D. (my age) and her mother lived near enough each other that one dropped by the other’s house every few days. They shared a cup of coffee in the kitchen, caught each other up on family news, and generally enjoyed each other’s company for half an hour before going back to the business of the day. It wasn’t about the coffee, of course – they weren’t sampling different beans and writing reviews for anybody – but because they always drank that coffee, it was an important part of their mother-daughter ritual.
Then D. joined the Church; her mother did not. She wasn’t antagonistic, but was especially interested in discussing that part of her daughter’s new life. They still met in their kitchens every few days, with D. drinking something other than coffee, and they still discussed the growing grandchildren, but things were different, at least for D.’s mother. Their ritual had changed, and it seemed like Mormonism hung like an unexplored fog between them, no matter how much they loved each other and how much else they shared. D.’s mother recognized the change, and mourned it, even as she maintained the most loving of relationships with D.
I thought of that last week when Robert Kirby of the Salt Lake Tribune published a column, “How Much Pain Does Your Faith Cause?” which has been getting a moderate amount of love around Facebook over the weekend. I think the shares and comments of approval are probably based on the inference that Kirby is calling for love and tolerance and kum-ba-yah when a family member leaves the Church. That isn’t what he says, though – and I hate hate hate the wrongness of what he does say.
From the Relief Society Magazine, January 1954 –
By Louise Morris Kelley
“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. if not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness, nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one …” (2 Nephi 2:11)
Frankie was five years old, and he was not happy. We had hoped he was beginning to be, now that the lonely years were past … the days and years of moving from one temporary home to another – with his father in the service and his mother worried and unsettled.
Now his family was complete and solid, like a jigsaw puzzle with the center piece found. Now he belonged to a family, and Frankie had a kindergarten class of two dozen potential friends. Now surely, he should be happy.
Cora Birdsall was excommunicated from the Church on 19 June 1903, for failing to comply with the decision of the Church courts that she deed 40 acres of her homestead to James E. Leavitt, for which he was to pay her $100. She received notice of the excommunication a few days later, on 23 June. That spring, Cora was living in Monroe, part of the time in her parents’ home and part of the time in the home of her friend, Seville Magleby (Mrs. Alma Magleby), a woman she had known since they were young teenagers.
According to Cora’s mother, Mary, “She never seemed right after the bishop’s trial at Monroe. I first noticed a change in her mental condition in the spring of 1903. She began to refuse to eat, and just worry and fret and grieve until she seemed to forget any other duties – went to grieving over the trouble that had been brought upon her. That was not natural for her. In my estimation, this was owing to the trouble, because that was all she seemed to worry over, and she spoke about it. she would go without eating for days and days at a time. After that went on for a while, she got so she would go to the hills, and I could not even get her back without help. She didn’t care for her person and dress at all – I had to care for her like a child (up to the time of the first trial, she was very strict about her person and dress).”
Cora grew worse. Seville Magleby reported, “I noticed that her conduct was peculiar. she was very restless at night – would get the people out at night and would talk about the devil having hold of her. That wasn’t like what she did before. Every time I would look up, she would be staring at me with wild looking eyes. She would just wander around, go in and out and carry on, writing her hands, moan, and passed around through the lot.
Saturday, January 1st, 1842 – E.g. & I went to Nilston & stayed with the Saints all day. E.G. had some conversation with a young man of the Methodist connection & in answering him some questions in regard to the signs which should follow believers, he said the rest of the sects would be all wrong then, but we said we could not help that, & in this conversation the Saints got more knowledge of the truth & etc. After this I read from the first No. of the Millennial Star (Church publication) first vol., a revelation copied from B. of D. & Cov. concerning the organisation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the U. States of America, State of New York on the sixth day of April in the year of our Lord 1830 with the duty of Elders, priests, teachers & Deacons & etc. telling them of their duty. E.G. gave out a hymn & prayed & I closed with prayer commending ourselves to God’s care. We slept at B. Shank’s house. This B. & Sister has been very kind to the Servants of the Lord. Father, reward them, we pray.
“When you stepped on that gentleman’s foot, Tommy, I hope you apologised.”
“Oh, yes, indeed I did,” said Tommy, “and he gave me sixpence for being a good boy.”
“Did he? And what did you do then?”
“Stepped on the other and apologised, but it didn’t work.”
From the Relief Society Magazine, September 1936 –
Too Much Freedom
By Lucille Walker
Jane Andrews came hurrying back to her mother who was sorting letters and papers beside an open trunk.
“It’s Miss Madsen, Mother. She wants to know if you’ll come to school tomorrow to act as judge in the school play try-outs.”
“Oh, dear, I do wish no one would ask me to do another thing till I get out of this muddle! House cleaning is bad enough at best, but when you have to stop, dress up, and go somewhere everyday, it’s positively maddening. But I suppose I’ll have to go.” And Mary Andrews wearily put aside the piles of letters and prepared to go to the telephone.
Temple Square Wall
By Edith Cherrington
He has grown tall, that baby boy of mine.
Those hands that one time robbed the cookie jar
Are groping now for something clean and fine.
The eyes that danced with mischief gaze afar
At argosies from some blue-misted east,
Where vague, uncharted dreams have formed a bar
That make of me a specter at the feast.
Trying to be so wise … so mother-wise
I strive in futile ways to draw him near,
Warning him where the greatest menace lies
And fighting back that surge of jealous fear,
I speak my faith in him and set him free –
And then crouched in a room grown bleak and drear
I pray that God will send him back to me.
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From the Improvement Era, February 1943 –
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