Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book of Remembrance

I'm in need of a project, and came across my stash of Mom's letters to me the other day. I'm going to type some of them up, to organize them, and so Jeremy and my kids can get to know Mom a little better. I'd like to share some of my favorite passages. The following is from a letter she wrote when I was 11 and put into my Book of Remembrance. Her insight (a prompting?) is uncanny, and my faith in eternal families is renewed each time I read her words:

"...You were born at an emotionally difficult time for me. Just when childbearing had become a triumph and a joy, Peter was a difficult birth and an emergency cesarean section. His birth left me weak. Sarah died 6 weeks later, and scarcely a year after that you were born -- again by cesarean section. Your big brother Matt was not happy with us, and we were not happy with him.

"... Before you were born I was sitting alone in fast meeting feeling sad over the loss of little Sarah and lonely. Dad was home with the boys, and I was enjoying the meeting in peace. A set of twins was blessed that day. I thought as they were taken to the front of the congregation, "What could be more beautiful than a baby -- unless it is two babies. How wonderful!" As that thought passed through my mind, the witness of the Holy Ghost filled me whole body. I thought it meant that I was going to have twins. I asked the Lord again later at home if I were going to have twins, and again that feeling went through my whole being. Strange, the doctor even had been telling me I would have twins. Later -- much later, I learned that the Lord was actually telling me to rejoice, that I would have two more babies -- that the loss I felt would be taken away. I never dreamed I would have two little girls in the place of the little girl we lost, but the Lord told me so before you were born.

"...Dear Jennie, I hope when the time comes for you to bear your first child that I am near and that I am strong. My mother has been such a strength to me through the years. She has known how best to help me and exactly how I was feeling. Such a wonderful companion she has been. I long to be that for you. Should I not be able to be by your side for some reason, little daughter, please know that my thoughts and prayers and my whole soul will be with you -- not only in your motherhood, but in all your life's work. Remember, love and life are eternal. No catastrophe of this life can wipe them out. Those blessings have been sealed upon us in the Holy Temple of the Lord if we are faithful and worthy of them. You were born under that sacred temple covenant, and you are ours forever if we live for it. I loved you before you were born, I love you now, and I always will.

All my love,


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Happy Birthday

Mom was born 68 years ago today. Coincidentally, in the last week, I've come across two things that have reminded me of a few of the reasons why she was so fun. I've enjoyed reminiscing. The first is a cookbook, The Tasha Tudor Cookbook, I have on my bookshelf I was mistakenly remembering was hers, passed on to me. I opened it a few days ago and found this dedication:

"February 4, 1998

To Jennie on the day of her sophomore recital. This book reflects life's deep joys -- family, beauty, and love. We hope it lasts longer than flowers.

Love, Mom and Dad.

PS Keep it away from the kitchen."

If you want to spend an afternoon with Mom, go pick up a copy of this book at the library or the bookstore. Every little thing about it helped me remember all the little things I loved about Mom. I know she loved Tasha Tudor. Now I think she and Mom are kindred spirits like the world rarely sees. The illustrations (painted by Tasha herself) are all of rosy-cheeked, tousled-haired, bare-footed children, or food, or barnyard animals. From recipes calling for a chicken carcass (zero waste) to instructions like these: "Don't drain the pan; cook it right in the drippings. I can feel cholestrol-intimidated people squirming in horror. However, once a year will not hurt you, and life is too short not to enjoy a few treats," I'm reminded of Mom so much I have to chuckle.

The second reminder of Mom is a magazine called, appropriately, Mary Jane's Farm. I have no idea how I got a copy, addressed to me by name here at my new address, but if you're the one that sent it to me, Thank You! I enjoyed it very much. The subtitle of the magazine reads as follows: "Food as Celebration/ Passionate Gardening / Nostalgic Crafts and Stitchery; The Everyday Organic Lifestyle Magazine." Aside from the stitchery, Mom to a T, without cracking the cover. My favorite article in Mom's honor is titled, "Be an 'Entre-maure': Just because it doesn't glitter doesn't mean it isn't gold." Ha! Hilarious.

If you haven't yet reminisced about Mary Jane yet today and felt happy for the legacy she left us, I hope this helps. I usually feel sad Mom's not here. Sometimes I'm mad. But today I'm just happy I got to know her. Love you, Mom.