Saturday, June 18, 2016

Great-great Grandmother: Charlotte Smith Wright

Her is a story gleaned form Family Search:

Charlotte Smith and John Wright

Charlotte Smith


Charlotte was born in Huntingshire, England. She along with her parents, were members of the Methodist Church. She married John Wright when she was 20. They joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1854. Their first two children had died, so it was with happy hearts in 1856, that they took their new baby to the LDS Church and there hear the elders promise the child a long life and give him the name of Hyrum Issac Wright. John and Charlotte’s greatest desire was to take their family to Utah, the headquarters of the Church. Through help from the Perpetual Immigration Fund, their joy was full when they boarded the Ship Arkwright in early 1866, with their three children. John was 35 years old, Charlotte was 36, Hyrum was 10, John, Jr., was 7 and Sarah Ann was not yet 3. About four weeks out to sea an epidemic of measles broke out among the children. Hyrum and John recovered from their measles. Little Sarah Ann remained sick and weak. Each day she became worse. Charlotte pleaded with God to let her child live, if only to be buried in Mother Earth, and not at sea where huge sharks followed the ship. After almost eight weeks on the water, they landed in New York and from there traveled by railroad to Omaha, Nebraska. They joined a company of saints to travel by covered wagon to Utah. While in Omaha, Sara Ann died. Charlotte sat in a shelter of some trees and held her dead child in her arms until morning where she was buried in a board coffin that was hurriedly made. The next morning the family left Omaha and traveled by ox team across the plains. They arrived in Salt Lake City in October 1866, and then traveled south to Pleasant Grove, finally settling in Lindon, Utah. Charlotte and John were married 43 years. They had 9 children, five living to maturity. She was a widow for three years. Her granddaughter said, “She was very industrious. After churning all morning, she would walk to American, Fork, Utah with her butter and eggs to trade for groceries. She walked along the railroad tracks.” She died at the age of 66

Lessons From My Children: Anthony: Have a Good Time.



    
Anthony's story of how he became a part of our family is remarkable.  He was born six weeks early, and shortly after his being born, Social Services informed us that he would be coming to our home.  We had recently been licensed as foster parents, and he was our second foster child.  We were a little bit wary, having had no experience with parenting a preemie.  Sheri visited him in the hospital a couple times, and visited with the nurses before bringing him home. He was born four pounds seven ounces, and when he came to our home at two weeks weighed about five pounds. He was the love of our life from his first coming home.  Man those preemie diapers are small.

His only medical problem after that has been his kidneys retaining too much water.  But that has pretty much resolved itself as he has gotten older.  They were also worried about the strength of his legs.  But with climbing up stairs, and jumping on trampoline, his legs are as strong as anyone's his age.  He now enjoys climbing trees, the wall the shelf etc.  He's Spider Man you know.

My proudest moment with Tony, when he was small, was taking him to my older son's Marine graduation. I had him in a carrier, and people so much wanted to see the beautiful baby.  He was still small, but such a beautiful boy.  I didn't tell anyone he was our foster baby; just our baby.

But, unfortunately, our happiness with Tony was short lived.  Social Services found a relative placement for him, with cousins, and after he was with us only two months he moved on.  I went to the exchange, which took place at the shelter.  He weighed eight pounds when he left us.  We really didn't think we would ever see Tony again. 

But who knows how things work.  About ten months later, after his first birthday, Social Services called us to inform us he was available for placement. We jumped at the opportunity.  Our baby boy was coming back home.

We were close to Tony from the first moment he came to our home, both times.  We have loved him.  He was very easy to love. After a child has been in your home six months you can petition for de facto parent status.  This we did as soon as we could.  And so we were then more involved in the court process.  Social Services has a general philosophy of placing with relatives, no matter the circumstance; so much so that even after his mother's parental rights were terminated, they found a relative placement for him.

When Tony became available for adoption we wanted him to stay with us, forever.  We did not feel it would be good for him to move to another home.  Social Services, having found a family, and after his being with us for almost a year altogether, developed a plan to move him, to family members he didn't really even know.  We felt Tony was already home, and that a further loss (he had bonded to us) would not be good for him.  He had already gone through three removals--loses in essence, and didn't need another one.  They went so far as to take our little baby by car, over an hour away for a visit.  We understood he cried all the way there.  Poor little Tony.

