Saturday, March 24, 2018

Week 12 #52Ancestors Misfortune

Valley of the Shadow of Death
     Our family had been in Guadalajara only a few months and my mother became ill. She went into the hospital with pneumonia. Apparently she had been given many different prescriptions in California by her doctor (he spoke with thick German accent which she couldn’t understand) so that by the time her condition worsened after the stress of moving to another country, they couldn’t find a medicine that would cure her easily.
     They persisted and indeed she recovered from it, came home and took a turn for the worst. In hindsight, she had Alzheimer’s disease, and this final illness kicked it up a notch. She had to be put onto oxygen, lost the strength in her legs and needed help getting to the bathroom. Even putting up her Christmas tree and favorite orange and purple ornaments on it didn’t raise her spirits. The ladies from church came to visit several times a week, but all she could say was that she didn’t want them there. Her personality changed from a gregarious Relief Society Secretary to an angry, contentious old woman.  
     I had to scold her occasionally when she spoke roughly to Brianna, whom she loved. The medical system in Guadalajara was fantastic however. Dr. Menesis, a member of our ward, came to the house frequently. Imagine, house visits from a world famous doctor (He specialized in Bach Flores and had an office in Switzerland) and oxygen and supplies delivered to the home. Her mind became confused and she began repeating words over and over again. I asked her if she could stop doing that and she said no. Within three days of this symptom, she died on 15 Dec 1995. She was never convinced that she didn’t have pneumonia anymore, but she died from something else entirely.
Bob’s Journey in the 
Valley of the Shadow of Death
     The reason I’ve told the story about my mother’s death in Guadalajara is because when the #52Ancestors prompt was Misfortune, I couldn’t think of anything. I’d always thought of myself as Fortunate. However, after thinking about it I wrote quite a long story about my husband’s death on 9 May 2012 at the age of 82. It’s been almost six years ago.
     If you go back through my blog you will see that I stopped writing soon after this date and had good intentions but never really became consistent again until now. Thanks Amy Johnson Crow.
     At Bob’s death I kept a detailed journal so that I could remember to thank all of the people who came to comfort us during his last days. Indeed I thought that I would blog about my journey through the valley of the shadow of death. But, I wrote, “I thought I’d be able to write about grief and how I handle my beloved’s death, but quite frankly it’s just so subtle and too personal.” I did write daily in my journal and have two full notebooks for 2012. However, I just couldn’t keep up this blog.
     In rereading these journal pages, I found a wonderful story of funny moments, tender caring moments, weird bizarre moments, and surprising sacred moments that led to a revelation or two when Bob died.
     Just as friends and family gave comfort, advice and service, shared great food, so did the new friends we’d made in Guadalajara when my mom became bedridden. Our American Legion friends and ward member friends came to serve. At least in Guadalajara it is a law that the body cannot be moved for 24 hours. This gave time for the Relief Society Presidency to clean and dress my mother in her white temple clothing and for us to cuddle and cry and say our goodbyes.
     So when Bob died in Arizona, Brianna and I took an hour or so to say our goodbyes before we called the people at the hospice company we used and they sent a nurse over to listen to his heart for a minute and declare him dead at 2:15 am, even though he actually died at 12:34am. Brianna was pregnant at this time and she needed to use the bathroom. Bob’s breathing had gotten more shallow and longer between little pauses and deep breaths, so when she left the room, I said to him, “Bob, Don’t die before she gets back!” And he didn’t. Two minutes after she returned, and was sitting at his head, and I at his feet, he took his last breath.
     Brianna stood up and looked at me and said, “I thought I’d be crying, but I’m happy instead.” We both felt lifted up. The Holy Ghost, the comforter was at work in our lives. Yes as the months went on, I noticed that the handwriting in my journal began very scratchy, confused and rambling, but finally became more coherent and I began setting short term goals again. I am so grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the eternal perspective it provides. I know where our spirits came from, and where it goes after we die. And one day, we will all rise again and unite with our bodies because of Jesus and his great work.  
     Next week is Easter and this post is appropriate for the week before and all of the stories that go along with His last days upon the earth and the gift He has given to us.
Psalms 23:4 
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will 
fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

Friday, March 23, 2018

52 Stories in 52 Weeks

52 Stories #52Ancestors
     Blending my own family story of moving to Guadalajara and my ancestor's stories helps me to be diligent in recording both personal history and ancestral history.
Week 10 Strong Woman

