Courtesy of Jimmer Fredette
Editor's note: This is an excerpt from "Life Lessons from Mothers of Faith" published by Covenant Communications. Click here for more excerpts from "Life Lessons from Mothers of Faith."
If there is such a thing as a conventional LDS family, mine was certainly not it.
My father joined the church when he was 18, along with his brother Dennis and sister Bonnie. He has been very active and has served in many church callings throughout his life, including everything from being a counselor in the bishopric and Young Men organization to serving as a ward mission leader. My dad is both devoted and faithful.
My mother is also devoted and faithful, but it just so happens that she’s Catholic.
My mom’s dad, Clint Taft, was somewhat of a local legend in Whitehall, N.Y., a small town about a half-hour south of Lake Champlain near the New York–Vermont border. He taught physical education for nearly 40 years and also coached football, basketball, baseball and track. He later became principal prior to his retirement. His influence on my mom is unmistakable. They were very close, and it’s obvious that he taught her a great deal about hard work and always putting forth her best effort.
My mom also inherited his athleticism because she was also quite a good athlete. Although at Whitehall High School, girls team sports were not available in her day, she was a very good tennis player, and after graduating, she played on a women’s softball team. When I was at BYU, I would come home on breaks and practice shooting in our backyard. We spent many long hours together as she would rebound my shots and pass the ball back to me. After I finished my practice, she would shoot a hundred free throws on her own.
My mom earned a teaching degree from the College of St. Joseph in Vermont. She taught elementary school, mostly as a substitute teacher, because it allowed her the flexibility to be at home and be a mom. It wasn’t until I went to college that she went to work outside the home. But even in her years at home with us, she was a good teacher, helping us plan for our futures and instructing us well.
My father and mother met in Whitehall. When my mom and dad announced their intentions to be married, my grandparents were not happy. They knew little about the LDS Church, and what they had heard was not very good. From what I understand, Mom had quite a confrontation with her mother because she wanted their grandchildren to be brought up as Catholics.
It wasn’t that my mom was rejecting her faith and heritage. My dad was a good man to begin with, but she knew his religion helped make him an even better man, teaching him such characteristics as honesty, morality and kindness. She also knew instinctively that with all the programs focused on teaching kids the gospel, having her kids grow up in the LDS faith was simply the best thing for us. She wanted us to learn about Jesus Christ and all he did for us. In her mind, the LDS faith was the best option. To my mom’s great credit, she stood up to her parents and said, no, this is how it’s going to be. Eventually, my grandparents accepted it, and it hasn’t been an issue since, but it illustrates just how courageous and determined she is.
I am the youngest of three siblings, including my older brother, TJ, and my sister, Lindsay. My real name is James, but because my mom has several family members with the name “Jim” or “James,” she made up the name “Jimmer” as a way to differentiate among us.
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