Tony developed a funny habit during this time.  He started seeking out Sheri's blouses when for whatever reason he couldn't have Sheri.  It was cute, but an indication to us that he was overwhelmed with things in his life he couldn't control, and found some comfort with Sheri's smell.  He preferred dirty ones from the hamper, but would take a clean one from the closet if he couldn't get to the hamper.

And so a court contest ensued.  We petitioned the court to not move him, and discontinue visits, which had started with the new family.  Visits were continued, but on a pared down basis.  The court decided to have hearings with regards to determining the placement.
This process seemed to drag on forever.

Generally the court sides with social services.  However there was a precedent of another case being decided in favor of a foster family.  County Counsel was representing social services, recommending movement to the relative home.   The County Attorney's office, which represented Tony, was fighting for him to stay with us.  We finally got our own attorney as well.

After numerous postponings, we finally made it to court.  The deciding testimony was that of Tony's pediatric MD, who was an expert on loss and separation, and told the judge that moving Tony would be detrimental, making him more susceptible to separation issues and ADHD.  What a great day when the judge ruled in our favor and decided Tony would stay with us.

Tony's adoption was finalized April 15 2009.  He was two years, two months at that time.   When he was adopted, Tony slept.  We celebrated at BJs.

Another big day for Tony was his sealing day at the temple.  We went out to celebrate before, because of people's schedule.  Sheri went to the car to change his butt, and left her purse as we were leaving soon.  Someone broke the window and took off with the purse, in that little time.  What a stunner, as the purse contained the documents we needed for the temple, as well as the recommends for most of our party.  Tony's older siblings were going to the temple as well.

With calls to our neighbor, who was able to fax the documents, and the Bishop being there to verify temple worthiness for everyone, we got the sealing done.  Tony wasn't happy until after.  He had to ride in a car with a broken window, and couldn't sleep like he normally did in the car.

It is a joy to have Tony as our son.  Tony reminds us every day that it is important to have a good time.  I took him to the library and he got to play on the computer, and climb on the seats, and look at books and after he said, "We had a good time."  I have taken him to the park and he swung like a “monkey” on the bar, and he pretended to be Spider Man in the swing and shot his pretend webs, and kicked me in the belly as I pretended to be the monster.  We would go by the creek and he threw stones into the water and I picked black berries. 

We have a good time.  He loves to bounce in bouncy hoses, he loves to play with his toys, and he loves McDonald's for the new toys.  Tony has the most winning smile.  His face is so expressive.  He has a good time, and in doing so has reminded us all that it is OK to have fun. 

After we moved to Manteca, Tony and I took the task of visiting all the parks so as to decide which we liked the most.  At that time we were looking for the best Spider Man net.  Now Tony prefers the monkey bars.  He loves to swing, and he has incredible upper body strength for his age and can do many tricks.  I can't remember exactly what the psychiatrist on MASH said, something like "Pull down your pants and slide on the ice."  That is our Tony.

Tony has a different lesson to teach.  This one is service.   He will bring candy and cookies to you.  He loved handing out candy for Halloween.  He will also do little things for you, without being asked, when he sees there is a need. 

Along with his service is his great faith.  He says the most outstanding prayers.  He has many things to tell Heavenly Father.  He is thankful for opportunities to play with his friends, for little things people do for him, for school, and for his momma.

Tony, like all our babies, is a miracle.  He is a miracle and we love him.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Lessons from my Children: Caleb; Have Faith

Caleb

After Miranda was born so quickly, we expected Caleb to come even more quickly.  The thinking was each baby should be a little quicker, because the birth canal is a little bit more stretched out.  With Caleb that was far from the case.

I was working graveyard at the time.  I thought I would be with Sheri until the baby was born, and then slip over for the rest of my shift at work and then be with Sheri in the morning.  Man was I mistaken.  I had to call explain that I wasn't going to be in at all.  It seemed Caleb didn't want to be born.

We went to the hospital in the afternoon.  Caleb was definitely coming, but he came so slowly.  We went all night and into the next morning and still no Caleb.  Mom’s regular doctor was even able to attend the birth.  (At Valley Medical Center the interns covered the graveyard shift and the regular MD had a regular daytime shift.)  After Caleb was born, we discovered that his arm had entered the birth canal first and was blocking his progression.  We always thought it was his way of saying, “No not yet!  No not yet!”

