Dad’s Best Dating Advice–How to cut the tail off a dog

Dog tail

I was single for a very long time. During that time, there were a fair number of boys in and out of my life. Sometimes those boys wanted to stay longer than they were welcome, and, being a soft-hearted person, I always had trouble moving them along to date someone else.

One time I was complaining to my dad about this problem. With his practical farmer’s wisdom, and in his slow deliberate manner, I received the only piece of dating advice he’s ever given me:

“When you have to cut the tail off the dog, don’t do it an inch at a time.”

I’ve never forgotten that advice. I’ve hearkened back to it many times over the years. I never expected I’d hear his words again in my mind as a missionary, but they are sounding in my mind almost every single day as we move through this last 6 week transfer period here in the Washington Yakima Mission. It is a heart-wrenching emotional time as we say good bye to loved ones almost every single day.

We have almost completed our one-on-one interviews with each of our 160 or so missionaries. John spends about 45 minutes with each one and I get to visit with their companions. Each time we sit together, we know it’s the last time we’ll do that here. That makes for sweet and emotional visiting.

Every time we drive out of an area for the last time, we are also saying good bye in our hearts. Goodbye to the potato fields of Othello and the mint fields in Royal. Goodbye to the corn and peas and dairies and wheat. Goodbye to the hay being harvested in windy Ellensburg fields. Farewell to the dramatic river gorge in The Dalles and Hood River. Goodbye to quaint Ephrata. Goodbye to beautiful Wenatchee, with the river running through it. Goodbye to each mountain pass, with pines and melting snow. Farewell to the spectacular river valleys on the road to Omak and back, lined with vineyards and orchards. Goodbye to the Bald Eagles and hawks and cranes and water fowl. Goodbye to the wide open spaces and spectacular sunsets. Good bye to the mesmerizing wind turbine sentinels on strategic mountain passes. Good bye to semi trucks filled with bins full of apples, traveling the highways with us every week of the year. Goodbye to the incredible old barns of central Washington that look as if they had stories to tell.  And good bye to the beautiful orchards all around us, expectant now as the fruit grows and ripens.

I have tried to capture some of these things in pictures and words as we’ve traveled and lived here, but nothing really captures the love I feel for this place. It runs deep in my soul, as does the love I have for the hundreds of members and missionaries who have served here with us.

Perhaps it’s best to cut this tail off an inch at a time–my heart would not be able to endure it happening in a single whack.

Here’s how the emotional goodbyes have been happening, day by day these last 6 weeks:

9 May Our Last Transfer Begins
8 May Farewell to the Calls (served with us 3 years)
8 May Farewell Dinner for the Calls with the Pendleburys, Royals and APs
11 May Last Super MLC
15 May Last Doctrine of Christ training, Mission Home
17 May Last interviews in Toppenish (4), Zillah (2), Sunnyside (2)
18 May Last interviews with the Yakima Zone (22)
19-20 May Last Stake Conference in The Dalles
21 May Farewell to Elder & Sister Farrer in Royal
22 May Last interviews in Wenatchee (14)
23 May Last interviews in Chelan (2)
23 May Last interviews in Brewster (4)
23 May Last interviews in Omak (8)
23 May Last drive through our northern parts
24 May Last interviews with more in Wenatchee Spanish (8)
24 May Last interviews in Ellensburg (10)
25 May Last interviews with the Yakima Valley Spanish Zone (16)
25 May Farewell dinner Thompsons, Calls, Van De Venters at Cowiche Canyon Kitchen
29 May Last interviews with the Selah Zone (16)
30 May Last interviews in Othello (8)
30 May Last interviews in Royal City, Mattawa (6)
30 May Farewell dinner with the Allred Families in Royal
31 May Last interviews in Moses Lake (16)
1 June Farewell to Tyson Allred and our Royal home away from home
1 June Last interviews in Moses Lake (4)
1 June Last interviews in Ephrata (10)
1 June Last interviews in Quincy (2)
1 June Farewell dinner with all the Stake Presidents, wives and Elder & Sis Stapleton
5 June Last Mission Leadership Council (28)
6 June Last newsletter created
7 June Last north Zone Conference (98)
8 June Last south Zone Conference (95)
9 June Farewell dinner with the Mission Presidency and wives in Selah
10 June Farewell to the Englewood Rama
11 June Office Staff party with all the couples who’ve served here
12 June Last interviews The Dalles (12)
13 June Our exit interview with Elder Whiting, Salt Lake

And we are not finished saying good bye. Here are our coming farewells:

13-15 June Last transfer planning with APs
13 June Dinner with the McBeans (Days for Girls leader)
15 June Yakima 2nd Ward 60th Birthday Party, farewell to our ward
16 June Last transfer calls
16 June Last Days for Girls event in Yakima
16-17 June Last Stake Conference in Moses Lake
18 June Last departing group arrives, final dinner
19 June Last departing group breakfast and airport
19 June Last arriving group comes, orientation
20 June Last transfer
20 June Last night in the Mission Home
21 June Move out of the Mission Home
22 June Lunch with the Office Staff and APs
25 June Last staff meeting
25 June Dinner with Darrell and Sheila Smart, neighbors
28 June Last trip to the airport. Jackmans arrive
29 June Last drive out of Yakima

My heart is full, but it sometimes feels like it’s being emptied. The miracle is, the love never ever seems to run out. When love goes out of me, it is always replaced with more. Always.


About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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1 Response to Dad’s Best Dating Advice–How to cut the tail off a dog

  1. Sheryl Clark says:

    Loved reading this. I always love reading what you write. Loved what you shared about your time in Nigeria with another soul I had the privilege to be taught by when we were children and Mert, as we called her organized the fun. Now, you have just taken me on a tour of the amazing north west that I lived in and loved for many years. Thanks for your great service. What blessed missionaries to have served with you! Would love to hear your report! Thanks again. Sheryl Clark

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