Monday, June 8, 2009

A Little Bit About Me



I'm not you're regular Mormon.

I was born in a Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, and raised Baptist. Not a practicing Baptist, mind you, as the pastor of the Church absconded with some of the Church's money and left to go into televangelism. And no, thankfully, his name was not James Bakker.

I was, from an early age, interested in religion. I was baptized a Baptist when I was 6 and already knew somewhat of what I was doing then. Given what happened with that Church, I wanted to know what I should be looking for in a Church, so I prayed to God. I had this open relationship with God, because I had been taught He loves kids.

I began having dreams and other various spiritual experiences, because I would ask. This included dreams of what I should be looking for in a Church.

Fast forward to high school, when I turned 14 years old I began to seek a religion in earnest. I knew there was something more to life, but I didn't know where to find it. The closest I got was the Messianic Jews (now known as Jews for Jesus), before I asked the neighbors across the street if I could go to their LDS Church with them. The first Sunday I went with them I attended the full block and knew by the end of Sunday School that this was the Church I had been looking for. This was the one I had been dreaming about since childhood. My first experience with receiving a confirmation by the Holy Ghost was, I kid you not, reading D&C 132. Eternal Marriage. How prophetic.

My family was not happy about my joining. They wouldn't allow me to attend Seminary, I was very blessed, however to attend girls camp once and that was after my senior year. It was a special girl's camp up at NAU in Flagstaff, called Horizons '84. I went and attended as many workshops as I could, the one that I repeated was the workshop they gave on Temple marriage. I still remember it and the view of a modest wedding dress that was on display.

After I turned 18 I was finally able to take the missionary discussions, but by this time I was not only reading scriptures, I was also reading Bruce R. McConkie. Not your average investigator. My family, however, was not going to quit without a fight and joined an anti-Mormon group called Concerned Christians. I was taken to see movies defiling the Temple (they made me nauseous) and literally brought up in front of a group at one of their meetings where it was announced I was joining the Church. I just stood there and waited for someone to start throwing stones at me, I thought I was going to be killed that night. I managed to survive that and the group trying to stop me from attending my own baptism, and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with my Ward family, the neighbors, but not my family.

I was in a variety of Wards and participated in the singles program. Because of some things going on with my family, I moved out for a few years and received my endowments in the Mesa Temple in February 1992. When I was 31, I was helping the neighbor family in the kitchen at a Singles Conference when I met this fun man with his niece. They were cousins of the neighbor family who baptized me in the Church. By the end of the day we were dancing exclusively on the dance floor and exchanging information to start dating. This was on November 15, 1997, on December 20th Decker proposed to me in the Celestial Room of the Temple.



We were married on June 12, 1998 in the Mesa, Arizona Temple. Decker had guardianship of one of his nieces, and she remained with us while she finished high school. We tried to have children, but I was not able to conceive. We were within months of starting the testing to find out what was wrong when Decker died unexpectedly.

On the morning of August 14, 2000, I awoke one morning at 12:30 in the morning to find him in our bathroom gasping for air. I called 911 and the ambulance took him to the hospital. I honestly felt things were going to be alright, we would get him stabilized and find out what we needed to do so he could regain his health. It didn't work out that way. I drove myself to the hospital and waited in the waiting area. They wouldn't let me see him. Then a code blue was called out, but I still wasn't panicking about it. Some time later the doctors came out and asked me what had happened. I told them, and then I asked how Decker was doing. I was told he was gone.

There's been a lot of grieving and growing since this, but also some really profound testimony building experiences. On occasion Decker will be allowed to visit with me in my dreams, and when we do it's usually spent embracing each other. One of the things I miss is the touching, cuddling and hugging that was such a big part of our relationship. I usually do pretty good emotionally, there are two times of the year I can count on being a basket case: our wedding anniversary and the anniversary of his death. And, for obvious reasons, I don't do Mother's Day, except to spend it with my own Mother. The semi-annual anniversary of his death falls on Valentine's day, so I hadn't celebrated it for a while, but I celebrated it with the kids I work with this year. It was actually fun, and a little bit liberating from the pain.

My father passed away from cancer in 2006, I was there, helping Mom with him to the end. When he died, I was able to help my Mother, not only as a daughter, but as a widow buddy. It was something I wasn't expecting, but I am grateful for. Her health is slowly declining, now, and when she's gone I will have to start a new life. Again.

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