Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My Love Is Up, Out of Sight, Around the Corner

St. Patrick's day grew more important in 1951. A bright new shamrock, a four-leaf clover of human variety came to earth. Shelley Jean Parker. Tall and slender, with four unique compound leaves instead of the usual three. Intellect, compassion, faith, and patience. Green and vital. We know people cheered her arrival, especially her parents, Irene and Robert. They knew she was exceptional. On the other hand, we believe a pre-mortal group wept over her farewell from them. Among those were surely future siblings, Chris, Norman, and Joy. And children to be, Amy, Mike, Kiele, and Brent.
But Shelley, she always hoped and believed that going around another bend in a trail and forging ahead would be one more of many successful farewells in an eternal life. Progress means moving on down the trail. Or up it. Leaving some you love behind to go ahead. Even if it's steep.
Now today is another farewell. We lament Shelley's loss here, we mortals, but yonder, her entrance is surely being celebrated. We think her parents, grandparents, and legions of brothers and sisters of Heavenly Parents welcome her to  new terrain to forge her pathway.
In a sense, less is more. She's departed, but not gone. She's on her way to help fashion the way for us to follow.
Let us pause to consider Shelley's growth on the track she trod here.
Welcomed as a first child, she quickly became vibrant. Blessed, soon baptized, she loved to play and pretend in sagebrush hills across from home in Roy. Characteristic of her, in 1961, she received a certificate of 100 percent attendance in primary at Lake View Ward. In '63, she graduated from primary, and, in public school, moved from Lakeview Elementary to Roy Junior High. She won a Cappy Dick coloring contest, getting her photograph and an article about her in the Ogden Standard Examiner. She received a home library, including a 15-volume set of Childcraft and a 20-volume set of encyclopedias. She won them and used them.
That year her family moved from Roy to East Layton to a new home on a wooded acre of scrub oak at the base of Thurston Peak. A whole mountain range to explore. She climbed that range and many others, forging ahead. Even with rattle snakes and flies and squawking birds. There's a letter from Primary Children's Hospital way back then, thanking her for her gift of stuffed animals for ill children. "May you always have this spirit of love and giving in your heart," it says. She did.
In '66, she said farewell to Central Davis Junior High and became a Davis High Dart, where she consistently bulls-eyed the high honor roll and walked on.
Along the way, her family cared for foster children. She helped out. Eventually, she received new siblings: first Chris --- dear Chris, she would always say, although Chris flinched at it --- then Joy, and, finally, Norman. She loved them, helped care for them, lead them along.
Bees visit clover. So she celebrated the spirit of the hive, busy having faith, seeking knowledge, safeguarding health, honoring womanhood, understanding beauty, valuing work, loving truth, tasting sweetness in service, and feeling joy. The myriad individual awards she earned mark how well she seized each opportunity for progress as she hiked along. High school, seminary graduation, and on to college.
Her family traveled. In 1951, to Martinez, California to visit Uncle Dan and Aunt Jean and family. In '52, to Cardston to the temple and to Glacier National Park. In '53 to Colorado and Southern Utah. In '54 to Concord, California on Easter. In '55 to Montana, to Sun Valley, and McCall. In '56 to New York and the eastern states, then on to Detroit via train to get a new car. Well, you get the picture. And each year she went further along her trail, literally, figuratively, spiritually. She gained insights and understanding and compassion.
In '69, hiking along as a freshman in college Shelley met this tall, gangly redhead, a boy known then as Wally --- now Walt. They were walking the same route. In August, 1971 they married in Salt Lake in the Temple. Two years later, in January, '73, Amy was born. By then, Shelley and Wally, mostly working full-time, had also completed requirements for bachelors' degrees. Speaking of a rocky path, they both started work as civil servants for the dreaded IRS. They planned to instead trek a path to international business school, but with a tight budget after graduating, they interviewed for jobs on the different path. Brooklyn, Chicago, Miami, Cleveland. "We like you," their interviewers said, but don't know if Utahans would fit in. They trod off to Chicago for training, working in Rockford, Illinois, then Illinois's second largest city.
