Turning the Hearts of the Children to their Mothers

Many of us are familiar with the passage found in the last book of the Old Testament, declaring that in the last days Elijah would come to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, ‘lest the earth be smitten with a curse.’

In my last few days (and weeks, and months, and years), my heart has turned to my mothers, as well as to my mother lines. There are a few reasons for this.

One is that my mother is home. (And I care a lot about home.) This is true even when I live on the literal other side of the world from her, which I sometimes do. Or when I live a state or so over, which I do right now. She is a good home. A kind home. A believing home. A funny home. A passionate home. A hardworking home. A wins-awards-at-her-job home. She also looks like me. Or more accurately, I look like her. I have my dad’s nose and curly hair, but I still look like her. I alone of all of my sisters have my mother’s blue eyes. There are other shared features and other shared temperaments. Too many to mention. In important ways, I am my mother’s daughter.

Then there is her mother, who begat my mother, Claudia, who begat me. I recently had the opportunity to live in her California home with her for six months. I took care of her after her stroke, and she took care of me after my heartbreak. We prayed together and ate together. She would offer me processed cookies, and I would make her guacamole with the avocados, lemons, and tomatoes growing in her backyard. I listened as she told me her stories, over and over and over, until they became my stories. One day I noticed that she had mine and my mother’s eyes. In important ways, I am my grandmother’s granddaughter.

Her name is Zena, and when my siblings and I were younger, we referred to her as Zena: Warrior Grandma. She has always been short, and her osteoporosis has made her even shorter, to the point that her 5’1″ frame has shrunk to 4’11”, but she has also always been feisty. Probably even when she was in her mother’s womb. Definitely even now, when she is 93 years old.

What has she done that is so feisty? She bucked many (false) traditions of her time. Rather than waiting for a husband (or even getting married young), she took matters into her own hand. When she was in her late 20’s she traveled alone by train from California to Texas, which alone could be viewed as risky. Once she boarded, she approached the conductor and handed him a $5 bill (which should be adjusted for inflation), and asked him to seat her next to the most handsome man on the train. The conductor accepted the tip, and sat her beside my grandpa, who was home on break from the second World War.

They began writing one another almost immediately. Still, he was not the only one she was writing. Oh, no. There were about five others. She wanted to keep her options open. My grandpa wrote his mother that he had met the girl he was going to marry, apparently so convincingly, that when she met the intended woman, she congratulated her. My grandma taken aback cried out, “That’s news to me!”

Still later they did get engaged, and then married while my grandpa was home on another break from the war. There were rations at that time on sugar, butter, and other items, so my grandma’s sister borrowed rations from friends to make her a small wedding cake.

My grandma also became a professional woman in the 50’s, when my mother cannot remember any of her friends’ moms working. Perhaps even more surprisingly, my grandma did not do any of the household cooking. My grandpa cooked for the US Navy, and he cooked (very well) for his own family.

There is one more thing that must be mentioned: my grandmother brought her family into the gospel. Her brother-in-law was LDS, and so she had had occasion to visit LDS meetings when she was a tad bit younger. Later when she was living on the opposite side of the city from her sister, brother-in-law, and LDS chapel, the Elders knocked on her door. She let them in because of the fond feelings she had for her in-law.

Many of the things they taught resonated with her, particularly baptism for the dead, and the mercy and fairness that allowed those who did not have the opportunity to receive the ordinance during their life to remain eligible for exaltation. Her father, who had passed away when she was nine during the great depression, and others close to her fit into that not-baptized-before-they-died situation.

For this and other reasons, she desired to be baptized. My grandpa told her stubbornly that if she joined the Mormon church, he was going to join the Catholic church. Even more stubbornly, she was baptized anyway. When he saw that she was serious, he began to meet with the sister missionaries. Later he too was baptized. Later still, their family was sealed together. This was meaningful to me when I was on my own mission. As I taught people, I thought of my grandpa, who was taught by women like me.

I owe a lot to my feisty, Warrior Grandma, pioneer.

