Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas Memories

Lavona Richardson
These last few days in 2014 I have enjoyed reflecting back on so many memorable Christmas season’s throughout my life.
One of my first memories is the year when I was I received a beautiful porcelain doll that I still treasure.  It was so beautiful with its pretty white dress with a pink coat and bonnet.  I remember how careful I was to handle it so it wouldn’t break.  Leona, my twin sister and I got baby dolls alike. Nena’s doll was a toddler doll that stood up.  I still have that doll and treasure it.
Growing up my Mother and Daddy would not wrap the gifts but wait to put them out until Christmas Eve.  Christmas morning we would have races into see the tree and then we would each have a turn to say what we saw before my mother played the piano as we all marched into the tree.  The races were competitive with each one wanting to have the shortest time.  Jay and I kept this tradition in our home as our children were growing up and now many of our children have Christmas races keeping up the tradition. As a child I didn’t have a Christmas stocking that I hung up so this tradition was brought into our family by Jay. 
Another Christmas memory is coming home for Christmas from BYU after finishing finals and finding time to bring home gifts for everyone.  It was about a twelve hour drive from Provo to Snowflake and we usually started out tired after our last final because we were so anxious to get home.
I left for my mission in Mexico in October 1955 checking out of school and becoming a missionary all in one weekend.   My friends in my home ward didn’t know that we were on a mission until we didn’t come home for Christmas.  Nena, Leona and I were all on our missions at the same time so none of us were home for Christmas.  I was in Mexico for two years so missed being home for Christmas two different years.  I remember helping our investigators and new converts find the true meaning of Christmas.  The first Christmas in Mexico I was in Tampico and enjoyed helping the Primary with their program.  I played the piano for them to sing.  After the program we broke a piñata.  Christmas 1956 I spent in Monterrey where I was serving as secretary to President Bentley and helping Sister Bentley with the Relief Society.   In my journal I wrote that on Christmas Eve I was in charge of a release program for a missionary and then went out to the Nuevo Republic Branch to help with the Primary program.   After the program the children broke a piñata filled with goodies.   Other entries in my journal state that I made Christmas boxes to take to some families in need.  I cooked the Christmas dinner for all the missionaries in Monterrey since Sister Bentley was busy with her family.   I got home from my mission the end of October 1957 so spent Christmas with my family in Snowflake before going back up to BYU to finish my last classes to graduate in Elementary Education. 
I graduated from BYU the summer of 1958 and started teaching 2nd grade at the Edison School.  I remember helping my 2nde graders learn a song about each letter of the word “Christmas” for our school program.  The song started out “C” is for the Christ Child born on Christmas Day.   I had a wonderful class of 2nd graders and loved teaching.  I gave my parents a special gift that year.  I found a painting called “Slowpoke” of a little horse following a rider on a horse that my Daddy loved and cherished. 
One of the most memorable Christmases was in 1959.  Jay and I were married on December 22ndjust three days before Christmas in the Arizona Temple.  Cecil and Sylvia were married the same day.  We had a double wedding reception in Virden that night.  We spent Christmas Eve with Jay’s family and all his little nephews and nieces.  Christmas Day we rode up to Snowflake to spend the rest of Christmas with my family.  We had a reception in Snowflake a few days after Christmas and drove back to Chicago to begin our own little family.
Christmas 1960 we had as 3 month old baby to help us celebrate Christmas.  We rode the train to Arizona for Christmas.  This was our first opportunity to show off our sweet little Miriam to our family.  She was a doll.  Everyone loved her.  I will always remember how proud Jay was of his little daughter and how anxious he was to show her off and let his family and friends see how cute she was. 
We spent the next two Christmases in Chicago since I t was too far and too expensive to come home.  Jay graduated from Northwestern Dental School in May 1963 and our family had grown to three little girls.  We packed up all our belongings and drove to Arizona and then back across country to Lewisburg, Pennsylvania where Jay spent a year working as a dentist in the Federal Penitentiary.  Lewisburg is situated on the banks of the Susquehanna River.   I remember that when we first drove into Lewisburg they were celebrating a historical event so all of the stores had antiques in them.  I worried about how we were going to find toys for our little girls but soon learned that they had fun Christmas toys to buy there too.  We were only in Pennsylvania for one Christmas.  We were busy with Jay being the branch president in the Sunbury Branch which was very spread out and I was serving as the Primary President.  Jay wanted to visit all the members at Christmas time so we did lots of traveling with our little girls.  We made some good friends in Millersburg, Sunbury, and surrounding areas that we kept in touch with for many years.  We went to Harrisburg about an hour away for our district meetings. 
