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.