And then there is my paternal grandmother, who I call my granny. My heart has always been turned to her. Maybe because I grew up in the state where she raised her family, that she lived and loved in. She was just a beautiful forest away, and for two years of my growing up experience, she was just a very short drive away, making those years two of my favorites.

I admire so many things about this granny, and so many things about her husband, who was possibly my favorite human being. They met when they were both at school in Idaho. He saw her play tennis one day, and was drawn to her long legs. Unlike my maternal grandma, Granny Hunt has always been tall. At her prime she stood 6’0.”

And maybe because it was the era, this grandpa also announced that he would marry the woman he barely knew. And, again maybe because it was the era, he did, a few walks home from “Mutual dances” with her hands in his pocket later. My life is all the better for it.

This granny is feisty in different ways. She believed in herself firmly, and knew that she could do great things, and varied things. Because of this belief, she accomplished a great deal. She finished college after she had her own children, to become an elementary school teacher. One of my favorite stories was learning that when her students finished reading a book, she would let them stand on top of their desk, and scream, “I finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!” (or whatever it was).

During the summers she and my grandpa took their four kids to a lake in Idaho called Redfish, where they were the summer forest rangers. They were in charge of everything:  registering campers, cleanup, chopping down firewood (which in those days was given to each camper), etc., etc. There she learned how to water ski on one ski, and did it as well, or better than the men.

She also made, wore, and sold crazy jewelry and other crafts out of whatever she had on hand, including empty soda cans. One of the campers was so impressed that he put her homemade fare in a fine art show in Canada.

Other talents include singing, writing (including an amazing song about a little kangaroo), water painting and other painting. When home computers became more popular, she became adept at painting in simple programs, and was never too old to learn a new trick. She also played Fantasy Basketball with my dad, uncles, and male cousins for years and years. She would keep multiple tv’s going in her house at any given time to keep track of all of her players, and often won.

My heart turned even more to her last August, when I was getting married. I had difficulty finding a dress in stores that I liked and was not way over my price limit. After another discouraging day trying on dresses, my oldest sister called me, and said, “Why don’t you just wear granny’s dress?” Unbeknownst to me, she had it. Very generously to me, she gave it up.

It was perfect, and felt like such a miracle. Seeing my granny, Billie, while wearing her wedding dress was one of the most beautiful moments of my life. Her eyes lit up my smile, and her smile too. As we stood there grinning, I learned that she made it herself, making something that was already special even more so.

That wedding day is the last day I saw my granny alive. She died almost exactly five months later. One week after I returned from that many months of living abroad.

I was scared to go to her house. I was scared to feel the emptiness that I knew must be there. And so I surpassed it, by going straight to the mortuary with my mother and aunts to dress my granny for her burial. It is not something that I would have ever expected that I would want to do, but it felt right somehow, to be able to do that small, yet holy thing. I remain grateful that I am my granny’s granddaughter, and that her heart is part of my heart.

As I reflect on my own mother lines, I understand the complexity and power of turning our hearts to our mothers. We remember them, and in a way, we remember ourselves also. The memory is assuredly more complete for having the woman whose wombs we come from embedded in our heart-turnings, and journals, and blogs, as the many “begetting” scriptures would be less boring and more true if they included the women who were the actual begetters.

Imagine reading: Abraham and Sarah begat Isaac. Isaac and Rebecca begat Jacob. Jacob and Rachel begat Joseph, and so on down the line. Not only is this rendering more accurate, it is a more powerful witness that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is also the God of Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel, which witness we all may need on occasion.

What are your mother lines? Who are the women with the stories that make your hearts turn? How have you felt them turn their hearts to you? What difference might it make to you if women were more included in scriptural or spiritual accounts?

Rachel

Rachel is a PhD student in Philosophy of Religion and Theology at Claremont Graduate University. She co-edited _Mormon Feminism: Essential Writings_ with Joanna Brooks and Hannah Wheelwright. She is also a lover of all things books and bikes.

