Thursday, July 2, 2009

Maurice Is Missing

It’s been a tradition for quite some time that every six months when the Temple closes for two weeks of cleaning, I spend one of those weeks at my dad’s trying to “spring clean” his entire house.

Though I do try to thoroughly clean his house from top to bottom, I love this time spent with my dad. If the truth were known, there is more playing and visiting going on than there is cleaning. But I do try to have the cleaning done by the time I leave at the end of the week...

During the summer shut down of the Temple, in the evenings, we go out on his back porch. We sit on the swing and watch the sun set. We sit and talk of anything and everything. It’s during those talks that I have learned much of my dad's youth as he reminisced about his antics growing up in the Heber Valley. (He really was a playful, funny kid—though I have to say, I love the way my grandparents expected him to work hard and earn his way in life. He learned valuable lessons at a young age) I have heard him talk of his friends, parents and siblings, his mission, school, meeting my mom, falling in love, and the crazy stories behind of the births of their daughters as each of us were born. I learned how my dad gained a testimony and what message he would like to leave behind for his family… “Keep the faith. No matter what, just stay strong and keep the faith.” I also know the reasons behind why he would leave that particular message.

During the winter evenings, my dad heats up the car until it’s toasty warm, and we drive through his small town and the neighboring towns looking for houses lit up by Christmas lights. Again, having those wonderful talks of ours. It always ends with coming home and sharing a cup of hot chocolate and buttered toast or cookies.

During the day, to take a break from cleaning, we go for ice cream and we always go up to check on mom. Of course, most know my mother has passed away, so this means a trip to the cemetery. What we’re really doing is checking her grave. We stop off to change the flowers, or clean off her headstone, and just generally check to make sure all is well.

Since my mom’s passing six years ago, several of my dad’s friends have also passed away. With each one gone, this has made things a little more lonely, a little more difficult, for my dad to remain in the small town with out my mom. However, the people of that town have been so incredible, he can’t really see himself ever leaving and has already made plans to stay until he too passes from this mortal existence and is buried beside my mom. (We have both concluded it has to be the most beautiful little country cemetery either of us has ever seen)

This past week, I had the opportunity to go and spend some time with my dad. We did all the things we traditionally do including going to the cemetery. As we drove away from my mothers grave we started looking at all the other graves in that cemetery. We looked for some of their closest friends that have passed and soon got caught up in finding all the early settlers of the towns. We found headstones that were so weathered we could bearly make out some of the dates but some were born and had passed away in the mid to early 1800’s. Soon my dad was filling me in on the history of the town and many generations later, their families are still living where they had first settled.

We never found Maurice. He’s one of my dad’s best friend’s. It was hard for my dad to see Maurice go as he was the very first man to befriend my parents when they moved to that town. I loved Maurice as well. Either Maurice is missing or his headstone hasn’t been set yet. The cemetery is filled with Maurice’s ancestors but where in the world is Maurice? My dad and I decided we’ll keep going back until we find him. I know I will value my time with my dad searching for Maurice.

I love my time with my dad. He’s turning 81 this year. He misses my mother something fierce. It breaks my heart to think of him alone, yet the people of that town really watch out for him. That is something I am most grateful for. Still, I look forward to my visits with my dad. I see him every chance I can. I love that I have had such a wonderful opportunity to learn so much of his life in such a way and I cherish every moment that I have with him. I don’t know how many chances like this I will have so I feel like I have to grab every moment I can and hang on tight with both hands. I never want to look back and wish I had taken more time.


Gale Sears said...

Dear Jeri,
What a tender tribute to your dad and to family. I can see the two of you sitting on the swings and chatting away. Lovely.

Cheri J. Crane said...

What a beautiful post, Jeri. I'm so glad you get to spend precious time with your dad. I try to do the same thing with my mom whenever I can. I even recorded her sharing some of her stories and I'm trying to get them all typed up now.