Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Who I Want to Be Like, Part 1...

I'm not going to use his real name, even though most of you who read this blog won't know who he is. It's not a guessing game or anything, and where he did nothing wrong he'd probably be ok with me using his name, but I want to be careful, just in case. 

I met this man while on my mission. I served in his ward twice. It was my first area, thought I didn't really get to know him until I returned a year later. Let's call him Eduardo.

When I returned his wife had started cooking meals for my companion and I and another set of Elders. When I walked in my first day back she said hello, then, "We had another Elder Crosby here about a year ago. Was he your cousin?" I said that that was me. She responded, "No, you can't be, he was nice and fat." It took a while to convince her that I was the same guy. When Eduardo came in he said hello and gave me a big hug. He recognized me right away.

It didn't take long for me to notice that while Eduardo was a returned missionary, he didn't participate at church. He never gave talks, never gave the prayer, nothing. I found out that he had been excommunicated. I didn't ask what had happened because, well, excommunication is a private matter. Later on I found out the story. 

Eduardo had been a member of the Stake High Council. One night he caught the Stake President stealing tithing money. Eduardo called the president on it, so the president excommunicated Eduardo. Obviously this was an abuse of power, but when someone came to Eduardo's defense, that person was also excommunicated. I don't know how many years this lasted. I would assume more than five, because Stake Presidents typically serve about five years, and I think Eduardo was waiting it out.

Even though his excommunication was completely unjust, Eduardo followed the rules. He didn't participate in church, didn't take the sacrament, didn't wear his garments. What he did do was go to church every Sunday. He paid his tithing, albeit through his wife. He didn't complain or speak ill of the Stake President.

He would often get asked to pray, or explain the meaning of a passage of scripture. He would simply decline and say he couldn't. 

His oldest daughter turned eight between the times I was there first and the second time. She wanted to wait until her dad could baptize her. I think she was almost nine before her parents convinced her to be baptized, that it was going to be a long time before her father could perform that ordinance. 

I cannot imagine the pain Eduardo experienced on a daily basis. He was always cheerful, never bitter. In his situation it would have been so easy to get angry at the Church, to decide that he just didn't want to be a part of it anymore. 

I cannot fully express my admiration for Eduardo's Faith and Humility. He is the personification of long-suffering. He loved having the missionaries in his house on a regular basis. He took the time to help my companion and I when we were having troubles.  He waited patiently for the time to come when the records were corrected. Those records have long since been corrected. He is even more happy and prosperous than ever before. He hasn't let his ordeal change him. He never let his faith waiver. He knew that everything would be made right. And it has. 

I want to be like him.


Friday, June 6, 2014

My Mother's Funeral...

...went very well. At least I think so. 
     I was asked to speak at the funeral. I put a lot of thought in what I wanted to say about my mother. Here is what I prepared to say. What I actually said was a little different, but not by a whole lot.

My siblings asked me to speak today. When I asked them what topic they wanted me to focus on, they said to speak on Mom. My first thought was, "That sounds kind of like a eulogy, and we already have one of those, I don't know that we need another." So i thought some more, trying to figure out what angle I could take.

            I remember Mom as a natural caregiver; she liked taking care of others. She didn't want anyone to fuss over her, and she never wanted to be the center of attention. You could tell this about Mom by how fast she would cover her face or hide when a camera came out at family gatherings. I'm pretty sure Mom wouldn't want a sad funeral, full of people saying how much we miss her. I'm kind of surprised she didn't pull a Grandma Adams and nix the idea of a funeral completely.
            So the direction I want to take is to celebrate her life, not mourn her death. So what I want to talk about today are Things You May Not Know About Mignon Adams Crosby. Or maybe you did. My hope is that I can help you smile, or laugh, or giggle, and forget the gaping hole her passing has left in our lives, even if only for a few minutes.
·         Mom was a social worker. She helped those in need, particularly in the area of placing children in adoptive homes. She did this in California and Utah. One of the children she placed grew up right here in Kanab.