 However Caleb was born, and there were no complications.  Caleb's lesson for me, was taught when he was very young.

When Caleb was only six or so, he burned his hands over spring break while we were camping.  He was leaning too far forward in a folding lawn chair, it collapsed, and he grabbed the fire ring catching himself.  The fire was enclosed in a metal ring, which had been heated by our fire.  He burned both his hands, one on the palm and the other on the back of the hand.

We were at Big Basin, and he was in a lot of pain on the way to the hospital, about 40 minutes away.  We tried to cool down his hands as best we could, Sheri sitting in the back seat with him as I drove.  We got him to the hospital and he ended up with big bandages on both his hands, and had to go to the wound center for treatments.  He still has some scars, but nothing that affected his ability to use his hands.

Caleb had already been practicing a song to sing in the adult session of conference a day after we were done camping, "I wonder When He Comes Again".  He did a great job.  His hands were bandaged and everything.  After the conference session a woman came to congratulate him.  She did it by grabbing both his hands, ignoring the bandages.  Caleb didn't say anything, but he was in obvious pain.

Caleb has always had a desire to perform.  That same year, Mark, his older brother, was in the High school musical, "The Music Man."  Mark portrayed Winthrop, the boy with the lisp.  Caleb decided he was going to portray the same roll in a play.  I don't know how he did it, but it happens the Middle School did the same musical that year and somehow Caleb, who was a first grader, had the roll of Winthrop for the Middle School Musical.  He was case opposite a young woman, seventh grader, who in the play had a crush on him.  Somehow they made it work.  Jeremy was in the musical as well as a salesman.  I think my other elementary kids were in the musical as well, as townspeople.  Caleb did a great job.  He has friends to this day from that experience.

I don't know how, but my kids have always seemed to get roles in plays at the higher institution with their older siblings.  In similar fashion Caleb was in "Once on an Island" with Mark and all the kids did "Into the Woods" with Mark.

Caleb though has had the most examples of this.  He played Jo Jo in the musical Seussical.  The musical was being presented by a different ward, but they needed someone to play Jo Jo, a male soprano.  Caleb’s voice has already changed, but he still managed to sing all those high notes.

Caleb is now playing with a group of friends in a high school garage band—Hot Spud.  They have written some nice songs and have had some success locally.  However they have plans for a lot more success.




Caleb has sung in the District choir the past two years.  This year he was able to sing a solo.  He believed in himself, and tried out.  And he was awarded the tenor solo.

Just goes to show, if you think it, you can do it.  Like the song they use to sing on PBS every Sunday morning when I was growing up, "If you want it, you can get it.  But to get it, you've got to want it.  Anything you want to try; just spread your wings, fly high!  Or the Jeff Goodrich song, "With God, nothing is impossible; But you must reach and take his hand."

More recently, you should have seen how excited Caleb was with the announcement of the lowered age for missionary services.  He will turn 18 just before graduating, and wants to be headed on his mission as close to then as he can.  He has big dreams, and big plans, and has a way to make his plans come true.  He exemplifies the poem:

Always Have a Dream

Forget about the days when it has been cloudy,
But don’t forget your hours in the sun.
Forget about the times you have been defeated,
But don’t forget the victories that you have won.
Forget about the lessons you can’t change now,
But don’t forget the lessons you have learned.
Forget about the days you have been lonely,
But don’t forget the friendly smiles you have seen.
Forget about the plans that didn’t seem to work out right,
But don’t forget to always have a Dream.
(Anonymous)

Caleb has been an example of great faith in his life, which has given him opportunities.  If I could have just a particle of the faith Caleb has now, and had as a small child, it would be well with me.  Caleb has taught me to have more faith.

