Monday, May 28, 2012

Lessons from Irene Stratton Flake

By Lavona Flake Richardson

    My Mother had a strong testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In our home we were taught to say our prayers, to attend our church meetings, to pay our tithing, to obey our church leaders, etc.  We were taught the importance of temple and missionary work.  I remember Mother always giving service wherever she was called to help build up His kingdom here on the earth.  She was a support to Daddy while he served as Bishop of the Snowflake ward.  In those days the members came to our home to pay their tithing, receive counsel from the Bishop, etc.  Mother would hand write out the tithing receipts from the big Bishop’s roll top desk in our dining room.  We were taught that we were the Bishop’s family so we needed to set a good example to others.  We were taught the importance of living the teachings of Christ through example and family home nights.  We were taught that right was right and wrong was wrong as simple as black and white, there were no gray areas.  You either lived the gospel or you didn’t.
    My mother always taught us to be dependable.  If we told someone that we would do something we were taught to follow through with our commitments.  I never remember my mother not doing something that she told someone that she would do or be where she told them she would be.  No matter how busy mother was we could always depend on her writing to us a newsy family letter each week when we were away from home at college, missions, or wherever.
    We never had any doubt that Mother and Daddy loved each other.  Mother would make special effort to go on trips with Daddy, to fix special meals for him when he had stomach problems, to be his ears when he didn’t hear and to be his scribe, and to just be together.  As children we always knew that they needed time together in their room to pray together, make decisions and plan family events.  Daddy allays came first in her life.  Those many years that Mother was here without Daddy she kept his memories alive by continually talking about him.  She would encourage us to spend time with our eternal companions and to put them first in our lives.  Whenever I would go on a trip her first question would be if Jay was going too.  If we were doing it together it was okay.
    I don’t remember lots of family trips but I do remember time spent together working on the farm. I remember cookouts on the hill, or performing in the “family lodge”.  I remember Mother enjoying playing the encyclopedia game with us.  I remember family prayers every morning and family nights as we called them.  Mother was always very interested in our activities and I enjoyed coming home and reporting to hr what I had been doing.  Mother spent time making Book of Remembrances for each one of her children which made us feel special and know who we are.  I have so many fond memories of Mother coming to Chicago to help me when Miriam was born and then helping as each baby arrived. She was always there when I have needed her.  One of the things that I miss most now is the opportunity to report in and let us know of my activities.  This was a big motivation for me thought out my life to be able to do good things to report to my Mother. Mother was always interested in all of our activities sand this has continued through our children and grandchildren and their activities.  I remember the “Queen or King for the Day” programs that she and Daddy started that helped us learn how special we were to them and our Heavenly Father.  Christmas and Thanksgiving were big holidays in my growing up years.  I remember the races to the tree that have been carried down to our children and grandchildren.  I remember the big Thanksgiving dinners.  Mother was as good cook.  She made great rolls, pies, carrot pudding, cinnamon rolls, etc.  Mother was interested in each one of us.  Even with her huge posterity she made each one of us feel that we were important to her.  At age 95 when we spent time in her home our conversation was always about each one of her children and grandchildren and their activities.  She knew each one of them personally.  At the time of her death she could list by name all of her 59 grandchildren, 133 great and 6 great great grandchildren.
   My mother had the same love for everyone she met--relatives, neighbors, our missionary contacts, temple workers, book customers, etc.  Mother liked people and was interested in all of her many friends activities.  She seemed to know everyone and their special interests and while visiting with them would ask about their activities.  I could ask her about anyone and she could tell me how they were related, their special interests, etc.  For year, Mother would write the Snowflake News for the Holbrook Tribune.  She also would have people drop off and pick up their cleaning at our home. We all liked to be in her home and to feel of her love.  Mother helped give parties to lots of servicemen home on furlough during the World War II when Daddy was Bishop.  Mother also loved being a temple worker.  She enjoyed her association with the other temple workers.  She especially enjoyed working with the new brides and helping them feel special as they were married for eternity.  She enjoyed helping me with my temple marriage and then helping my children as they went to the temple to be married.
    My mother was always a hard worker.  She would get up early and work hard to make a good life for her family.  She always kept a clean, well kept home.  I remember how hard Mother worked mopping floors, cleaning house, making bread and cinnamon rolls, making soap, churning butter, washing clothes she washed in a wringer washer and hung on the clothes lines to dry with all of the towels hung together, etc.  Mother was always busy.  She taught us that anything worth doing was worthy doing well and we were taught always to do our best.  We were also taught to be resourceful.  Mother would bottle beef that Daddy had butchered, fruit in season, and sweet corn or anything that through her work would add to our year’s supply.  We were taught to learn to sew, can, clean and keep a nice home.  We were taught to “Wear it Out, Make it do, or Do Without” and that there was no excuse for not having a clean home.
    My mother taught us through example to always be truthful and honest in our dealings with others.  She taught us not to gossip and we were never permitted to say anything bad about any of our leaders. We were taught to respect our teachers and all the adults that we were in contact with.  We were taught to respect our church buildings and were never allowed to cut across the lawn at church.
    Mother had a keen mind.  Just a month before she died at age 95 she was naming off the presidents of the church, saying the Articles of Faith, etc.  In our homes we always had lots of good books and music.  Mother taught us that a good education was important and encouraged us to learn all we could.  She taught us that education is a privilege and to thank our teachers and those they were helping us at school and church.  Mother liked the nice things I life.  She liked nice china, and nice things in her home.  She liked jewelry and liked to look nice even when she was at home.  Mother liked music.  She learned to play the organ and just weeks before her death played her favorite, “When It’s Spring Time in the Rockies” on the piano for us.  Mother liked to sell church books so that we would have good books available in our home. One of the first things I would do after returning home from college or wherever I had been to see what new books Mother was selling.  She also scheduled the movies for the “ward show house” where we saw movies on Wednesday and Saturday nights.  She wanted to be sure that we had uplifting movies to watch.
    We grew up listening to Daddy’s missionary experience in our Home Nights.  Mother and Daddy also helped instill in us t he desire to be missionaries.  They were always happy that every one of their children served an honorable mission and came to our mission field when each of the seven of us completed our church mission.  When Leona and I received our mission call I didn’t know how they could support three missionaries in the field because Nena was already serving her mission.  Mother and Daddy told us to accept the call and give it our best and the Lord would bless us.  When we returned home they bore testimony that they never lacked for money to send to their missionaries and that the Lord did provide. While we were serving there was plenty of money but upon returning home it was no longer there.  They also enjoyed a sort mission together in Mexico while Garry was on his mission.
    The list of lessons my mother taught me could go on and on.  I feel so blessed to have been taught by her and hope that my children and grandchildren will know the legacy that is theirs.  Most of all she taught me that Heavenly Father loves me and that she loved me.  She taught me that to be happy I needed to live the teachings of Jesus Christ.  She taught all of us, her children, to be obedient to church leaders, to love the Lord and always strive to give service.  One of the biggest motivations I have had throughout my life was to live in such a way that when I reported in to my Mother she would be proud of me.  My prayer is that I, and my posterity, can always give good reports to those that have passed on and wait our arrival in our Eternal Home.

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