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40 Responses

  1. Wonderful post. It sounds like both sides were absolutely fabulous. How special that you were able to live with the one in California and wear the dress of the other. Thank you for sharing.

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you, sincerely. And they were fabulous. They really were.

      I feel so grateful for the opportunities I have had in the last two years to draw closer to both of my grandmothers. I know it is an opportunity that not everyone has.

  2. Mhana says:

    I had a heart turning moment last year. I was staying with my aunt in Chicago to give a paper at a conference and she put me up in her basement guest room. She had decorated it with posters and pictures of family members going back several generations. I had ample time to look at them and I made a happy discovery. I have always been apple-cheeked. I have big round cheeks that make it hard to see when I smile and I always thought made me look fat. Neither of my parents have cheeks like that, and neither did my grandparents. Why was I cursed to be the fat-faced one? I looked at the pictures and realized something. My aunt, in fact, has the apple cheeks. My grandfather’s sister, known as Aunt Peg (and still teaching ESL though she is in her nineties) has the apple cheeks. And my great-grandma Calma (a name I have dibsed if I ever have a daughter) had great big apple cheeks. And you know what? It is a look that wears well. Old ladies look awesome with big round cheeks. It made me feel good and changed my attitude — here was something I had in common with generations of women in my family, and it seems to be a trait that goes to the girls but not to the boys, which is why I never saw it in my parents or grandparents — the women of my paternal line are awfully jolly. Hooray for apple cheeks.

    • Rachel says:

      I love this. Thank you for sharing. I love picturing you aging gracefully, with your very jolly, apple cheeks. I also love that if any future daughters of yours happen to wonder where their possible apple cheeks came from, you will know.

      It has been hitting me so hard lately how connection is such a key principle in everything gospel related and not. We come from Someone! From many Someones! It is amazing really, and oh so nice to be tied together by looks and temperaments and souls.

  3. Elisse Newey says:

    Lovely lovely. We spent this last summer following family lines around the country (and into mexico). As Eric and I talked with family members and scanned old photo albums and explored the land where our family lived – I felt a sort of aching in my heart – like these connections and discoveries were far to great to be described. Does that make sense?…. It was almost an ache because there was something I wanted so badly to put into words but I knew I lacked the vocabulary to do so.
    I think that your words got close to describing the feelings I had this summer. I think now that that feeling was my heart turning to my mothers and my fathers. So much so that I could feel it in my chest.
    I am excited to read part 2. 😉

    • Rachel says:

      I loved every picture you and Eric posted, as I love your ancestry blog.

      I didn’t ever think I was one for family history, but it turns out I was wrong. Someone just needed to tell me that family history is stories about the people we come from. I think the heart turning/aching is real, and it is both powerful and beautiful.

  4. Spencer says:

    My heart is turned to my mother right now as well. She is dying of cancer. She has been my biggest supporter. When I think about all of life’s challenges, and then think about how gracefully my mother is/has carried them I can’t help but be grateful for her example. I am also turned toward my mother’s father who has been an amazing example to me.

    • Rachel says:

      Dear Spencer. Dear husband. My heart is turned to your mother right now too. I pray for her (and you) every day. I wish I knew her as well as I know my grandmothers.

  5. Laura says:

    I should know better than to read a post like this while in public. 🙂 Amazingly beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
    I have amazing connections to my mother lines. My maternal grandmother was my best friend. When she died of lung cancer when I was 6, I didn’t eat any bread for 6 years because no one would make me bread like my grandma did. She is still a strong presence in my life.
    Through family history work, I also feel strongly connected to my paternal grandfather’s mother and grandmothers. While I never knew them in this life, they are strongly a part of my life story and I am grateful for their influence on me and my girls.

    • Rachel says:

      🙂

      Thank you. Thank you. I think there is true power in remembering our mother (and father) lines, and I definitely agree that other’s stories may become our own, or at the very least, part of our own. The very make up of our souls comes from them: it only makes sense.

      I am so glad that you are close to your mother lines, and that you have passed on that rich tradition to your own daughters. They are blessed.

