Sunday, May 8, 2011

Women in My Life

This morning I am replaying a particular memory that took place in my backyard when I was about five. It was a sunny afternoon and I was standing next to my Mom for a picture. I remember very little except for the fact that the sun was in my eyes. We stood next to our painted redwood fence where there was a rose bush with little yellow flowers. With my arm around her, I asked her if she would marry me when she was finished being married to Dad. I don’t think I really understood the concept of marriage at that age, but I knew she loved me and I loved her back. My Mom was the first person to teach me about love. She has never stopped teaching, and I’ve never stopped loving her.

Jo Ann Jaurigue is another woman who has shown me a lot of love. I was a missionary in Fresno, California, and she was taking the discussions to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She had actually met with quite a few missionaries and already knew a lot about the Church. I don’t know all the reasons, but it was while I was there that she found her testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. There was a special connection between us, one of familiarity that hasn’t gone away. She and her daughter, and since then her grandchildren, have been baptized and have found a greater happiness in life. She has never stopped expressing her gratitude to me for sharing something with her family. I am very thankful for her and love her very much.

My wife, Liz, and I have been married for almost seventeen years now. It wasn’t long after we were married that she became the Mother of our little family. She has literally poured her life into me and our children. She is constantly drawing from a well of spirituality so that she can give more to those she loves. I don’t know how she manages to do it, but she gives and gives and gives, and her well doesn’t seem to run out. Her love is beautiful to me. I have learned more about love from her than any other person in this world, and I have known some people who are capable of immense love. It is such a treasured blessing for me to know that we have a marriage that has been designed to not only last, but grow forever. The sealing ordinances of the Holy Temple are a tremendous comfort in our marriage. It is a blessing I would wish for every marriage.

Several years ago, my wife’s grandmother, Cecile Smith, passed away. Grandma Cec was dear to me. She loved me like I was one of her own, and I am thrilled to have her claim me. Not long before she passed away, I visited her in her home. She couldn’t speak. She was barely conscious. I didn’t feel the need to say anything to her. Instead I took her hand and held it as we stared into each other’s eyes. It was such a beautiful moment as I felt her love for me. Again I felt a feeling of familiarity that seemed to extend into eternity. I miss her very, very much. Occasionally I will feel that feeling again, and I wonder. Whether she is near or not, she remains very close in my heart.

Kerstin Koldewyn is a close friend who often seems more like a fraternal twin. She gets me. While we have our differences of opinion, I find that we often think like mirror images. The nice thing for me is that she is also honest, direct, and even blunt. She is not afraid to speak her mind, even when she knows I will likely disagree. This is a wonderful gift. Kerstin helps me to challenge my own opinions, and consider other points of view. In a kind way, she has helped me to see my weaknesses more clearly so I can change. She has taught me a lot about trust and what it means to be a true friend in every sense of the word. I am grateful for her selfless gift.

From the time when I was five years old, I can’t ever remember an occasion when Fay Evans didn’t have an extra supply of smiles for me. She has been a lifelong friend who has always been interested, has always been encouraging, and has always been my example. Though now a widow, she seems to have as much energy and enthusiasm for life as she has ever had. Whether it was taking me and a bunch of cub scouts fishing at Camp Tracy, or recently giving service together in a small senior living community, she has long been a source of faith and testimony.

As I think about the many, many good women in my life, I am grateful to God for the way they have each blessed me. My forgoing list is short, but there are numerous others including sisters, nieces, cousins, aunts, family by marriage, friends, neighbors, and other acquaintances, that have profoundly affected my life for good. Women have unique and wonderful gifts that have blessed all mankind, not the least of which is the gift of Motherhood. To each of you wonderful women who demonstrate love, compassion, and charity, I wish you the happiest of Mother's Days. May God bless you for sharing your gifts!

What I Believe…

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