I guess I’m a combination of a lot of what my ancestors passed on to me, my parents, my grandparents and further back I wouldn’t know too much about them, but I’m sure … My parents and my grandparents gave me a great heritage, I’ve always felt like a special person just because of what they’ve given to me and made me feel, and also a spiritual heritage that I know that I’m a daughter of God and no matter what anybody says or does or what happens to me, I know that I’m somebody and it doesn’t matter. And also the spiritual heritage that was given to me, I was taught values and certain beliefs that carry through the Mormon religion. But, it’s something that I’ve had to internalize myself, it’s not just given to me and said okay you do it and you take it for what it’s worth, but it’s something that I’ve had to internalize and it’s grown within me and it gives me a good basis for my life. For me it (internalizing religious heritage) was much more a gradual process than for a lot of people because it always felt good to me and I wasn’t a terribly questioning and negative person about things and wanting to be defiant against my parents, but it just always felt right.
Each principle and each belief I have to come to know for myself that it’s good and start to recognize truths where they be and then I apply them to my life and see how other people live and see maybe if they lived those beliefs or if they didn’t and see how that affected their lives and (I learned) to pick out what is good and what is not good and maybe what is the truth and what isn’t the truth.
A little background about me: I’m 36, my husband’s from Holland, I have a happy marriage, I think. I have grandparents and most of them lived quite long, so I have good memories of many of them. My father’s father died when I was about twelve and he was a happy, jolly man, kind of round. He was a farmer and raised cattle. His wife, who is still alive, is 97 and in a rest home and was kind of a hypochondriac and not very emotional, or seemed real happy or outgoing, but a very good person.
Probably more of my heritage comes from my mother’s parents who always had a special way with grandchildren. They had 45 (grandchildren) and they made us all feel like we were the most special person in the world. My grandmother always sent every child a birthday card right on their birthday with a dollar in it! It was something we always looked forward to, that dollar bill that was coming from Grandma. Even after I was married, she always seemed to know when we needed a little something in our lives. When we were down, or even on a joyous occasion, she always remembered it and helped us feel special and get through those tough times, and even though she didn’t have the money to call, she would always write and I always felt so special after she had written. She was known as a “Cookie Grandma” and all the kids in the neighborhood always came and asked for cookies and she was a very special person.
With my parents, she was probably the most influential person in my life, someone I would like to exemplify and be like. She was always singing and happy and optimistic. She had dozens and dozens of people that wrote to her. She made them feel so special, too, that she cared about them and she accomplished so much in their lives. Once I went to stay with her when she was caring for my grandfather who was an invalid and I was supposed to be helping her and when I woke up at eight in the morning she had already been up for two hours and baked bread and I was very embarrassed. And my grandfather, he was not an educated person, but he was always a real strength also, and he and my grandmother had a great love for each other and a great love for their family and made us all feel so special. Their children’s children and their great grandchildren, it carried through to them, their care for them, too. (They) touched so many lives.
I’ll say something about my youth. We lived on a small farm, just a ways out in the country. We had seven acres. One thing my father felt very strongly about was that kids (should) have plenty to do and that’s one reason we lived on a farm. I had six brothers and he made sure that we had some animals around so they (my brothers) could have something to occupy their hours by taking care of them. They raised calves. We had a cow sometimes that had to be milked. What a mess!…straining the milk and then just all that goes with it. It taught us all responsibility. it was much more my brothers’ job outside and I helped a lot inside. I did a lot of house cleaning, my mother was sick a lot when I was young and needed to rely on me. I enjoyed helping. I can remember her going to town and I wanted to surprise her so I’d hurry and clean her room.
Back to when my mother was sick … she used to tell me the story of “When Hannah was Only Eight”. Her mother got very sick. It was like pioneers. They lived in a log cabin and the father was gone for the winter and there were two little kids. The mother knew that she was sick and would probably die, so she had to teach her daughter, who was eight, to do everything. It’s a very touching story, but she thought she was old enough to do it all. When she knew it was time (to die), she taught Hannah how to braid her hair and to dress her in a beautiful white dress and she went out in the barn and she had to dress her mother while her mother laid on a table and she (the mother) died. When it got really hard for her (Hannah), she’d go out in the barn and talk to her mother because she was just frozen. It didn’t come across depressing to me, I just wanted to be as responsible as Hannah. I used to try really hard to help my mom because she was very sick and almost died many times. She had encephalitis and really bad asthma. When I was four to six (years old), her allergies would get so bad that she’d have to go in the hospital. The doctor told her, “you just have to leave”, so we’d fly to California, my mom, myself and my little brother.
