Sunday, September 7, 2014

Ladies in Waiting: May 10th, 1963

Note: This blog was written more than a year ago: Because I was asked to curtail my blogging activities by my former employer, I left my blog, and my employer. They didn't ask me to stop blogging per say, but to stop writing about my experiences with the kids at their school. (Except that my blog is about my life as a teacher of Other People's Kids...) After that excruciating experience, I began to have anxiety and paranoia that they would find something liable in everything I wrote, everything I said, everything I did. So I began searching for a new job. It took me about a year and a half.

God works in mysterious ways and in His own time.

Every time we drove into Utah County, we had an overwhelming feeling that we would be working there, but that it was going to take some time. It's tricky because Andy and I have an identical skill set on paper. Finding two drama jobs in the same county would be tricky. So we prayed and attended the temple and it was made very clear to me that I was to brush off my English and debate skills and put them forward and see what would happen. In my heart I knew that trying to direct TWO full seasons of plays and competitions in one family would be too much for a marriage. And that's when I learned about sacrifice in such a way as I have never been asked before in my selfish, childless, double paycheck life. So when I committed to learn that level of humility, the Lord gave us two jobs at the same school but I gave my theatre books to Andy, my Broadway scores, my 23 years of files and my giant book of hand cut Shakespeare scenes and monologues (gulp). He has the energy for it now. He's so good at it. I walked across campus to my four empty walls and opened "To Kill a Mockingbird." Not the play...the novel. 

May I say first of all, that our new school is a progressive, technologically advanced, and warm traditional district school with all the bells and whistles kids need to move forward in today's world, and I love it. My classes are small!  Less than 20 in most, less than 30 in every class. The Principal is a rock star doing progressive maneuvers to make classes smaller than the stereotype. Okay - I'll write more about Andy's new kingdom later - just know that they have rolled out the red carpet for him. Not sure what Heavenly Father is doing, keeping us together for the third time, but we're not complaining. We are first and foremost committed to our marriage as a partnership and this I learned from my good parents. This is why I chose this blog to finish first. This is one that was started so long ago and then stopped in my anxiety. 

Sorry Mom and Dad. This one is for you.

On January 3, 1963, during a full moon and solar eclipse, an extremely rare grand conjunction of the classical planets, the sun and the moon occurred. All of them came within 16 degrees of one another on the elliptic.

I'm blaming that one-in-a-million moment for a few out-of-this-world things that occurred in 1963.

First of all,
Joseph David and
Kathryn M Smith Shelton
  • The Osmonds debuted on the Andy Williams show (note its placement as first on the list)
  • Wilt Chamberlain shot his famous 100 point game
  • Andy Warhol premiered his Campbell's Soup Cans
  • The Pope excommunicated Fidel Castro
  • Marilyn Monroe died a mysterious death
  • West Side Story (a movie musical!) won Best Picture
...and a bunch of crazy/awesome people were born in that year....
  • Baz Luhrmann (my favorite director)
  • Joan Cusack (my favorite comic actress)
  • Bon Jovi (hello?!)
  • Craig Ferguson (my favorite talk show host)
  • MC Hammer (my brother Steve thanks you for the pants)
  • Michael Ball (my favorite Les Mis Marius)
  • Ralph Fiennes (he who shall not be spoken of)
  • The Beatles released their first single - "Love Me Do"
It is also my conclusion, that this rare planetary conjunction caused my two ultimate favorite people in the entire world to find each other and be sealed (married) in the Manti, LDS Temple on May 10th, 1963.

Such good taste! Gorgeous!
F.I.F.T.Y.Y.E.A.R.S.A.G.O today. Yes - that's right! Fifty years ago today, my parents pledged before God that they would stay together "for time and all eternity."

Time and all eternity is significant in Mormondom. We believe that family relationships are sacred, and pivotal to eternal happiness. It is upon that foundation of faith that you work out your relationships on this earth with every fiber of your being before you give up on each other. Especially if there are children involved. Because no one is perfect. Isn't it funny how you find that out AFTER you're married?

And I'm tellin' ya...sometimes, when I walk into the house after my eternal partner has been home, and it smells like ripe dachshund, (for example) and nothing has been done about it, I wonder if I am actually up to the - eternal - task of staying married. All you married people out there know what I mean. I am, by the way, wildly in love with my eternal partner, it's just that sometimes you have to keep an eternal perspective on things to get through your mystified anger. It's a lot of biting your tongue. It's why Andy has scar tissue on the inside of his lip (from my trips to the fabric store.) But think of 50 years! No wonder my parents have lost their keen articulation skills over the years - it's from the scar tissue on their tongues...years and years of biting their tongues.

