The Thing About Fear

The thing about fear is a person doesn’t usually set out to be afraid. It creeps up on you. There are times you know that some situations can cause you to be afraid. Going to an amusement park and riding on the Merry-Go-Round most likely would cause very little anxiety.  The Ferris Wheel on the other hand is really just a Merry-Go-Round turned on it’s side. Feet dangling down, seat swaying back and forth, going up backwards and then it stops just as you are right at the very top. Very high above the ground. You can’t see any other riders ahead of you. If you try to look down any little movement sets the seat swinging back and forth. You realize you left your stomach on the ground, somewhere far below.

Then there are the roller coasters. No one forces you to take that journey. We line up like puppets and wait sometimes for an hour or more just to climb into a small little contraption into which we are strapped and trapped for a three minute ride that jerks and bumps along a rickety track. Going up and up and up and you know that the higher you go the farther you are going to fall.

This brings me to Las Vegas. My daughter Rebecca and I were in Las Vegas for a few days and she said “let’s go ride the roller coaster at New York New York”. This is one of those rides that runs outside the building it twists and turns and goes upside down. I was feeling adventuresome. As we walked up to the top there were very few people. Then we turned the corner. Oops, there are the people. The line was very long. We had to stand in line quite awhile before it was our turn. Rebecca wanted to be in the very first car. Then we were in and then we were moving. Going up slowly. I was braced for the big fall but, no, not this time. I relaxed a bit but it was too soon. Suddenly we were upside down doing loop de loops. I was screaming and hiding my face and then it was over and Rebecca turns to me and says “want to go again?” Big Grin.

You feel like you are going to die, because this car is going to run off the track and you will end up in a heap on Las Vegas Blvd. The morning headlines will read “Mother and Daughter killed when roller coaster car crashes onto Las Vegas Blvd.” But you don’t die, this time, and the urge to try another roller coaster is still there.

The thing about fear is you can let it paralyze you or you can face it. There are things in this life that take much more courage to face than a roller coaster. If you can conquer the roller coaster you can conquer other challenges as well.

 

Dad

All she could see was the back of his legs as he leaned into the trunk of his car.

She could tell that he was tall, his legs were so long.

She thought he must be a fine man.

Then he turned around to greet them.

His smile was broad and welcoming.

She was about 5’6″ he was 6’4″.

They were young and handsome.

He was just returning from a two year mission, she was visiting her sister in Cedar City, Utah.

He talked her into staying a few more days before returning to her home in Pocatello, Idaho.

He took her fishing and dancing. They laughed and talked. It was early spring. He loved her right away.

By the end of October he was in Pocatello standing in her mother’s home claiming his bride.

A journey back to Cedar City to be sealed in the St. George Temple a week later.

They settled into their lives together. He went to work for the Power Company. His first day of work was December 7th, 1941.

By July of 1942 a daughter joined their family. The next year another daughter came along. By the time their son was due to be born she had moved back to Pocatello because he had been drafted into the Army Air Corp and was stationed in Colorado. It was there in Pocatello, that their son joined the family. A short tour in the Philippians took him away from his young family.

Then home he came safe and sound, the sounds of war were over.

Soon another daughter, Me! came to join this little family. Three years later another son came and their family was complete. They settled in on 9th West, surrounded by Aunts, Uncles and cousins. It takes a whole neighborhood to raise children.

Work at the Power Company continued. He was very personable. He knew everyone in Iron County and all the surrounding Counties. He joined the Lions Club and served a couple of times as President.

He was a Bishop for 9 years. He loved to hunt and fish. He loved Southern Utah and saw its beauty everywhere. He learned to write poetry and he loved the gospel. Often he would get up early and bring home a mess of mountain trout for dinner. There was always venison in the freezer. Sometimes there would be a bunch of asparagus he had gathered on one of his trips to “Dixie”. He would come home in the middle of the day on a hot summer day and say “Who wants to go to “Dixie”. Any child within ear shot was ready and willing. We knew an ice cream would be a reward for the trip. We loved going with Dad, there would be stories and songs and poems. Some of our favorites were ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee’, The ‘Strawberry Roan’, ‘Peter Rabbit’, and anything we wanted to talk about. He would tell us about the mountains and the valleys and about how his Grandfathers came to this country and joined the Church.