Lessons from my Children: Miranda: The Little Things are Important

Lessons from my Children: Miranda; The Little Things are Important


Miranda was the quickest of our babies in coming. We were only at the hospital a couple of hours before she was born. Hers was also the most natural childbirth—there was not time for an epidural. It was a surprise to everyone at home when I called to report Miranda had been born. It seemed Sheri and I had barely left home to go to the hospital. The Fazzinos, who lived around the corner, watched the kids for us while Miranda was born. They were surprised as well, as I was home by ten to relieve them.
    Miranda is a stickler for detail.  It is she who remembers important things, and important dates.  A couple years ago, an February 8, she remembered it was Tony's birthday.  Tony had been our foster child who had come to us as a beautiful preemie baby.  We loved him and were proud of him.  But at two months he went to live with a relative foster home.  Miranda remembered him, and helped us remember him on his birthday.  Better yet, within a couple weeks after his birthday, Tony was returned to us, and he's still with us and we love him.
   But for better or worse I don't always see the little things that Miranda does that makes out family a Heaven on earth.  It is Miranda who fixes dinner when we are all to busy.  It is Miranda who will watch a baby at the last minute, even when she would rather not.
    Miranda and Caleb have recently become dog owners.  Miranda is particular to take care of the little things with the dog, making sure he has water and food, baths and flea medicine.  She gets mad at me if I feed him scraps from the table, as they are not good for his health.
    And that is the lesson Miranda is teaching me--how to be more sensitive to the little things.  I must admit this blog is the hardest for me to write.  I have not learned Miranda's lesson very well.  I am generally the laid back person, and as a result I miss important keys.  Consequently it seems too often I offend Miranda.  She has to put up with a lot living with her "old man."  My philosophy has always been that love would smooth over my faults, and everything would be OK.  However I am learning that sometimes the little things count; sometimes paying attention to them is how love is shown.
    I have a bad habit, especially where Miranda is concerned, of accentuating the negative.  I know better.  As Bing Crosby use to sing:
http://www.mathematik.uni-ulm.de/paul/lyrics/bingcrosby/accent~1.html
You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

You've got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

(To illustrate his last remark
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they do
Just when everything looked so dark)

Man, they said we better
Accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No, do not mess with Mister In-Between
Do you hear me, hmm?

(Oh, listen to me children and-a you will hear
About the elininatin' of the negative
And the accent on the positive)
And gather 'round me children if you're willin'
And sit tight while I start reviewin'
The attitude of doin' right

(You've gotta accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between)

You've got to spread joy (up to the maximum)
Bring gloom (down) down to the minimum
Otherwise (otherwise) pandemonium
Liable to walk upon the scene

To illustrate (well illustrate) my last remark (you got the floor)
Jonah in the whale, Noah in the ark
What did they say (what did they say)
Say when everything looked so dark

Man, they said we better
Accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between
No! Don't mess with Mister In-Between

Elder M. Russel Ballard quoted different young people about how they follow Christ at the  CES fireside November 2010.  “I show faith in Christ by being consistent and doing the little things that matter most. By reading my scriptures, praying, and trying to love others as Christ would, my faith grows.”  He had asked a series of questions, which are worthy to help us remember to do the little things:

1. Are you happy with the direction of your life and the depth of your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
2. Do you love God with all of your heart, soul, strength, and mind? (See Luke 10:27.)
3. Are you doing the simple things in your everyday life?
a. Are you saying your prayers every morning and every night?
b. Are you reading every day from the holy scriptures?
c. Are you using appropriate language?
d. Are you being honest?
e. Are you living the Word of Wisdom?
4. Are you being kind and thoughtful of the needs of those around you?
5. Are you following the counsel of the Brethren … to avoid completely any kind of pornography?
6. Are you living worthy of a temple recommend?
7. Are you actively participating in your Sunday meetings, especially sacrament meeting—partaking of the sacrament worthily and renewing your covenants with the Lord?

This is a good lesson in looking at whether or not you are doing the things you should be doing.  In doing these things, one will find greater joy.  I have tried to live a Five-star life as presented by Bishop Betts in Ballard Ward—daily prayer, daily scripture study, family and individual; weekly family home evening and journal writing.  That is really six things but makes a good list.  Unfortunately I have come short, but Miranda is on her way to making these habits part of her life.  I need to better follow her example.

   So let me end this blog with an apology.  Miranda, I am sorry sometimes I miss the little things that you do that help our family.  I am sorry I come home, and the first thing I do is point out something I think you should have done.  I will do better.  I appreciate your pointing out that little things are important.  I will be more aware of your contribution.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Lessons from my Children: Charity: How to Love Unconditionally

Charity

I have started each story of the kids with a story of their birth. However after the excitement surrounding the other kids, Charity's birth was pretty normal and undramatic. The only bummer about her as a baby was that the camera we had at the time went on the blink, and so we lost the pictures of her blessing day. All the same we loved her like all the other babies that came in our door.