It was through those experiences that I got to know my cousin in California that passed away this year. We used to have so much fun together. She had a doll house out back. In the summer, when we were little girls, my cousin and I would just lay in bed and laugh. My parents would have quite a bit of patience with us. We would just laugh and laugh and laugh in bed. We even roomed together some in college and we’d laugh and laugh every night. We had so much fun together and that’s when I first met Kees (Beth Ann’s husband), when I was with her. When he first met me, he thought I was a very silly person because we were always laughing and having fun … just always happy and carefree. We couldn’t even bless our food without laughing. I was nineteen or twenty. She was really special to me. We grew apart after marriage, her husband was very different. Of course, we didn’t live by each other. Her husband was very different from our side of the family and she became…she didn’t laugh anymore. Everything had to be just so. I was sad when she died that we didn’t ever have those experiences again after she married. It’s hard to be as carefree after you marry and have children, but still we just didn’t share things in the same way.
We had a lot of fruit trees where we lived. We had about seven acres and my dad liked to plant fruit trees. At one point, when we first started planting them, my dad gave us each a tree. I had a peach tree that was my tree and I loved that tree. We did a lot of canning. It was hard work, you had to get up early before it was too hot and pick the fruit and can it and it would often take the whole day. Even now, I do a lot of canning and I don’t enjoy canning, but I enjoy the results of my canning in the winter when I can open it up.
Once when I was young, for Thanksgiving, my mother had made oodles of pumpkin pies. She made each of the kids a pie. We could do whatever we wanted with it, we could throw it or eat it! Most of us did both! We ate a piece and then we’d throw a piece. I can remember us chasing each other around the house throwing these pies. Sometimes we’d turn on the hoses and have water fights.
One of the things we loved to do as kids was run through the irrigation ditches. We’d flood the yard once a week. You had to do that in Arizona to grow anything.
We had a barn for animals and we used to play down at the barn. We had big haystacks and we’d make forts out of them. I don’t know how safe that was, but we had whole rooms laid out in the haystacks. It was kind of hot and smelly, but it kept us busy. We used to jump off the barn to see who could be the toughest. We kept busy.
We try to instill some of the same (values about play) in our own kids, but it’s a lot harder when you’re not on a farm. There aren’t as many things to occupy kids, especially as the kids get older. I see Jake (Beth Ann’s oldest child), even Tom (another child) are getting to the age where playing doesn’t get rid of all their excess energy and they‑ occasionally get aggressive toward each other. I don’t think they ordinarily would. It’s normal, but sometimes with all that penned up energy they need to have something constructive to do. That’s something my parents really taught us.
When we were young, my father raised cotton and I can remember, this makes me sound really old, one time I can remember we hired people to come pick it by hand and we kids were going to be rich, too! We were going to pick cotton, too. But it’s hot in Arizona in the summer. We had these big long sacks you dragged on the ground behind you to put cotton in and I think I made a whole ten cents. I knew I didn’t want to be a cotton picker after that.
In the summer we used to play a lot of games in the evening. My parents didn’t’like TV, so we played a lot of tag and baseball and we made up some of our own games. Some of them we only played when my parents were gone. We played “run around the kitchen” and we would tag each other and sometimes we got rather rough. If you didn’t want to be caught, you might throw up the oven door or throw a chair in front of someone and my mother wondered why her oven door never closed properly. Although, I think she had a pretty good idea of what happened. We could never figure out how she could tell we’d been rough housing. It was years later that I realized that all the flower arrangements that we stuck back together were not put in properly. One experience that really taught me responsibility was when my parents had left for the evening and left us in charge. There were plenty of older kids and we played a lot that evening and we left the house in a mess. It was awful! When my parents came home, we were all asleep and they woke us all up and told us to clean it up and we cleaned it up. It made a big impression on me and I always tried, when they were gone, to leave the house clean after that. My mother appreciated that and maybe it was unusual, but I did work hard. I’ve since read in a magazine that parents would rather not wake you up but it, in the long run, shows that they care enough to teach you a lesson.
