Wednesday, July 13, 2011


My earliest memory of life goes back to Telegraph and thus, this is where life began.  Although I know my life began in Bingham Canyon I have no memory of it.  In my mind I can see the houses, mountains, flowers, and roads of Telegraph.  Below our house and on the opposite side of the road lived an elderly woman named Mrs. Bodmer.  My mother would look in on her at least twice a week to ask after her health and could she help in any way.  She and Mother would then sit and talk.  Their conversation would often end on Mrs. Bodmer's fear of dying.  Mother would assure her that death was only passage into a much better world and that God would be there waiting for her.  Mrs. Bodmer would then ask "Do you really believe that?" and Mother would answer, "Yes".  She then asked  "after I die, would you like me to come back and tell you if there is a life after death?"  Mother would say "Yes".   Shortly after  Mrs. Bodmer's death, my mother had a dream.  In the dream, Mrs. Bodmer returned as she promised and told mother she was very happy.  Mother shared this dream with her family often over the course of her 74 years.  Whenever she told it to me, she would end by asking "Would you like me to return and tell you there is a life after death".  I would answer as I thought I should - saying "yes". 

 Three years after my mother's death and shortly after my daughter's birth, Agnes and I were living on a farm in Missouri.  As I was walking from the back 40 toward the house, I saw a women in a blue dress standing on the hill.  She was very familiar, but as I walked toward her , she vanished.  This happened at least three times in the same week.  During same week, my father was visiting me.  He had brought a packet of old photographs and he and Agnes were looking through them.  The first photograph I saw was my mother in her 20's; and although the photo was black and white, I recognized  the image as the women in blue dress whom I had been seeing all week.   These visits were not in a dream; they had taken place in the bright high sun in Missouri..  On a fourth visit to the back 40, Mother would confirm it.  She had kept her promise to me.  She was happy and she knew that we had a new baby girl and she had been named "Beth" after her.  Nothing like this had happened to me before or since this time.  But because of it, I know death is not the end of life, but a new beginning.

Two months after conception, a complete individual is present in its mother's womb.  Although the child is not bigger than your thumb, it has arms, legs, fingers and toes.  It is surrounded by liquid as if it is in a large swimming pool. and can move freely.  It is provided with all its needs and protected from harm.  But as it grows, it's world becomes more restricted until its surroundings become more like a prison.  It is at this time the child decides to be born.  Its passage into this world is not without pain or danger as any mother can testify.  But with passage comes new rewards - a new beginning - a world of wonder, exploration and growth.  But as time passes there are other beginnings.   As a child approaches its 12th birthday,  she or he longs to enter the Young Women's Program or the Deacon's Quorum.  And there comes the time when parental love and protection become the walls of restraint and confinement.  And the individual longs to break free - to stand on their own.  There comes a time when they go on a mission, go to college, go into the service, or just leave home.  A song popular a few years ago expressed this well.  It was about a woman helping her daughter pack for college.  Although the mother had looked forward to this day since her daughters birth, the experience was tearing her apart and she felt great loss. 

There will be other new beginnings, and then if we live to the full term of life like my Dad, our own bodies restrict our movements and new walls move in on us and it is time for the final passage and another new beginning.  For as the scriptures testify, we are all the children of God.  We did not begin with conception, but lived with God in the Preexistence where as expressed in the hymn "O My Father" by Eliza R. Snow, "we were nurtured by his side".  Nor do we end at death.  Death is but a passage into another world.  Dad has now joined my mother, his brothers and sisters, parents and friends who have gone before.  I cam imagine them sitting and talking about us and their former life.  I am sure we are in their thoughts as they are now in ours and will continue to be.

Written by Paul at his Father's funeral 21 March, 1996, Broomhead Mortuary

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