And in just seven years, the trials and tribulations that have presented themselves to us as a couple, far outweigh the moments of true joy...but who's counting? Those are the things that have built us, bonded us together. So when you are thinking about staying together for eternity, the trials seem to weave us into the same cloth and we are getting tighter and tighter like good Egyptian sheets.

My hypothesis is, the more you endure together as a couple, the stronger you become. When I think about how much I loved my spouse the day we got married versus today, I think I took a mighty leap of faith that day. What was I thinking? Maybe I just wanted to get him into bed - you know the Mormons don't have sex before marriage so we were pretty wound up by then. You can't get married in the temple if you have had sex together while you are dating. But we aren't all Duggar either. Oh no. Though maybe we should have been. So feeling victorious outside the doors of the sealing room (the room where you get married) we weren't all gooey and mushy like most couples are: "I will love you forever! Promise me we'll come back every week and visit the room that sealed us together forever! You and I were destined for eternity!" No, no, nope, none of that romantic stuff.

Jan: We made it.
Andy: We're actually IN the temple. 
Jan: High five.
Andy: Good job, babe.
Jandy:[uncontrollable laughter]
Temple worker: shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Jan: Sorry.
Andy: (whispers) Not sorry.

By the way, although transcendent, sex is the dumbest reason on earth to get married. Especially for eternity. Marry someone that will make you laugh. I did. My mom did. So that will be the first thing I learned from my parents 50-year(+) marriage:

I digress.

Things I learned from my parents 50-year(+) marriage . . .

1. They laughed a lot. They created memories.
My dad taught school and my mom raised kids. So they never had a lot of money to create "fun." But I never remember it being boring. We had a playhouse in our backyard, a tree house, a giant sandbox, and bikes. My dad was constantly repairing bikes. Because he taught History he would sometimes show reel to reel films to his classes like Johnny Tremain and Thoroughly Modern Millie (you know the one with Julie Andrews and the beads that would never hang straight). During those units, he would lug that film projector home and we would gather up the neighbors and watch those movies on a sheet hung across the fireplace mantel. My mom would make colored popcorn balls with syrup made of Jello or sometimes she would make donuts for 40 people. That was a huge example to me. Several times during the movie the film would break and my dad would race over and splice it together. I will never forget the sound of a reel to reel projector or the smell of a lime popcorn ball. But most of all I will never forget how it made me feel to have all those people laying around, laughing and happy. (I blame Thoroughly Modern Millie to this day for my love of all things musical theatre.)

My dad also loved to camp and fortunately, because we had the same vacation days he did, we camped a lot. We also took his sisters and their families with us which made us extraordinarily close to our Lucero and Peck cousins. Every spring the entire ward would venture south to the warmer temperatures and we spent Spring break in Capitol Reef, Bryce, Snow or Zion Canyon.
Pre-Andy.  Should have bought stocks in Graco.
Read more: He Parked Near the Door  I remember so much laughing on those trips. All of the kids that went on those trips have grand kids now. Whenever we see each other, we still laugh.

One of my favorite memories was created by my dad when he saved his change for years in a metal garbage can and flew us out to Disneyland - FLEW us out! Where there's a will there's a way.

2. My parents never fought in front of us. 

I know it seems positively nuts. But they never raised their voices to each other while I was growing up. Now I'm not dumb enough to know that arguments weren't going on behind closed doors, but the family was not involved, not privy to the tension...ever. Maybe my youngers will argue with me. But for the first 20 years, I never heard it.

I recreated their wedding cake for their
50th Anniversary party and tried to get
them to look serious and cut the cake
again, but my mom started laughing and
could not stop. This is as good as the
pictures get. I like it.
As a result, we rarely fight with each other as a group. When there is tension among us, it tears us up. We spend as much time as possible with our siblings and we ache when those that don't live around us have to go back to their respective states/counties. Every single Sunday, everyone that can still meets at my moms for dessert or a birthday party still to this day. There are 37 of us now...37 reasons for birthday cake.

 I love and admire my parents for always presenting solidarity, though I know now, how difficult that must have been. I've been in my office at school when a full on brawl between parents has exploded in front of their child and myself and heard the child nonchalantly say to me "oh, this is nothing." I have been naively shocked to see what other people's kids go through. I am blessed to know that my parents worked things out without involving us. We wouldn't have known what to do anyway. And I can tell you from being a school administrator all these years now...opaque stress between mom and dad just makes kids lose focus at school. I know it doesn't seem like it would affect them at that level, but usually the first question I ask to a kid who's failing a class(es) is "how are things at home?" And that is why I have Kleenex in my office.

