Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dawnee

Today is Dawns birthday. It's a day of thanksgiving for me.
Look at this picture; the eyes looking right through you, that set of her mouth, and the set of her chin - ready to take on the world - sure that she'll win.
And she did, and she has, and I've had the great privilege of being by her side most of the way.
From the few pictures we have it is clear that Dawn was a beautiful, happy child and young woman.
She grew up in a large family, the youngest of 8 children.

She was close to her Mother, who died when Dawn was just 13 years old, leaving a very big empty space that has never quite been filled, even today.
We have a lovely picture of Dawns Mother, Hazel Henninger, when she was a beautiful, young woman. I tried adding it to this blog but, for some reason, it wouldn't load.

Hazel had heart problems from her youth, was advised to have no more children after the first, and then went on to bear eight wonderful sons and daughters.

Dawns Father, Joshua Brown Gunnell, was a stalwart, honorable man who also gave everything for his family. He died at age 74, watching a grandson playing football.
Josh and Hazel left a strong, delightful family now numbering well over 400.

All eight of the children became intellegent, stong, contributing, gifted adults; living lives of service to others and to the Lord; and rearing large families themselves.
The women of the family are still beautiful today. The eldest died nearly a year ago, but was, like her sisters, a beautiful woman every day she lived.
The men of the family are staunch, stalwart, good looking men.
They are all getting older now, but the years are doing nothing but add to the strong characteristics of the family.

I first met Dawn where she worked at the Sociology Department at Utah State University.
It was during the summer and she was working as a secretary for the Department.
I was with a friend who knew her, and we were just there for a minute or so.
I wanted to be sure I saw her again, but I was working for the Forest Service in Eastern Idaho that summer and so my wish had to wait for school to start.

Well, my wish finally came true several months later at the beginning of spring semester when I found we were in the same institute (religion) class twice a week.
She was so pretty and always with her friends; took all my courage, but somehow I found her home phone number and called.

She knew who I was from the institute class and we talked a little -
and I asked for a date for March 1st, not knowing it was her birthday -

...she said no.

So after the waiting and planning and drumming up my courage, I thought: so much for all that.
But then she somehow gave me to understand it would be ok to call again.
So I called very soon,
we went someplace with some friends,
I never left her door without another date,
and I never dated anyone else again.

This picture was taken the day we became engaged.

We've had a wonderful time together since then.
We've worked hard. She has moved here and there with me.
We've had lots of fun along the way.
We've been blessed with the best of children, who have all married above themselves.
We have a dear, quite marvelous family - 44 of us now.

We've laughed a lot, and cried a little.
She has made me strong when I needed her to.
All things considered, we've had a wonderful time.
Now tell me, is the look in this picture not the same as the first picture at the top of the page?
"The look in her eyes, and the set of her chin;
"We'll face it together, we'll fight, and we'll win."
I've loved her dearly since we were dating. I don't understand how this works, and I don't know how it's measured . . . but I love her a lot more now than I did then.
Her kids and grandkids will come to see her tomorrow, or they'll call if they are far away.
Her Sisters and Brothers will call.

This picture was taken December 1, 2008.
We were at a Christmas Party with her brothers and sisters and their wives / husbands.
We were the first to sit for a picture, and she leaned over and snuggled against me - and I felt like a million dollars.
It's been a grand journey, and we still have a long way to go.
I'm very excited with the prospects of what is to come.


  1. Dad, This is a wonderful tribute. Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

    Happy Birthday, Mom! We love you!

  2. Happy Birthday to the beautiful woman who is so dearly loved by this wonderful man! You both are very blessed and your story blessed me today too! What a loving tribute! It made my day.

  3. Happy Birthday Mom, We love YOU!!

  4. What a tribute to the most important person in my life. I wish I could be there now confirming everything Dad said to Mom. She is a winner and it's because of my Mom that I am a success in my life now. I Love you Mom. Thanks Dad for showing us how much you love her too.

  5. Dad I just read a blog that I think you'll like. The feel good kind that makes you want to be a better person.

  6. Jenny, Thanks. I read Bret Allen's latest Post "Don't lose your marbles". Very good. I also read your comment and left one of my own.

  7. I think this is a wonderful thing! It is so great to hear others talk about their spouses in this way. I hope one day it will be the same in my marriage. Happy belated birthday Dawn