Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tender thoughts

Here's a big THANKS to Thomas MacEntee for covering for Ol' Myrt here as I was stranded at Flagstaff and couldn't get through closed roads to speak at the 2010 Mesa Arizona Family History Expo. We had 55 inches of snow according to the National Weather Service. We didn't and couldn't budge until late Saturday.

This brought forth a time to reflect on the precious nature of our relationships as genea-friends and family. For instance, I quite simply KNEW I could ask Thomas to sub for me. He is that type of guy. THAT says something in this day and age.

Such cooperation demonstrates a mutual respect and our continued commitment to helping others find their roots.

While stranded in the snowstorm, internet and cell coverage was spotty at best. I couldn't communicate well, and frankly gave up looking at my cell phone where even in the hotel room, it read "searching for service".

Somehow (miraculously!) my daughter Carrie was able to get through, and with her first word "Mom" I knew something was terribly wrong. Her mother-in-law Susan (Hatch) Keele had passed away unexpectedly. This meant I was even more anxious that the storm subside so that I could attend to our common grandchildren and somehow ease their pain. Susan and her husband were planning to leave for Moscow, Russia on a humanitarian mission for the LDS Church, with their farewell service scheduled in mid-February. How this happened, we just don't know.

It has been a tender time, watching my normally quiet son-in-law step up to be of comfort and support to his father and siblings. It was Taylor who dedicated his mother's grave. She was only 62. All this still doesn't seem real.

Watching the grandchildren sing at the funeral really brought home to me how important families are. We in the civilized world may pride ourselves in being so thoroughly modern, and mobile. But when it comes down to it, family is key. For those of us without family, it is dear friends that mean so much.

I bemoaned the lack of cell service and road access during the unprecedented storm to my dear husband Gordon. But soon, without internet, blogging or much time to FaceBook, my mind turned to recognize what's important in life... the legacy left by Grandma Susan.

She shall always be a strong influence for good -- and FUN -- in the lives of her children and grandchildren.

To lose Susan this early in their lives leaves a void that is only comforted by understanding that families are eternal.

So as I rested up, unable to budge from our hotel room, thoughts turned to happy times we've shared in our family.

I decided to appreciate how lucky we are to be able to have nearly instantaneous communication most of the time. Our ancestors had to wait months for a single letter from family back east to learn of the passing of a dear one. Wasn't I a silly girl for fussing so?

Once the Arizona DOT opened up 89-North, we took the semi-scary trip from Flag to tiny Castle Dale, Utah. We were most certainly warm, and well-fed, due to the comforts of 21st century 4-wheel drive SUV travel and roadside services. Though we bemoaned the hundred or so miles between civilization here and there in Arizona and southern Utah, we had adequate provisions on board, and enough traffic to ensure our safety should we have broken down along the way.

My daughter Carrie enlisted me in the scanning of about 300 family photos to create a slide-presentation to show at the viewing and at the family home after the funeral. Since Ol' Myrt here doesn't normally travel with 25 DVDs, we were fortunate to locate a Walmart some 30 miles north in Price, so copies of the pics and presentation could go home with each of Susan's children, her mother and siblings.

What meant the most to me was watching the grandchildren as they sang during the funeral. The oldest was 14, and the youngest just 4 months of age. )OK, she was too young to stand up with the others.) At the beginning of the song the oldest boy was so overcome by the intensity of the moment, he bowed his head and sobbed . His slightly younger brother noticed, and put his arm on his brother's shoulder. Together they faced forward to the crowd and sang their hearts out ,despite the tears running down their cheeks. They unashamedly provided the strength and singing support to the group, and were an inspiration to all who observed this tiny act of kindness.

Family values - love, support, perseverance, sticking together.

These are things worth cherishing.


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