Sunday, June 29, 2014

Life, Love and Covenants: A memoir to Grandpa Phil and Grandma Judy

My ealiest memories of Grandpa Phil were in the old house with the family room that was down a hallway with a mudroom and dogs.
I remember it had a lot of bookshelves.
I don't remember much from those days. But I have flashes of watching TV with grandpa in that room. Sometimes he would play checkers with me there. And he told me about some of the books in that room.
In that house we married my first dog Blonda, to her lover boy Thumper. Maybe it's my child's memory, but things were happy there. Simple.

After Grandma and Grandpa moved from that house things changed. I remember not seeing grandpa very much after that. He stayed in his room and didn't come out much.
I remember one time he did come out and sat down with me and played checkers. But it wasn't the same. He had a long beard and smelled funny. By then I was pretty uncomfortable around him.

As grandma and grandpa's health conditions worsened my relationship with Grandpa Phil became more like that last checker game with him: Uncomfortable, uneasy, and awkward.
I never understood much about his condition. When dad tried to explain it to me as a teenager, the only words I really picked up were "depressed" and "reclusive."
Then the dementia came and brought him out from his hiding place. And his hugs became just a little too tight for comfort. That is how I remembered Grandpa Phil.

When I met uncle Russ at BYU, though,
he showed me my family history. He had all sorts of family pictures. The gems of his collection were the ones of grandma Judy and grandpa Phil's wedding. He showed me Grandpa Phil as a young man in his military uniform. Grandma Judy and grandpa Phil with their little kids when they lived in Utah and Colorado. My grandparents as young, happy, healthy.
I'd never really known either grandpa Phil or grandma Judy in that way. And to see them happy and young with the future open to them helped me relate to them in a way I never had before.

Along with the pictures, Uncle Russ found copies of their patriarchal blessings he had among all of his family history paraphernalia. Maybe I shouldn't have read them while they were still alive. But I was too curious to resist.
What surprised me was their blessings were like mine. Full of purpose and hope for the future. Something especially interesting struck me as I read Grandpa Phil's. Something that didn't seem to fit. Something I will never forget.

In his blessing appeared quite often the word Joy. Joy and happiness in this life were promised to him repeatedly. Things like, "Your life will be full of joy as you live the gospel" and "Love and happiness will come.."
I don't remember the wording exactly and I don't know how many times it was there, but in Grandpa Phil's blessing, joy and happiness were repeated enough to stand out in my mind as a really special promise just for him.

And as I grasped that thought, I looked at the grandpa Phil I knew. "Depressed, reclusive, dimensia, hiding," those were all words that came to mind. And it made me sad to think something in grandpa's life had gone so awry that his blessing may not have been completely fulfilled like it ought to have been.

But then maybe it was. For the past 20 years- my whole life- Grandma Judy and grandpa Phil have been heavily laden with physical, mental and financial obstacles and trials that they have continuously fought.

As I pondered on this, I realized that "Grandpa is just an old man with some health conditions, who's had a pretty rough and remarkable life." If he was a little inappropriate around us young girls it was simply a symptom of his dementia, not who he was or is as a person. And if you slapped him on the wrist a little he good and well backed off.

When I was in Ohio in Februray to be with Grandma before she passed, Dad and I took a break from ICU and went down to visit grandpa in the ER (which goes to show whether it was consciously done or not, he couldn't even let her go to the hospital without following her there...)
In the ER room Dad had to step out to take a phone call. While he was out a nurse brought grandpa some food. Grandpa was only interested in the juice box, and I was able to help him get the straw in when I saw him struggling with it. He wasn't particularly interested in me standing there. But I had a thought that I might not get many more chances to be around him.

As he sipped his juice box and ignored me, I asked him about grandma Judy. He looked at me and seemed surprised by my question. Surprised I even bothered to talk to him at all. He didn't answer me and kept sipping away at his juice box until it was gone. After waiting awhile I probed some more. I asked him if he was scared that she would die. After a moment he looked at me and nodded. Then to lighten the mood, I asked how he met grandma Judy. I kept asking simple questions which he began to answer in brief responses. It was more than I'd gotten out of him in 16 years.