He was always front and center at our school productions. It was hard to keep a straight face and do your part with him sitting on the front row grinning up at you. I never had to beg my parents to attend any program I was in.

We always knew Mom and Dad loved each other. I rarely heard them disagree. She would be busy in the kitchen and he would sneak in and grab her and she would squeal and then he would hug her and give her a big kiss. Surprise gifts would appear under her pillow for no reason. He loved surprises. Mom and Dad served three missions. They gathered friends everywhere they went. He was kind and patient, he did not judge or ridicule.

One day in early February 1999, they went to a funeral at their ward house. They had just returned home. Mom was preparing some lunch. They were talking to a grandson who lived with them while attending BYU. Dad sat down to watch the news. Next thing they knew he was on the floor. EMT’s were called. It was too late. Massive heart attack.

We were not ready. There was a big hole in our family. Our consolation was our knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ and his saving grace. We knew we would be with him again. Mother missed him so much. Now she is again with him. We miss them both but we know they are happy to be together again.

 

 

 

 

 

Prizes and Awards

When it comes to winning awards or prizes I would try but some how I never really seemed to understand the game.

When I was a kid in Cedar City, Utah in the 1950′s the one and only movie theater would sponsor contests along with the Saturday Matinee. One contest was to gather as many bottle tops and milk cartons from Meadow Gold milk. The prize was a brand new bike. Another time the big prize was a giant Sugar daddy bar. I loved Sugar Daddies. I always got a bag of popcorn and a sugar daddy when I went to the afternoon show.

So I had to get to work. Right away I realized this was not going to be easy. My Mother did not buy Meadow Gold Milk. She got her milk from a local farmer in two quart canning jars that were washed and reused. Most of the families on our little street did the same. I would have to appeal to other neighbors out side our little neighborhood. Also I was not the only kid in town.

On the appointed day we gathered with our collected bottle tops and smashed cartons. I thought I had a good number. Hopes were high. We watched the cartoons and the serial. Captain Video was in his usual cliffhanger. The feature film was about to start. Still no announcement. About half way through the movie the house lights came up and Mr. Yergensen, the theater owner, rolled a shinny new bike to the front of the theater. He thanked everyone for entering and that the winner had turned in hundreds of bottle caps and cartons.

Right then I knew I had never been in the game. I probably had less than a hundred items to offer.

So I learned any contest where you have to gather the most items of anything I would never win. Any contest where you had to perform some skill better than anyone else I was never going to win.

The best prize I ever won was the one I did not even know I was in a contest for.

I was in ninth grade it was close to the end of the school year. The principle Mr. Miles, came into our Home Economics class and announced that one of our class member’s had been awarded “The Crisco Award for Outstanding Student in Home Economics” and would Barbara Cox please come to the front of the class.

Me! I didn’t even know there was such an award. How did I qualify? What was outstanding about me? Later I realized my teacher must have sent my qualifications for the award. I guess the biggest reward was realizing that my teacher who I admired thought enough of me and my abilities that she recommended me for recognition.

And that was the best reward of all.

Motto to Guide My Life

When I was in 9th grade we memorized some poems for English. Mrs. Vergie Frame was my English teacher. Her Husband had been our Bishop, and my Dad was one of his counselors. When our Ward was divided he became Bishop. That all happened three years before 9th grade. I mention that just as a back ground.

Someone on Facebook mentioned Mrs. Frame and the poems we had to memorize. I tried to remember one and and finally it came to me.

Edger A. Guest

Myself

I have to live with myself, and so,

I want to be fit for myself to know;

I want to be able as days go by,

Always to look myself straight in the eye;

I don’t want to stand with the setting sun

And hate myself for the things I’ve done.

I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf

A lot of secrets about myself,

And fool myself as I come and go

Into thinking that nobody else will know

The kind of man I really am;

I don’t want to dress myself up in sham.

I want to go out with my head erect,

I want to deserve all men’s respect;

But here in this struggle for fame and pelf,

I want to be able to like myself.

I don’t want to think as I come and go

That I’m bluster and bluff and empty show.

I never can hide myself from me,

I see what others may never see,

I know what others may never know,

I never can fool myself – and so,

Whatever happens, I want to be

Self-respecting and conscience free.