Two years in Rockford auditing taxpayers, serving the Church, raising Amy and trying to grow offshoots. No luck there. Off to California, same goals. Off to Twin Falls, Idaho, where Shelley changed jobs, teaching English part-time at the community college. Still focused on getting more kids, the trail grew steep with switchbacks and a blind canyon. Eventually, Shelley backtracked. If she and Walt couldn't have biological kids, they'd adopt. First Shelley quit work and Michael came along on Walt's 31st birthday. Nice timing, happiest birthday present ever. Then a move to Boise. In 1980, Kiele came from Korea. Shelley flew to Denver to get Kiele. They handed her the baby and told her to take her and change her clothes. Shelley sensed something wrong. A frightening overhang, a cliff of a thousand feet. For one thing, Kiele's head just lulled to one side. In tears, frightened, Shelley returned home with the baby, meeting Walt at the airport. Then Kiele smiled and laughed so endearingly, as she does, and they knew whatever was wrong could be overcome. Another face to clamber up and down. Back home, a doctor said Kiele had cerebral palsy. When a little older, Kiele slowly started to talk, to walk. The doctor prescribed a ct-scan, and Shelley took Kiele. While Kiele lay in an X-ray tunnel, Shelley waited, anxious. One technician said to the other, "Didn't I see her walk in with her mother?" The other nodded and said, "And she talks." The ct-scan showed between 1/3 and 1/2 of the space beneath Kiele's cranium filled with fluid instead of brain. Shelley had a tall peak, an Everest to climb.
In 1982, six-month-old Brent came from Korea on Christmas Eve to the Portland airport. Nicest gift Shelley said she ever got for Christmas. By '85, Shelley was back to work for the dreaded IRS. One morning getting ready, she said she had a sore neck and asked Walt to look at it. A lump. Subsequently, doctors diagnosed an advanced form of lymphoid cancer, Hodgkin's disease. Shelley faced a new path up a Himalayan mountain. Shelley started chemotherapy, and they arranged to move back to Utah, close to family. She underwent chemo on Fridays, throwing up all weekend and returning to work early the next week until she couldn't physically tolerate that any longer. Then radiation, usually, daily after work.  She climbed those mountains.
Shelley's own crop of little clover --- Amy, Mike, Kiele, and Brent --- all kept on growing and advancing down their own trodden tracks, as children do, sometimes making pathways bright, sometimes, dark and rocky. Shelley was always there for them. Now Amy and her husband, Steven, also have little ones, Hannah and Piper, and Shelley kept journals of their young lives to help them remember the years she was there. Well, Hannah and Piper are not so little any more. But all the time, Shelley kept walking out ahead, always leading the way with her four leaves of intellect, compassion, faith, and patience. Now she's around the bend, out of sight, but never out of our minds and hearts. We will follow her.
Shelley loved to read, to hike, to quilt. She loved to travel and to have a dog. Give her a trail and she was off, going on down it or up it. As long as it had a bend, she wanted to go around to see what lay ahead. She always tried to follow the Lord's way, to live by the golden rule. She loved and cared for her family and friends. She loved the Lord; said she'd follow Him in faith.
People say, "Rest in peace, dear one." While Shelley's blessed body, tired and worn out by trails and trials of life may rest later this day in a grave, you can trust that she's still on a path, up around a bend, out of sight. Maybe now walking with her dad and mother for a spell. Think of all the beautiful vistas she's seen! The sights of wonder, the sounds of majesty! The scrumptious food she's relished! She's smelling the sweet honeysuckle of love and sacrifice as she continues on! May we all remember her path and let it inspire us to follow with as much courage and strength as she had and has. For she follows the path of the Lord, in faith.
We love you dear, sweet, shamrock Shelley Jean Parker Eddy. You are a four-leaf clover.

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