3. My parents treated each other with respect. It was modeling of the highest order.

Sounds cliche, doesn't it? But if we ever yelled at my mom, my dad was instantly by her side saying "did you just yell at my girlfriend? DID I JUST HEAR YOU YELLING AT MY GIRLFRIEND?" And that was the end of whatever conflict we had with our mother. You knew there was a pit bull in the background. They were a solid front. One did not say yes and the other no. One did not say "go ask dad/mom," they said "what did your dad/mom say?" So it did you no good to choose one over the other. Decisions about dating, going to sleepovers, who was using the cars, etc...were made with all interested parties in attendance.

I like this picture because this was a time when
everybody was fat and I felt right at home.
Despite my dad being a bishop (lay clergy) for many years, and having a hoard of hungry kids waiting for him after church, my mom held Sunday dinner so we could eat together. It was important to her that he got to eat with his family all those years. Bishops often have to listen to and meet the needs of many people besides their own family. We ate together twice a day and three times on the weekends. It wasn't a choice. We came at the whistle.

The old West had the triangle, my parents whistled. They both had this amazingly loud whistle and when either of them stood on the porch and whistled - you could hear it in the next county and you came runnin'. Or else. If you were playing outside of whistle range...well just don't play outside whistle range.

4. My parents never "counted" or kept track.  

They never took turns. You never heard "I did that last time" or "I think it's your turn to do that." If he had an opportunity to do something fun, like, go out to dinner with friends, she didn't insist on gathering her friends and going out to dinner, just to "make it even." You know what I mean? Yeah, that didn't happen. They didn't spend money dollar for dollar or have separate checking accounts. If there were dishes in the sink it wasn't her job and if the garbage needed to be taken out it wasn't his job. They were pretty enlightened as baby-boomer couples can be, I guess. Though my dad still doesn't like to eat leftovers, my mom will eat them for days on end and if there isn't meat in a meal my dad still thinks its just the first course. They did and will always do what is best for the group and not what is necessarily best for themselves individually.

When they still had kids in the house, if my dad was able to get a hotel room at a teachers conference that was the extent of their vacation time. My mom didn't get to finish her education and there was never money for her to get school clothes once a year when everybody else was - including my dad. But she didn't "keep track." There weren't "turns." It was always about what the family needed. She cooked every single meal, except the once a year we ate out at JB's Big Boy. She has about 80 rose bushes on her property and she bottles all the fruit and vegetables my dad grows. And it's not a little garden, it's nearly a farm (ie...70 tomato plants). She made most of our clothes when we were young because she's got skills. Very few people under the age of 70 have those specific skills anymore.

But to everything there is a season....

There is hope for all of you out there still raising kids. Once they retired, their cars got fancier, they eat out all the time and they started to disappear. In fact, the other day we stopped by the house and there was no one home. I was confused, so I called my sister and she said, "oh, they went to Panama." "Weren't they just in the Canadian Rockies?" I said. "Yeah, but Dad's always wanted to go to Panama, so they just went." Now, I occasionally hear them say "Where do you want to go next? It's your turn to choose."

The original 1.0's.
They lived. They did. They talked. They moved forward with an eye on the commandments of God. They multiplied and replenished the earth (the whole earth - just kidding!) adding seven good tax paying citizens to the land and not once did my mom say "this time I think I'll let you have the baby and I'll get out of this house and teach those kids Spanish and History because I am sick of staying home and raising kids!"

Though I'm sure she thought it.

Many times.

And I'm sure my dad thought "Why don't I just stop teaching Spanish right now and go back to Dental school like I always wanted to do, because then I could quit these two custodial jobs that I do after school that are killing me...."

But there were all those teaching awards... and kids need good teachers.


2.0's. Getting bigger. Kyle and JoEllen's wedding...Shayne is
the grandchild on the farthest left with her chin in the air. She
is coming home from her mission next month.
In fact, they could have drown their stresses and sorrows in the world...or made it easier on themselves and done what I've seen done to other peoples kids dozens of times and just leave us all for easier climes and wider pathways.


Narrow is the way...

And they adjusted their grip. They kept a good perspective on the future. While raising their own kids and teaching other peoples kids they kept both eyes on the Gospel and that is my last subtitle.

5. They know God. They REALLY know God. 

Religion is a HUGE reason they stayed married for over 50 years.

This is me being preachy. For those of my friends that have denounced religion - you can stop reading here. I won't apologize for saying that religion is the main reason we are purpose driven people. We espouse to live a Christ-centered life. We learned the commandments of God, and we strive to live as Jesus Christ did when he was here on the earth and we have taken upon us certain restored ordinances that are gifts from God. We believe that everyone who shares these same gifts WILL BE BETTER FOR IT now and in the world to come. So why not give them away?

