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Reader Voices: Finding the meaning of love

By C. LaVar Rockwood

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Aug. 19 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

Family history concepts have been a part of our faith since the beginning. Dates, places, births and the like have made us aware of a sterling heritage. President Wilford Woodruff, however, contributed a lot to history by the journals he faithfully kept on a day-by-day basis. Here, he told of feelings and events that were important to the beginnings of church history.

We, too, have experiences that cultivate our history and show our personal value system. Too bad we let them slip by without passing them on to help future generations know how we became who we were. In an attempt to encourage recording of our own personal family history, the following story tells of the impact of a personal experience on one's value system.

My mother, when I was an adolescent, was frequently ill and tired easily. For rest, sometimes she would take me in the back seat of Dad's ’36 Dodge to Murray, Utah, for a stay with my Grandma Eyre. Grandma had raised eight sons and two daughters. I remember Grandma's friends called her Aunt Rilly, short for Arilla, her real name.

Grandma had an add-on room at the back of her house on Wasatch Street in Murray. Rolled out on the floor was a soft gray flowered 12-by-12 sheet of overused linoleum. Standing alone there was an old steel-framed extra bed with heavy hand-tied quilts — the thickest I had ever seen — covered by a handmade elegant white bedspread.

To this young boy, the room took on an almost sacred feeling because of the careful way Grandma always made everything so clean and neat. There was no heat in the room. Nights were as cold as I had ever experienced.

I was only about 8 years old at the time. Above the head of the bed was a small window that had a door on it. I could open it and crawl into Grandma's faded green bathroom. Here was was one of the oldest bathtubs I had ever seen with lifelike lion claw legs. The taps on the sink had unique funny designs that made it special to just carefully turn one on and watch the water gradually run out. I liked to crawl through that window so I wouldn't have to use the elegantly designed thundermug Grandma kept under the bed. She kept it there in case of a middle of the night emergency.

There was a certain air of dignity about Grandma with her colored wrap-around dress covered by an apron. She would use the apron to dry her hands when she did the dishes and the like. She dressed immaculately and was a pretty lady with her long black hair in a bob at the back held together with a beaded comb of elegance. Grandma wore funny black shoes with about an inch heel that she liked that made her look a little taller.

During the Depression, sometimes Grandma would ask me to run a short errand. One time she ask me to go about three blocks toward town to an old yellow school bus parked behind the Murray City Hall. She gave me an orange crochet bag she had made and wanted me to pick up food items the government gave to help the elderly. One week it was a pound of butter, then next a pound of sugar and so on. But it was always good staples. Grandma just didn't want that food to go to waste, even though her boys provided well for her.

When Grandma rested in the afternoons, she would carefully settle down in her brown overstuffed leather rocker. She would take her comb out and let her hair hang back over the rocker. Then she would say, "Sonny Boy, just take the comb and run it through my hair so it hangs all down." After I combed her hair for a while, Grandma would ask me to sit on her lap. She would tell me stories about when she was a little girl and her father, James Guymon, was fighting in the Black Hawk War. She was very proud of him. As she told me those stories, she would tickle my arm and pat me on the hand. She always called me Sonny Boy. That made me feel special, and somehow I knew Grandma loved me.

Here in this time, I began to understand the meaning of true love.

C. LaVar Rockwood lives in Lindon, Utah.

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