     A Strong Woman: My grandmother, Anna Mae Gough, met many of life’s challenges head on. After loosing a baby daughter, she had two sons, then her husband, as he later confessed to my Dad, Joseph Marvin Eckles, was “foolin’ around with a teenage girl that lived round the corner and down the street,” she found the strength to pack up and leave him. The record of those years until she married Golder Winebrenner in California, Moniteau, Missouri in 1924 finally yielded the story of what she had to do to survive.
     I’d inherited her letters, and written notes. Gathering them all in one place I began piecing them together with the transcripts that I had had made of my interviews with my dad, his uncle Anson Gough, a young friend, Effie, of my grandmother who lived in Shirley, Arkansas to compile her history. Yikes, I simply couldn’t figure out why she lived in so many places scattered from Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas between the years of 1905 and 1924. Eight states in 19 years equaled a move to another state about every two years. About the time I figured out where exactly she was, to find proof or sources, I would find something else to add.
A Timeline
So I began to establish a chronological timeline and printed this form to help me.  

     Although I have not finished this project and this is only an example, I’ve come to some conclusions.
     Mae was described as a nervous woman, afraid of Arkansas’ terrible storms and tornados, by her young friend, Effie, who knew her; she had the strength to pluck chickens after raising them; to work in a slaughter house; run and clean rooming houses; live in a tent during winter in Wyoming, and finally driving a covered wagon with horses, household goods, chickens and two small boys diagonally from Northwest Kansas, through Oklahoma to Northeast Arkansas, then to central Arkansas.
Her story doesn’t stop here, but it was her sisters and brothers support that gave her the courage to move on. Researching their lives gave me the sources and proofs that I needed to document this very strong woman who was my grandmother.
Anna Mae Gough Eckel Akers Winebrenner 1889-1962

     Now I find myself telling the story of how my family ended up living in California, Tennessee, Arkansas, then to Kwajalein, Marshall Islands and finally to Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and ending up today in Arizona. Guess I’m a strong woman like my grandmother, moving and living all over the world.
     Here is the photo of me with my mother, Ruthe, and my husband Bob at our first dinner date at the American Legion in Guadalajara. The Barbie doll on the table represents our daughter who is busy running all around the place, playing. 

#52Ancestors Week 11
Lucky Me
     I’ve concluded that all of my Grandmother’s moving around was embedded into my genetic cell memory.  After 73 years I have started to have shaking hands, a tremor… It is something I began to experience when I was called to lead the music in Sacrament meeting, so I bought a baton and that controlled my hand. I’ve never called myself nervous, but I can see why a young girl would see this and think of it as being nervous. That’s what Effie said about my grandmother when I interviewed her in Shirley, Arkansas while I was living in Little Rock, AR. I’m so glad I was Lucky enough to find her when I only thought I was looking for the house my grandmother had lived in.
Homes in My Life
     I love to travel and growing up in Southern California, I drove all over in my car. Sometimes I’d just turn up the heater onto my feet, roll down the windows and just go driving the freeways at night with the radio turned to some music station.
     I’ve even lived in 17 or more home over the years. I documented all of the So Cal ones with photographs and later on Zoom Atlas I won a contest winning third place in the nation. Partially the points that I racked up was that I had before and after photos of the houses where we lived. I can’t remember how much the prize was, but I think it was $2000. Pretty nifty.
     All of those moves made it easy to make the one back to Tennessee and Arkansas from my home in California, when I met my husband, Bob. He worried about my reaction when he told me what the father of his second wife had said to her, “You could end up anywhere in the world with him, you know.” Indeed he had lived a year in Paris, France on a Fulbright Scholarship; spent a couple years in the Army in Germany; Lived in England while working for Proctor and Gamble; finally, while working for Holiday Inns, International Division spent more time in Europe than in the US.
     So what was my reaction to his father-in-law’s worrying statement? I replied, “I’m more worried about staying in one place too long and getting bored.” So, aren’t I Lucky to find a man that provided me with the opportunity to live in Tennessee, Arkansas, Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands, living in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and finally returning to the US and Arizona.
Travel via Cyberspace
     Indeed now that I’m forced to stay in one place because of my disabilities, I’ve found ways to travel in cyberspace so it’s less boring. Aren’t I Lucky that I can do my family history research online rather than actually having to go to courthouses, and stomp through cemeteries?
     I have lived a wonderful exciting life built around family history and moving around a lot; not so very different from my grandmother. She and I not only shared the “moving around” gene, but we looked like we could have been sisters when we were teenagers. Sadly the photos of her at that age have been lost, although I did get to see them during a visit to my step mother’s house long ago.
     My life is far richer than hers ever was because I have the gospel and an eternal companion. This was like discovering a four leaf clover starting about age 21. Very March appropriate. I AM THE LUCKY ONE.