  • ·         Either in college or while she was in California she had a fish named Dammit.
    ·         While attending BYU, Mom had a deaf roommate named Chick. Chick was pretty adept at reading lips. When Mom and her other roommates wanted to say something and not lot Chick "hear," they would cover their mouths with their hands.
          In the late 70s/early 80s her favorite television show was The incredible Hulk. Later on her favorite show would be Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and, even later, Friends. I find it incredibly amusing that one of her favorite shows was The incredible Hulk. When i was a kid she wouldn't let me watch Thundercats because the main villain, Mumm-Ra, was "ugly." I think that if you held an ugly contest between Mumm-Ra and the Hulk it would probably end in a tie.
    ·         For many years her favorite author was Danielle Steele. Right up until she and Dad were called as Temple Workers. Then she stopped reading her romance novels and gave them away.
    ·         Mignon sounds like an easy name to say, but not if you see it written first. Mom was the one listed in the phone book and we always knew when it was a telemarketer calling. Well, a telemarketer or Aunt Celeste. She never quite got the hang of Mom's name. "Mick nun."
    ·         When you lived in or stayed at Mom's house you quickly learned that she had many rules. My friend Mariah Alderman once got banned from the house for "being too loud." If you know my sisters this seems like a silly rule to have. When Dad was gone Mom would sometimes declare that lunch was under "library rules," meaning no one talked, we just ate and read our books. Once when several of us came home for Christmas we found that Mom had actually prepared and posted a list of rules for us to follow while we were there. I can't remember specifics, but it was quite long.
    ·         Mom would occasionally be unintentionally funny. For example, while I was on my mission, Mom had everyone pass around a tape recorder and say hello. When it was Mom's turn she said, and I quote, "It's so hard to think and talk at the same time." End quote.
    ·         Mom was a creature of habit, especially when it came to Sundays. Before going to church she would put our Sunday dinner in the oven to cook. It was almost always roast beef, mashed potatoes, carrots, onions, gravy, and a side vegetable. If we were assigned the Celestial or Terrestrial church times (11:00 or 9:00) we would have the roast dinner for lunch. Supper would be cinnamon toast and hot chocolate or holiday orange bread. If we were at the telestial time (1:00) Sunday dinner would be dinner. At 7 or 8 O'clock mom would prepare popcorn then go upstairs to read her book. She would usually take her Pepsi with her. Well, it started as Pepsi, then she switched to Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi, then to Diet Coke, then to regular Coke. Mom was a complex person.
    ·         You had to watch Mom pretty close. She would sometimes ask you "For a swig" of your drink then proceed to drink half of it. Depending on the size of your drink, that was way more than a swig.
    ·         Mom had some bad habits, but they were ones she couldn't help. She had a cacophonous sneeze. Keith and his family could hear it across the street. Maria and I once went to Ace hardware for something. We walked all the way there. While shopping, we heard Mom sneeze. She was at the front of the store while we were at the back. We walked up and found her. Mom would deny this strenuously, but she also snored. When I came home from work at 3AM, I would creep up the stairs then listen at my parents' door. There were two distinct snoring patterns going on. She never believed me when I tried to tell her this.
    ·         Mom was super organized. For example, whenever we traveled to Mesa to visit family we would leave at 7AM. Once we passed Fredonia, Mom would hand out Donuts and Chocolate milk. Two days before leaving she would freeze a jug or two of water so we had cold water all the way to Mesa. We would always stop in Cameron for a potty-break. Mom always had butterscotch candies for us to suck on. And we always listened to John Denver, Patsy Cline, & Afterglow.
    ·         Mom was also brilliant with finances. She would feed our family on a teacher's salary. That takes smart budgeting and organization. And powdered milk.
    ·         Just over 4 years ago, Mom was in an automobile accident. The following were things she said while medicated.
    ·         She got a voicemail from her sister Helen. Mom was talking and responding to the recording. She realized what she was doing and laughed then kept on talking to the voicemail.
    ·         At one point she was adjusting the blanket and said, "Oooh, it's not very wide. (disappointed) Oh, I forgot where I was going to itch."
    ·         Mom declared she was bejeweled at one point due to all the electrodes that were monitoring her body.
    ·         While on the phone with Helen (for real this time, not a recording) she started coughing and hacking, then said, "Well, actually, it's from a hose that was stuck down my throat last night."
    ·         At one point Maria checked her phone then said, "Ohhh, it's Josh's last day with his Scout group." Mom responded, "Why? Are they kicking him out?"
    ·         After getting her gall bladder removed, Mom said a couple funny things while again medicated.
    ·         She described getting an MRI: "They put me through the donut-hole."
    ·         She also said to her nurse after maneuvering out of bed, "Help me go to the bathroom. Well, support me and I'll do the rest."

Mom's done and said many more funny things. From here I want to shift gears just a little. There will still be some humorous notes, but I wanted to mention some things that represent even more closely who Mom was.
            In 3 Nephi 14: 16-20, Christ is talking about false prophets and how to recognize them, but it teaches us how to recognize a good person.
16. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17. Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.
20. Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.

