Monday is my mother's birthday. In September it was 8 years since she passed away. In many ways the time has passed so quickly and then there are days when it feels like it just happened. When I think of the blessings in my life, my mother is right there at the top of the list. Some of you knew her, but the majority of you reading this did not. I want to tell you about my mother because she was an incredible woman.
My mother grew up in a home where her family was LDS but they were not always active in the church. She was blessed with immense musical talent. She would tell the story that when she was 5 years old, her mother took her to the doctor because she was not feeling good. The doctor told her mother that she was bored. She said she didn't understand why the doctor called her a board. Soon after this, she started taking piano lessons.
By the time she was in high school, she was very active in school and church activities where she accompanied choirs and other performers. She went to Ricks College where she studied music. Because her own family struggled with activity in the church, she wanted to make sure that her children did not have that experience. She married my father in the Idaho Falls Temple in 1955. Together they raised 9 children.
Our home was filled with music. Mother played the piano every day. She knew which songs to play that would draw us into the living room to dance. She taught us how to play the piano--some of us learned that better than others--(I didn't learn it so great and regret that now) She taught us how to lead music. She taught us how to sing--not just the melody--but in harmony. When a family vacation was planned, she would have us practice several songs that we could sing for our friends and family that we would be visiting. During the holidays we would prepare treats and go caroling to the homes of our friends. (I miss doing this)
Her motto was: "Practice, Practice, Practice". We practiced EVERYTHING! When the family would be going out for dinner, we practiced at home how to behave in the restaurant. We practiced how to politely answer the phone. We practiced how to sit reverently in church. We practiced how to obey.
When my youngest sister, Julie, was born, we got to learn about sacrifice. Julie had a chromosome abnormality called Tri-somy 18. She had very special needs. My father came home from the hospital and said, "We have an opportunity to care for one of Heavenly Father's special spirits." I was ten years old and will never forget how that statement set the tone for the family.
While care for Julie was then top priority for my mother, she continued to teach and train us. She helped us learn to care for Julie and we soon understood that we had to work together as a family if we were going to meet her needs. I believe this blessing is why we still have close relationships today.
My mother loved children. She served as a leader in Primary as well as RS and YW. She had a way of seeing the positive in everyone and magnifying that. She had the gift of being able to get people to do what she wanted them to do, but in such a way that THEY wanted to do it. She always used this gift for good. I am thankful for that.
I love my mother because she loved me enough to use her talents to bless our family. There is no doubt in my mind that she could have been famous and had many worldy honors. (Those of you who knew her, I am sure would agree.) She understood Heavenly Father's plan of happiness and passed up the fame and fortune to raise a righteous family. I am forever thankful for her example and I miss her soooo much.
I think of my mother every time I sit down to play the piano. I am thankful for my present calling as RS pianist because it forces me to play regularly. I know my mother has visited me while I have been practicing. There have been times that I have been playing for RS and felt her helping me because I get so nervous. She told me once that she was thankful that her daughters were her very best friends. I am thankful for this, too.
Julie lived almost 20 years, much to the amazement of the doctors. I know it was because of the love and care she received in our family. My mother served and cared for her each of those days. In her last years, my mother suffered from Parkinson's disease. Though her hands and her legs shook with tremors, she still played the piano every day. She typed letters to send to family members and friends that needed encouragement. She would review the RS newsletter each month and send birthday cards to the sisters. I will be forever greatful for the example of service and sacrifice that she was. It is my sincerest hope that I always live up to this example. I want to make her proud of me...and even if I fall short, I know she still loves me.