52 Stories about My Family and Guadalajara

This is the photo we had taken before we left for Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico when living in Ontario, California in 1995. Our family included Bev, Bob, Brianna, Ruthe, and Harriett our cat.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

#52Ancestors Week 9 Where There's a Will...

Where There’s a Will…
     As a Genealogist you might suspect that I’d talk about Wills and Probate records. You’d be wrong. My humble farmer ancestors almost always left no wills, but of course where they did, I was grateful.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
     This is probably the second most common thought that might pop into someone’s mind when finishing that first phrase.
     I’ve been reading 1 Nephi in the Book of Mormon and young Nephi and his older brothers are sent by their father to go back to Jerusalem and get the records and genealogies of their ancestors from a cousin who is a truly wicked and evil man. After a couple of tries by the older brothers, they were going to give up but Nephi said, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare away for them that they may accomplish the things which he commandeth them.”
     The Lord then commanded Nephi to go back to the house of his cousin and being led by the spirit, “not knowing beforehand the things which” he should do, he discovered a drunken Laban, his cousin. Long story short, he was commanded to slay Laban. Why? Well it has to do with why record keeping, scriptures and genealogy are so important: “It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.” (1 Ne 4:13)
     This is exactly what happened to other groups that set forth into the world without records, like the Jaredites and Mulekites who immigrated to the Americas before the time of Christ. Their descendants did record their stories on stone, but to this day no one can read them perfectly thus don’t know their stories.
Legal Stuff like Laws and Wills 
     Listening to a panel of BYU professors discussing this story of Nephi slaying Laban a question was answered for me. It had to do with a Hebrew law that permits, no actually makes it imperative, to punish by death a person who lies, then steals, then bears false witness before others. Like I said, Laban was a truly wicked man who stole Nephi’s family riches, and took away their father Lehi’s good name, and accused them falsely of being thieves and robbers. Nephi was thus legally in the right and had the moral authority to carry out a sentence of death. How horrible it must have been to be asked to cut off a cousin’s head with that man’s own sword.
     In our day, a will is the legal document that protects the family and descendant’s rights, and it must be testified to all along the legal process. This helps us as genealogists in finding the legal heirs.
Doing A Difficult Thing
     I wonder how often we’ve been asked to do difficult things and had the faith to go ahead and do it. Such was the Field’s family move to Mexico. We had prayed about it and knew that it was right for all of us. Then we set about the legal process to make it happen: getting the right visas, setting up a bank account with direct deposit, got a debit card we could use to withdraw money to pay bills in another country, prepared our household goods for either storage or shipment, selected the records we would need to take with us (in my case, genealogical records that I was working on), and got a P.O. Box that forwarded mail down to Guadalajara. Yes, it was a hard thing to do, but we persevered and it was a grand experience. I will continue telling that story here on my blog from time to time.
Gratitude to Amy and her #52Ancestors Prompts
     I’m grateful for the weekly prompts from Amy Johnson Crow in her #52Ancestors for 52 weeks to get me posting each week. Sometimes it will be personal history recorded and sometimes stories of my ancestors; other times it will be stories about our living in Mexico, the land where many people suppose that some of the Book of Mormon stories take place.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Why Didn't I Buy Heirlooms in Mexico?