I had two older brothers and a lot of younger brothers. Several of them were quite a few years younger, so I was like a second mother to them. I had a lot of responsibility in the house for changing diapers or anything like that.
Another game we used play to outside was called “bump in the road”. One of us would lay on our back and the rest of us would jump over them and the person laying in the road would stick up their leg and try to trip us. When we got hurt we’d have to go to the refueling station to get repaired again. It was a pretty rough game. It was all boys in the neighborhood and there was one family next door that had four boys and they would come over pretty frequently. My mother tried to make sure I could have friends over fairly frequently, so I had someone to play dolls with.
Music was an important part of our home. My mom was musical and my dad wasn’t. He always said he gave us all his musical talent because he didn’t have any left. My mother had a special song for each child, a popular tune that she’d change the words to. She even compiled a family album of songs. We all sang and my mother taught us all to play the piano. We all took an instrument at school in band. We had cousins that lived close by and did likewise and my mother and my aunt tried to make a little orchestra out of us. We did a few things (concerts) on occasion, but that didn’t materialize to far, we had too much fun wise cracking to be too serious about it. We always played more for special occasions or a music festival at church. Most all of us still use our music today along with our children. I think there’s a lot of wisdom in it for a child to develop a talent. Speaking from my own experience, it’s another thing that gave me inner strength, knowing that I could do something well. Maybe I didn’t do well on tests sometimes at school or other kids could call me dumb, but I had something I knew I could do fairly well and it brought me enjoyment and it keeps you busy after school … worthwhile things so you have something to show for it later on. I try to stress music (with my own kids) so they have something to rely on.
One custom we always had was that the night before Christmas we’d walk around caroling, especially to the grandparents’ (homes). As they got older, they couldn’t come to us, but we’d always go around caroling to them and maybe drop some presents off to peoples’ houses who were in need or just lonely. It’s still a custom in the family today (for) people to come over on Christmas Eve and the kids dress up as angels or sheep. As the family grows, the more parts in the play. We still do that here even though we’re away from the family. We dress up quickly before we get on to other parts of Christmas. Acted out, it (the Christmas Story) is a little more exciting. As soon as that’s over it’s rip, tear and on to the next step. It started from my parents and it’ll be a custom for generations.
We had my family over a lot and we would make homemade ice cream. We had to use the milk from the cows somehow! We’d take it to ball games or whatever. It was a fun thing to do. We’d turn it by hand and the boys would have contests to see who could do the most turning. It’s pretty hard to turn when it (ice cream) starts to freeze.
My father, his family came from Kentucky and they were quite from the back hills, hill billies, I guess and they moved to Arizona. I think, in Arizona, they seemed a little bit strange.
After my father, got older, he went back to Kentucky and he realized a lot more where they were coming from. When my father was very young, he got polio. He was about six months old and it affected one of his legs. He wore a brace all of his youth and they used to call him “Tiny Tim”. He seemed to manage real well and I think it made him a stronger person through it. He came from a family of seven and he was the only one who got a college education. It gave him a lot more determination and he went, to night school most of my youth. He was going for his Master’s and then he was going for his Doctorate, but they put another degree in between called an Education Specialist. That was enough for him. It was too much for him to go on again because it had taken him so many years. It gave him what he needed and he became a school principal. In fact he was my Junior High principal. (That felt) sometimes good and sometimes embarrassing. Kids would often start talking about the principal and then someone would hit them and say, “that’s her father” and they would apologize. Most people liked him. I’m sure it was hard for some of the teachers who had me. They felt like they had to be a little more careful with me. He wasn’t born Mormon, I believe his parents joined the church. He was born in Arizona and went to Kentucky
on a Mission for three years (it is a common practice for Mormon men, as young adults, to spend a few years on a Mission)and found out his parents were very normal. In Arizona, they just seemed like old fogies.
My mother was very much the opposite of my father. She’s very fast moving and quick, lively, somewhat humorous and talkative. My father was very methodical and slow and thinks things through. Her background was different. She says they (her family) may have been poor, but they never felt poor. My dad actually had money, but they always felt poor and dressed poor. Even during the depression they (other people) thought my mother’s family was
rich because they always had one nice outfit to wear to church. I think I’ve inherited some (qualities) from both (parents). I hope I picked up more of the better things. My mother has so much energy that when she comes and visits I’m totally worn out. She’s always doing something: she upholsters, likes music and keeps a journal every day. Every day she has something to do: she’ll direct a play or concert, she has things in her home, she’ll have opera people in her home giving concerts.
Decorating, going and helping, is another family custom. My aunt and my mother’s side all like to decorate so they go and help their grandchildren all get their houses done nice. They upholster furniture and go to second hand shops to find nice things and put it together so we all look like we have a presentable house for our small incomes. (Even though I’m away from home) she’ll come and help me here when I’m down in my life or things are kind of rough. My mom will show up and give me a boost if I need it. it’s happened several times, whether I’ve been pregnant and not feeling real well, or just through the long winter you get down sometimes. Even though she couldn’t always afford it, she’d be here as soon as she could. In college once, too, I was having a difficult time … more outside things, not school itself. The next weekend my parents drove up twelve hours to just make sure things were okay and they drove back the next day twelve hours. It’s the kind of concern they show all their kids.
I’d like to say a little bit more about my mother. (Throughout) my married life and probably the last few years before I got married, I’ve considered my mother my best friend. We enjoy doing things together and when she comes to stay, we just stay up and talk and talk and talk and talk. We just enjoy the same things. We follow each other into the bathroom because we don’t want to be apart. In reading my grandmother’s life story, she seemed to feel the same way about her own mother. She didn’t feel like she’d really grown up until her mother died. She said as soon as she was gone (away from home), she was planning the next time she could get home, just because she enjoyed her mother a lot. I don’t have the feeling I’m not grown up. I just enjoy being with her (my mother). I feel like she brings out the good in me. If my parents give advice it’s usually something they’ve thought about a long time and feel it will really be beneficial for me. It’s only happened a couple of times and it’s been something I needed to hear and I listen to it.
One of my struggles as a child was … I had six brothers and always wanted a sister. I’d pick the dandelion, you know, where you blow them all off and the first star that came out every night, I’d always wish for a little sister. My brothers used to be annoying. That’s what I find with my oldest two (children), they find each other annoying, but someday they’ll be good friends again and enjoy doing things together. Sometimes it was hard going to school with the religious background I had, not smoking and drinking. Usually people didn’t make fun of me, but occasionally they would. Sometimes just taking a stand and being different is very hard. You would get little comments here and there. “Don’t cuss in front of her, she’s Mormon.” Normally I’m proud of it, proud to be different. I feel, just from my observations now that I’m happier for it, for not having experienced some of the things my high school buddies experienced. I didn’t have to worry about abortions or having contracted sexual diseases or even having to meet someone later at a class reunion and being embarrassed to look in their eyes. Sometimes I think of the negative choices I could have made and I’ve avoided, and I think it (being different) has been positive in my life.
The standard in my house, when we could date, was sixteen. It was difficult. When I got a boyfriend it was very difficult. I hated going to dances. It was awkward waiting to get picked off if you were popular or if someone thought you looked interesting. I didn’t care for that too much and a lot of dating I didn’t care for. But you learn what you like and what you don’t like and who you like to be around and who you don’t like to be around. I didn’t ever become real boy crazy, but I was always interested. I think a lot of it was that I had enough to keep me occupied. I had music and church interests. There weren’t a lot of boys who appealed to me. I thought boys were handsome, but some of them were so stupid! I liked the older ones. I didn’t want someone as old as my husband, but it was right. He’s eight and a half years older than me. I wanted someone who cared about me as a person, someone who was interesting and smart. I’m grateful my husband’s smart, because the times he doesn’t act smart, I could eat him alive! But, gee, if I hadn’t married someone who was smart, I probably would have walked right over the top of him. (By smart I mean) having initiative and being interested in things, being able to figure things out for themselves. Probably when I was young, the two biggest things were to be rich … not “rich”, but just to be able to provide … and handsome. As you get older, you realize other things are more important. Kees (Beth Ann’s husband) is very supportive of me as an individual and wants me to feel happy and fulfilled within myself. I haven’t really done a whole lot in a lot of the ways that people do now a days for themselves. He doesn’t dictate what I wear or how I wear my hair.