            When Mom married Dad, Dad already had six children. A lot of people wonder how she managed, because that's a rather daunting prospect. Mom was a wonderful person, and I think that covers most of how, but there's one other ingredient: Mom had practice.
            When Mom was 15, her mother, Zada Perry Adams, died, leaving Mom, her dad Louis, and her two brothers, Jerry and Mark. A couple years later, Louis met Theda Shelley, whose husband had died in a car accident, leaving her with six children, Donald, Linda, Mark, Marla, Raelene, and Helen. Since Mignon was 17, and almost ready to graduate and go off to college, Louis and Theda decided Mignon should have her own bedroom, much to the consternation of her four new sisters and Mark Shelley, who had to share a bedroom with those four sisters. Something that Mom learned from this experience that she took with her when she married Dad and had two more kids was that we are siblings, not half siblings, not step siblings, just siblings.
            Mom loved her brothers and sisters very much. She loved to go on the Sisters' Retreat that they had every year or so.
            So to Mom, suddenly having six children wasn't completely out of her previous experience, just that before she suddenly had six new siblings.
            Mom first got to know Dad through letters. Dad was living in McGill Nevada at the time and Mom was in Mesa, AZ. Dad wrote first. When mom got his letter she thought it was from a real estate agent in Nevada. She quickly learned differently. After getting married, Mom and Dad lived in McGill for a little while then moved to Utah, first to Alton, then to Kanab once they found a house. A year later they found a better house on the same block, and moved there, where the family lived up to present times. That house is home.
            After the family moved to Kanab, Keith Robinson came home from his mission in England. seeing that he had new neighbors he came over to say hello. The story goes that Mom answered the door, saw that it was Keith and said, "Lisa, it's for you!"
            Having a daughter and son-in-law live nearby was handy. Once, when Mom and Dad went out of town, Mom had Lisa and Keith take care of me. While Mom was gone, Lisa potty-trained me and weaned me from my bottle. Most mothers don't have it t hat easy.
            Later on, Mom was pregnant with Andi. At the same time, my sister Lisa was pregnant with Brandi Dawn and my sister-in-law Kathleen was pregnant with Daniel. since they were in the same ward, the three families would sit together in Sacrament meeting. Sometimes Dad would be sitting alone for a minute with his pregnant wife, daughter, and daughter-in-law. People gave him some strange looks.
            Mom also touched t he lives of everyone in the 4th ward. She was Relief Society Presdient for 5 years. In those five years she carried the burden of organizing 62 funerals. That's an average of just over 1 per month, for five years. The phone rang for her so often we would often say, "Mom, it's for you!" before even answering it. And this was before the days of caller ID. After the call we would often ask, "Who died?"
            Mom served willingly and well, even when the thought of her calling gave her panic attacks, like when she and Dad received their mission call to Thailand. The people there still love her. I have received a couple messages from her friends there saying how said they are and how much they miss her.
            By their fruits ye shall know them. we are the fruits of Mignon's time on the Earth. And if the fruit is any proof, Mignon Adams Crosby was a pretty amazing person. Mom I love you and I miss you. I hope you keep and eye on all of us and let us know when we're breaking the rules.
            May we remember the good and happy things from Mignon's life as we struggle to find our way in world without her.
            I'm grateful for the Gospel and for my knowledge of life after death. It gives me hope. Mom, no offense, but while I can't wait to see you again, I hope it isn't for a while.
            In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Host of Posts...

I really wanted to call this post "Blog Vomit," but decided against it.

This post is really going to be a bunch of small posts.

1) My mom had surgery last night. Again. She had her gall bladder removed recently. She just hasn't been improving. So last night they went back in to clean the infection out of her pancreas. The hope is that this will help her recover. I hope so anyway. I worry about her. So, Chelsea and I are going to go to St. George to visit her on Saturday. There are some who would say we should visit my dad as well while we're there. I'm not ready to do that, though. Why? Because I'm...

2) "Not Ready to Make Nice." I love this Dixie Chicks song. I know I should forgive my father for the hurt he caused me. I'm just not ready to yet. I'm also still angry at him for what he wrote to me. And I'm mad that, due to Dad's loss of memory, I can't work it out with him. I have to do it all on my own. Once I can deal with my issues I'll be ready to visit my father.

3) I can't wait for the end of June. Chelsea and I are going to the American Library Association convention in Las Vegas. She'll be working, but I can't wait to explore the exhibit hall. There's even going to be a comic book artist in Artist Alley. I want to have him sign a comic book or two.

4) My job requires me to take five consecutive days off. I'm taking these the week following the convention. This will allow me to recover from being around all those people. It will also give me time to decide which grad programs I want to apply to this fall. I also plan on applying for a couple jobs. Don't get me wrong, I love my current position, but I need a job that makes more money. I also would like a position outside of Utah. I would like to live elsewhere.