I guess I advocated for the name, Charity, because I have always sought after this Christ like love, although I have come up short on many occasions. But Charity, for her part her name says it all. She has always been a great example of Christ like love:

And Charity suffereth long, and is kind, and evieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things; (Moroni 8:45)

This is a very good description of Charity. I have seen her demonstrate these principles on numerous occasions in her life. When Charity was three months shy of two years old, we moved from Utah to California. I drove the Budget rental truck, while my wife drove the car. I enjoyed the trip, because Charity for much of the trip insisted on riding with me in the truck. I think she had a sense that I was lonely in the truck, and she could provide me with company in this manner. I enjoyed her enthusiasm for the newness of the truck, even if she had to be in her car seat.

A demonstration of her personality was our first visit to a Major League Baseball game shortly after moving to California. We went to an A’s game. We were sitting high up behind the backstop. There were not many with us that high. We had brought spray bottles with us to give us a squirt of water every once in a while to ward off the heat. Charity took one of those spray bottles, and a napkin and proceeded to wash the seats. She washed a couple of rows worth. I don’t know if she watched the game, in fact I don’t remember the score, but I do remember Charity cleaning the seats. She was so cute.

Charity, throughout her schooling has always had a tender heart, and reached out to classmates who may have needed encouragement. Her best friend went through a scary situation with a brain tumor, which required surgery. Charity was available for her friend and did things to include her and help her feel better.

More recently, when we were doing foster care, Charity’s ability to love was manifested. Our first foster child, Rena, slept in the same room as Charity. She was younger and would often have nightmares at night. In those nightmares she would often moan, and kick off her covers. Charity would wake up at all hours of the night, and lovingly put the covers back on her. She and Rena became fast friends, and even though she was only at our house a few weeks, Charity made her stay with us as enjoyable as could be. Charity was in the high school yearbook talking about her experience with foster care and was quoted as saying, "Because they were so easy to love, by the time they left, it was like saying good-bye to one of my own siblings. All these kids wanted and needed was someone in their life that cared about them like my family cared for me, so when they came into our home it was so easy to build a relationship with them."

Charity has always been the best helper around the house. This was more manifest as we were fostering. It was impossible to keep up with everthing. Charity, sensing this, often took it upon herself to do the dishes--not just the basic job, but scrubbing the pots and wiping the counters. She wouldn’t quit until everything is done.

Charity's first real job was at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I enjoyed picking her up, and pulling up a few minutes before she was done at the counter. I could watch her through the window and see her interaction with customers. She always had a smile on her face, and a helping attitude. She developed friends among the regular customers at the store. She has also manifested this caring attitude in other jobs. She is currently a lifeguard.

Charity's enthusiasm for life has been based on one of service and love:

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. (Moroni 7: 46-47)

Charity’s example has set a high watermark for me and her siblings. If we can follow her example, we will be more Christ like.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lessons from my Children: Jeremy; Through Practice You Can Overcome

Jeremy

Jeremy at the MTC

When Jeremy was born, our greatest challenge was finding him a name. He was born the day after Natalia’s third birthday.  It was a scheduled delivery. Even so, we still hadn’t decided on a final name for him. It was a struggle. I wanted to call him Jeremy Truck, because I knew he was going to be strong and tough. Sheri forced me to compromise, and we decided on Jeremy Tate.  Jeremy is a family name on my mother’s side.  Her great grandfather Thomas Jeremy was captain of an emigration party, and stake patriarch in the Salt Lake Stake.

I had a very bad cold when Jeremy was born. The OB doctor prescribed some medications for me as I struggled with a stuffed up system.

Jeremy was the longest of our children when he was born. Sheri is very short. As a result he was born bull legged. He had to be fitted for special shoes, which turned his feet out. The shoes also had the special bar to go between which made it so they were attached to each other. This thwarted Jeremy’s mobility. Jeremy hated them; the bar especially. It was heavy and awkward, and had to be dragged around as he crawled or as he began to stand. He couldn’t get around the way he wanted to.

More than the shoes, the thing that helped Jeremy’s feet was his mother’s patience in carefully massaging them. Every time she would change his diaper, she would take time to massage his feet and turn them out. Over time his feet and legs were completely corrected.

Jeremy as a baby was a climber. He taught us patience, as he could get into anything. We had a hard lesson in patience when Jeremy’s baby sister was born a couple years later. Jeremy was jealous of his sister and the attention she got, and didn’t like losing his place as the baby of the family. He climbed on the piano, where we had put a porcelain replica from the “Hansen” collection of a mother praying. Jeremy knocked this off, and it broke, irreparably.

