There is a painting in the entry of our home. Every now and then as I am passing by, I will stop and look at it. It is a painting of my two eldest children, Julienne and Maggie. The painting is of them running down a trail in Port Angeles, on one of our many vacations over the past 25 years, visiting my wife’s parents. The painting represents thousands of memories of them when they were young.
Julienne just turned 23 a couple days ago and Maggie is now 21 years old. I am no longer a young father with a small family of young children. Where has the time gone? How has it all happened so quickly? We now have 6 children, and our youngest, Xavier, is now 8 years old.
Tonight as I was walking downstairs to check on our two youngest, Camille and Xavier, who wanted to sleep in the family room downstairs, I stopped and looked at the painting. A scripture came to my mind from The Book of Mormon, in Jacob. Jacob 7:26, says that he (Jacob) had become old, and that “Our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream.” Boy does this scripture speak to me.
I turned 50 this year. My life thus far has passed away like a dream. I have 2 adult children. Our third oldest, Emma, will turn 18 this month and just voted for her first time. That makes half of our children adults. Gavin started high school this year and will turn 16 in 2021. This means that in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he will be ordained a priest and bless the sacrament on Sundays at church. My family is growing up. Every now and then it hits me. So much time has passed. I look back at it in unbelief; Part of me sad, part of me happy for who my children have become. The earthly journey we are all on is the same for everyone. Even Jacob in The Book of Mormon, around 421 B.C. sees his life as he looks back in disbelief. How could it all have happened so quickly? I’m with you Jacob!
I get super nostalgic. I become just like Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation, sitting in the attic almost tearing up as I see pictures of my little ones who are now grown up. I cherish the pictures, videos, and this painting that my mother-in-law, Ruth Sidwell, painted many years ago, because of the sweet memories they provoke. We moved to Port Angeles, Washington to help Jen’s mom Ruth and Jen’s father Richard, who have as Jacob said, “become old.” Ruth doesn’t paint anymore. Richard no longer golfs. Their memory is fuzzy. But they love to talk about their children. We hear the same stories over and over.
I think that it’s been a good experience for my children to be so close and involved in their maternal grandparents’ lives over the past two and a half years. I wish that we were closer to my mom, dad, brother, and my daughters Julienne and Maggie, who are all now the ones whom we do not see very often as they all live in Utah and COVID precautions have kept us from visiting.
I now have more empathy for my parents and Jen’s parents as I hear them talking about when they were raising their young families and the struggles that they had. Life is not easy. It’s interesting how aging provides that insight and empathy towards those who are older than you. Just like we are going through trials, they went through many trials. Now their trials are mostly due to health and old age.
Almost every morning, I sit in my truck before going to work, and pray vocally. It is there where I have privacy and quiet from the world, and how I begin my day. I thank my Heavenly Father for the blessing of my wife and children. I know that He knows in the depths of my heart, my tremendous love for them. If my life were to end tomorrow, I feel that I’ve had the richest blessings I could have ever imagined. I’m sure that if you asked my wife Jen, or my mom or Jen’s mom, they’d all say the same thing. I know that joy comes in many ways, and that not everybody gets the blessing of children or even marriage in this life. I’m confident that Heavenly Father will provide the same joy to all of His children, even if it doesn’t happen in this life.
I had a talk with one of my children recently about a disappointment in their life. I said that life sometimes doesn’t go the way we want it to or the way we planned that it would. I think most people would say that about their life at one point or another. But often, there are blessings that we cannot imagine which await us. Sometimes we have to go through the refiner’s fire. This video was shared today in our adult gospel doctrine class over zoom:
“It isn’t as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don’t worry… If you do your best, it will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us.” – President Gordon B. Hinckley
So if you see me just standing in the hall staring at a picture or this painting, you know what I’m thinking. It was all as a dream.
For your memories: