Sunday, March 8, 2009

To Be Like Her

For the last several months I've been working on an extended family newsletter. Several of my many cousins and I felt like it was an important way for us to stay in touch and also learn more about our heritage so we've joined efforts to collect information on our family members. For this edition, we focused on our great-grandmother Madeline (whom my mom is named after). A few weeks before my granddad passed away, I got to interview him about his mother so we could include his memories and recollections. It was so wonderful to learn about such an incredible, strong, and faithful woman.One of the main reasons I love learning about my ancestors is because I feel like it helps me sort out who I am and who I can become. I gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting several weeks ago about the talk, "Come What May, and Love It" which included some information from our interview about Madeline.

I think that this was one of his best talks. It seems that in his later years, my granddad spoke form his heart and shared personal experiences and insights that touched many people.

As he did with so many of his talks, he referred to his mother and football in this talk. Football was one of the great loves of his life. Ryan and I chuckled during our interview with him before we were married, because he drew us a football type diagram of where we should park, how we should enter the temple, and even our placement in the sealing room. Football was a part of him, and that was in large part due to the support that his mother gave him. His father was a businessman and felt that the children should spend their time working in the family business. My granddad's mother made sure that he had time for football and other sports because she saw their value.

A few weeks before my granddad passed away, I had the chance to interview him about his mother. She was a remarkable woman. In his words she was: "perfect, genuine, aggressive, positive, Mrs. Republican. She had a lot of zip in life, she was always busy, and she was just not a mediocre person, she was an achiever. She was the most organized person I know." I asked him if they had any family traditions while he was growing up. He said, "Yes! WORK!" He said his mother was a model housekeeper and kept her gardens manicured to perfection. She was a state champion runner when she was young in the 100 yard dash and always lovedx sports. She insisted on good language and would correct them if they made mistakes. As I talked with him more, I realized that she was a person I would love to know and be like. He said she belonged to to women's groups and a "contemporary readers' club" which her husband called the "Contemptable Women's Club." At this point, Ryan thought that maybe I already was a little like her.

She encouraged prayer, 100% attendance at meetings, and didn't accept any excuses from anyone. She told her children often that she didn't want any "scrubs." I asked my granddad if there was anything his mother had done to help her children become the extraordinary people that they are. He responded, "I don't know that we're all that great, but she never let us sit down much and rest. She always had a page of assignments to perform." When he was seven, she spoke with him about his older cousin Gordon. She said, "Now you watch Gordon. He'll amount to something." She was right about that and she was right about so many other things.

I love the advice that she gave to her son after a hard and disappointing day at football. She said, "Joseph, come what may, and love it."

"She taught her children to trust in themselves and each other, not blame others for their misfortunes, and give their best efforts in everything. When [they] felt down, she expected [them] to pick themselves up and get going again... I think she may have meant that every life has peaks and shadows and times when it seems that the birds don't sing and bells don't ring, yet in spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger wiser, and happier as a result." ("Come What May, and Love It," Ensign, November 2008).

I have a lot of growing and progressing to do (gardening, housekeeping, always having my hair perfect, organization, general perfection--just a few small things to work on, right?), but I hope I can be like her.

**Have you caught the family history bug?


Kristi said...

What an amazing tribute to an amazing woman. It's no surprise she raised such a wonderful son. I think it is great that you had a chance to talk to your Granddad about her before he passed. I'm sure that is and always will be such a treasure. Thanks for sharing. It makes me want to be better, too.

Bobette said...

Very nice post! You always have very thoughtful ones! Sorry me and you and Amy didn't get a chance to get together on her birthday! It would still be fun to do! I LOVE your hubby's photography. Someday....

gab said...

I loved that talk!

As I get older I am getting hungrier and hungrier for stories of my ancestors...and wanting to share them with my children before it's too late.

Janene said...

what great things you were able to learn from this interview! I love to learn that she was a gardener...I'm itching to get to my own, but they are SO on the backburner right now. :o)