I’ve never been good at keeping a journal, even on my mission, although I did better on my mission that at any other period in my life. So this will be an experiment in recall!
At the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon lies the little (but growing) town of Spanish Fork, Utah. Late in the year of 1954 a young woman, expecting her first child in February of 1955, took a little tumble down some stairs. The next day I made my early debut into this world.
It was touch and go back then as to whether I would survive or not. Nowadays the survival rate of preemies much smaller than my 4 pounds survive much more often. But it was a tense couple of weeks for my parents as I struggled to live in an incubator.
Obviously, I lived!
My parents raised me the best way they knew. My father was a convert to the LDS church, having a mother who was never a member and an inactive father. My dad’s conversion kept the LDS line from my paternal third great grandfather to me intact.
My dad’s parents had agreed that religion would never become a question in their marriage. They held to that mutual promise, as best as I can tell. When held against other marriages I observed over the years it was theirs that stood out. They were devoted to one another. Grandpa was a heavy equipment mechanic and operator, mostly operating a road grader on new roads in Utah. I-15 was one such road upon which he left his mark. Properly graded mountain roads were others. It seems his perfectionism in his work was highly requested among Utah’s road engineers.
Grandpa’s work took him away from his home for long stretches of time. Grandma and Grandpa had a little trailer house they took out on the job when Grandpa had to spend these long stretches away. Grandma wanted to make sure Grandpa could come home after a day at work to a home-cooked meal. As for social activities while out on the job, Grandma and Grandpa loved to find a local/nearby bowling alley. If the job was to be a long one, they’d join a league for a season. They made many friends!
My father was born in a small town in southeastern Utah but really grew up in north-central Utah. It was in a high school drama class that he met my mom. It was my mom’s dad who baptized my own dad prior to my parent’s marriage. They were sealed in the Salt Lake LDS temple a year later. I was sealed to them as well. The rest of my siblings were “Born In the Covenant” aka “BIC”.
My youth was nondescript. I was kind of shy. I attended kindergarten in the same little town my parents and both sets of grandparents lived. Before first grade, we moved to a southwestern suburb of Salt Lake City and I attended first through the first half of fifth grade. The second half of fifth grade and 6th through 7th grades were spent in a southern suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. Our move to Birmingham was precipitated by a job promotion my dad received.
Birmingham in the mid-1960’s was an interesting place in an interesting time. George C. Wallace was the Governor of Alabama and was noted for his firm stance on racial segregation, including an infamous stand, blocking entry to the Foster Auditorium of the University of Alabama by two black students, and a speech on State’s rights when a US Deputy Attorney General tried to interfere.
We attended church about 30 miles away. Membership wasn’t large enough for a full LDS Ward, but it had enough to be a large Branch! My dad was called to be a District High Councilman and my Scoutmaster.
My first “Hmmm…” moment happened in Birmingham. In 1966 some of the papyrus fragments were located in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. I heard talk late in 1967 that an upcoming issue of the Improvement Era (LDS church’s magazine at the time) would be dedicated to this discovery and what it implicated.
The January 1968 issue is that issue. You decide for yourself what the implications were/are. In my case, I was very disappointed the magazine contained absolutely no proof that Joseph was a translator.
After approximately 2 and a half years in the South, another job change for my dad took us to a western suburb of Chicago. I began and finished 8th grade and went on to 4 years of high school there, graduating in 1973, the tail end of the Viet Nam war.
This was an interesting time as well.
There were few members of the LDS church in my high school. There were never more than three or four families with kids in my high school at any given period. I think that helped “cement” my faith at the time and at a relatively young age. One activity I engaged in while a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood was to go out with the missionaries. It only happened a couple times but that also helped “cement” my faith in place.
One thing I’ll mention for this period of my life is that the Stake Presidencies of the stake in which we resided had some rather powerful (in LDS church terms) men. All of them except one ended up serving in one of the Quorums of Seventy and that one exception became an Apostle (Dallin H. Oaks)
After graduating from high school, my dad took another job opportunity that brought us back to Utah and near family. I started my first semester at BYU in Provo, Utah. Dallin Oaks was the President of the University then. My first semester came and went and I was called to serve a mission. I was called to the Australia East Mission (Spanish speaking). Yes, Spanish speaking. I served under President Earl C. Tingey, later called into the quorums of Seventy ultimately as the Senior President among the seven Presidents of Seventy. He is currently Emeritus status, meaning he is still a General Authority but not actively assigned.
I married soon after returning from my mission in the Salt Lake temple. Six children followed, with my one and only son being the eldest of them and my eldest daughter being born early and only surviving about six hours. I don’t think I was really prepared at such a young age to be the single pallbearer at my daughter’s funeral. Experiences add to the person.
Twelve years of marriage ended in divorce. I married again but between the two marriages was an on and off relationship with a Hispanic woman that resulted in my bringing one more daughter into the world. My second marriage is childless. This year, though, we celebrate our 25th anniversary. She’s truly my best friend, aside from being my wife and companion.
After my first marriage failed and due to the relationship with my youngest daughter’s mother, I was excommunicated from the LDS church. Cohabitation without the benefit of marriage is highly frowned upon! I was re-baptized a month before my second marriage (NOT to the mother of my youngest – she was a little “untrustworthy”, so to speak). We eventually moved from Utah to Colorado. My “priesthood blessings” were “restored” in Colorado in the summer of 2001 by Neil Anderson (now an Apostle) who was then in the Area Presidency. We moved later to north Texas and while visiting family in Colorado, my wife received her “temple endowments” in the Denver temple. Later we were sealed in the Salt Lake temple.
This summarizes a life of 58 years, ending up in early 2013.