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.

Side by Side

One day Jim and I were sitting in the little examination room of the doctors office, waiting for the doctor. He was reading and I was knitting. We were not talking just doing what we always do, reading and knitting. A picture flashed through my mind of my Mother and Father. He is reading and she is doing some kind of hand work. Then these words just came to my mind, so I wrote them down.

Side by Side

Husband and Wife
Sitting in silence
Side by side
He is reading a book
She is knitting socks
Side by side
The only sound a slight rustle as a page is turned
A cough, a sigh,
only silence.
Side by side

Another picture comes to mind
A picture from long ago
Her Mother and Father
Sitting side by side
She is mending a shirt
He is reading a book
Side by side

Mom and Dad at home

They are young and handsome
He reads aloud as she attends to her task.
Mother and Daughter
Separated by years
Connected by thought and action
The circle of life scenes repeat
and replay unintentionally.
Husband and wife
Sitting in silence
Each attending to their task
Side by side
Comfortable, content, complete.

May 27, 1982

I had just finished my last semester of school in April. It was getting hard to move around. I was glad I didn’t have to do all that walking all over campus. I had to park so far away and it always involved stairs. Being pregnant and going to BYU  is not a very good combination. Factor into that I was already too heavy and 36 years old and chasing a toddler and trying to juggle a large family. I was exhausted.

We went to bed the evening of May 26th I was feeling restless. I couldn’t get comfortable I lay awake with thoughts racing through my head. Finally around 2 am I got up. Maybe a walk would help me to sleep. I put some cloths on over my nightgown and I set off.

I hadn’t gone very far before I realized that this was probably not such a good idea. What if I should fall and couldn’t get up. No one would know I was gone and no one was out side to find me. I could lay in the road for hours before being found. By this time I was several blocks away from home. Nothing to do but get back home. So I kept walking, being careful not to stumble. It was a bright night and there were plenty of street lights and the road was paved and smooth. I made it home.

I got back into bed and managed to sleep a little while. Then I woke up and the contractions had started. I woke my husband and told him it was time to go to the hospital.

Lydia Barbara Bennion was born around 4 am the morning of May 27th 1982. She weighed 9 lb 6oz and was 19 inches long. She had lots of dark hair. More hair than any of my other babies.

She grew from grace to grace. She started walking about eleven months. I observed how quickly children seem to understand what you are saying to them even though they can not communicate themselves vocally until they are about two years old. Lydia was quick to learn and eager to experience each new challenge. She was delighted to see her father come home from work and would run to him with her arms out wide.

As I am writing this thirty years later it makes me sad to realize that our life has taken such a change. I found an old journal that I had started about 1981 and when I describe home life it is tranquil and the children are happy with their Father.

Now thirty years later there are very few happy memories. This is something I am going to have to work through in a later blog. For now it is kind of nice to remember everything was not bad all the time.

The year after Pattie was Born

Pattie was born September 11, 1971. Settling in with a new baby was a challenge. Trying to feed a new baby and control a rambunctious toddler takes a lot of time. David was very curious about his little sister and he was willing to help as best he could. Keeping in mind he was just about eighteen months old.

My neighbor Kay was a huge help. She would take David so Pattie and I could get some sleep and I would go over to her house and Pattie would sleep in her carrier and we would work in our gardens and do canning and play with the kids.

As the days grew shorter and winter started setting in the days got colder and the rains started. Then we actually got snow. That winter the Seattle area got lots of snow. Many businesses  and schools closed. They cancelled Church a couple of times. We lived up on a hill and when it got cold and snowed and then it would warm and then freeze and the road up our little hill was so slick Frank could not get up it to come home. He would have to park at the bottom of the hill and walk up.

Kay and I had lots of fun with the kids. We built snowmen and took the kids for rides on a sled Kay had. We would bundle them up and off we would trek up and down the street. I realized how much I had missed snow.

We looked forward to the Book Mobil. Kay would come with me to Relief Society work meeting sometimes. Her daughter started going to  Sunday School and Primary with me. I didn’t have a regular calling in Primary but every once in a while I would be asked to help.

One day in early Spring the Bishop asked me if I would accept a call to teach a class in Primary. I was very happy to accept. I told him I would have to clear it with Frank but I did not think there would be a problem. I told Frank when I got home that I had been asked to teach in Primary and that I would have to be gone every Thursday afternoon for about two hours. He got very angry and shoved me up against the wall and told me I could not do it. “Who would take care of the kids and who would get his dinner.”

I told him that I would take the kids with me and I would have his dinner made for him before I went. He yelled at me and told me I could not do it. I was flabbergasted. He frightened me. He had never forbid me from doing anything, especially if it involved the Church. I had grown up knowing that if you were asked to do something that you did it. I had never said no.

I was very upset. I must have felt more threatened that I can remember now because I called and made arrangements to fly back to Utah. I packed up the kids and told Frank I was going home. He had calmed down and drove us to the airport. Mom and Dad picked us up in Salt Lake. The flight was horrible. Pattie cried and threw up all the way. Of course she finally fell asleep just about 45 minutes to touch down. I think we stayed overnight with Kathryn and her family. Then we headed to Cedar City.

I was prepared to stay and call it quits. My Home Teacher called and asked what we needed to do to get our family back together. I told him that I was not happy with Frank working all night. We hardly ever saw each other. He would not come home when he got off work. He would go hang out with his “buddies” and then make his way home in the afternoon and want to sleep. I would have to go over to Kay’s so the house would be quiet. He would never come home and go to Church with us. I felt that we were growing apart.  He said he would talk with Frank. He called back a couple of days latter and said that Frank and agreed to get a day job and make more of an effort to come to Church with us. My Dad encouraged me to go back. So like the obedient daughter I went back. I think we stayed in Cedar about two maybe three weeks.

When I got off the plane in Seattle Frank was not there at the gate to meet us. I was so tiered and I was trying to juggle two little grumpy kids. Finally a lady from Travelers Aid came to my rescue. We were heading toward the baggage claim when Frank finally came. We had miscommunicated and he was upset with me.

We tried to settle into our lives again. He got a job with a company that made Garage Doors. But he continued to work for the Security Company on the weekends and darn he just could not get home in time to go to Church on Sunday Morning. So some things were better but somethings stayed the same. It was nice having him home a little more. He was more help with the kids and spent more time with David. He liked to take him with him and show him off to his friends.

As Summer came we would have cookouts with Kay and her Husband David. We went to the boat races on Lake Washington. That Summer Franks Mom and Dad and Sister Phyllis came to visit. All in all we had a pretty enjoyable summer. We were getting along well and I had resigned myself that Frank would probably never be very active in the Church. I figured if I could stay as active as possible and not push him our life would be a lot smoother.