I hadn’t thought about this poem for many years. When I was reminded of it and this assignment was given I realized that this poem has indirectly guided my life.

For nine years I was married to a man who presented a kind, patient, spiritual face in public. But at home he was inconsiderate, angry, controlling and hypocritical.

I wanted to be open and honest about myself. I think we all strive in some ways to present our best selves in public. But that self also needs to also be present at home with our family.

Obituary – (an exercise for writing class)

After many years of study, Barbara Cox Hoag received her passing grade and graduated from earth school. Cheered on by her children and grandchildren.

Earth school was very difficult at times. Barbara struggled with many of the classes and excelled in others.

She began her studies in Cedar City, Utah, March 29, 1946. Welcomed to class by her headmaster and mistress Edwin Charles  and Mary LaVerle Sorensen Cox, and classmates Sandra, Kathryn and Douglas to be joined a few years later by Richard.

These early school years were spent surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins also serving as teachers and classmates. Public school was difficult at times but Barbara loved the performing arts and Cedar City provided a great opportunity to be exposed to both drama, music and dance. She looked forward to the Utah Symphony and the dramatic plays and musicals the College would present. She participated in several plays and musicals in High School and had the opportunity to perform with the Utah Shakespearean Festival in it’s early years.

After High School she had a desire to explore the world outside of Cedar City. She worked summers at Zion National Park and North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Her adventurous spirit took her to Los Angeles for about a year and a half and then to Yellowstone National Park to work and there she met and married Francis Otho Mack. They moved to Everett, Washington and started their own family when David and Patricia, joined the class. Frank was called home too soon and Barbara and her children returned to Cedar City for a period of rest and recuperation.

Finally settling in Provo, Utah where she met and married Theodore Clark Bennion and three more children were added to her class, Rebecca, Lydia and Edwin. Theodore passed away and Barbara was left to continue as headmistress and student.

Barbara was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints where she had the opportunity to teach and serve in many callings. One of her favorite activities was singing with the Ward Choirs.

Eventually she was introduced to James Lewis Hoag and they were married February 29,  2000. They made their home in Orem, Utah where she and Jim enjoyed attending concerts and movies and discovering the many interests they shared. These were some of the happiest years of her life. They enjoyed going to the Senior Center and sharing meals and activities with other Seniors and attending Elder Quest classes and activities.

Barbara is happy to return to her Heavenly Father and be reunited with her parents and others who have passed on. She requested that the congregation sing “There Is Sunshine In My Soul Today” with joy and happiness. Her studies in this life complete she is happy to graduate from this grade and begin the next phase of her schooling.

Aunt Mima

I grew up on a “dead end” street in Cedar City, Utah. I was surrounded by Aunts and Uncles and cousins.  My Dad’s oldest sister lived in an apartment in our basement. His Aunt Mima, his Mothers sister, lived in a little three room house across the street from the “Cox” homes.

I loved to go visit Aunt Mima. Her full name was Jemima Hamilton. She was born in Hamilton’s Fort, Utah, October 11, 1885, and died February 14, 1972 in Cedar City, Utah.

To me she was tall and skinny. Her hair was long and steely gray. She always wore it in a braid twisted around the back of her head. She had a wood burning stove in her small kitchen and a wood burning stove in the living room for heat. She had a trunk that held treasures that, if asked politely and if she was in a good mood, would show you what those treasures were. She had a hoop skirt that she said her grandmother Hamilton wore when she was crossing the plains from Nauvoo to Utah. If you were very careful she would let you try it on. Grandmother Hamilton must have been a very small woman. Even as a child of nine or ten it barely went past my knees. She had a small chipped glass that she said the Prophet Joseph Smith drank from when he came to visit Grandpa Hamilton in his “White Smith” shop in Nauvoo. She was careful to let us know that Grandpa Hamilton was a “White Smith” not a “Black Smith”. A “White Smith” was a finisher. He did more delicate work. He made fine tools and fixtures. Family traditions are that he made some of the keys and locks for the Nauvoo Temple. He may have made them for the St. George Temple also.

