Faith vs Fear

Faith vs Fear

Monday, March 21, 2011

Women's Month

I noticed that March is designated as Womens Month. It seems appropriate, since that is also the month of the founding of the Relief Society, the women's organization in the Church that focuses on serving others. It made me think about the women who have been influential in my life: friends, coworkers, leaders, teachers, aunts, cousins, sisters, sisters-in-law, my mothers-in-law and grandmothers-in-law. All have enriched and blessed my life. I am thankful for them.

So much could (and probably should) be written about them, but lately I've been thinking of the women in my family who came before me. I am fortunate to have a number of their stories and journals, and have learned much from them; not only about their lives, but also about how to manage the challenges that come from living. I also learn more about who I am from reading about their experiences.

Kitty lived on the plains of Canada during the Great Depression and kept a daily log of what she was doing. When I was going through my divorce and dealing with being a single mother, my dad gave me a copy of his paternal grandmother's daily log. I loved reading about her day-to-day life in a time and place that is so different from my own. I also found great comfort in realizing that seasons come and seasons go, even during times of great difficulty. One of my favorite entries is her description of going to her daughter-in-law's funeral in 1935. She writes: "Montana and North Dakota, these are the landmarks I saw: fire brakes, gravel pits, wind mills, russian thistles, small buildings, sick-looking trees, alkali ponds. Poor fields and late grain--many hardships I am sure. Many barbwire fences, very poor feed for many miles. Barren and drifting soil, wide open spaces. Lilac time--3 shades white, pink & lavender (lovely). Rode all night of the 6th of June, and all day the 7th."

Clara grew up in the Boston area, raised by her aunt after her mother died in childbirth. She came west to join her older sister when she was a young lady, and eventually married and raised her family. I don't have any of her written words, but from my dad I know she attended Washington State University as one of the first female students and firmly believed in being actively involved in community life.

Clara's daughter, Margery, was my paternal grandmother. Sadly, she died when my father was still a young boy. I do, however, have a diary she kept for several months that gives me a glimpse into her life and reveals her personality. I love this description of a walk: "April 15, 1932: Made a hurry-up trip to town, went to Burtenshaw's and, after school, for a walk to the park and back, picking flowers."
Margery's 1932 diary
I recently found the obituary of Hester, one of my great-great-grandmothers, and was excited to learn more about her. She was from Indiana, and with her husband and children gradually moved west, settling in the Wallowa area of Oregon when it was in its pioneer period.

All of these women suffered from loss, and disappointment, and hard times, but they also believed in hard work and perseverance. Kitty, Clara, Margery, and Hester came through their challenges with flying colors and it gives me the courage to keep trying.

On the family front: My oldest brother, Mike, and his wife are living and teaching in Tokyo, Japan. They came through the earthquake all right. But, like the rest of the world, our hearts are saddened by the tragedy.


  1. Glad to hear your oldest brother and wife are OK!
    You are so blessed to have the writings of your women ancestors--I have some of my men ancestors (and I treasure them) but I would love to know more about the women that make up my ancestry--how they handled hardships, their faith, their joys, etc..
    BTW--the Wallowa Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the PNW! I would love to live there!!

  2. This is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing. I love learning more about our family history. We have a legacy of strength that I am proud of.
    Also, Kitty is an adorable name.
    — India


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