I kept going. I asked how he found the Church. He answered with a relatively lengthy response. His first. He said, "you know I was in the military?" I pretended I didn't even though I'd seen Uncle Russ's pictures. He told me he didn't like the morals of the boys around him. He said it wasn't right. And he met a Mormon who taught him the gospel. After that he left the military and came out to Utah where he met grandma Judy.

She had told me once that he proposed to her by writing his name on a family history card and asking if she would fill in her name next to his. She was really cute when she told me that. It was apparent she thought it was very sweet and clever of him.
I thought of that as he told me about how they met and were married and had their first child, my dad in Provo. What he told me were exactly the moments I'm currently at in my life and can relate to perfectly now. That meant a lot to me.

I asked grandpa Phil what life was like as a kid. And he remembered. Brief flashes of ice skating and his childhood best friend. I don't remember the boy's name, but he did.

It took some probing, and the right questions. But once I got him started on something- a memory he'd forgotten about, he didn't stop.

That's the last time I got to see my Grandpa Phil. And I'm really glad I had that experience with him.
I never knew my Grandpa Phil like my dad and his siblings remember him. But I knew him in a different way. And it's taken me a long time to finally realize, that's ok.

A question Alex and I sometimes exclaim to each other is, "We're married! -->What does that even mean?!"

But I think grandma and grandpa have spent the past 20 years showing me what that means. It means you stick to your covenants no matter what. No matter what the world says about how life should be happy or easy or tells us, "We are independent! We can do it alone!" It doesn't mean we should. In Fact, the eternal reality is, we can't do it alone. We need each other. We need Christ.

In D&C Christ says,
7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; (D&C 121:7-8)

Being Married for 3 years now has taught me a Lot about adversity and faith and commitment to your spouse.
And frankly, grandma and grandpa had a hard life. A Very difficult life full of adversity.
But I now see that Grandma was filled with patience for grandpa. She turned to Christ and He filled her with strength. And despite her challenges, she had a stubbornness, willfulness and love for life that she never gave up, right up through her last day on earth.
And I think that grandpa knew what she did for him; That he followed her so quickly after her passing is evidence to me of his deep love for her. It makes me think that in some way, she was the thing that was keeping him alive all along.

And maybe, just maybe, taking care of grandpa Phil gave Grandma Judy that something worthwhile to live For.

In our world of false commitments and easy divorces, Grandma Judy and Grandpa Phil loved each other and their covenants enough to sacrifice convenience, health and financial security to help each other through this life.

I'm grateful for their sacrifice, and I'm glad to know that because they were sealed in the temple, Grandma Judy and Grandpa Phil can be together again, free of the physical burdens that were laden upon them both in this life.

I think that if while he was still here, Grandpa had an inkling of what Grandma did for him, he now has a perfect gratitude for it. And now his spirit is free to love her unrestrained by physical obstacles.

It's something worth celebrating. They stayed true to those covenants, even when things seemed impossible, lonely and miserable. And now I truly believe they can be happy together in the eternities. Free from sorrow, free from grief, free from pain.

I think now, because they were faithful, they have a chance at that fullness of joy Grandpa Phil's patriarchal blessing was talking about.

And that is the gift and the legacy they have left for us, their posterity, to follow.

--Amelia Rose Heer

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hail and Hurricaines
By Amelia Rose Dunlap

Water everywhere.
Crashing, screaming
Raging against the deck
Beating against the helm
The mast, the stern, the bow

Anchors, thrown down
No match for the torrent
The hurricane of water
That bashes the brains
Out of our poor little ship.

What was once bright and gleaming
What once gently cruised across
Our crystalline sea of glass
Is now being torn away,
Nail by nail
Plank by plank
By water.

The same water we boil to drink
To sustain our life
The same water that honors
The watery graves of
Our fellowmen. And of 
Our enemies.

The water itself has become the enemy
Crashing, breaking

The clouds-the water in the sky-
They are dark and dense
They cover up the moon.
Our Lady. Our Lady of the Sea.
And all the while
Through the dark night
We watch as our little ship
Gets battered and broken.
We watch and wait
Wait for it to sink.
Wait for us to go down with it.

