a world of women.
My sons, what precious souls they are. My hope for them is they may follow in the footsteps of their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers.”

About Adam:
Money can’t buy you love, I told my son as he expressed his fondness for me after I purchased 400 water balloons.
His answer.
“No, it can’t but it can buy fun.”
Now there is a child with a grasp of the world.

I don’t much care for sports.
There, I said it.
This would not be too big a problem if it were not for one fact. I’m the mother of two boys.
Boys, as a general rule, do like sports. ...
[For me] Baseball is the exception.
I remember watching the 1975 World Series with the Cincinnati Reds against the Boston Red Sox. Dad was a fan of the Reds with their switch hitter Pete Rose, as well as other famous players Johnny Bench, Dave Concepcion and Cesar Geronimo on the team. We watched the series together, and it is one of my fond memories of my father.
I sat through a few baseball games played by my nephew, Shane, and never really understood why my sister was so intent on the game.
Now I know.
Adam signed up for Little League this year
He was given his uniform yesterday and he looked cool all suited up with the hat and glove. I do believe baseball uniforms are so much more classic than football jerseys and head’s and shoulders above soccer shorts.
When I see him in the pants, the tucked in shirt, the baseball cap, with mitt in hand it stirs something akin to patriotism in my little heart. During the opening ceremonies a group of three teen-aged girls sang the Star Spangled Banner, they did a beautiful job and it made me teary eyed.
Baseball is just so All-American; it’s hard not to love it.

About Logan:

"Who would have thought I would bring a math wizard
into this world? I am hard pressed to balance my checkbook,
and I only do it under duress.
I was fine in my number-free world, then along came my first born
son, methodical, logical, technical Logan.
"The boy loves numbers, math and all things scientific.
He took first place in the school science fair while he was in first
Instead of watching sports, he has the television tuned to MythBusters or Numbers.
He hates to get up early, but willingly gives up 30 minutes of sleep twice a week to attend an advanced math class.
"When he and his father get talking math problems I
just smile and go somewhere else in my head. I’ll let them discuss negative numbers, integers and Pi while I think about my next newspaper story or scrapbook layout."

Note to self: Be careful how well you educate your children.
Today I told Logan to put on his socks so he wouldn’t get sick.
His reply, “How are socks going to prevent me from contracting airborne illnesses.”
Me: “Because I said so!”

To her niece who is struggling with some of the same things Alleen went through:

It was May 1993, I was living in Logan without a job, or a family, or any idea of what I was going to do with my life.
I had just gone through the temple on May 1 and traveled south to go to my friends wedding in the St. George Temple on May 9. I was sick when I went south, but I just kept getting sicker and sicker until I ended up with laryngitis. On the way home I was stopped by a cop and given a ticket because my car registration had expired.
In short, I was miserable.
One year later I was living in St. George, married to Dave and pregnant with Logan. We were both unemployed, and he was going to school. We are still paying off the student loans.
I was single for 35 years and I often wondered why
(well I kind of knew why I was single)
but why I had been given this lot in life.
But, being single did have some great moments.
The whole not having to answer to anyone but myself, having the house the temperature I want it to be, watching the television shows I want to watch, not feeling guilty if the dishes aren’t done at the end of the day aspect of single life still appeals to me.
Do not get me wrong. I adore being married, I fiercely love my children, I can’t imagine life without my beloved companion by my side.

But every now and then I remember watching television shows without interruptions.
My life is always changing. Just when I think I’ve figured out what I am doing something changes and I’m struggling to learn something new.
Right now the something new is juggling my obligations to my children, my husband, my home, my job, my church calling, my hobby and myself.
I am spending way too much time and energy on a job that uses my skills, but is not bringing in enough money to justify its existence.
The distractions of my job leave my children wanting more attention from me, and I slightly resent it, because I’m feeling pulled so many directions.
Dave is not home nearly enough, he’s not getting enough sleep and I am worried about his health.
But it’s not going to last forever.
One day my children will be grown and I will miss them more than I miss my left hand.
My Dave’s schedule will eventually settle down and he will be home more often. I hope so, because we all miss him.
I may hit it big in the scrapbook world, quit my reporter job and start resenting my hobby.
So many things can change in such a short period of time.
This too shall pass.

Change is on the horizon:

I am now thinking a change is on the horizon and I’m not really sure where I’m going to fit a change into my open days with nothing in them.
But I can’t spend a lot of time thinking about it today. The day stretches ahead of me with nothing in it but a few loads of laundry and a kitchen to clean. O yes, since I now have the spray paint, maybe I can start on that scrapping project …

My new motto: Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, Cola in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "WHOO HOO! What a ride!"

Do you ever have the feeling that something is about to happen? And that something, be it big or small is going to change the current course of your life.
What’s more, you know something should happen, but you are not sure if you want something to happen, or if you think the something is good or bad, or just … something.
Kind of like the feeling that you are either seeing the light at the end of the tunnel or the headlight of an oncoming train, but you are not sure what it is just yet?
That’s kind of what I’m feeling right now, and it’s making me a little uneasy.

The scripture on the scripture a day calendar for the day Alleen died was:
In my Fathers’ house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14: 2