Christmas 1964 was spent in Arizona with a new baby.   We lived in a rental home on 11th street in Tempe and Jay worked as a dentist on North Central Avenue in South Phoenix.   Joann was born in November.  We bought dolls and doll buggies for our four little girls and loved providing Christmas for them. 
We moved into our new home at 304 East Geneva in Tempe before Christmas 1965.  With our little girls we started lots of Christmas traditions.  I made cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning; we hung Christmas stockings and introduced the girls to the races into the tree.  I sewed dresses alike for the four girls.  They loved to perform and learned some cute songs that entertained their grandparents and friends. 
Vernon was born in July 1966 so for Christmas that year we added trucks and trains to our dolls and doll dishes and continued our Christmas traditions.  Another tradition we began was a Nativity pageant on Christmas Eve with the children acting out the Nativity as Mary, Joseph, the baby, shepherds, wise men, etc.  We kept that tradition up each year and it is still something that we do in our family.   The children still performed a lot and added their little brother to their productions.
A fun Christmas memory during this time of our lives is the Christmas that we put a key under the Christmas tree.  The children had to figure out what the key opened and were so delighted to find a cute little doll house out in our back yard big enough for them to play inside.  The house had a window flower box, cupboards and cute little furniture.  The girls spent many hours enjoying their dolls and playing in their doll house. 
We started sending out Christmas cards each year with a Christmas poem Jay wrote.  Often he would write another poem to include giving an update on our family.  The next years our Christmases were busy.  As the children grew older we were involved with school programs, primary programs, and other activities.  We enjoyed a new family tradition of caroling to our friends. We taught our children to play Christmas carols on the chimes to add to our Christmas caroling. Ray went caroling with us after his birth in 1969 and Kenneth in 1970.  We added more gifts to our Christmas tree and our children loved their Christmas stockings and Christmas races. 
Another Christmas memory is the year that I had the Christmas cinnamon rolls all made and sitting out on the sideboard in the utility room at “304”.  Jay brought in an old bicycle to paint for the girls to make it look like new.   I hadn’t covered the cinnamon rolls so they got paint on them and had to be thrown out.  I had to make another batch of cinnamon rolls.
Changes came to our family when in January 1972 just after Christmas Donald was born and only lived for seven hours.  More changes came because we moved that year to a bigger home just a few blocks away on Broadmor.   Christmas 1973 was made special because we Dale entered our family.  He had eating problems and never was very healthy.  He made a wonderful baby Jesus at our Christmas pageant that year before he died in January 1973.   These were difficult years losing two babies in just a couple of years.
The year 1974 brought joy and more changes into our family with our “almost twins” Margie and Melvin.  Two babies brought lots of joy to our family.  I took lots of pictures of our twins and the double fun they gave our family and our Christmas activities.
Our older girls were very musical.  We went to lots of fun Christmas programs where they sang and played musical instruments.  Miriam learned to play Handel’s Messiah and accompanied her high school choir singing it.  Marlene was one of the top sopranos and they all loved music and performed in choir, orchestra, band and ward and stake programs.
Dean joined our family for Christmas 1976 and brought lots of joy.  He was a cute little boy who loved hats and make believe.    Amy was born in November 1978 making our family complete.  She was a cute baby for our Christmas pageant in 1978.   Each one of our children added to our Christmas joy and the fun we all had of finding the right gift for everyone.
More changes came to our family when Miriam graduated from Tempe High and began school at BYU.  Marlene joined her in 1979.  I have special memories of Christmas that year.  When Miriam and Marlene arrived home from Utah after finishing their finals they insisted that we open their Christmas gifts early.  They had painted a beautiful seventeen piece Nativity set for us complete with Mary, Joseph, the baby, 4 shepherds, 2 sheep, a cow and a donkey, three wise men with three camels some of which are almost a foot tall.  This was the start to my collection of Nativities from all over the world.  We bought an olive wood Nativity when we were in Israel with Miriam when she was there with the Travel Study from BYU.  Our missionary sons brought us Nativities from places where they served their mission.  Melvin had some special Russian eggs painted to display the Nativity and many others.  I enjoy each year arranging about 100 different Nativity sets from around the world.