I always felt like I was rather mature, sometimes too mature. Sometimes I wish I’d been more of a child when I was a child instead of acting always responsible.
My grandfather passed away when I was twelve. (That’s) my father’s father. That probably hit me as the saddest point in my life. It was my first real experience that life ends, that I’d never see my grandfather again. As I’ve gotten older, it’s sad to say good‑bye to someone that you care about and have gotten close to, but I don’t have the same feeling that all is over. When you watch them go through pain it’s a lot easier to let them go. He (my grandfather) gradually deteriorated and his mind started to deteriorate. It’s sad to see that happen and you don’t want to see them in that kind of state. He was a strong man and so very independent.
In my first year of junior college, I worked close by to him, so I’d go there for lunch quite often. I hated to be a bother. Sometimes I thought I was being a bother, so sometimes I would go help mow their lawn. I really enjoyed doing that for them. It made me feel good because they really appreciated it. They used to wait at the window for me to come. I thought I was being a bother, but I found out later I was really, you know, it was good. Giving to others is where you really start learning about life, I think. I was mowing my grandfather’s lawn and I had a real strong feeling that Jesus … Giving service to others is so much more rewarding. I felt so good about it and I also think that is so much longer lasting than money or riches or whatever people are looking for to find happiness in this day and age. It’s those things (giving service to others) that are going to give you lasting happiness. The other always needs to be replenished and these memories are so much more long lasting.
I can remember writing about the things I looked for in a future husband. Wondering where he was. I’ve written things in journals over the years. Major things I try to write. My great grandfather on my mother’s side wrote his life history. There’s several histories we have. My grandmother wrote her life history of her parents and the people she remembered, and then my aunts have compiled them into a book. We have a couple books of histories they have compiled, pictures, genealogies and all. One (family) line is Ash and my great grandfather Ash immigrated to America for a better life. They were Mormon and immigrated in the 1850’s. Early in the Mormon religion in England they joined and were too poor to emigrate. He tells of the truth he learned there, living in a very poor neighborhood and they way people treated each other and the brawls and fighting in their community and they knew they didn’t want that. His sisters were coming of age to marry. There was one time where he and his dad had one pair of pants (between them) and he (my great grandfather) would wear them during the day and his dad would wear them at night when he’d go around taking orders. He was a shoemaker. It’s such a different life than what we have now. We take so much for granted. Reading back and seeing where your roots come from
gives me an awful sense of thankfulness for where we are and for what they have done for us and makes me feel responsible that I carry certain traditions on. Sometimes we look on the other side of the fence and it may seem greener than what you’re experiencing now and you could do rash things that you might regret later on. It (reading my ancestors’ life histories) makes you think twice about where you come from and I don’t see it as a negative thing, but as a positive thing. If we want happiness in our lives, certain things are required. My grandfather states that in his journal, my grandmother in hers. If you can learn from their experiences and not have to experience each thing differently for ourselves each new generation … Now that I have their histories in hand and I read from them, it (their lives) are still impacting today.
I had some girlfriends I did a lot of things with. A lot of my girl friendships were with people from my own religion because it just seemed like there was so much more you could share and talk about when you have the same beliefs than when you don’t. I had some other girlfriends with other beliefs, but those relationships just didn’t seem as deep. I had good friends. It helped me stay on a good path. I had chances to do different things.
A lot of who I am is from my spiritual side, from my parents, grandparents and great grandparents spiritual heritage, too. That really can’t be separated from any other part of me because it’s so much a part of our lives. To become aware of that as a child, you can go to church, but you’re not really aware of what’s going on. There were times, probably, in every meeting when things would feel right and true and you could feel it burning within you.