The life lesson I have learned from Jeremy is that through practice, you can overcome. He is much like Heber J. Grant who would quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do—not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our power to do has increased,” and then put those words into practice, guiding his life.

Jeremy, like President Grant was not the greatest of singers. However Jeremy had a great desire to sing. I remember when he came home from Primary one Sunday and let us know his favorite song was “I am a Child of God." He wanted to sing it for us. He was probably three at the time. He sang every word. He also had the rhythm down as well. It’s just, I thought the song had more than one tone, which was how it came out. That was where Jeremy started in his singing ability.

However, he continued to sing whenever he could. He sang in Primary. He sang in school programs. He sang whenever the opportunity presented itself. He would sing with recordings. He would sing in church. He would sing with his stereo. He would also listen to music as well. He used rehearsal C.D.s and rehearsal helps on the computer. He worked hard at learning music.

When in high school he continued to pursue singing. He often sang in two choirs—men’s chorus and advanced 'capella chorus. He also participated in an acapella men’s quintet. He sang in our church choir. He sang in a youth choir for two years in the San Jose area and was the bass leader for a time. He can sing both low tenor, baritone and bass parts. He is much better at hitting the right note than I am, and I have sung in church choirs since I was about 14 years old. (39 years) He has had lead parts in musicals, and it is fun to watch how he learns music, singing parts over and over again with the computer.

The ability to overcome difficulty, and develop our talents was expressed in the Book of Mormon, by the Lord as he counseled Moroni, when he complained that he was not mighty in writing:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27)

Jeremy also had a love of sports, and played on several teams.  He loved wrestling, basketball and soccer.  When he arrived at high school, these three sports took place at the same time.  As a result he had to choose.  He was best at soccer, but wanted to play basketball.  He had to work hard.  He wasn’t the best shooter, but because he played so hard, he was a very good defender.  I don’t like to play against him because of that.  I like a little space, which he doesn’t like to give.

Jeremy has exemplified faith and humility in many areas of his life, one of which has been the way he has overcome his weakness in music, and made it a talent.  Another has been his participation in sports.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Lessons from my Children: Mark, Being a father

Mark and me, Porcupine  Dam
Mark

Mark’s getting here was not as remarkable as Natalia’s. However in Sheri’s pregnancy with him we learned patience. There was a period in his pregnancy when the doctors felt Mark was not growing as fast as he should. They decided to conduct an amniocentesis to decide if it would be OK to induce labor, as they felt there might be something wrong with the pregnancy.

I was excited to get Mark here as quickly as possible. However the result of the tests did not support forcing him to arrive early. The opinion was that Mark was just fine, but somehow we had gotten the due date wrong, and that was the reason he wasn’t as large as they thought he should have been at the time. We had to wait a while longer.
(Sheri, who probably is right, remembers this story differently. She indicates the reason for the amniocentesis was a result of the doctors having gotten the autopsy from Billy Boy. This worried them so they wanted to determine if they could have him born early and if anything might be wrong with him. The amniocentesis indicated nothing was wrong, however his lungs were not yet developed to the point that an early delivery would be advisable.)

Sheri’s labor was not induced with Mark. Sheri had a bad cold when he was born. I always felt, that after the first two pregnancies, Mark’s lacked excitement. We went to the hospital, and then he was there with no big deal.

I loved him just as much. I put up the big sign this time, “It’s a Boy.” He was born 15 months after Natalia, and would be just one grade younger than Natalia in school.
The first lesson I learned from Mark, was the same as Natalia. Stuff happens. Mark taught me this by getting his stinky diaper in my face every morning. Mark, like many youngsters when he was a toddler, would find his way into our bed. Somehow he would get upside down in the bed. I don’t know how many mornings I woke up smelling his peed diaper.  One morning he was sleeping on top of me when I woke, with his diaper covering my face.

Natalia and Mark also taught me to roll with the punches. When they were both small, but after Jeremy had been born, Sheri and I were asked to talk in church. We were going to sing a family song between our talks. We worked with Natalia and Mark to learn the song, “As I Have Loved You.” We also learned the sign language that is in the Primary Song book. Natalia and Mark looked so cute when they rehearsed. At this time Natalia was probably close to kindergarten age and Mark three or four. They had worked hard and learned the song. Unfortunately when it was time to sing the song they were both fast asleep on the floor around our feet. Sheri and I sang the song, and did the sign language alone.