More changes came into our family and we didn’t always have all of our children around us.  We enjoyed them when they were able to be with us and communicated with them when they spent Christmas somewhere else.  The first to leave was Marlene when she married Mark in 1981, followed by Tony that married Miriam in 1982, Fred married Rauna in 1983 and Robert married Joann in 1985.  They started their own family traditions but came home to enjoy Christmas with us. As the grandchildren started coming we enjoyed having little ones around and the joy that children bring.  Vernon left for Venezuela for his mission in 1985 followed by Ray assigned to Japan, 1988 and Kenneth served his mission in Scotland in 1989.  More changes came as Melvin was called to Russia and Margie served in Chile on their missions.  We continued to have more temple weddings in our family with Vernon marrying Connie.  Kenneth and Jenni married in the Arizona Temple in 1993 just a couple of days after Christmas.  Several years later Melvin married Tami and Margie married Russ.  Just a couple of years ago we went to Washington to be with Dean and Jennifer as they celebrated their Christmas wedding. 
The years passed with lots of fun Christmases made special with new babies and new traditions along with keeping the old traditions.   Jay retired from Dentistry and we were called to serve a mission in Indonesia.  This brought more joy to our Christmas celebrations.  We were in Indonesia away from our family for Christmas 2003 and 2004.  The first Christmas the only gift we got for Christmas was an orchid plant given by one of our friends.  Melvin and Tami visited us about a month later and brought gifts from home.  Our last Christmas in Indonesia we chose to stay a few weeks longer on our mission so that we could help our new converts enjoy their first ever Christmas celebration.  A special memory of a miracle is when we went out to Jasinga with the package of Christmas gifts Miriam sent to us.  She had in the package Christmas lights.  We told our friends we needed a tree so we watched as they cut down a tree and brought it into the house.  We strung the American lights around the tree but then realized they didn’t have electricity.  Our Indonesian friends hooked up a generator.  The electricity in Indonesia is different so the American lights were not supposed to light but we had a Christmas miracle and they did light.  A memory that I will never forget is seeing the children’s faces as they saw a Christmas tree and Christmas lights for the very first time.  I am grateful that Miriam had provided gifts that we had wrapped to give to all of the children.
We were not home for Christmas in 2005 or 2006 because after getting home from our mission in Indonesia we were anxious to serve a senior mission again and this time were assigned to be missionaries in Nauvoo.  The Christmases in Nauvoo were very different than the ones in Indonesia because we were around lots of other missionaries and participating in a Christmas walk around the Nauvoo sites and other missionary activities.
I have only highlight ted a few Christmas memories.  There are so many more.  Some Christmas activities stay the same and others change.  I am happy to learn that many of my children still have Christmas stockings, Christmas races and Christmas pageant on Christmas Eve when the children re-enact the story of the first Christmas. Many still have homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning and all have the joy of being around Christmas with family.  This is my fourth Christmas to not have Jay with me.  Jay loved Christmas.  He loved buying the oranges, apple and little gifts to fill the stockings.  He loved helping me decide what to give to each of our children and grandchildren.  I love Christmas too.  I love the Christmas music, Christmas lights at the temple, homes and businesses, Christmas stories and the lights on the Christmas tree.  I love reading Christmas poems especially the ones that Jay wrote and left for us.  I love planning what to give each of my children and their families for Christmas.  All year I work at getting ideas of what to give that will bring joy into their lives and express to them the love I have for them.    I look forward to decorating my home for Christmas, setting out all of my Christmas Nativity sets and other decorations.  Each one has a special memory.  I love having all of my family come to my home for my family Christmas program and the opportunity to be together.  I love telling my Christmas story and Ray or grandchildren singing Jay’s song, “Mary Sweet Mary”.  I love going to the various homes on Christmas and enjoying the Christmas spirit there.  I love Christmas and look forward to more made special by my 11 children and their spouses, 65 grandchildren and 25 great grandchildren with more on the way. Each one is very special to me and each one makes Christmas something that I look forward to.  I am grateful for my Savior, my Redeemer whose birth and life we celebrate at Christmas time.  I want my children to know that I have a testimony that Christ’s church is again upon the earth restored in these Latter-days.  I know that we have a living prophet that receives revelation for His church.  I know that because of Christ’s resurrection and atonement I can be with Jay again if I live worthy and we can be an eternal family.   I am grateful for my family and that they all celebrate Christmas like I do and are living good lives. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Jesse N. Smith's Lost Book of Mormon/found