Examples of when my parents were spiritually guided in my life to help me: once I was going to go floating down the river in an inner tube, which was a very fun thing to do but not always safe, and she (my mother) had a strong impression that I should not go. I don’t know what would have happened (if I went). In another instance, I was going to go with a friend and my mother had the impression I really shouldn’t go. She said, “I don’t know why you’re always so obedient” and I didn’t go and they did have an accident. No one was seriously injured, but things could have been different. Little instances like that helped me to know they cared and did listen to that spiritual side that I believe can direct your life if you choose to recognize it. It’s just a whispering within yourself and sometimes you might think it’s your own thought or whatever, but I think you can learn to recognize the spiritual side and act upon it. You might feel like you should help someone and it turns out to be just what they needed. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a guardian angel, but I think that’s what most people would refer to as a guardian angel. The first real time it was very strong (for me) I was driving to see a friend who had an accident and was in the hospital. It was a dark country road and I was going to run a stop sign and it’s flat, you can see for miles in any direction. It came strongly into my mind, “no stop”, I slammed on the brakes and a car went by just then that somehow I hadn’t seen. Most of them aren’t that direct or spoken quite so lively in your mind, but more a whispering. I also feel that my ancestors are interested in what becomes of me, too.
When I was a teenager, I think I was, well … all teenagers are preoccupied with themselves. I was involved in music and church activities and school activities. I feel like I was a fairly happy person. I wanted to get done with school as quickly as I could so, when I graduated from high school at seventeen, I went right into summer school and then to a junior college for a year and a half. I had a scholarship and then I provided what I could myself. One semester I had twenty two credit hours and I was working twenty hours a week. I did well in most of my classes. I was quite determined, I guess. It didn’t leave me a whole lot of time to do a whole lot else, but I did manage to date and have a good time.
My parents would often have parties in the house for me and my two older brothers. We had a lot of in‑house parties for entertainment, just good clean fun. We played a lot of games and one of our favorite games was “sardines”. We played inside and outside of the house, my parents gave us the leeway. I remember jamming twenty people into a Volkswagen! We had this big tree out front and once had twenty people in the tree. It’s a game where one person hides and then everyone else, when they found him, would hide with him. (It’s) the opposite of hide‑and‑go‑ seek. I can remember inviting a few high school friends who thought it was stupid and childish, but that’s okay. They didn’t have to come.
I had two older brothers and they were very protective. Sometimes a boy would come to the door after my dad was gone and they would take over. When I was fifteen, two college boys I had met came to the house and my brother, who had a high sense of humor, although I don’t know how humorous he was being at the time, got my father’s shot gun and put it over his shoulder and casually said, “do you know how old my sister is? She’s fifteen and you can come back when she’s sixteen.” He was joking and I would have been highly offended if the guys hadn’t been somewhat creeps. Then my younger brothers would just show up in a room and say, “where are you going with my sister and what time will you be home?”
I had my own room, although I shared it with a baby sometimes, I can remember feeling sad and blue at times, too and crying, but it was never anything big. It was just the emotions of being a teenage girl.
When I was living with my cousin, Janice, for the summer, I had a job for a computer firm, but I was in the office doing office work. I enjoyed it, but the company was going defunct and they gave us severance notice. I had two more weeks to work when I got a letter in the mail saying you haven’t used your spring scholarship at school, do you want to use your summer scholarship? Well, I had never heard or seen a letter stating that I had a scholarship. I thought, “this is perfect, I can go off to summer school”. So I got severance pay and quickly headed up to BYU (Brigham Young University) for the summer session. It was my cousin’s last session before she was getting married, so we roomed together. The first day I went … at BYU you’re divided into groups and most people are Mormon so you’re in a congregation. There are over 20,000 students there and you’re divided up into congregations and then they divide each congregation into smaller units so you have a family to meet with once a week for spiritual thought or just to play, so you have some kind of association there and get to know people a lot more. Kees (my husband) was in that group my first night I was there and that’s how I met him. It was a fun summer and I had lots of boyfriends. My cousin kept saying, “If I were you, I’d go after Kees”. There were a couple things that just made it happen that we were together. We both felt it was right after some time and it has been. We met in July and got engaged in the end of November and got married in April, so it was like eight or nine months. We thought it was awfully long. I think choosing a. mate is a lot of luck because you don’t know until you live with someone for a few years what they’re really like. A lot of times people do live with someone and then get married and it still doesn’t work. It takes a lot of hard work, too. I know a lot of people who have been disappointed when they thought they had married someone really perfect for them.