  6. April says:

    How wonderful that you know your grandmothers so well. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Rachel says:

      You are welcome. And I feel very lucky/happy/honored/etc. Particularly for the opportunity I had to live with my maternal grandmother (who in Danish I could just call my mormor). I wasn’t close to her previously. Not at all. Living with her changed that, and increased my love for her a hundred fold.

  7. Erin says:

    Absolutely loved this post. Thanks for sharing these beautiful stories.

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you. And thank you for Reading these stories and for calling them beautiful. I think we all have these stories inside of us, and that they need to be told. They need to be remembered.

  8. Tod Robbins says:

    Rachel,

    You’ve convinced me that I need to revive my research into the lives of my mothers. One of my great-grandmothers drove a wagon from SLC to nowhere-Arizona in the late 1800s and survived an Indian ambush. Their stories need to be unveiled, cherished, and offered to all.

    • Rachel says:

      Tod,

      This pleases me immensely. And you are the perfect person to unveil them, cherish them, and offer them to all, what with your information science know-how and all.

  9. Megan says:

    Both of my grandmothers died when I was six, and only one of them lived close enough for me to remember her.

    I try to know them through family stories but for my father’s mother those are few and far between (although she sounds a fabulous woman who got her masters degree in chemistry and then worked for a bit in Hull House in Chicago). For my mother’s mother there are a lot of stories, but they are all filtered so heavily through my mother’s ideas and judgements that I have no idea who the REAL woman actually was.

    However my mother has carefully saved dozens and dozens of letters between the women in her family and those do give me a small window into their minds and lives. At least it lets me know I come from a line of courageous, adventurous, complex women.

    You are so very, very lucky to have known your delightful grandmothers as an adult woman.

    • Rachel says:

      “At least it lets me know I come from a line of courageous, adventurous, complex women.” What an amazing thing to know!

      I love that you have letters, though am sorry you can’t pair them with adult remembrances and experiences.

      One of my older sisters wrote me while I was on my mission that while visiting my granny, she found a large pile of love letters between her and my grandpa. She read everyone. Now that they are both passed, I wonder where they are, and would very much like to have the same experience as my sister.

  10. Jules says:

    I loved this. Such great writing! And it makes me want to be a better aunt to my nieces–more like a refuge for them, a safe place where there will never be judgment, only love.

    My parents often shake their heads at my left-leaning politics and feminist sensibilities. What they don’t realize is that both of my grandmothers’ lives led me there. My Nana, who married a non-LDS boy who joined the church 20 years after their marriage, was a fairly traditional SAHM, but reading her life history wears me out with all her community involvement and service. I don’t know how she did it all.

    And my Grandma, the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants, was the first person in her family to marry a Gentile–a man she met while she was in the Navy during WWII. She had a career as a dental hygienist and later as an office manager, and had a wicked sense of humor. I loved them both so much and wish I knew them better. My sister often tells me that I should follow their examples and marry outside my faith…it worked out so well for both of them. I’m almost ready to try it.

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you! (Double!)

      I want to be that safe refuge for everyone I care about. Your nieces are already lucky to have you, I can tell.

      That is great that you at least know where it comes from. Both grandma’s sound wonderful.

      As per your sister’s advice, I once had a Stake President when I was single, and in Boston, that spent two hours of Ward Conference telling us that it was okay to date (and even marry!) outside of the church. He said we just needed to bring them to church, even if they didn’t join, so they could understand us. I thought it was actually pretty reasonable advice, and realistic advice acknowledging that there ARE more active, single women than active, single men, and that sometimes better men for us may be on the “outside.”

  11. EM says:

    So enjoyed reading your article – thanks!
    Since immersing myself in family history work, I’ve come to appreciate my female ancestors. In particular my paternal grandmother Nicol, who comes from long line of Scottish fish curers and coopers – they were such hard working women, which traits have been carried through to my aunts. My mother and her mother were such hard workers, both coming through WW2, sacrificing for their families; they had such amazing talents that have carried through to me and my siblings and our children. I marvel how some of my female ancestors survived the rough and rugged life in settling parts of South Africa in the mid 1700’s and on. We make fun of the fact that me and my siblings are all such perfectionist and control freaks, but upon thinking further about it, it’s not that we’re perfectionist/controllers, it’s that we care deeply about the things we do and we want to make sure we do it right and do it well. My mother, grandmothers and aunts have instilled good work ethics in their progenitors. I’ve developed such a great love for them and look forward to meeting them in the next life.