by Shaun Heaton
It had been 60 years since any Jesse N. Smith’s family member knew what had happened to the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith fondly gave to his 7-year-old youngest cousin Jesse. It was a treasured family heirloom and a symbol of Grandpa Jesse’s love for the restored Gospel. Had it been lost, stolen, or misplaced? Here is the incredible story.
 A photograph portrait of Jesse Smith.
Jesse N. Smith
In 1839, Grandpa had lost his father Silas Smith Sr., brother to Joseph Smith Sr., and his 6-year-old brother John, as a result of Missouri persecution. Joseph and Hyrum and Uncle John Smith took it upon themselves to take care of the tiny family of Mary Aiken, mother to young Silas Jr. and Jesse. In adult life, Silas Jr. is remembered for being called by Erastus Snow to lead the San Juan Saints to the San Juan as detailed in Gerald Lund’s book Undaunted.
In his April 1905 General Conference address in the tabernacle, President Jesse N. Smith, first leader of the Snowflake Stake, shared this striking and humorous experience he had in Nauvoo.
When I was enabled to go to school, there were no free schools then; contracts were made by the parents; and I had a very meagre supply of books, almost none at all. I had heard that they were using the Book of Mormon in the schools, so I took my father’s Book of Mormon with me. It was the first edition. Our honored Patriarch was in that class with his Book of Mormon: young Joseph Smith [the third], the son of Sidney Rigdon, the son of William Marks, and the son of Peter Haws were also in the class. I was in good company. But they all had books of the second edition, with new and beautiful binding, and I felt I was a little behind them. As I was going to school one morning, and passing the Prophet’s place, he was walking in the garden, and he answered my salutation. I think he would answer any child’s salutation just as readily as that of a grown person. He came up to the fence and spoke very kindly to me. He said, “You are going to school?”
“What book do you read in?”
“I read in the Book of Mormon.”
“Come in here.”
I passed in at the gate and he made a present of a Book of Mormon of the new edition, with beautiful binding. I could then hold up my head with the rest of the others in class. He gave me this injunction: “Read it in school and read it at home.” I have done so. I believe the Book of Mormon.
A picture of the Book of Mormon given to Jesse Smith by Joseph Smith.
Book of Mormon Given to Jesse Smith by Joseph Smith
The Prophet wrote an inscription inside that said “Presented to Jesse Nathaniel Smith. My friend and kinsman. Joseph Smith March 1842.”
Grandpa Jesse went on to be a great leader in building the church in Parowan and Eastern Arizona, serving 54 years. These years were divided equally in each location under Prophets Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, and Joseph F. Smith.
As a young 9 year old, he remembered seeing the martyred bodies of cousins Joseph and Hyrum and the sadness he felt in his heart.
In 1846 at winter quarters he was part of a mission to acquire food for the starving saints. As an 11 year old, he and Thomas Callister went to Missouri to acquire corn. On the return trip, the wagon tipped over and Jesse was almost impaled by a broken wagon bow and nearly died, being smothered in 100 bushels of corn. He received a blessing from Brother Callister and survived. He went on to be Mayor of Parowan, a member of the Utah Legislature, and a probate judge. He also served in the territorial legislature of Arizona. He faithfully served twice as a Mission President in Scandinavia helping more than 3,000 Saints immigrate to the United States and then on to Utah. When the saints settled the Snowflake and Woodruff area of Arizona, they purchased the land and raised crops only to find out many years later that the Aztec Land and Title Company owned the ground. President Lorenzo Snow relied upon Jesse Smith and Brigham Young, Jr., to lead the delicate negotiations in New York City and they reacquired the property through faithful prayer and keen diplomacy.