My parents were very reluctant, Kees being a foreigner and older. He’s eight and a half years older (than me). It would have been hard for anybody to meet up to certain expectations. Being the only girl of six was kind of … I don’t know. So, it was hard for him, but my dad came and met Kees and he had a spiritual experience in that he felt it was right. So it made it a lot easier for them to accept it. But it took a long time for them to accept him as a family member. It took a few years before they treated him like one of the kids. I told my mom that she used to worry that her children wouldn’t get mates that were good enough for them and about four years after the oldest ones were married, you worried that your children aren’t good enough for their mates.
Being that we were from two different backgrounds, there were a few anxieties whether that would be right or not, but we found out that both being from large families, we had a lot of values in common; probably a lot more than I could have had with someone born in America. Our personalities are very different and there are a lot of things we don’t have in common. That can be a source of agitation, the way we look at things. The things we do have in common … our values, the way we want to raise children and even how we spend our money, those things I think we have the same outlook on and I think it makes for a smoother‑ marriage. Just some of the things we like to do may be different. I guess I’ve come to realize that your mate doesn’t have to satisfy every angle of your personality, that you can have different friends that can fill in those gaps, so that if they don’t like to go shopping you can have someone to go shopping with, or if I can’t keep up bike riding with him he can do that (by himself) or find someone else to do it with. Not everything has to be together and we don’t even have to like the same things. The most important things, how we raise our children and our religious values, we share. There are times, you know, when you have a confrontation and you feel as though you haven’t got one thing in common, but when you can step back a ways you can see them again.
Some of them (my parents’ values) are conscious and some are unconscious, but they are there (present in my marriage and family). Certain things are really hard not to do. For instance, my mother upholstered all our furniture … I’m just giving this as an example … and would fix most things up, you know … make them do. So, now I have this couch that’s worn out and I feel really awful getting rid of it and not redoing it myself. I feel like I’m… there’s something wrong with me if I can’t do that. I think there’s a little bit of subconscious that says … gee, I’m not as good as my mom if I can’t do that. It’s silliness, but, without really thinking about it, that silliness is there. So much of it ties up with our religion, the values of working, of being occupied with something good, of caring for family, of going to church and certain things we do on Sundays is a lot the same. I don’t know how many generations back it would go. Our ancestors joined (became Mormon) in the 1830’s.
I don’t know if I talked about family reunions. Family really is important. We send family news letters and all. Last year we had a major family reunion. We did some skits from family history. We counted back from way back until my great grandparents genealogy, just sharing each family … what they are … at the family reunion. Each family got to stand up and there were 150 people there. That’s just from my grandparents down! Every family was represented. We spent the night. They had family hats for everybody that had a family tree on them. We had a family flag and a family motto. The family flag they took seven different colors of silk and for the main flag they cut a circle out of each flag, there’s a hole in each flag. Then they took this hole and imprinted them over each other, over laid so that they’re all connecting, but you see each color there. So that’s the family flag that we fly at all the family reunions and we have a family motto and I can’t tell you what it is, but at the family reunions we all stand up and say we’re proud to be Sorensens.
Probably a very central part of the family right now are my mother and her three sisters. We call them the aunts. They’re all rather unique, rather boisterous, outspoken and talented. They kind of keep things pulled together. They’ve made two family history books, thick books. They always have a project going. All of them are a little over weight, but they like to have one outfit alike, so they go to the store … usually it’s like a muumuu, casual. That was acted out in the family reunion by the four sons of these four aunts who dressed up in muumuus. I can remember one time they all dressed up alike and went to a mall and someone asked them if they were from a singing group. They just have so much fun together and enjoy each other so much. I think that’s why I always wanted a sister. That’s why I always felt deprived not having a sister, because they were always so close and would help each other out so much emotionally, or with the kids or fixing a house. They all liked to decorate and would help each other out upholstering, painting, so that’s a very central part in my mom’s side of the family … the aunts. They’re the oldest generation now, so they keep the family pulled together. Once they’re gone, I don’t know how much it will be pulled together.
I always knew I wanted to do music and I wanted to be a mother. My senior year in high school I tried out for a pageant. I knew I was going to continue my education, but under “what do you want to do when you grow up”, I put “be a mother”. All the others had “be a stewardess” or this or that and I put down “be a mother” and it sounded … I mean I knew that’s what I wanted to
be, but it sounded‑like a cop out on paper. But I noticed that in the two years afterward, I was the only one that went on to school. The rest of them seem to all get married out of high school and it seemed like a few years later they were divorced.