A storm of water 
Rearing back its great fist
and again...

Its amazing how brutal a handful of water can be.
The same water that collapses through my fingers
When I try to hold it in my hand.

Just goes to show
Anything can hit hard
When its got enough force behind it.

The water isn't alone, I realize.
It has a friend. A helper.
The wind is what stirs the water
What troubles it
What riles it up 
To its ravenous anger.

The wind that holds it in the air
Goads it on
Until the water becomes too heavy.
Too heavy to bear the weight
Of the burden laid upon it.
And it falls.
Then, and only then,
The wind picks it up
Slices the night through with it.

It is not the water at all
Come to destroy us.
The water has always been there
And will always stay there.
Not the water, but its wielder
Who brings upon us
This great, furious torment. 

It is curious how quick we are
To cast blame onto things
We don't understand.

There is, however,
An end to all storms.
This one is no different.

We wait it out.
All through the dark, endless night.
We wait it out.
We do not give up.
We keep pailing out water.
We keep fighting the fury
We patch the broken planks
Where we can.
We fight this storm.

Perhaps a captain must go down with his ship
But he will never go down without it.
We do not stop trying.
We hold on. 
Even when faith is weak 
We do not give up.

Just as Our Lady heads to the other side of the earth
Breaking through the dense water covering
The water 
The wind lets go.
And vaguely, I see it.

Dawn. Peeking over the horizon.
Slow at first.
Then brighter
Darkness becomes light again.
Light becomes color.
Beautiful, Radiant.
Resplendent in its glory.

The dawn fills in the canvas of the sky
And shimmers upon
The water.

It is calm now.
At peace.
The wind has finally gone.

Gentle waves brush our battered ship.
They caress it with their apology.
They rock us into ease.

We look around.
We see the wreckage that lies
In broken shards upon the deck.
But we rejoice.
The worst is past.
And this, we know how to fix

It only takes a few nails
And a tree.
And someone willing to do the work.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

"Love is the subtlest idolatry." -Zach Glendening

"For You"
By: Amelia Rose
To all those famous French Romantics--
 Chateaubriand,  Dumas, Lamartine, Hugo--
this one's for you.

Unrequited Love is a nonsensical thing.
An oxymoron.
Because love shouldn't need requitement
To be love.

Ask any mother, and she'll tell you the same.

At its best, Unrequited Love makes up people to think 
They are more important than other people. 
They are martyrs full of selfless self-denial.
At its worst it turns even the most intelligent men 
Into whiny, blubbering, whimpering babies. 
Men so caught up in their own misfortunes, 
They don't stop to consider anything else. 
Or anyone else. 

In its selflessness, Unrequited Love is selfish. 
In its righteousness, Unrequited Love is wicked.
Often, the Unrequited Lover knows that.

He takes precautions. And he goes about his life
He knows that  Unrequited Love is better left Unrequited.
He knows it is a fiction he has made up for himself.
A comfort thing. A thing in which he can indulge himself,
But which will not exact from him more than he is willing to give.
It is a safe love. It is secure.

For the Unrequited Lover knows that reality is more difficult
Than dreams.
And he is careful. He is careful what he wishes for
Because he knows wishes come true,
But not in the way you expect.

He knows Unrequited Love is real, but in being real it is false.
He knows that in being false, it is real.
That's what fiction is, after all.

To have an Unrequited Love is a difficult balance
Between reality and fiction.
A balance the Unrequited Lover chooses.
Because in a strange way it satisfies him.
It is a fancy he can indulge in, a game he can play.
A getaway and a fantasy that can take him away from how things really are.
A place where impossible things can happen
It is a place for the dreamer to dream.

What's so wrong with fiction, anyway?
When we recognize fiction for what it is,
It can be a great boon to life.
Stories, dreams, fairy tales
We embrace them all.
They help us fill our need for expression, creation, and artistry 
That we as human beings possess.

Stories. As long as that's all it is, a person is safe.
But the dangerous thing about Unrequited Love
Is that the stories deal with real people.
The stories make up real people to be characters
And real people hardly ever come perfectly packaged
Like characters in a novel.