After finishing his mission to the Muddy, Jesse was transporting a load of cotton from St. George to Salt Lake City for Brigham Young, when he was caught in a flash flood destroying the load as well as his wagon and other personal prized effects. He didn’t feel responsible, but when he found out that President Young had opposite feelings, Jesse faithfully paid back the value of the load, though it took a few years and also involved selling personal stock in the Parowan Cooperative to do it.
In later years as Stake President in Snowflake, he prophesied that Gila Valley would have a temple.
Jesse’s greatest accomplishment was his posterity. He had 5 loving and faithful wives that bore 30 daughters and 14 sons. His wives were Emma West, Margaret West, Janet Mauretta Johnson, Augusta Outzen, and Emma Larson. As of 2001 Jesse had more than 27,000; the number is probably much higher now. The contributions in service and leadership of his family’s service to the church and public are incalculable.
Grandfather Jesse died June 5, 1905. The precious Book of Mormon given to him by the Prophet Joseph Smith was passed on to his seventh son Asael Smith and then passed on to seventh son Richard Smith, a current resident of Orem, Utah. It was then donated to the Mesa Arizona Temple at the suggestion of Emma Larson. It then disappeared. Family members had no idea what happened to it. Richard Smith who made the original donation thought it may have been taken by mischief. The Jesse Smith family had no clue as to the book’s whereabouts and was saddened by its loss. For years Richard shared the story with others hoping that someday it would be found.
Enter into the picture my aunt Jan Farr, granddaughter to Jesse N. through his wife Janet Mauretta Johnson. She was married to my very loving uncle Lee Shumway who passed away 2005. She met and then married her cousin Lamarr Farr, grandson of Augusta Outzen, He had recently lost his wife to cancer. She then tells this story in her own words.
While LaMarr and I were on our Mission in Salt Lake City, we had discussed Grandpa’s book a few times, and wondered if it could be in the Church History Library. LaMarr prayed about it, and one day as we were walking by, decided to stop and ask if it could be there. We talked to the secretary, Marie Ericksen, and after we told her the story, she looked in the records on the computer couldn’t find out anything about it there, but she said she would make a few phone calls and get back to us. She discussed it with Glen Rowe who was the head of that department at that time, so he would be aware of it. One day he was looking in the Prophet’s safe for something else and he came across a Book of Mormon that said “presented to Jesse Nathaniel Smith from your Friend and kinsman, Joseph Smith, March 1842.” The date checked out because Jesse would have been 7 years old by then. Upon some research, we found out that the book had been given to Uncle Ashael Smith and later, Richard Smith, President of the Smith Organization, who decided that it should belong in the Mesa Temple where there were other artifacts displayed. Glen Rowe called us one day and invited us to come over and see the book he had found in the Prophet’s safe. We entered the room and there on the table was the Book. Brother Rowe said we could look at it and as I touched it, I felt a thrill go through me knowing that the Prophet Joseph Smith and Grandpa Smith had touched this book, and of course, I became quite emotional at that point.
A 3X5 card had been placed inside the Book of Mormon that said:
September 30, 1948 This copy of the Book of Mormon was presented to the Arizona Temple by the family of Jesse N. Smith. President Harry L. Payne of the Arizona Temple brought it to President George Albert Smith this morning saying that he thought it should be in his possession. President Smith felt that it should be turned over to the Historian’s Office.
As far as we can tell, it sat in special church vaults for a little over 60 years. The mystery was resolved but others ensued. One being was that the first 63 pages had gone missing.
A picture of Shaun Heaton (Author) Holding the Rediscovered Heirloom.
Shaun Heaton (Author) Holding the Rediscovered Heirloom
My personal interest in my great-grandfather’s life started last summer when I developed a determination to read his journal. Many descendants had put forth thousands of hours in keeping a regular monthly newsletter called the Kinsman that kept the legacy of this great man and family alive. Extensive writings had already been done and published. His stories of faith and service in a world without electronics, technology, and automobiles fascinated me. A strong desire to add to the research followed.
