Wherever you wander, wherever you roam
February 03, 2010
Be happy, be healthy, and glad to come home.
LEFT: Marian Butler has quilted together a life of speculator discovery, travel and service and has never failed to find her way back home. CITIZEN PHOTO / LIZA B. WILSON
As you head east up Ski Hill road and cross just over the state line into Wyoming, there sits a quaint little pink chalet adorned with a whimsical balcony and shutters of hearts. Across the balcony is written, “Wherever you wander, wherever you roam, be happy, be healthy and glad to come home.” It looks like a playhouse, like something that belongs in the Swiss Alps and this is where Marian Heileson Durtschi Butler has played house since she and her husband Arnold Durtschi built it , room by room, over 50 years ago.
As I knocked on the door, it knocked back from the inside and Troy, her husband of the last 17 years, opened the door and I was greeted by the smell of homemade whole wheat bread. Marian was sitting by the big picture window that looked out into the creek bottom, sewing yet another quilt for the LDS Humanitarian Center.
She was wearing her signature color -- red. I have known Marian for 35 years and can count on one hand the numbers of times that I have seen her in any color but red. Red, how appropriate for her as it is the symbol of life, passion, vitality and energy, radiating its vitalizing life-force into human beings. That is Marian to a “T.”Be Happy
Happiness to Marian is children.
When her first husband Arnold (ten years her senior) was courting Marian, she mentioned she wanted 10 children. When that didn’t scare him off she agreed to marry him and they set about making lots of happiness: 10 children in 11 years. She came with a dowry of one cow to add to Arnold’s Wyoming acreage and that began their dairy herd. These were busy, busy years with lots of kids, lots of work and fun times camping up in the canyon at what they called “Top Camp.”
"Fun for us kids to go camping, but lots of work for mom,” her son Grant pipes in.
She managed to squeeze in time to develop not only her domestic skills of sewing, crocheting and cooking but glancing around her pine-paneled living room with the river rock fireplace you see the oil paintings that she has done of her beloved mountains; the Teton Range (which she scaled with her sons at age 60), the Swiss Alps and the Matterhorn. Often the wee hours of the morning were the only quiet time she could find to pursue this talent.Be Healthy
Marian finished her nursing degree the day before she married Arnold and worked a shift here, there and in between her babies. In 1958 Arnold was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease so she realized that she would need to carry more of the financial load. She furthered her education and became a nurse anesthetist. She could spend her mornings at the hospital and be home in the afternoons caring for her family. As the children grew so did her abilities in caring for the health of people in the valley as she worked side by side with the doctor.
She couldn’t even put a number on how many babies she brought into the world (four of my own). Having been on the table ten times herself she had a lot of empathy for a laboring mother. She could relax her patient with her soothing, reassuring voice making the labor move along more easily and with less medication. Her fine tapered fingers were just as good stitching up a sliced finger as stitching up a quilt. She was at the hospital long enough to start delivering babies of the babies she delivered 20 years earlier.
Ten days after retiring from the health clinic she began the first of many health missions, first in Bolivia then Guatemala, returning home long enough to catch up on her children and grandchildren, supply a quilt or afghan or three and then off again.
She married her second husband Troy Butler just three weeks before flying out for a stint in Argentina of 3 ½ years. He did the driving and the singing and she taught the missionaries and the beautiful people of South America the simple laws of health in their own language.And glad to come home
After 15 years of missions she was glad to come home to her mountain chalet to garden, crochet, and make more quilts. She wanted to document her family’s life but when she looked at the cost of enlarging the photos her husband had taken for many years she decided to get out his dark room supplies and do the developing herself. There really isn’t anything she can’t do if she decides to.
I asked her what she would like her children and grandchildren to remember her for. It was an easy answer, “Remember that I love them. Love is the beginning of the path, the middle and the end. We perfect ourselves in love. And that service makes people happy.”
The words written on her pink chalet are echoed by her life of service. “Wherever you wander, wherever you roam / Be happy, be healthy and glad to come home.”