Unrequited love is a dangerous game to play.
It is difficult and full of traps. 
But to the Unrequited Lover, that's what makes it fun!
Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose.
Every win propels you forward, spits energy and excitement into life.
But Every loss is a heartbreaking, damaging blow. 
Another rift, a chasm etched into your soul.
It's a risky game to play. The stakes are eternally high.
And you set yourself up to lose, 
Every time.
You break yourself over the rock of your love
Every time.
Even when you win.

What happens though, when it's finally the rock that breaks?

The only thing worse than losing
Is realizing
The love you keep breaking yourself for
Was never love at all.

Monday, February 17, 2014

"Let's run off and join the circus..."

7 février 2014, 00:14
Sometimes you can't think.
Sometimes you can only feel.
Sometimes there are no words to express how you feel.
And sometimes other people have already found them.

Goo Goo Dolls.

Could you whisper in my ear
The things you wanna feel
I'd give you anythin'
To feel it comin'

Do you wake up on your own
And wonder where you are?
You live with all your faults

I wanna wake up where you are
I won't say anything at all
So why don't you slide

Yeah, I'm gonna let it slide

Don't you love the life you killed?
The priest is on the phone
Your father hit the wall
Your ma disowned you

Don't supposed I'll ever know
What it means to be a man
It's somethin' I can't change
I'll live around it

I wanna wake up where you are
I won't say anything at all
So why don't you slide
Ooh, slide

And I'll do anythin' you ever dreamed to be complete
Little pieces of the nothin' that fall
Oh, May
Put your arms around me
What you feel is what you are
And what you are is beautiful
Oh, May
Do you wanna get married Or run away?

And I'll do anythin' you ever dreamed to be complete
Little pieces of the nothin' that fall
Oh, May
Put your arms around me
What you feel is what you are
And what you are is beautiful
Oh, May
Do you wanna get married
Or run away?

I wanna wake up where you are
I won't say anything

And I'll do anythin' you ever dreamed to be complete
(Yeah, slide)
Little pieces of the nothin' that fall
(yeah slide)
And I'll do anythin' you ever dreamed to be complete
(Yeah slide)
Little pieces of the nothin' that fall
(Oh, oh slide)
Yeah, slide between the sheets of all them beds you never knew
(Yeah slide)
Why don't you slide into my room
Just slide into my room
Oh, we'll run away, run away, run away

Miss you babe. Till Feb 19th! (:

Friday, February 7, 2014

Celebrations. #7

Celebrations                                     Feb 7, 2014
Amelia Rose

The gentleman watched the spectacle from a quiet corner of the chapel. It was a familiar chapel in a familiar town. But many things had changed since he had last known it. There were many new shops, new inns, and new neighborhoods which had sprung up during the interim of his absence. And now, as he sat in the back corner of this crowded chapel he knew just why.