And those four points are the ones that have been weighing on my mind recently.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Throwing Snowballs at Pine Trees...

So last night Cedar City got a lot of snow. I mean it was a crazy amount of snow. 

Since we live in a basement apartment we have to cover the stairwell with a tarp when it storms unless we want to get flooded. 

When I woke up this morning I went to shake the snow off the tarp so I could let the dogs out. I looked around and saw all the trees weighted down with snow. I would guess we got at least a foot. Not that the entire fall accumulated on the ground, we probably had six to eight inches on the lawn.

I let the dogs out, put on a shirt, and went back outside to see if I could save the branches. And the power lines that the heavy branches were hanging over. We lost one branch of the quaking aspen before I got outside. I later discovered that the smaller of the two pine trees in the back yard had gone roots up, completely fallen over. I shoveled our pathway then started hitting branches with the shovel to shake the snow loose. Then I started shaking the branches with my hands. A lot of snow fell out of the trees, much of it right on top of me, and me in my basketball shorts and a Hanes undershirt. Brrr!

I could see that the upper branches of the still-standing pine tree were heavy-laden with snow. I had no way to get close enough to shake them, and the trunk was too sturdy to move. Then I had a brain-flash. Maybe I could shake the branches by throwing snowballs!

It worked, to an extent. My arm got tired quickly, and my aim isn't all that great, but I think the little I did helped. The pine tree didn't break any branches anyway, so I call that a win.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


I had two odd things happen to me yesterday that I'm still puzzling my way through.

At lunch I was sitting in my car, getting ready to go back to work at the bank when I had a flashback. I remembered working at Convergys. It wasn't all that long ago that I worked there, about 15 months or so, so it's not all that odd that I am able to remember it. What makes it odd is that I absolutely hated working there.

Even more odd, the mere fact of remembering working there nearly caused me to have a panic attack. 

Last night I dreamed I was still working there. I logged on and off the phone, had conversations with people who were calling in. It was a dream, so things were a little different. You know, my current coworkers were there, the colors were different, things like that. 

I was woken up by Chelsea coming to bed. I don't know that I've ever been so grateful to be woken up.

I got up and went to the bathroom. When I got back, Chelsea apologized for waking me. I told her I was grateful. Then I went back to sleep. Luckily, I didn't return to Convergys.

These experiences got me to thinking, "What if I still had to work there? What if I hadn't found a job at the bank?" This was a sobering thought. If I'm honest with myself, with the way I felt after working for Convergys for only 3 months, if I had to stay there for well over a year there's a very real possibility that I would have taken my own life. 

It's not a pleasant thought and it makes me that much more grateful for the job I have now. I don't love every day, but I enjoy  my job and my coworkers. I like what I do. Is it my forever career? No. It is a good place for me to be right now while Chelsea and I work out what to do next.

Thank goodness for good jobs.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Little Dogs...

My little dog Joe (pronounced Jo eee) is the little dog who cries wolf.

Every time Max, the German shepherd who lives upstairs, comes outside while Joe is out there, she cries and yelps like he bit her in half.  This time he pounced at her and she got caught underneath, which hurt her. 

I was calling her in rather sternly, so when she came down the stairs and I picked her up, she cried and screamed. She has been limping around the house ever since. It's sad; she looks so pathetic. I feel bad for her.

Tomorrow Chelsea will most likely take her to the vet unless she shows some rather marked improvement.

Tonight was supposed to be a night where I wrote for my geek blog. I don't think I can focus enough to make that happen. Worried about my dog.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Downs and Ups...

I still don't know what's next for me. 

Here's what I think. I need to start working towards getting stories published. This would make me a more attractive candidate for grad school. I also think I need to start looking for a job that could become a career. No, I'm not giving up on becoming a professor. I do like having back-up plans, though, so looking for career-type jobs is a good idea. These jobs need to be outside of Utah, preferable in a city with a university that has an MFA in Creative Writing. I could take classes while working and maybe get an "in."

The last week has consisted of two downs followed by two major ups. 

Down #1: My grandmother died. She would have turned 100 this summer. She always treated me like her other grandchildren, even though I wasn't a blood relative. She was a wonderful lady and I miss her.

Down #2: My mother was taken to the hospital in St. George. She had surgery to remove her gall bladder. She is recovering now, but will be in the hospital for a while. They need to make sure her pancreas is functioning properly again. Apparently Spring has it in for my mother. 4 years ago she was in a automobile accident and had to have major surgery on her shoulder and hip. It took her a long time to recover. I hope her recovery will be much quicker this time around.

