My life was affected by memories whether good or bad, remembered or not. They all affected me and became part of who I am. I then became part of the memories of those around me: parents, siblings, friends, spouse, even strangers. And their lives were affected, etc., etc.
I’ve been asked why I had so many children (14 – really 21 I’ll explain). To answer, I must go back to my earliest memories. Most of these I hid from myself until I was 40 years old. Not because they were so terrible, but because I needed them to help me prepare for my last child, and the last part of my life; and to learn to nurture and love myself.
I’m lying on my back. Someone a nurse? An aunt? Is leaning over me, her stringy, salt and pepper hair is hanging down. She frowns at me and says something. I understand, “If you don’t help your mother you’ll cease to exist.” I remembered this threat at 40. Being invisible became my greatest fear; nurturing, my greatest role.
My first true visual memory of my mother was seen through the slats of my crib. She was on the floor in the far corner of my room in the fetal position. She looked terrified and so young (16). I wanted to hold her and help her but I could only watch.
I see my dad sitting next to my mother with his arms around her. He was such a kind, gentle, nurturing man. I was standing at their knees, trying to help my father comfort her, not realizing that what I really needed/wanted was to be on her lap, with his arms around us both.
I’m sitting on a huge couch with green leaves and flowers. In my arms is my baby sister. It’s the middle of the night; my consequence for waking her up, my lesson. But to me, the role of nurturing my sister awakens.
Twice, my mother lost a days-old baby because of R – H factor. I was there to comfort her and take care of the other little ones while she mourned. I remember lying under a crib, and reaching my arm up through the bars so I could pat them to sleep and sing to them.
Most of our family photos show me holding a baby in my arms.
These three brothers and two sisters were my first children.
I had three girlfriends from fourth grade through high school. One was Jewish, and had epilepsy. One was Hungarian and very poor. One was even taller than me. (At 12, I was 5’9″ and skinny. My dad said I looked like a model, so my self image was OK, but boys were too short until college.) I was their protector.
My youngest brother was three when I went away to college, then a mission. Then got married. Very recently, this brother, a man now with children of his own, came to see me. He said he forgave me for deserting him. As we spoke, I realized that of all of us children, he had the best relationship with our mom.
He needed her, and she stepped up and became his mother – because I wasn’t there. As confused and sad as I was that he had been angry with me all those years, I also learned that because of me and my “role”, my mother was also hurt – by me. I kept her from growing in some ways.
I’m married now to a kind, gentle man with a toddler boy and a newborn daughter. They are 10 1/2 months apart. I love having babies! I am running a small motel. The toddler follows me around while I go from room to room, cleaning.
My husband is in law school at the University of Utah. The baby sleeps while he studies and I clean the rooms.
He tells me he’s gay. Because of the LDS religion he believes that if he wants to go to heaven, have an eternal family, he must not only not act gay, he must also cleanse his thoughts. I believe faith and love is enough.
Then 20 years of holding him every night as he sobs so deeply, racked with pain and guilt. Searching for answers: scriptures, prayer, Bishops, stake presidents, temples, even apostles’ blessings. No help. No answers.
Always plans for me to afford to raise our growing family after his suicide.
Now we have older teens. I ask him if we can share this burden of keeping him alive with them, and so we hurt them, and when they share this with their spouses my husband shuns them as betrayers.
And to my great shame I let this happen to “support” him.
He’s smart. He talks easily. Important church callings and business prowess give him value and strength. But he becomes hard, and mean.
Halfway into our 45 years marriage.
Now any opinion or thought I might express is met with anger. My silence becomes a necessity for peace. My choice – to face my greatest fear; silence ,invisibility. Even this choice hurts others.
Joseph my youngest son, only remembers an angry father. He, like his father, knew he was gay by age five. By seven he knew he was evil and damned when he read an LDS pamphlet on homosexuality.
Joseph knew as a young teen that he would not marry, as his father. Joe started years of prayer, study, even exploring other religions. But he had a dilemma. He felt the book of Mormon was important. So turning once again to the LDS religion, he thought he would be celibate. Never to love. Deep sadness and suicidal thoughts plagued him during this these years. I watched my once happy loving son progress into years of hopelessness and deep sadness.
My answer of enough “hope and love solving all”, was only torturing him, to my shame.
Then suddenly, he walked into my room, with a huge beaming smile that I had not seen for many years. He had seen a video of Ida Smith. “I found it!” He announced. His face glowed, “The answers i’ve been searching for!!” He learned of the sealed portion! Of a Messenger who would have the answers.
I began reading the sealed portion. Periodically I would read something different from what I’d been taught and I would hesitate, thinking, “If this is a hoax I have to prepare for a suicide.” But then as I continued reading the answers would come, and the warmth of “real truth” kept me reading. It took 10 hours a day for a week to finish that amazing book. As I set it down, a wave of clarity I had never before felt, as my mind, heart, ears and eyes were opened. And yes, it made perfect sense. I felt the weight of 65 years of ignorance lift from my shoulders.
I knew! And I knew I would never go back. I was free!!
I’ve always loved to study. But there had been many unanswered questions throughout my life. Every answer is available in this marvelous work and a wonder.
My dad always said, that if I didn’t have an answer, just study harder. I believed him, but being free and open to “truth” is key.
I’ve now read each amazing book several times. And the things Christopher shares, the answers that are finally available!! Thank you so much!!!