            At this moment, a magnificent lady bejeweled in the finest apparel appeared beneath the colourful stained glass windows of the chapel entrance. Collectively the congregation took in a breath at her appearance. She was stunning. She was the most beautiful creature any had ever beheld. Dressed in a fine satin gown, gilded with lace and studded with pearls, the lady’s beauty elicited the best of feelings from every onlooker.
            She had stopped just behind the last pew of the room. From the gentleman’s vantage point he could see her perfectly. In the moments before the music began, he observed her profile carefully. He studied her beautiful features eagerly that he might remember and keep this moment for eternity. Sunlight caught her veil and made it sparkle in the entrance of the venerable church. Her dark hair fell in perfect ringlets placed neatly up in the shimmering veil. Her delicate hands gently held a bouquet of white lilies beaded with pearls to match the pearls which sequined her dress. The fabric was of the purest white with gold trim accenting the lace gathered at the bodice and on the shoulders. Each layer of her dress flowed expertly and fell seamlessly into the simple train that gathered behind her feet at the floor. In the midst of the dark, old chapel the lady shone like a bright star.
            The only regret the gentleman had as he sat gazing from his pew was that he could not see her countenance. Guarded by the beautiful veil, the lady’s face remained hidden as she gazed out over her audience. He could not look into her bright eyes to read her emotions or comprehend her thoughts. She remained a mystery to every onlooker as she stood there glimmering in the sunlight.
            After a moment of stillness, the music began and the spell was broken. The congregation released the breath it was holding and the lady deftly took the first steps toward her new future. She gracefully advanced down the isle in time to the steady rhythms of the dignified processional. She bowed her head meekly as she made her way past the dear friends and family gathered together to celebrate this delightful day.
            Across from her at the other end of the church stood a man of no mean consequence facing out toward the congregation. Sir Elsey was his name, the gentleman recalled astutely. Happily, the exquisite elegance of the groom matched that of his bride’s in every way. He was finely dressed with not a hair out of place. He stood straight and tall, yet there was an ease in his manners which the gentleman perceived from across the large room. Sir Elsey stood relaxed and confident in front of the large crowd and he watched every movement of his beautiful bride with admiration and tenderness. There was an unmistakable pride in his eyes. A good pride, acknowledged the gentleman, a kind pride; one that assured every being present that his love and admiration for their dear lady exceeded all expectations and hopes. He was a good man with a kind soul, and the loved ones of the lady could not approve more of the match.
            As the lady approached the altar with her father at her side, the groom greeted her with an affectionate smile. This smile turned into an animated grin as she returned the greeting. No one could see her face, yet the gentleman could imagine the exact picture of her fair countenance. He could imagine her gentle blue eyes sparkling through her veil, bright and excited and probably even a little impatient for the moments ahead. He could imagine her lips, her soft, lovely lips as they curled into a jubilant smile. He could imagine the blush of her modest cheeks, and the pulse of her stout heart as it quickened with excitement and anticipation on this momentous occasion. Though none could see, the gentleman could tell that the lady gazed steadily into her groom’s eyes. She could have been gazing into his own. He knew that look so well. For a reason the gentleman could not quite articulate, he felt his own heartbeat quicken. He stiffened in his seat and his palms grew sweaty as the bride and groom turned together towards the priest at the wedding altar.
            He planted his feet firmly on the ground and clasped his hands tightly together so as not to disturb those along the pew where he was seated. As the minister began to speak, the gentleman closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths to calm himself and his body’s strange reaction to the transpiring events. He settled back into his seat and attempted to listen to the sacred recitations of the minister.
            “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God and in the face of this company of witnesses to join together this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony.”
            The gentleman watched the lady at the altar. He watched her every movement with admiration. She was the perfect creature. And she had done well. She had built a secure and distinguished life for herself through her artwork and her talents. She had traveled the world and back and had seen things he had only read about in books. Little did she realize it, nor would her modesty ever own to it, but the gentleman knew that this lady alone had brought prosperity and prestige to her small town, and through her reputation had opened up the doors of success to all her acquaintance. In a very short time, she had, for the better, changed the face of the entire world around her. She had and would continue to make a difference in the world and be a great influence for good in the challenging times to come.
            The gentleman knew all this and was proud of her. She had become exactly who he knew she would be. She had done it. And now she would be rewarded with a worthy husband and companion to love and cherish her, who would support her in all her endeavors.
            “…therefore, let this estate be not entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, discreetly, soberly and in the fear of God.”  
            The gentleman was glad for it, and yet all the gladness in the world could not ease the ache that came suddenly and acutely to his weary heart.
            “Into this Holy Estate these two persons present come now to be joined.”
            O that he might be the man! The man to love her, to hold her. To make her laugh and to take away her sorrows! To know her most intimate feelings, hopes, passions, and fears. To make a family, to make a life together all their own. He had known and loved her since their childhood. The memory of the night he had ended their friendship—had cut off her connection—filled his heart with grief. That night and every day since he had been friend to anguish of the meanest sort. He wished with all his might that he could erase that painful distress. O, that he might be the one to heal her hurts, to secure her hopes, to prosper her joy!
            “If any man can show just cause, why these two may not lawfully be joined together, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.”
            His heart raced, his palms sweat, his feet locked in rigid defense to the desires that welled up in him now.
            It was not his place.
            She was not his, nor had she ever been. All the love in the world could not make her his, nor bind their lives together in such a way. It was not to be. It was not his place.
            Silence filled the chapel. It lingered for a long moment. Then quietly it passed and was gone.