Aunt Mima never married. She told us that she had rheumatic fever as a child and it damaged her heart and she was told not to exert herself. She also said she was allergic to milk and milk products. I always wondered if she could tell if she ate cookies or cakes that had milk in them if it would kill her. I, of course, now understand that she could have an intolerance for milk in some forms but not all. I think it is sad that she put such restrictions on herself. Modern medical advice would probably have been to be active and that would strengthen her heart. But she lived eighty seven years, so I guess whatever she was doing it worked for her.

Aunt Mima did some handy work, she embroidered and tatted. She stopped doing close needle work as her eye sight worsened with age. I asked her to teach me how to tat, but she said my hands were too small. I wish I had been more persistent.

I would go to her house and beg to chop wood for her. I was always amazed at the wonderful dishes she could create on that big wood burning stove. She always made the Mincemeat pies for Thanksgiving. I have never eaten mincemeat pies better than those that Aunt Mima produced.

As a young woman in an attempt to support herself she bought a “Brown Bobby” machine. She would make her secret recipe Brown Bobby’s and sell them to local stores. Birthdays were always wonderful because Aunt Mima would bring us a dozen Brown Bobby’s for our birthday.

Brown Bobby’s are like a donuts only shaped like a triangle and baked in a waffle iron like machine. She never shared her secret recipe with anyone. Once she gave her precious Brown Bobby machine to my Dad to fix a broken electrical connection. While it was in our house my Mother made some gingerbread and cooked them in the Brown Bobby machine. They were delicious. But Aunt Mima was not pleased.

After she passed away one of my cousins got the “Brown Bobby” machine. They could not find the recipe so my cousin tried to duplicate it. She gave it to me and we found that if you use one of the modern electric donut makers you can almost duplicate those wonderful confections.   Every once in a while my cousin will show up at my door and hand me a plate full of Brown Bobbies, what a treat. We expected to find these at all family gatherings.

Aunt Mima was camera shy, she would turn her head away. There are very few family photos that included her. I managed to get a couple of pictures of her when she wasn’t looking.

Eventually her big wood burning stove and heater were replaced by a new electric range and heater. Then she said she could hear the electricity running through her house. As she grew older she got more eccentric. She passed away when I was living in Marysville, Washington and I was unable to return home.

I remember her yelling at me to “get off that bike before you hurt yourself” as I struggled to ride a bike that was too big for me up and down our street. Hers was the only house in the neighborhood with a fence around her property. She was reclusive and didn’t want kids running around on her property. She had a deep testimony of the Gospel but she never went to Church or Ward functions she did not like being in crowds.

But she was Aunt Mima. When she hugged you it was like hugging an ironing board. But I knew she loved me. She did what she could for us. She always was a part of our family gatherings. Each Thanksgiving I think of her and wish that her mincemeat pie and those wonderful Brown Bobbies would magically appear. She will forever be a part of the fabric of my childhood. When she died I knew that she was having a wonderful reunion with her parents and brothers and sisters.

Aunt Mima’s Brown Bobbies

Makes 2 1/2 dozen

1 cup Shortening                                           1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda

2 cups Sugar                                                    2  teaspoons Baking Powder

3 Eggs                                                                  2 cups Orange Juice

4 cups Flour                                                      1/2  teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Nutmeg

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a donut maker following manufacturer’s directions.

Cool and glaze with a glaze of:

1/4  cup softened butter

1/4  cup Water

Powdered Sugar to make a thin glaze.

Admiration From Afar

Junior High

In my own eyes I was too tall, not pretty, my face was too long, I thought my face looked like a horse. I longed to have a boy friend. But I was taller than 90% of the boys in school. I had a small group of girl friends who traveled together. Saturday nights were for the Stake Dances. We would go en-mass.  I held up the wall while my girl friends danced. There was always one or two boys who made the rounds of the ‘wall flowers’ and danced one or two dances with almost every girl. I longed to be the girl “all” the boys wanted to dance with. But I was the ‘side liner’.

I watched and wondered what it would be like to dance with this boy or that boy. There was one boy that caught my attention. He was a good dancer and he was taller than me. I got to dance with him a few times but he didn’t ask me regularly. He didn’t know that I existed. I always went home alone.