    • Rachel says:

      Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I love that you have a knowledge about yourself and work ethic because of the stories and lives and ethic of your ancestors.

      I also loved reading about the love you have for them, because it can be real and deep. I love the not frequently sung hymn (I believe) called, “Oh What Songs of the Heart,” that talks about the songs of the heart we’ll sing when we greet those who have passed before.

  12. Libby says:

    Beautiful, Rachel. I look like my mother, who looks like her mother did–all of us sturdy German peasant girls with prominent noses and the same set of wrinkles. I love seeing my mother and grandmother when I look in the mirror and when I look at my oldest daughter. There’s strength there, in knowing that I belong to them and they belong to me.

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you, Libby.

      It is somehow so strengthening to have those very visual reminders. It has taken me a long time to be okay with my own rather prominent nose, but any time I think of having children one day, or losing my father one day, it brings me comfort to know that I will be able to say, “This nose? I got it from my dad.”

  13. EmilyCC says:

    This is lovely, Rachel. I think we share a path in this area. I was never one for family history, thinking it was too much about names, dates, and headstones, but once I realized the stories. I was hooked.

    • Rachel says:

      Thank you, Emily. Yep. Those names, dates, and headstones only mean something to me when I know a little bit about what fleshed out their life. And when I do: they become deeply exciting to me. After I got back from 5 weeks of learning Danish, and before I leave in 3 days for Denmark (eep!) my aunt told me that my grandpa’s grandpa came to America on a boat from Denmark. And then she sent me a picture of his gravestone and I almost cried.

      • Rachel says:

        p.s. my mom just read this post, and thanked me for “being the family storyteller.” My heart feels very warm right now. 🙂

  14. spunky says:

    I want to like this post so much, and I do… I just can’t help but wish there was something that an adoptive or a non-traditional family could better celebrate. Sure, LDS theology teaches that children who are adopted and “sealed” become a part of that family line in terms of the eternities, but the reminders that noses, eyes and other parts of physical heritage seems to disregard any sense of inheritance in a non-biologically manufactured family.

    I also feel sadness for those of us who have negative relationship with our mothers. Must we turn our hearts to those who have so deeply hurt or sometimes abused us? I think of my grandmother who- as a child of polygamy, was abused by her sisters’ mother, yet felt her (half?) sisters line a part of her heritage. Do we include the differing and sometimes abusive lines?

    I guess what I am saying is that my family is just so very imperfect. And so very not typical. So this post made me a bit sad and lonely… If children must turn their hearts to a parent, where do the hearts of the orphans turn?

    Thank you for this post, it is beautiful, though it a bittersweet reminder of the failings of my reality.

    • Rachel says:

      Oh Spunky. My heart feels. You asked such beautiful and important questions and I don’t have the answers to match.

      Still, my very first impression is that the lonely or orphans or hurt turn their hearts to Christ, because He is a friend of all of those things, but that still may not be enough.

      My best friend in high school’s mother was adopted and I remember having some conversations with her. And then there is a young man that my dad coached who went on to get a gold medal. He was adopted when he was two and knew very little about his biological parents and very little desire to know. As far as he was concerned, they weren’t his parents. His parents were the ones who tucked him in at night when he was small and cheered him on at his track meets when he was older. They were the ones who believed in him, who stayed with him, who wanted him. Did it make him sad that he didn’t look like his parents? He never said. I think he knew his heart looked like theirs and his honesty and dedication. There are lots and lots of ways to be tied together. One of mine just happens to be a big nose. 🙂

      Another thought I had is that some of us are more oriented to the past and some of us are more oriented to the future. I care deeply about the past and about memories–so much so that it might do well for me to concern myself more with telling New stories, and maybe that is where you can focus too. And to tell your heart stories and family stories, even if they are different. Especially if they are different.

