Patrick Hutchison was the object of my seventh and eighth grade affections. Man, he was so fine ... (remember when we used to say that?) He was in Mr. Jones' seventh grade English class with me. I remember three things about that class: Patrick was in it, Mr. Jones was nice, and on his bald, black head was what I'm realizing now was probably a ganglion cyst. But anyway... Patrick was also in others of my classes including my eighth grade Art class. One of my most prized possessions for many years was a photograph of Patrick, Randy, Christina and I all sitting at the back table in Art class. My hair was in a tiny little bun on top of my head with a bunchy around it and I was wearing a striped shirt from Miller's Outpost. Interestingly, I don't remember my Art teacher's name, but I do remember several details about that class. I remember my teacher's hands and voice. I remember doing a project where we were required to draw some kind of Halloweenish picture that would accompany some book title that had been given us. I remember Randy telling me that from the side I look like a witch (He was right! My darned chin and nose..ugghhh). And I remember one particular conversation Patrick and I had at that back table.
Patrick was Baptist, and pretty active with his church. We talked about religion--and the contrasts/comparisons between our religions/churches somewhat frequently. But one day I remember that for whatever reason, we had gotten into a little tiff about whose religion was right. I remember Patrick saying that his parents knew that his religion was right, and me saying that my parents knew that my religion was right. No doubt Heavenly Father was rolling his eyes at us at about that point. But I remember being a little confused about the fact that both of us seemed equally convinced that our respective churches were the right ones. Hmmm....So how was I to know who was right? I went home and asked my mom. I told her that Patrick's mom "knew" that their church was the right one, so how did she (my mom) really know that ours was? She told me she had prayed about it and that's how she knew. Of course! So I went back to school the next day and told Patrick that the reason my mom knew our church was true was because she had prayed about it. And then I asked him if his mom had done the same. Hmmmmmmmmmm?!! I can't remember what he said, to be honest. But I do remember him being a little uncomfortable with the question.
So that conversation has stuck with me all of these years. I've thought of it many times because it resulted in my recognizing a couple of very important things: first, that the way to know truth is by asking God; and second, that at that time I was only able to say what my mom knew because up until that conversation (and for a long time thereafter) I had not asked God to know for myself. (Side note: in college I took the most challenging grammar class at BYU, and I did pretty dang well. I remember, though, that my professor would always get after me for using too many extraneous that's. Nowadays, I'm sure my grammar is horrible at times and I'm still throwing in way too many that's. So sorry about that. Yikes.)
When I was growing up, I really thought my parents were always right. Don't be embarrassed, mom. I'm sure everyone thought that about his/her parents. Specifically, I thought that the way my parents parented... was the right way. Do you know what I mean? And then my brother Scotty died and a whole bunch of things started changing--like the way my parents parented. And it was really hard for me. It is still hard for me sometimes--not because they are doing anything wrong now( likely the contrary), but because it has forced me to confront the possibility that maybe my parents did not know and do everything right (and therefore I, too, was wrong), and it requires again that I find-out-for-myself what is right--or what will be right for my family. See what I mean? I have to work. It's been interesting because I've found myself feeling resentful toward my parents for (in the past) making me feel like some parenting technique or whatever was the right way to go and now making me feel like the better way is something totally different! The fact is--it's not my parent's fault at all. They didn't make me feel anything. Of course I shouldn't have assumed that they would do everything right. It's just that it is hard, and scary, for me to think and figure things out for myself much of the time. It's much easier to just have the people I trust (i.e. my parents and siblings) figure it all out and then believe and accept whatever they say. You see--I'm much more comfortable INside the box. :( The problem comes when they change their minds or views or beliefs or whatever. That's when it gets hard for me because I don't like change. I like to be right the first time. And I don't want to have to figure it out on my own.
Now don't worry. Don't worry. I know it is good for me to figure things out on my own...It's just hard.
My trip to Vegas and Utah was wonderful. I am part of families who love me and love my kids. They are generous and kind to us. I feel so grateful that Heavenly Father sent us to this earth in families. I love mine. My mom let me do chores to earn money...(Here I am at 32 and I'm still doing chores to earn money)...And she was SO generous in her compensation. And the kids swam, and ate treats and played with cousins and had a ball. Minus Janey breaking her leg in the final days of the trip, our whole vacation was really, really fun. And I feel so lucky to have the mom and sisters I have. They are different from me in many ways. They are more like Brian, and I am so grateful. When they discuss things with me, I can understand Brian more clearly and I am better equipped to be the wife he needs. And would you know it? I learned things about the ways my parents and siblings think and feel that I did not know before. To some extent, some of their views and opinions have changed; and to some extent I'm just now finding out what they've felt and believed all along. And the peek outside of my box is a little uncomfortable for me. But once again, I'm having to use my own brain to think for myself, and say my own prayers to ask for myself, and you know what the result is? Oh, that everything will be fine, of course. And I'll love my family even more.
P.S. It's after midnight and Janey just wheeled up to me in her wheelchair. She told me that at dinner she and Camp had asked for more corn but were not given any more because it was all gone. I asked her what she was trying to say. She said she was still hungry. I laughed, and when I did she started to cry. I tried again to explain to her that when I laugh, it is just a sign that I love her and think she is darling. I hugged her and asked if she believed me. She said she did but that she doesn't like when people laugh at her. Then I wheeled her into the kitchen to get her some cereal.