            The minister continued to administer the wedding vows to the peerless couple at the altar.
            “Do you Sir Elsey take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife…” And again, “…will you have this man to be your lawful wedded husband? Do you… Do you… To have and to hold... For better, for worse…For richer, for poorer…In sickness and in health…As long as you both shall live…shall live?”
            “I do.” And again, “I do.”
            “Forasmuch as these two have consented together in Holy Wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this company of witnesses, and there to have given their pledge, each to the other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving a ring, and by joining hands; by the power vested in me, I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
            And just like that, the deed was complete. At long last the veil was lifted from the bride’s darling face. She was just as the gentleman had imagined, though in his recall, he had not accounted for the maturity that had filled out her features over the last six years. It did not detract from her beauty, however. In his esteem it simply augmented her natural grace and pristine perfection with added wisdom and strength. As she gazed at her groom, triumph shone in her bright eyes and unblemished joy radiated from her countenance. The gentleman released a breath he had not realized he had been holding. To finally see her face was relief indeed. She had found true happiness. At this moment, that knowledge to him was worth more than gold. As he watched them, he saw the their eyes meet affectionately. Then, at the minister’s cue, the groom took his bride and kissed her tenderly in front of the delighted audience.
            To the congregation the minister concluded, “Those whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. Ladies and Gentlemen, I now present to you Sir and Lady Elsey!”
            The audience applauded gaily. The blissful couple turned to face front and received the attentions graciously. Led by the groom, the couple joyfully made their way down the isle. Their guests crowded in behind them and followed them through the chapel doors with cheers of approbation. Almost as quickly as it ended, the chapel was cleared leaving the gentleman alone on his pew. From where he remained, he could hear the blithe send-off from all the merry crowd outside.
            It was a lively and momentous occasion and would be the talk of all the nearby towns for many months to come. It was a superb match. A happy ending for a sparkling couple.
            The gentleman remained in the restful quiet of the empty chapel until the crowds outside dispersed. When only a few voices lingered, he stood, adorned his hat, and made his way to the chapel doors. There he met the minister to whom he tipped his hat with a respectful nod. The minister returned the nod and a look of faint recognition crossed his face. He couldn’t quite place the gentleman, but he seemed vaguely familiar. The gentleman acknowledged the minister’s greeting politely, and without a word stepped out from the venerable church’s shadows into the soft afternoon light.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

"You send me to the moon and back to June..."

Please Pass the Salt
By: Amelia Rose
For Alex ♥

There is a longing
For something
An emotion that swells
And releases
Like the waves on the seashore.
Once a week, once a month, once a day?
It doesn’t matter.
When it comes it’s there
And I feel it.
I love to feel it.
Love to indulge in it,
Even when it hurts.
Even though it hurts,

Fond memories of a time, a place long past
Memories of joy
Of comfort, of peace.
Even if that time was short-lived.
It was there.
It was real.
It was right.
And I feel it.
Every day I feel it
A secret in the corner of my heart, of my soul.
I want to touch it
But I cannot.
I want to tell someone
But no one can understand.

There is a longing
For something
Something as indescribable
As the taste of salt.
Something that savours just as sweet
upon the tip of the tongue
Enhances the flavor of every hour, every day
But it is something I can’t wish for
Something I can’t hope for
A place, a time I can never go back to
And for that it is bitter.

Like salt.

There is a longing
For something
Something beautiful.
A love, a house, a memory,
a carefree joy.
Like running through the woods
shooting down the badguys
of our childhood dramas.
Like walking on the floodwall,
playing guitar hero,
and sucking miserably.
Well, at least you never did.
Like going for a dip in the pool
On a hot summer day. Or even a cold autumn one.
Like building forts, climbing trees, riding bikes
In the middle of the street.
Where it’s dangerous. Like mother always warned against.
She always told us to stay away from the danger.
Like we ever did.
It was those dangerous situations
That helped us grow, helped us learn
Made us who we are.
So in the long run, I guess they were good, weren't they?

There is a longing!
Such a powerful longing.
For something beautiful,
Something glorious!
Something sweet,
Something bitter,
Something sad.
Everything wonderful…

It is a longing
For home.