Returning Home

On Saturday, January 23, 2016, I attended the funeral of my great aunt which I posted about in another post. After the graveside service my father, mother, and sister and I drove to Holladay Blvd in Holladay, Utah to see my father’s home he grew up in. It was built in the early 1930s by his father, Clyde Frederick Gutke, and his grandfather Carl Frederick Gutke.

Even as we drove down the familiar twisting street with the arrows announcing the curves ahead, I felt like a child again riding in our large blue and white Chevy van on the way to Grandma’s house. We passed the elementary school on our left and then pulled the car into the gravel lane. We pulled up the lane to get a better look at the house and to our surprise and delight a woman came out the kitchen door. My father explained why we were stalking her home and she was kind and invited us in!

My father’s eyes lit up at the prospect of seeing his child hood home again. As he wandered each room, his eyes took in each detail and I could only imagine the memories flooding in. The decor and the owners have changed over the years, but to him, it will always be the home of his youth.

My father reflects growing up in the backyard of the house of his youth.
The Clyde Gutke Family Home in the 1950s

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Tender Moments

Today we celebrated the life of my great aunt Norma May Gutke Ellis. She was born in 1921 in Salt Lake City, Utah to Carl Frederick and Laura May Jones Gutke. She was the youngest child of eight. Norma was a cheerful, bright, and lovely woman. She joined her family after her mother had already lost two daughters: one was murdered by a jealous boyfriend at 17 and the other was a golden haired, adorable four year old taken by a combination of whooping cough/pneumonia. Norma was a blessing sent to Laura Gutke from a caring and loving Heavenly Father.

Norma was adored by her five older brothers one of them nick-named her Nooksie. Whenever he went out, he always brought a present home with him for his little sister. One day he was on a date, he told his date he needed to stop and buy a little something for “dear little Nooskie.” She was a bit confused!

Norma was so beautiful, so tender, so gracious, and so kind. I loved meeting her a few years ago when I went with my sister. She became so precious to me as my sister and I took on the project of interviewing her about her life and her experiences.

I learned more from her about the Gutke name and heritage than I had  known before. Although she was telling me stories, I learned so much from her. One of my favorite stories was about how she was going with a young man she met when she went to a dance with the local soldiers at the military base in Kearns, Utah. She really liked him and they would talk on the phone and write letters and they were getting quite serious. She knew he was going to propose, but she knew that he could not give her the life that she wanted. She wanted to be married in the temple and this young man, although he was good man could not give her what she wanted. He was not a member of the Church. She called him and broke it off. It was a very hard, but such a brave thing to do, to stand up for what was really important to her. Later she met Uncle Dan Ellis and they became the most lovely couple and were married for 67 years! They raised three boys and a lovely girl they named Laura.

I always had a great time hearing their banter when I was at their home. I would ask Aunt Norma a question and hear her answer, and Uncle Dan would call out from the other room and tell her she got the story all wrong.

I love this woman! Her funeral was just a celebration of her life, of her goodness, of her love for others. I want mine to be like that. The Bishop closed by saying, “She had received His (Jesus Christ’s)¬†image in her contenance.” Then he challenged us to become like her.” I accept the challenge.

I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?” Alma 5:19

I know my Aunt Norma was not perfect, but she tried every day to be loving, kind, and be the best woman she would be. She did have a pure heart and clean hands. I want to be like her when I am 91.

I will miss you Aunt Norma!