      There are less idyllic stories I could have told here, like depression and anxiety are some of the things I inherited from my family lines, or that one grandma is a little (or lot) eccentric and the other bragged a lot. Those stories are mine as much as the others (as well as deeper ones). I try to embrace and accept them all while (generally) focusing on the good. There are cases and stories where it doesn’t make sense to do that (and I have seen some in my own family, as well as in my extended family). Again I can just say that my heart feels.

      Thank you for helping me see how others might and do feel when these things are talked about. I apologize for any insensitivity I may have expressed unwittingly.

      Sincerely,
      R

      • Spunky says:

        Oh, dear. No need to apologise! None at all; I loved your post. I suppose I hold too dear that the mistakes of the past will be repeated if we do not learn from them, so am obsessed with learning from the past. The future is a bit too scary for me!

        I agree that we all turn to Christ, but that sort of skips the maternal, or female lines of heritage that I think you sought to explore. But- importantly, I think what your post did for me is to teach me that I yearn for a Heavenly Mother, more than I had felt before. She blessed me with female mentors who were not related to me and whom I feel like I am a daughter, though I am not. So– can’t I turn my heart to Her? and to the women She sent to me? Anyway– this is turning into nothing to do with your post, so I aplogise for the threadjack.

        But that threadjack is a compliment to you– your post made me think about things I didn’t know meant something to me. I honestly can’t recall the last time that happened. And I really needed that. Your post is a blessing to me because it taught me something about me. Thank you.

    • Diane says:

      Spunky,

      Hopefully, I can answer your question, I know that I have mentioned before that I grew up in foster care from the age of eight till I aged out at 18. While the Op is saying turn their hearts to the mother. I believe that if we take it one step further we can turn your hearts to your history. Regardless of how we feel about our mothers(my relationship with my mother, indeed the rest of my family) is a complicated one. However. the history is still important, Its’ much more than bloodlines, its about constructiveness, its’ about knowing that the people you have in your life have your best interest at heart. Sure, the stories are very important, (I think that’s why I love the show, “Who do you think you are”) but, its not the end all be all of who you are. Its what we make of the information, stare it face and acknowledge it, propel it for change. I don’t know if that helps but, that’s how I look at it.

      • debi says:

        Last night I attended a memorial service for my sister-in-law’s foster child. His autopsy reads “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.” She read aloud a letter she had written him, about how if she had known that when she put him down for his nap she would have held him a little longer, kissed him a few more times… and she signed it “Your Mommy”.

        No, she was not his biological mother, nor even his adoptive one (and therefore could not be sealed to him), but she walked him as his body reacted to the addictions of his biological mother; she bathed him and rocked him and sang to him and fed him and loved loved loved him. They had a connection from the moment she picked him up from the social worker’s office.

        When he died, his biological family claimed his body from the hospital and cremated it. They refused to have a funeral for him and said they would never speak of him again. As a foster mother, my sister-in-law had no rights, no claim to this child she had nurtured and cared for, but as her letter states, she *was* his mommy.

        Spunky, I am sure you do yearn for your Heavenly Mother. I know I do, and I have contact with my earthly mother. But as well, we all have several families on earth… some we are born into, and some we create, and some we choose. If it is true that we are all mothers, then it must be equally true that we are all mother*ed* as well.

        I know it is meant as an educational term, but I think alma mater (mother of my soul) can have other connotations as well. I have a few women who have mothered me to whom my heart and soul turn. We do not share mortal DNA, but I am sure somehow we are linked eternally. There are no physical traits to identify us, but there are certain character traits and mannerisms we share — addictions to books and odd ways of seeing the world and so forth.