Up #1: I play a game called Magic: the Gathering. It's a fantasy-based collectible card game. I enjoy playing, but I'm not considered one of the better players in the game shop I frequent. I get along with the other players and they respect my skill, but I haven't had a high win-percentage. After visiting my mother in her hospital room I went and played at a game shop in St. George. I had never been there before. I went 3-0 and won the tournament. And I didn't just get lucky. I feel I made correct decisions and played well. This gave me a huge confidence boost.

Up #2: A couple weeks ago I made the decision to write to a couple missionaries. I don't know these young men, but I read their blogs hoping to see news or pictures of people I knew during my time as a missionary in Peru. I read about 10 missionary blogs every week. The two elders I wrote to were going through some trials that were similar to ones I experienced or witnessed in my mission. So I wrote letters. I tried to be positive and uplifting. I related my experiences and gave advice that I hoped would help. One of these Elders mentioned me in his letter to his family, which was posted to his blog. He said my letter helped. That made me feel extremely happy. I've set a goal to write to two missionaries a week. 

After the two ups I feel a lot more positive and sure of myself. I'm making plans and setting goals that will help me be a better writer and a better person.

Now to actually go and do.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Up in the Air...

While I was in high school I participated in the drama club. I don't think I was all that great an actor, but I could follow directions and I could sing. My big role came when there was a character who was basically me. When the directors decided to do "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," I was excited. I auditioned for the role of Linus, which I thought was perfect for me. I didn't get the part. I was a little bummed, but I wasn't really too sad because I was cast as Charlie Brown. Yep, I was the star of the show. It was a fun production and I really enjoyed it. 

I still identify with Charlie Brown. A lot. Charles Schultz created an everyman that just could not get his kite to fly. He could never actually kick the football out of Lucy's hands. He never pitched a winning baseball game. He never successfully defended his little sister from the playground bully. 

You know what my favorite Peanuts story is? It's a Charlie Brown story, of course. Linus and Lucy have a little brother named Rerun. In one series of strips, Rerun plays marbles against a no-name marble shark. Rerun is using the marbles his grandfather gave him. The marble shark wins and, after the game is over, declares that the game was, "for keeps." Rerun is devastated. On his way home, he bumps into Charlie Brown, who asks him what happened. When Rerun tells Charlie Brown of the kid who took his marbles, Charlie Brown goes into his house and comes out with his own bag of marbles. He walks up to the marble shark and challenges him to a game, "for keeps."

Charlie Brown wins. He wins not only Rerun's marbles, but the shark's as well, which he then gives to Rerun. Now, if Charlie Brown had been trying to win for himself, I don't think he would have. He probably would have lost not only his own marbles, but probably had all his clothes knocked off by a particularly strong play. Since Charlie Brown was sticking up for a younger kid who had been taken advantage of, he won. Handily. Every time I read that series of comic strips I sob. 

Anyway, back to drama. My senior year the drama club performed "Anne of Green Gables." I played about 50 different roles in the play. Well, really, I played four. There were two scenes from that play that were particularly memorable. The first was not in the script. 

Jason, who played Matthew, was supposed to go on stage with Nathan, who was playing a farm hand. There they discover the remains of a party Anne had with her friend Diana, who gets drunk on raspberry currant. Right before this scene is set to go, Nathan steps on a cement screw, the head of which gets impaled in the bottom of his foot, which the point sticking out the bottom. Since Nathan went to the Emergency Room, Jason had to improvise alone in a scene meant for two performers. He did so brilliantly. Nobody in the audience knew that anything was wrong.

The second memorable scene happened later on. Matthew has passed away and Anne, played by Mariah, is talking to Marilla, played by Sara. After a few lines have gone by, Anne turns to Marilla and says, "Oh, Marilla, what are we going to do?" I remember this line because Mariah delivered it perfectly. Her voice and demeanor showed that she was on the verge of completely breaking down. It was a voice on the edge of despair; true emotion from the melodramatic Anne. Every time I saw this scene it felt as if my heart had been ripped from my chest, stomped on several times, then shoved back in upside-down.

This scene has come to mind a lot recently.

Last fall I started applying to graduate schools. My goal is to become a professor.  I applied to six schools. 

All six have said, "No."

Graduate school has been the goal and the plan. My wife and I have been working towards me going to graduate school for a couple years. 

What are we going to do?

I honestly don't know. I feel lost, adrift on an unknown sea, no visible landmarks or stars to guide my path. So far I've managed to keep my depression in check, mostly by avoiding thinking about the future. I have to stop avoiding it and start thinking about what's next. 

Wish me luck.