My mother, Esther Ruth Heaton, had in her possession copies of the documents my aunt was allowed to copy and which she allowed me to study. After calling my aunt and hearing her special story, I was determined to view the Book of Mormon on my own. I found out that Menlo Smith, Scott Barker, and Jeff Adams (all descendants of Jesse N. and active board members) were meeting with administrators at the Family History Library west of Temple Square to discuss how to glean living descendants of Jesse N., which now number thousands, from their records.
I was able to meet briefly with them and told them of the Book of Mormon, but removed myself to the Church History Library to further the research. Having never been to the Church History Library, I found everyone helpful and kind. A young man named Tyson seemed fascinated by my story of the Book of Mormon which he quickly looked up on the massive church history library database, but couldn’t find any record of it. I remember thinking with a smile “Oh Great, it has disappeared again.” He did find some other documents of Jesse N’s that were a little unclear exactly what they were but did hint at copies of his diary. For some reason, the possibility that they had his original diary escaped me.
After filling out the proper requests, I was taken to another room secured for viewing valuable documents and was handled a file. As I opened the file, it appeared to be a handwritten document of about 30 pages. It became apparent that it was a summarized autobiographical sketch of his life in his own pen. Some emotion welled within me. After studying his life intently for 6 months, I was reading his original handwriting. The veil was thin. The emotion came a few minutes later when they brought his original journal. I remember thinking how large and heavy it was and how amazing it was to lug that around for the last 50 years of his life. I was amazed to read exact phrases in his pen that I had just read that day in published form. The library was closing soon and workers kindly reminded me I only had a few minutes left. I quickly wrapped things up determined to bring my mother, a granddaughter of Jesse, and other family back as soon as scheduling would permit. That opportunity came in one month.
I contacted the same person my aunt had gone through, Marie Erickson, and we set up a meeting time in one week to view the original documents. Through Facebook and personal emails, I invited my family and other descendants to participate in this special occasion.
A picture of Richard Smith, Original Donor of Heirloom, Holding "Lost" Book.
Richard Smith, Original Donor of Heirloom, Holding “Lost” Book
The original donor, Richard Smith, just happened to live in the same ward that shared my building. I realized how important this would be to him, so I sought him out how the following Sunday and got his attention in the foyer after Sacrament meeting. There I told him the book had been found and had been in the church vaults for many years. Being elderly and stooped over in age, he straightened right up with delight and surprise at the news.
The day arrived and we and excitedly loaded the car with my wife and me, my parents, and Richard and his wife and headed to Salt Lake City from Orem. We knew other relatives were going to meet us there but were unsure how many. I had originally told Sister Erickson that perhaps 10–15 of us would be there, but in actuality there were around 30, many of whom I hadn’t met. There was a little difficulty getting us all in the same room. Normally research was done by individuals and all the workers and missionaries hadn’t remembered when they had an entire family come en masse like this. Graciously, they accommodated us.
After sharing the story of how Jesse had acquired the book as a child, we had an opportunity to hold it and to feel of its spirit. We were particularly excited to hear from Richard as he shared the background behind his donation. He was then handed the book and he just held it in awe and kept staring at the inscription inside the front cover which meant so much to him.