In High School it was pretty much the same pattern. The only school dances I went to were the girl ask boy dances. Our high school had a “Sadie Hawkins” dance every year. Names were drawn and you had to “catch” the boy you were matched up with. My sophomore year I was matched up with a senior, tall handsome football player. I was ecstatic; then I learned that he was one of my best friend’s boy friend. He lived in a small farming community west of Cedar called Newcastle.

My sister drove me out to Newcastle and my friend agreed to help me “catch” my date. We ambushed him at his home and I had my date. We caught her date and we decided to plan our dates together. We went to a movie and then to the dance. Thinking about it later I realized it was kind of strange to have our dates together.

I waited to get asked to any of the big school dances. No dates for me. I did have a couple of “boy friends” for a short time. They never lasted very long. One decided he liked my cousin more than me and he ended up marrying her. They are married still and have a lovely family.

My sister was in college and was dating one of the football players named Jim. I begged her to line me up with one of Jim’s friends. I was a junior and she finally came through. He was tall and very handsome and he was a football player. He took me out a few times and he gave me my first kiss.

A couple of years later I was in college. I was taking a dance class and we had a workshop on folk dancing. A group from outside the College was doing the presentation. Remember that boy I had admired from afar at the stake dances? There he was. We danced together. We talked and laughed. During one of our brakes I told him that I remembered him from those dances and that I had crush on him.  We laughed and he walked me home. When we got to the front door he leaned into kiss me and I was surprised and I backed away. He must have been embarrassed because he left and I never saw him again. I have often wondered it I had let him kiss me what would have happened.

Sweet Pea

Christmas 1958, I was 12. I received a gift from my older brother, Douglas. It was a beautiful ceramic horse. I was in my “crazy about horses stage”. I loved it. I put it on a display shelf in my room. Then my birthday came along in the last part of March.

Time for presents. Doug once again gave me a statue of a horse. His name is “Sweet Pea”. He was the ugliest horse I had ever seen. Yellow, with black spots. Angular, he looked like he had not eaten for months. He looked like he was ready for the glue factory. I laughed and I was in love.

My Mother later told me that Doug had intended to give this to me for Christmas, but she did not think it an appropriate gift for Christmas.

I proudly displayed “Sweet Pea” in my room. When I went to California with my girl friend looking for a new slice of life. “Sweet Pea” came with me carefully packed and wrapped so he would not be damaged.

When I moved back to Cedar City after my heart was broken, “Sweet Pea” came with me. Wrapped with the same care.

When I went to Yellowstone National Park to work for the winter of  1968-69, “Sweet Pea” came with me. Carefully wrapped and padded.

When I got married and we moved to Everett, Washington. Along came “Sweet Pea”, with me, not the movers, they could not be trusted to take care of my “Sweet Pea”.

When I moved back to Cedar City after my husband was killed in an automobile accident, There was “Sweet Pea”. The one steady object in my life. Carefully packed and wrapped so no harm would come to him.

Then eventually it was on to Provo. With two kids in tow and “Sweet Pea” bringing up the rear. We eventually settled into a house of our own and “Sweet Pea” had a home also.

Then in 1979 I was married again. As we were moving my household into this new home, once again I carefully wrapped and packaged “Sweet Pea”. But this time the move was not so kind to him. As we were unloading something heavy was dropped on top of  ”Sweet Pea”. He sustained injuries. I gathered up as many of the pieces that I could find and carefully glued them in place.

Looking back it was a symptom of what the next ten years would bring. Broken hearts and dreams.

My brother Doug is now gone, I doubt he ever knew that his “gag” gift would become a treasured item.

“Sweet Pea” is still with me tattered and torn but he is still standing. Ugly as ever with a few more nicks and scratches.  To me he symbolizes staying power, he has been with me through thick and thin.

Mother Learns To Drive

I was about five or six before my Mother learned to drive a car. My Aunt Wanda was the only women on our street who could drive. I guess my Mother just got tired of not being able to go to the store by herself.  One of the grocery stores in town had a converted bus that would be driven around town. It would come down our little dead end street once a week. I really don’t know if that was how my Mother got her groceries or not. I would guess not, the prices would be too high. The best thing about the grocery wagon was the penny candy and ice cream bars.  But I digress.

