Monday, May 26, 2014

I Believe in Forever

My sweet Grandma, Verna Turner, passed away in March. She was 96 years old. I loved her so much. I still love her, I'll never stop. I have been blessed with the most fabulous family and I have high hopes that we will all be together forever. Because I really do, with all my heart, believe in "forever".

This is a picture of Verna Olsen and Marden A. Turner on their wedding day in 1941. They were married for Time and all Eternity in the Logan Temple.

This is a post about Grandma, but I'm going to talk about my grandfather for a while, because he plays a key roll in why I believe in forever. My grandfather was a Pilot during World War II. I believe that he mostly flew B-24's but there may have been a B-17 thrown in there too. I have no memories of my grandfather because he past away a little less than two years before I was born, but I've always felt like I know him. That feeling may be because I have heard stories about him, but I believe it's because we do know each other and have known each other, as spirits. My father sent a request to a WWII historian, asking for information about what planes his father had flown during the war. When he received the information back there was a little tidbit of unexpected information- and if I remember correctly it was something like this- Marden Turner had, in the historians opinion, crashed the most planes during WWII and survived.

He was really good at crash landing, and in my opinion, that's a pretty awesome skill to have. Unfortunately, the last time he crashed he suffered what would now be called a Traumatic Brain Injury. After a long recovery he eventually returned home to his wife and their young son. My father was their second son, born after he returned home from the war. My grandfathers injury had changed his personality, he was not the same man that my grandmother had married. She told me once (when she was 79 and I was 19) that he was mean and short tempered and that she questioned whether or not it was the best thing for her to stay with him. She sought the advice of her father. Her father told her that it was her choice and that her family would support her in whatever choice she made, but he asked her a question, it turned out to be a very important question.

I mentioned before, that my grandparents were married "for Time and all Eternity" or in other words, forever. We believe that a couple, a family, can be sealed together forever, that death does not break that bond, but that after death our families have the opportunity to continue on together, forever in an eternal perfected state. (What we will be doing forever, I'm not quite sure yet, but my vote is for some AWESOME family vacations! Think about all the galaxies we could visit! but back to the question......that's right, I haven't told you the question.) My grandmother's father asked her if she had truly loved her husband, before his accident, before he changed, had she truly loved the man she had married and had she looked forward to being with THAT man, forever. And if she had truly loved him, did she believe that after this life was over he would once again be that man that she loved? If the answer was yes, then she could look forward to someday having her husband back, well and whole. She did believe that, and she decided that she would stay with him. Eventually they would have more children, Six in total, three boys and three girls. They have sixteen grandchildren (13 of which are girls, which is awesome!) and if my math is correct, they currently have 36 grand children. 

Now, there may be some people out there who, after hearing this story, would say, "WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD SHE STAY!" I have had different feelings about that myself but as I've gotten older I've come to realize that what my grandmother was teaching me about by telling me about her choice was the Power of Faith. Now, let me say this, she did not live a horrible life with a mean man, they had a good life with wonderful children, but she was married to a man who was different from the man she had fallen in love with. And that is where her faith came in. Yes, she believed that Jesus Christ lived and he died and he rose again, that he is our Savior. That through his Life, Death and Resurrection he made it possible for each one of us to do the same. She believed that some day she would be reunited with her husband, made whole again through the power of our Savior Jesus Christ and that they could and would be together forever, she and her Marden, the one she hadn't seen since before that very last plane crash. 

Grandpa Turner passed away in 1975, a little more than 30 years after suffering his traumatic brain injury. Grandma passed this year, a little less than 39 years later. We had a few days warning before she passed, it was quick, but not so quick that we couldn't go and spend time with her. I found myself wondering how it would be, that heavenly reunion. I imagined in my mind, my grandmother finding herself suddenly in a new place, no longer surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, but rather, staring into the faces of her loved ones who had passed on long before her. And there he would be, the man she loved. 

In my mind, this is what he looked like, not all dressed for a flight in front of an airplane, but young and strong, with those same dark eyes that she had found her self so easily lost in when they were young and in love. I imagine that he ran to her and as only he could do, thanked her for her faith that he would someday be that same man that she loved, that same man that she had married. And now they are together again, someday, I hope to be with them too, because we are a family.

I believe in forever. With all my heart. Thank you Grandma for sharing your story and your faith with me. 

Memorial Day 2014

Well, I did it again, I let a month or more go by without an update. It ends NOW. We did this TODAY!

It's Memorial Day! Growing up as a Navy Brat (which is awesome by the way, I'm sorry if you didn't get to be one :) ) we always lived far away from family (not so awesome, but it means you always know where your going on vacation!). Still I have a few memories of being in Utah on Memorial Day, specifically being in Cache Valley at Grandma Turner's house. She would bring out a few mason jars and we would pick flowers from her yard, there was always an abundance of flowers in grandma's yard around Memorial Day. Then we took those flowers up the the Logan Cemetery, where my Grandfather was buried near his parents, and also where my grandmother's parents were buried.

Last year I felt like I wanted my children to have those kinds of memories. I wanted Memorial Day to be about remembering our Family, because OUR Family, the Ken and Kate Wheeler family, wouldn't even exist if it weren't for our parents and grandparents and all of our loved ones came before us. I want my children to feel a connection to their ancestors. So last year we went to the Murray City Cemetery, where my mother's parents are buried, and also my cousin Matt. After we left our flowers, which we had gathered from our yard and after we explained to the boys who was buried there and why we were visiting, we went to a nearby park and played for a while, then on the way home we picked up lunch and Slurpees. And this year, we made it a TRADITION!

Since our grandparents are buried in four different locations we decided that as part of our tradition we would make a trip to visit one set each year on Memorial Day. Last year we visited my Maternal Grandparents, Wayne and Mildred Dowdle. This year we went to the Provo City Cemetery and visited the graves of Ken's Maternal Grandparents, A. Smith and Afton Bernice Pond.

When we arrived little B found this BIG log. He was quite impressed with it's size and he and J speculated about why it was there and how it had gotten into a big dirt field. I thought his Grandpa Turner would be glad to know that his grandsons love large pieces of wood, wherever they may be found.

Thanks to we were able to easily locate the grave site of Great Grandma and Grandpa Pond.
 This year we brought some flowers, though our flowers haven't really bloomed yet, so we only had one purple iris with some mint added for greenery. We were not the first visitor- there were plenty of pretty flowers. This year we added to our tradition, bringing stones to leave on our loved ones headstones. I don't know why, but I found my self thinking about this, stones left on graves, on top of tombstones or headstones. To the best of my knowledge it was a Jewish tradition, but since I kept thinking about it when I would think about this years Memorial Day trip, I decided to do an Internet search and learn some more. What I found was that no one is really quite sure how the practice got started, BUT for most people it meant that you had come to honor your beloved ancestor by visiting their grave, and you leave the stone as a token of remembrance. And so that is what it will mean for our family as well.
 We painted our rocks, each one has a little flower on it (J's flower looks more like a big blue blob and B's is a similar red blob, but the boys and I, and Grandma and Grandpa Pond all know that they are flowers, and that's what counts). J arranged them on the headstone.

 After our visit at the cemetery we ate a picnic lunch in Provo City's Pioneer Park. 
 Then we played on the playground!
The baby discovered that swings are really fun. She was quite hesitant for the first few minutes, but she never fell out! And eventually she even started to smile a lot!
 On our way home we stopped by the 7 Eleven and everyone over a year old got a Slurpee. It was a grand day. Next year, we will head north!