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Todd’s Big Party

A couple of years ago, my siblings and I decided we weren’t going to live forever so we planned a trip. I wanted to take a 3-day cruise from LA to Tijuana, get rooms with 2 bunk beds per room with a couple in each bunk, top and bottom. This would keep the cost down. It might jam the bathroom up a bit in the busy times but sometimes the village has to sacrifice, especially when you run out of toilet paper.

All expenses totaled up and then divided by eighteen would pencil out to about $14 per person per night. I thought it was a brilliant plan even though two of the eighteen would have to sleep on the floor between the overloaded bunks. Basically, I don’t think we could have done the Motel 6 in Pasco that cheap and yet this was going to be a full scale international tour.

But it was not to be. My high-class sisters wouldn’t give my thrifty plan the time of day. So we decided to go to Tahiti. They booked the trip.

A few months later, we found out Todd had Stage 4 cancer in his kidneys, lungs, lymph nodes and brain. The planned trip was still a year away. We began doubting he’d make it and yet praying he would.

Well, he made it with flying colors and passed away about five months later.

He was in tough shape by the time we got on the plane. He’d been chemo’d and radiated as much as the doctors could legally charge for. I worried he’d get sea sick or want to stay in his room all day. Maybe we’d even be camped around a hospital ward for the week.

Guess what? He wore the rest of us out. He was eating, dancing, jet-skiing, swimming with the sting rays, snorkeling, boating, four-wheeling and cracking jokes that had us in stitches. We came home from that trip with surprised gratitude that between Todd’s efforts and the Lord’s help, it had been a premium success.

Nine siblings, their spouses and a lucky daughter. We had nary a cross word which was probably a first for several of us.



Since we couldn’t afford the gas for a motored cruise ship, we found a sailboat that was almost as good. The wind was free. I threw this shot in of my baby brother and I and our wives. You’ll notice the audio cuts out about half-way through. Sorry, I didn’t want the rest of the family hearing about our takeover plans for the family jewels.


This next picture is of my famous sister-in-law Krash Ann. I’m not sure what happened but she must have caused a wreck somewhere on the island which just affected her right side. It’s funny that she always smiles after her wrecks.


If you look carefully in the background, you’ll see my brother Brad. I get that same expression and body language from him most every time we meet up.


So we went jet skiing and four-wheeling one day. Michele took a fancy to this native who led us around the ocean and countryside. I assume he’s a native with all the tats. They both spoke French that whole day.



Just to keep things even, I got a picture with Francois’s sister. We kept it toned down to regular English with a little pig Latin thrown in once in a while, just to keep Michele off balance.



I am a lucky guy. She is a semi-lucky lady. (I’m talking about the pictures below)


We visited and all 18 of us went through a session at the temple in Tahiti. It was a special time as we enjoyed eternal perspectives, especially in light of Todd’s circumstances. The last two verses in the Old Testament are what this all-important temple thing is all about.



This is a shot of Michele and I jet skiing close to our boat. The guy taking the picture was Francois. Michele was yelling in my ear to catch up with him.


Every night there was music and dancing in the small ballroom. The bar didn’t make any money on us. After the first night, they realized that they better start bringing in some water for the family. The bartender told us that was the first time they’d ever had to stock up on water.



In spite of being on the rocking boat and all the medical treatments he’d undergone, Todd was out on the dance floor more than any of us. He just wanted to enjoy his time and experience to the max. We were all amazed and impressed.


I don’t have many pictures of Todd. I’ll finish with one of when he was bishop and performed a marriage in his ward. After giving many of us lots of happy memories, he’s moved on to an even better place and is waiting for us there.

Of this we are sure.


7 Replies to “Todd’s Big Party”

  • Did you know I was in Todd’s Ward in the mid-1970’s & taught seminary. He was a cute kid & wonderfully mischievous. Your tribute & travel log was fun & a fitting send off… Isn’t the Lord merciful?!! – Holly (Lee) Speirs

    • Hey Holly, it’s good to hear from you! I haven’t heard from you in a long time. Give me a call! 509 531 3419

  • Yes, great travel log, Ben. Got a chuckle out of the water bottles on the bar!
    Thanks for sharing those thoughts with everyone, regarding Todd and his attitudes towards his time running out. He had run the good race, while here, and knew it was time to move on to the Great Adventure.
    Btw, I never could find my story about my 10 1/2 hour rim-to-rim trek across the Grand Canyon. Still looking!

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