Very special letter from Vernon: June 2011

I wanted to write a short note to thank each of you for a wonderful memorial service for dad.  It could not have been more perfect!  Such a wonderful day to commemorate dad in Mesa and Virden and then to bury him in the setting sun.  Someone mentioned how fitting to bury dad in the sunset and to resurrect in the morning of a new day.

Dad’s legacy now lives on in us (and our children) and I commit to being a better person because of him.  There are things dad and mom taught that I am not doing well enough and I commit to change.

To Mom, Thanks for helping dad be all he could be.  You gave him time to spend with us.  You gave him time to write poems.    You cared for him so well at home for so long without complaint.  We will always remember this service to him clear up until the end.  We thank and revere you mom for all you have done and continue to do for us. 

To Miriam, Thanks for spending dad’s last week with him and for offering a very fitting memorial talk at his funeral.  You have always been a great leader and example to me.  And it is a great credit to mom and dad to have raised a wonderful, responsible oldest daughter that was by mom and dad’s side every moment to comfort them in need.  These qualities live on in your children and it is glorious to see. You are his legacy.

To Marlene, Thanks for the years of service directly to mom and dad.  In my opinion, dad could not have stayed home without the Arizona children helping at every step. In my opinion, your calm, loving personality is the closest match to dad’s personality. I am eternally grateful for you.  You are his legacy.

To Rauna, thanks for the years of service directly to mom and dad.  Thanks also for the wonderful musical arrangements (using verses from dad’s poems).  It was a great way to show our love to dad and mom by singing both by children and by grandchildren.  Singing with family is one of my best recollections of my childhood.  Just as dad communicated through poetry, you communicate through music.  Dad is very proud of you. You are his legacy.

To Joann, thanks for spending time with mom after the memorial service.  There is plenty of needed time of service and I am grateful you are by mom’s side.  You’ve always been able to see the need of the individual and I am grateful.  The picture dvd was priceless and made the viewings of high quality as we remembered our dad.  And thanks to Robert for taking the pictures so we didn’t need to worry about them.  Both of you have always been willing and able to give. You are his legacy.

To Ray, I am so grateful you have spent so many hours at mom and dad’s side.  You have taken care of so many things that they needed.  I am grateful for your willingness to serve so selflessly, never asking for anything in return. Thanks for being worthy to bless our dad in his final days and pronounce blessings upon him. .  Thanks for your fine memorial in Virden.  I just kept thinking how fitting it was to ask those in the audience who had been seen by our dad, the dentist.  That was very clearly a direct manifestation of his service.  I’ve been thinking in my own life, who would raise their hand as being served by me.  Our dad left a fine example to follow.  Dad always has been and continues to be proud of you – he once told me that.  Please always remember that.  You are his legacy.

To Kenneth, you dove in this past week on many of the funeral arrangements, the program, the funeral details, the mortuary details, etc. etc.  I am so grateful for you and your talents.  Thank you for taking a lead role in this.  And thanks for taking the past week to be right next to Dad and literally, directly blessing him in his final moments of need. You are his legacy.

To Margie, you bring so many unique talents to the table and are able to focus on things that others don’t see.  My boys and I are so grateful for your passing out dad’s ties – that will live on as a memory.  I am also grateful for the picture frames you worked on for the viewings.  They were wonderful.  Despite your distance from home, I know your daily calls to mom and dad have been a major blessing to mom.  This has been a great source of strength and joy to her and dad during these difficult years.  I am grateful. You are his legacy.

To Melvin, I know for many years you have blessed mom and dad directly with frequent calls and visits.  The life sketch given of dad was very well written and delivered (and had many comment on it).  It was a fitting tribute to dad.  I also know the past week, you literally left work (even though you were expected to be there) to be at dad’s and mom’s side.  I am thankful for this service to them.  I am also grateful that you repeated texted and allowed me to see video of dad – that kept me connected to the process.  Thank you!! You are his legacy.

To Dean, thanks for coming and bringing your beautiful bride.  I enjoyed spending some time with Jennifer and gladly welcome her to the family.  Dad is proud of the good things you are doing.  You are his legacy.

To Amy, of the children, you gave the most to dad.  When I spent a week with dad last year, I could never quite shave his face like you could!  I know dad delighted in you.  And would always tell me you had just the right disposition to work with others.  You are his crown jewel. You are the most direct example of what dad’s love could do and you have shined.  I am very proud of you and I am very thankful for you. You are his legacy.

Dad on his mission

Monday, December 1, 2014

Weak things made strong, by Melvin Richardson

I came across this article/paper by Melvin that he wrote July 24, 2011 shortly after Dad's passing.  It is truly a classic and has many important principles for us to live by.  Really really love this article.  

Some special Flake family stories: from Flake roundup Nov. 2014