Thursday, May 3, 2012

Living With Meaning: A Difference in My Life

Background: After turning 87 years old this year, she said that she still feels great. She joked, “I have friends who take ten and twelve pills a day and I wonder how do they know where to go?” She is still able to drive and “keep house” and take care of herself. As a young girl she loved to perform. She played the piano and sang in school and community chorals. “I must have been a little show off” she laughed. “I was on this program and that program. I was always on the stage.” After marrying a few months after she graduated from LDS Business College, she worked as a superintendant secretary for a few years before becoming a secretary in the physical plant department at BYU. President Holland was president of BYU at the time and would often pop his head into her office to say hello to her on his way past. She has three children and is now a great-great grandmother of two. She says her life has been very full and happy.

The Most Important Work
My music was a lot to me. Music was in my life all my life. From the time I was a child, we had music in our home. Mother played and she taught, and she taught us how. And then I used it in school and in church and different places. I sang in choruses. I think music was one of the big things of my life. I didn’t teach or anything, I just participated. 
Several years ago I taught Relief Society and some of the women I taught will still come up to me and say, “I used to just love to come to your lessons when you gave those lessons in Relief Society.” Which I didn’t know I was doing that great. I did, evidently, have an impact there. 
I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was younger. I knew what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to be a gym teacher—I could not stand having a ball coming after me or toward me. I liked to play tennis but that was the only thing I was very good at. The rest of it I had to do so I did it. When I didn’t have to do something, I didn’t do it. Everything that I did was important to me.

The Influence of Work in People’s Lives
I read. I have read since I could read. My mother was a great reader and she had books around. When I would say, “Oh mother, I am so bored.” She would say, “Take this and read it.” We had water rationing in our town. We could only use the sprinklers so often and for so long. So I would go out with the little clock, and my book, and sit out on the front porch and tend the water and read my book. I’ve always had a book handy, all kinds of books: church books, school books—I loved school books. Just give me a book and I’m happy.
I love genealogy. I just liked the idea that I could make all these connections. And get these people where they were supposed to be. And kind of figure it out—it’s just kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. That, again, was my mother’s influence. She said to me one day, “You might just as well do that [genealogy]. You need to do your husband’s family history work. You need to do that.” So I started on it, and I’m still working on it. My husband’s mother had a lot of stuff but she didn’t do the regular formal genealogy thing. She would just write down facts about this one and that one. And then she gave me papers about different ones. After awhile you do so much, and then you can only go so far before there is a blockade. With me it’s the language because my husband’s family was from Germany. So I’ve hit a wall there. Someone else who knows German will need to continue it. My daughter submitted my work to the church and my husband’s cousin did the temple work using my information. 

Something That Disturbs You
My advice to younger people: Cherish this love you have for your family. I see all this new technology taking this closeness away. Nobody talks to anyone. The mothers don’t talk to their children because they’re too busy on their phones and they don’t talk to their husbands because they’re too busy with all this stuff that they are doing. They need to have some personal time set aside with these people. My daughter works as a manager of a store and she says, “The thing that breaks my heart the most is to see these mothers to come in with these little children. They stick them in the cart and then they get on their phone and they pay no attention to those little kids.” They have no idea what they’re missing not spending this one on one time with these children—in the car, or where ever they are with their children. They need to spend this time with them. That would be my advice. I don’t know if that would go over very well, but that’s my advice.

Living Without Regret
I have none. I had a pretty full life. But I was kind of forced into doing what I did. This is stupid to say, but I did not want to go to college. School was okay, but I wasn’t that wild about it. So my father said to me, “You are going to learn to do something.” You are going to business school. And that really made a difference in my life. I didn’t use it until after I was married and had these kids and they were pretty well grown up and I started to go to work. It made a difference in my life. I was glad that my father did that. He was a very forward thinker to teach me that—teach me that you need to learn to do something besides housework and tending children. He said, “Get some education some way; learn a trade or learn a profession.” All of his children did that. They all were a success simply because my parents insisted that they learn something. We didn’t just slide through school, we learned.

Defining A Life of Meaning
My parents were wonderful people. And my husband and my children and my whole family. I worked with a few people that I would have liked to punch out the lights, haha….and at school a few, but there are very few people that I can actually say that I dislike or ever did anything so bad that I never forgave them. I think making relationships is quite meaningful to me. I’ve always had this way to soften people, something that I do that I don’t even realize I’m doing. I love people. I like to make new friends. And I don’t like to make enemies. My mother once told me, “Never make an enemy of anyone, because it will come back to you.” The little things that people say to you like that you can remember forever. Use them in your life. I’ve tried not to make an enemy—I don’t know of any. I have the attitude, if you don’t like me, that’s okay. You don’t have to. I don’t have to carry that kind of baggage around. And it’s bad baggage, if you let people upset you. It’s just too much. Whenever I’ve felt like relationships became strained, I’ve pulled back if I can I remove myself for awhile. If there’s a confrontation, I try not to include myself. I don’t like confrontations. I feel like they’re a waste of time and effort. They’re not profitable in any way, so if you can remove yourself from a confrontation and then talk it over with them later, when things kind of settle down, then that’s better. I have done that many times. I have just walked away from a lot of things. People don’t like that, but that’s their problem. I don’t want to make it my problem. It is people that have made life meaningful for me.

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