Heirlooms and I
     The past six months have found me moving from one house to a smaller one. I was the end of line repository for my husband's family and my family heirlooms. Handling each one I needed to make a decision of what to keep. My Millenial daughter said, "Just get rid of all that stuff, mom."
Living in Mexico from 1995 to 2001
     I have been tying my blog into my family's story of living in Mexico. For this poignant story about heirlooms it wasn't hard to find something to think about or write about. We unexpectedly returned to the United States and when we finally settled and unpacked in Arizona, I realized that although I'd purchased many, many beautiful handcrafted gifts for others, I'd never bought one thing for our own family and now it was too late. All I have are photos, no objects. Yet this was a significant period in our family's life. NO HEIRLOOMS for the future. We don't think about the fact that we are creating the heirlooms for our grandchildren.
The Story of the Symbolic Quilt 
     Last fall I realized that I had several handmade quilts that are never used in Arizona's climate, so I decided to send them to my daughter who now resides in Michigan because I know she could really use them. One however became quite a symbol for heirlooms in our day and age.
     My grandmother had made this certain quilt in red, white and blue. I loved it. It was patriotic. It was made from seed or flour sacks. But it had a history. When a stepson was about 11 years of age, he was about to get caught reading in bed under the covers of the lower bunk bed late one night. He tossed his lamp, still lit, under "my" quilt on the top bunk bed and forgot about it. It smoldered all night long. A hole was created in it.
     Because I loved that quilt so much and it was the last thing my grandmother gave me before she died, I was devastated. Over the years I tried to find a seamstress or quilter who could repair it. I'd even tried to find matching fabrics for this purpose over the years. Alas, no one could tell me how to repair it or do it themselves until last fall. A friend decided we should try to salvage it by patching it and then I could send it to my daughter in Michigan. When the patch was finished and it told it's own story, we washed the quilt one last time on gentle cycle to see how it would do. It fell apart.
So the Story has Another Twist

    The materials used to create it couldn't withstand the repairs that had stronger threads. Now it sits in a closet awaiting a wall mounting, because it can never be used as a quilt again cuddling my grandchildren in harsh Michigan winters. Now only I will see it when I go into a room I seldom use. Only I appreciate it's history and story.
     The beloved heirloom was made from free easily found materials that were unable to withstand the test of time, it was treated negligently, it's burnt hole was after many years unfixable. Now the quilt stands as a symbol of all heirlooms who were made with love from perishable materials, then treated with indifference, put into attics, packed away until an "Antiques Roadshow" moment, left unloved under the bed or in a long forgotten box only to be remembered too late. Oh, let us not procrastinate taking care to create quality heirlooms for the future and preserve the ones we have inherited with care.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day

Valentines Come in Various Forms
and at Various Times in Our Lives
  The word Valentine brings back many memories. My First Valentine was in first grade at Pasadena Town and Country School. The teacher took this cute picture of Downing Cless and me having a hug. He became a Professor in New York in the theater arts dept. (I asked his permission to share this publicly, by the way)
Here is what we look like 60 years later

     My favorite Valentine Photo is the one of my sweet husband, Bob Field, and I on our wedding day the 23rd of August 1979 in the Washington D.C. temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
     Now, fittingly enough, since my former sweethearts are not longer in my life, I have another love. Yes, I know this is shocking. But here I am at a place I love, doing what I love...and for all my ancestors that I love. #52Ancestors
Bev at the Family History Center

Monday, February 5, 2018

Favorite Names

Week 6 Favorite Name
     The topic of names is one of my favorites. I wrote a whole blog post early on about the meaning of names.
Place Names
     I’ve been reading in the Book of Mormon where Lehi names a river after his oldest son, and a valley after his second oldest son, and when Ishmael the father of another family dies, he names the place Nahom which means in Hebrew “consolation” from the verb naham, “be sorry, console oneself.” Another place was named Shazer meaning twisting, intertwining.
My Family Favorite Names
     So with this fascination for names how can I pick one? My grandmother is Rosa Etta Sarepta Hicks Utterback, her brother was Elijah Japeth Shannon Hicks. This last one for years sent me on a wild goose chase thinking Shannon was the maiden surname of his grandmother. It wasn’t. So, never guess and suppose something. Always get the proof. My friend’s uncle has a middle name of Fields and he’s never found another Field in his genealogy. I knew a childhood friend named Drake. He was named after the doctor that delivered him. So you just never know.
Add Foreign Names for Hilarity
     When we lived in Guadalajara, Mexico our first house was on a street named J. J. Martinez Aguirre. It is pronounced in Spanish which sounds like “hota hota Martinez Aquirrrrrr A.” I loved the way this felt in my mouth, so it was fun to tell people where we lived in Chapalita. It was a beautiful home with windows that opened like French doors filled with small beveled panes of glass that cast rainbows on the walls when the sun would shine through. My husband Bob had a favorite road name he liked. He would see it when he would drive from Little Rock, Arkansas to Jackson, Mississippi. It was called Fortification Road. Being the foreign language Geek that he was, he’d always think of this word with an Irish ??? accent and it came out, “Fartification Road” and he’d chuckle every time.
I guess adding a foreign language to a favorite names list can really be interesting.