Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We can't separate ourselves from the past

We can't separate ourselves from the past. Nor should we want to, I suppose.

I grew up in Utah. My parents also grew up in Utah.

My mother was the oldest in her family, the big sister to her siblings. She had both brothers and sisters. She was born in Central Utah; I think in Richfield, Utah. I know that she graduated from Gunnison High School, which isn't far from Richfield as I recall. She never talked much about growing up in Central Utah. I don't remember her ever taking me there to those small towns or showing me where she went to school or anything like that. I don't remember any stories from her youth. She didn't talk much about what it was like being a kid or going to high school in such a rural area. I wonder why. Actually, my mother didn't talk much about anything about her life to me. She liked to focus on me, not on her.

My father had ten siblings, and he was one of the last of the ten. Maybe he was third from the last; I don't remember for sure. He was born in Ogden, but not in the hospital but in the home his parents lived in, located someplace — I'm thinking about twenty third street — below Wall Avenue. He talked more about his youth than my mother did. His father died early — I'm thinking when he was about fourteen, maybe younger. He told me how difficult it was trying to make ends meet, emphasizing that he had quit school because of the hardship, whether that was true or not. By that age he had taken up smoking and he smoked as long as I lived with him. I think he quit after I married my wife, sometime after 1971. He was born in 1920. I'm thinking he quit smoking sometime around sixty, perhaps later.

Even though my parents grew up in the midst of Mormonism, neither of them adhered to its tenets or seemed to care about it much at all. While my mother had been baptized a Mormon and even graduated from Mormon seminary when she went to high school and graduated — I saw her yearbook and that's how I know, I never knew her to be engaged in the religion or to practice it. My father was never baptized. His mother was disaffected from Mormonism early on — possibly before she even married. Her husband wasn't Mormon. She came from Holland when she was a youth — I think when she was fourteen. Perhaps she came under false pretenses, lured here by promises never kept, but I'm not sure. I'm just left with that impression.

After I married, in 1971, my wife and I finished our bachelors' degrees and then left Utah. We went to Illinois, then to California, then to Idaho.

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