The life lesson I have learned from Mark, is the importance of being a father. This lesson came to me gradually. I always liked being a father, although I was not a perfect father.

When Mark was young, the movie Hook came out in theaters. In this movie, Robin Williams, portraying Peter Pan has to find his happy thought. His happy thought in the end was being a father. I think this too is my happy thought.

Mark has had three loves in his life growing up. One was soccer, and the others drama and music. When Mark was young I would coach him in soccer. However by the time he was 12, Mark new as much about soccer, and could play much better, than I ever could. I let others coach him then. However it was through drama, that Mark made me think more about being a father.

When Mark was a Freshman, the High School put on "The Music Man," and Mark was cast in the role of Winthrop, the piano teacher’s younger brother. This may have been because of Mark’s size. He always took after Sheri and was somewhat short. However Mark also is a very good actor. Three actors from the performance were presented best acting awards, and had their pictures displayed at the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts. Mark and the two leads were selected.

In the show the lead character, Harold Hill, befriends Winthrop. He thrills him with the idea of his playing the trumpet. However Hill is actually a conman who doesn’t know how to teach music. He is just interested in selling instruments and band uniforms. Towards the end of the play Winthrop confronts Mr. Hill. “Are you a big thief? Are you a low down good for nothing crook?” As Mark delivered these lines he did it with such conviction. His lower lip quivered. He had tears in his eyes. His voice broke with grief and pain. In that quivering lower lip, in those tears, I could see all my failures--every cross word, every swat, every mistake and every let down. I could see it all in that face and in those tears.

I know he wasn’t talking to me, but to act that well, the pain must have come from somewhere. I wasn’t a terrible or abusive father. But even so I could have done better, and in that moment made a commitment, as I myself was in tears, to do better and to be more faithful.

President McKay’s words come to mind, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” I needed to keep my priorities in line and this was a good reminder.
A couple years later, Mark was again in the high school musical, “Working.” Mark, with two other young men sang a tribute to their fathers, “Fathers and Sons,” written by Stephen Schwartz:

I heard a lotta songs say “Where you goin’ my son?”
Now I know they’re true.
Boy, you never stop to think how fast the years run; now they’re taking you.
I remember you was three and a half,
your mom and me we’d sit there after things got quieted.
We’d laugh at some new word you said, how tough you were to get to bed
and we’d plan the night away.
Planning for our kid.
I was your hero then, I couldn’t do no wrong as far as you were concerned.
You thought I was the best of men, the tables hadn’t turned, you hadn’t learned
How little time it takes.
And daddies make mistakes.

It seems to me that lately I’ve been thinkin’ a lot;
I think about my dad.
Lots of funny things come back I thought I’d forgot, Now they make me sad.
High school and it used to be, I didn’t want him touching me
and I shuddered if he did.
Further back to summer nights:
Baseball games beneath the lights and sleeping in the car.
daddy and his kid.
He was my hero then, He couldn’t do no wrong as far as I were concerned,
I thought he was the wisest and the strongest and the best of men,
the tables hadn’t turned, I hadn’t learned, how little time it takes.
And ev’rybody breaks.
And daddies make mistakes.

I heard a lotta songs say “Where you goin’ my son?”
Now I know they’re for real.
Boy you never stop to think how fast the years run; or the things they steal.
Now it seems I always knew why I do the things I do, and the thing I never did.
Why I work my whole damn life so’s I could give a better life
than the one my dad could give me.
I give it to my kid.

You can imagine how touched I was with this song. It sort of explained how I felt, and maybe somewhat how Mark felt. The relation between fathers and sons was put into an untitled poem Mark wrote:

When I was young and you were not so old
You whispered Spanish in my ear when we
Stopped by a road's edge. My hand found its hold
In your most calming hand that seemed to me
Secure as any fortress in the world.
Our ears perked, eyes turned right then left to see
that all was safe beyond where pavement curled
Around a thick, shadowing maple tree.
When all was safe, no danger to be found,
We anxiously stepped and soon would be
Beyond the road to fields and playing ground,
The promised place where I had longed to run free.

You are the man in whom I see my God.
Few boys were better taught or so well shod.

I guess that says it all.