Mother would use this new ability to take us on picnics up the canyon or to Zion National Park. We would picnic and hike some of our favorite trails.  She was not the sit and wait for us to go on our hikes. She would come with us. She was not afraid to tackle the hard trails.

We would make our annual trips to Pocatello, Idaho every summer. On one such occasion we stopped in Salt Lake for my Father to make a stop at the Utah Power Company office. A car full of kids, hot summer day, did I say restless kids.  ”Can we get out of the car.” “Mom, how much longer”? After thirty minutes of this Mom decided that she would take us for a ride.

She didn’t know the streets of  Salt Lake very well. Remember this would have been sometime in the mid 1950′s. Our car had a standard shift. Salt Lake has lots of hills. We wanted to go up into the hills to see the pretty houses. The hills have stop signs in the middle of the very steep hills. I think my Mother was very courageous to try going up those hills. I remember we were on one of those hill streets and there was that stop sign. We had to stop. Remember how hard it is to shift into gear and go forward as gravity is pulling you backwards.  Mother and five kids, cars stacking up behind us. Every time she took her foot off the brake to gas the car would drift backwards. We all got very quiet as she struggled with the problem. At this point in the narrative I don’t remember how we got out of the predicament. But by the fact that I am here today and not a headline in the Deseret News, “Mother and Five Kids killed as car rolls down 3rd south and crashes because Mother could not shift into 1st gear.”  is a testament to the metal of my Mothers determination and courage.

I found myself in somewhat the same situation years later. I had moved back to Cedar after my husband was killed in an automobile accident. I was teaching the 11 year old boys in Primary and I needed to take something to one of the boys. He lived up on one of  the hills south of town. It was winter and the roads were snow packed and icy. I headed up the hill with my two little kids in the car. The road was steep and slick, it curved close to the edge of the hill. No guard. As we tried to navigate the curve the car started to slip and slide toward the edge of the hill. I tried to get traction on the soft shoulder. I realized I was in a very precarious situation. There we were on the edge of the hill, no traction, no cell phone, no one around. We said a prayer and walked to the nearest house. I called my Uncle to come rescue us.

Later as I was reflecting on the events of the day my mind returned to my Mother as she struggled to move that car ether up or down. I have been in that situation with a standard shift, especially  when I was still not a very experienced driver. I appreciated my Mothers situation and her courage to even try to navigate the streets of Salt Lake City.

One Alone

My daughter called to say that she had left her husband. We talked and I told her to get hold of her Relief Society President. She told me that she really didn’t have a very good relationship with the ladies of her Ward. She did not feel accepted and understood.

I understood how she was feeling. At the time I was going through my divorce I felt very alone. Suddenly I was the “odd man out,” not married not single. I found it hard to attend Church, but I forced myself so that my kids could feel a continuity.

Then my ex-husband passed away. I sold our home and bought a condo in Orem. We wanted a new start, that house had too many ghosts. In our new ward there were very few single parents. It was a mix of some very well off families  and some single parents and single sisters, but mostly families. We still felt out of place. I remembered going to Church took all the determination I could muster. I imagined  it would be the same for my daughter. It would have been very easy to just quite going. I didn’t think anyone would care. But I once heard someone say that it you had faith that the gospel was true it was your responsibility to not let anyone offend you to the point of leaving the Church. People are people, but the gospel is true. So I held up my head and I went to Church. There were many times not a single person spoke to me or smiled. I tried to be friendly and gradually I began to feel accepted.

Eventually I did remarry and it was amazing how much more accepted you felt. As Jim and I sat in Sacrament meeting one day I was thinking about my daughter and these words came into my mind. So this is my attempt to express my feelings with a hope that it might give my daughter the courage to press forward.

One Alone

One alone
Head held high she walks in to join the congregation
No one smiles
No one nods
She feels invisible
She takes a seat towards the back
against the wall
She doesn’t want to attract attention.

It is time to start the meeting
A family slides into the bench in front of her
Their little girl leans over the back of the bench and smiles
then is quickly silenced by her Mother.
She sings the opening hymn
Her spirit swells with the music.
The little girl smiles at her again.

She bows her head in prayer.
Peace comes over her soul
One Alone
She holds her head high
She knows her Father in Heaven is watching over her.
She is strong and resolute
She knows she is not alone in her Heavenly Father’s Kingdom.