And that's what my parents have done for the last 50+ years. They have espoused themselves to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have studied His life and everything they do mirrors what He did. They listen to the living Prophet of God and they have served in so many capacities of the church I hesitate to start listing them. I can only say that if my mother knows of a naked or cold child in the world, she is currently working on clothing them. If my father knows of a hungry family in the neighborhood, they will have an anonymous bag of food on their back steps.

They are the reason that no matter how many times I sit through the musical Les Miserables, when they get to the lyric, "to love another person is to see the face of God," I start crying uncontrollably. Their sacrifice for other people, including me and my siblings and now their 23 grandchildren is a lesson that is ringing in my ears especially as I battle the depression of wondering what God wants me to do now.

6. Last the best of all the game....Sacrifice. 

No surprises here. Works too much. 
We still have that table.
I remember my mom always ate the burned toast. She always took the smallest piece of meat. She always sat down last to dinner, went to bed last and got up first. For all the years we were in school, while you were living in her house, you had a hot breakfast when you got up. It was there. Always. There were scriptures on good mornings, then french toast or pancakes, a mad dash to curling irons and first period. Then she cleaned it all up and my dad ran off to teach Spanish and History to other people's kids, then he worked two other jobs after school to buy breakfast and curling irons and make a house payment, then he would come home to go to a church know...or go to a school play. How many school plays did I make them sit through.

If they were going to sacrifice for us, we were going to contribute in return without question. We were taught chores. We didn't just get sent out to do things. We were carefully taught. Time was spent. I learned to sew from my mother. I learned to make bread and care for children (lotta good that did me - just kidding!) I changed diapers with SAFETY PINS and plastic pants!!! We had jobs that came up, like putting wood away for the winter, weeding the garden in the summer, snapping beans (while you watched Saturday morning cartoons). Putting in sprinkler systems, laying sod, cleaning bathrooms and doing laundry uphill both ways with no shoes on... (just wanted to make sure Abby was still reading)

What did I learn from that? I believe sacrifice and hard work keeps you humble, and humility keeps you open to learning and learning is the only thing you're going to take with you into eternity so...if marriage is the greatest sacrifice, marriage must also keep you humble.


I've never seen two sincerely humble people fighting to hold their marriage together. So humility is the key to everything, I'm pretty positive of this. When I have raised my prideful head, I have incurred anger toward someone, I have felt indignant and self-righteous, I have been depressed and self-serving. I have LACKED the LOVE the Savior would have for all mankind. Including loving myself and the ability to forgive myself. I have lost the vision of what HE WOULD DO IF HE WERE IN THAT SITUATION.

And then I am lost.

Out there on my own, trying to keep my head above the quick sand. And I have wanted to call it quits. For real.

I'm positive there were times when both my parents wanted to call it quits. You really think after 50 years I was going to tell you that they are the ONE perfect couple that has never had an angry thought toward each other? Never wanted to run away? Leave forever? That's funny. But 50 years! I've only been married 7 (and 8 months) and 50 Mt. Timpanogos is to the speed bump in front of our house.

Humility. That's how it happened. I just worked that out for myself and I'm telling you I needed to hear it right now. (Thanks!) Not that my marriage is in trouble, but that I need to sacrifice for the good of the whole. Sacrifice always brings about exquisite blessings in the end. I know that too. I have a testimony of that. It's how I got Andy in the first place.

It's how we're going to get through this thing, not just "til death do us part" but for ever...forever.

I forgot to say - one other thing is...we're not perfect, not even Mama Kay or Papa Joe, not have we ever been, but because of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we can be someday. And in that day, there will be no ripe dachshunds, no screaming, vomiting kids, no inequality, no bills to pay, no violence in the world, no drugs, no porn... divorce.


And as we wait for further light and knowledge on all of those subjects, lets just LOVE EACH OTHER AS HE LOVES US.

Because in that day, if we remain humble enough to be obedient, that's key...we will be perfected.

I will not be tempted to hoard fabric! I will be an athletic size 12 (anything less will lessen my power, I think ;-) I will get the feeling back in my toes, I will lose my ugly scars, my boobs will rise to the occasion, my veins will go back below their surface...

I digress...

I will get my son back!

Those are things I can wait for. Because even though I am a married woman now, I am and will always be...a Lady in Waiting.

Thanks Mom and Dad for your amazing example to me. Thanks for providing me with 6 of the best friends I'll ever have and Happy 50th Anniversary!

This is a tree that Brad, my youngest brother painted on the wall at the back of my parents garage, so when you drive in, this is what you see. It's got a bunch more apples on it now.