I did get a college degree in music education because I did want something to draw upon and I did like that training. But, being a mother is just what I wanted to do full time and I’m just glad I’ve been able to do that. A lot of times it was a financial sacrifice, especially when we were going to school. When my first was born, we really could have used the money, but it worked out fine. I learned to do a lot of things cheaper so I could be home. We made do and we didn’t care that we were poor. We didn’t think of it as being poor, we were just on our way. With any job there are going to be pitfalls, the boring parts. As a mother, you get tired of doing certain things, but there’s great variety, too, in being a mother. I feel fulfilled being a mother and I’m not needing other things right now to be a whole person. There’s nothing better that I could do than to raise children who are well adjusted and happy. I think those values are coming back. Women are very respected (in my church). My husband says he feels like women are better (than men), that he has to work very hard to be as good as a woman.
Probably I use my leisure time a lot for reading. I haven’t taken a lot of classes, but I like to read about various things about the world as a whole, about what’s going on. Women’s magazines give you a lot of tips. It doesn’t seem like I take a lot of time for music these days. I like to shop, to be out, to learn about decorating … how to do things better. Having my house be attractive is important to me. Something handed down, I’m sure, from generations.
I think I’m as happy and productive (right now) as I’ve ever been. I’m happy where I am. There’s things I’d like to change about myself, like my weight. One of the things I’d change is to be more optimistic and happy and able to take more of children’s normal” behavior and not let it get to me.
Probably the most challenging time in my life, even though I was happy and enjoyed it, was college. College was very challenging, just the classes and meeting people. I still have dreams where I’m trying to find my way to a college class and I get there and find out I’m a semester late! A lot of times I’m finding my way through these big building and there’s a maze and there are big slides. It was a good time, too.
Probably the hardest time was the time we spent in Germany. I didn’t have anybody I could talk to in church and all the Americans I knew … their value systems were different… l couldn’t relate to them.
I feel like I know who I am, a daughter of our Heavenly Father. Having a caring family and husband has also taught me to know who I am and feel good about it. When times get rough, they’re either here to rely upon or I can call upon my Father in Heaven. I know that what we get in life, we can make for our good. If I can stay optimistic, I know I can make it through the difficulties. I’m not sure I’ve been given too much of that. I’ve been blessed with good health and a good husband and a good family. I know everyone gets deeper trials sometime in their lives. Hopefully I’ll have that inner strength in my life to meet them and not let them get the best of me.
What do I think my life will be like in five years? Probably not a whole lot different. I’ll be in a different State. Although, as kids get older it gets more challenging when they’re teenagers.
In thirty years, we hope to be able to go on Missions for our church. You can go (on Missions) as a young adult, like 19 or 20 or when you are older and you can go a lot of places in the world. You can learn a new language or not learn a new language. It’s something you pay for entirely yourself, unless you really don’t have the funds and then church membership can help you.
It’s two years you give totally to helping people. A, lot of’ it is teaching and a lot of it is service. Some go on health Missions and some help people learn how to grow crops better. The majority of it is just sharing the Gospel with people who want to learn. My parents are currently on Mission in Orlando. They do a lot of teaching and some training, some social gatherings to fill the need for youth to have a party, fireside talks, having people over. A lot of it’s teaching. They’re busier than ever, I called them this morning and they didn’t even have time to talk. They enjoy it. It is challenging, but it brings its rewards that are greater. If you’re helping people it’s very satisfying.
If you do certain things right … I think that doing a lot of religious things brings happiness not just because it’s religion, but because it’s like an equation … like gravity. If you drop something off a house it’s going to fall and … It’s going to fall! If you do drugs or commit adultery, there are going to be some real negatives that catch up with you in your life that
you’re going to have to face. You just don’t do whatever you want and not have any effect from it. It’s so apparent that if people would just change certain things in their lives, it would be so much easier, they’d be so much happier. I feel that everyone is searching, sinking money in material goods, clothes, or food, or whatever to get happiness, but they find happiness is not long lasting because it’s not fulfilled. But it (real happiness) is a joy you get from doing things that are right;. It’s not always the easy way, but the effect from doing these things is peace of mind and inner strength.