        I am glad to have a bigger frame of reference than birth (or even Earth!) for my family, and than biology for my mother. I do have contact with her, but in many ways I feel like a motherless child. I know that’s not the same as what Spunky was saying, but with my own background of abuse and the fact I have mindfully tried to shed some of my mother’s ways, I just wanted to offer hope that one’s heart turning to their mother can have bigger (and more healing scope) than that offered by earthly certification.

      • Spunky says:

        Thank you, debi. Every word you wrote is correct. Perfect. Thank you for mothering me with your words. I agree with you. Thank you.

  15. Karen says:

    Rachel thank you so much for this. My mother passed away last month at the age of 93. “Oh What Songs of the Heart” was sung at her funeral.

    My maternal gramma died when I was 10 years old but one of my fondest memories is of her telling us stories of her childhood and of our pioneer ancestors. I always thought that she crossed the plains in a wagon herself! When I was older I realized that she was born in 1894 in SLC so she couldn’t have crossed the plains herself. But what wonderful stories and memories.

    I tell my daughter that she comes from a long line of very strong women. All of our stories matter. Thank you!

    • Rachel says:

      Karen, you are equally welcome. I know how much a reference to a tender song or age or memory can mean. When my paternal grandpa (i.e., my hero) passed away when I was 18, all of the grandkids sang his favorite song, “Teach Me to Walk in the Light.” The next day (or maybe that very day) I had a religion class at BYU, in which we opened with that song. It took everything I had not to weep.

      With his wife’s more recent passing, my master-violinist-uncle played, “O My Father,” after saying that he played it for my grandpa’s funeral too, and that my grandpa had requested it. I didn’t remember that, because at that time the song held no special meaning for me, but it holds very deep meaning for me now, and it was lovely to learn on that hard day of hard days that my grandparents knew and loved it. I hoped they loved the verse on Heavenly Mother as much as I.

      I loved reading your childhood belief that your grandma was part of those pioneers, when she (like you) came from them. So sweet. I am so glad you pass those stories onto your daughter. Thank You!

  16. X2 Dora says:

    Lovely post. And so wonderful to have the thoughts that have swirled through your mind, to finally have them set down where they can be accessed and shared by you family and friends!

    I always thought it was peculiar that the scriptures didn’t mention the mothers, in the long recitations of genealogy. Particularly when being in or out of the covenant was determined by the mother, and not the father. That was why it was such a big deal when sons married out of the covenant! When my brother married a Jewish girl last year, I remember having this conversation with her, and understanding that their future children would be considered Jewish because the mother was Jewish.

    • Rachel says:

      So interesting, that “being in or out of the covenant was determined by the mother.” I didn’t know that. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for your kind comment.

  17. anon says:

    This post was hard for me to read as I have a terrible relationship with my mother and hardly knew either of my now deceased grandmothers. My mother was abusive. She is now too disabled and I live too far away for any more abuse to take place. I have to limit our interactions. Unfortunately during our last visit she told some things to my oldest daughter which were absolute lies. It’s hard to know if she is up to her old tricks of emotional abuse manipulation or if it’s simply senility.

    • Rachel says:

      One other reader mentioned similar (yet of course different) feelings stirred when reading this.

      I am sorry that you lack a positive relationship with your mother, and that you didn’t have the opportunity to develop close ties to your grandmother’s. I am sorry that reading this post was hard for you, and appreciate your willingness to share an alternative perspective.

      Still, I hope that it was not unnecessarily hard for you, and still firmly believe that mother lines should be remembered, mostly because I believe that women should be remembered.

      If your direct mother lines are not lines you would like to remember or repeat, that is a good place, because then you can become that good heart and good place for your children to turn to. There is pain in my mother lines as well. Sometimes even deep pain. Here I tried to remember the beautiful things, but privately I remember the others as well, to better direct how I would like to turn forward.

      There are also other women that we can remember, if remembering the ones in our family hurts us. The women I mentioned were my physical line, but there is also a spiritual line, including, but not limited to the early pioneer women, many of which were very strong, in every sense of that word. Then, there is Heavenly Mother, who we can all strive to turn to.

  1. October 9, 2012

    […] (Part I here) […]

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