C 2008 by Kent Gardiner.
1955 - I was born on February 2, 1955 in the San Gabriel Hospital, San Gabriel, California. I joined Johanna as the second in a family of what would eventually be six children.
The children have many fond memories of the brick-colored little Elmcrest house: water-painting the playhouse; climbing the crab apple tree; tricycling around the hedges in the front yard; watching “Wagon Train” with “Wilsie” or Mrs. Wilson, their favorite baby sitter; the bandy chickens and the ‘possum in the woodpile; playing superman on the swing set; walking to Frank M. Wright Elementary School; eating pomegranates from the tree in the back yard; making snap dragons “talk”; tamales at Christmas from their next door neighbors, Mac and Bee; cute “Georgie”, Jimmie, and Jarvis Justus, the neighbors with the pool on the other side (where Suzie almost drowned one time). But they desperately needed a larger home. Jim wanted one with a view, and Marjorie wanted a large area for the children to play.
Jim Brown: Suzanne Marie, or Suzy, is sweet and sunny with a lovely smile. She is sensitive to her surroundings, concerned with others, and an easy child to take care of. I always think of her as being older than she is. Here again, she’s just perfect for a second child. Suzy wrote to President McKay to ask what she could do to help a little baby she saw with congenital defects. Pres. McKay was ill at the time, and one of his secretaries answered her letter. Knowing our Suzy, I didn’t worry about what she would write. Suzanne will be a beautiful woman.
My Mother Marjorie
She is not only beautiful, but she loves beauty wherever it can be found. Nearly everything she touched became lovelier: our home, its furnishings, evens to a vase of flowers on the kitchen table. There were always fresh flowers in our house, at least in my memory there are. If there were none from our garden there were some my father brought to her. She was always trying to expose us to all that was good and beautiful. She frequently picked out things of interest around us and helped us to evaluate and learn from them. We made many family excursions to museums, parks, historical sites, and other places of cultural and educational value. She encouraged us in our music lessons, hobbies and studies. Our home was a learning center; she had gathered an extensive file on many current topics as well as many good books, noteworthy library with some of the finest literary and church books available.
My Father’s Struggle as a Young Man
My father, the oldest of three boys and one girl lived on a small farm in Mesa, Arizona. His father was an alcoholic, so many of the responsibilities of the family fell on his head, and he grew up a lot faster than most boys. At the age of five he walked three miles each morning at dawn to get the milk. At ten he was doing a man’s work. He had courage, strength, ambition, responsibility, endurance, compassion, and ruggedness, which helped him work his way through 11 years of medical training without any outside help. He has always been a big man, spiritually, mentally and physically.
He served in World War II as an army engineer, Sergeant serving in both the European and Pacific campaigns. He is now a respected citizen of the committee, a beloved and widely practicing physician, and a leader in the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As Stake President of the El Monte Stake, he has been asked to speak at the Baccalaureate Services the year before last more than once to different classes at Los Altos, at my own eighth grade graduation, and countless times in church.
It is interesting to note that of all my Grandmother Brown’s children, he has not only been the most religious, but most prosperous in his business. I hope someday to find a husband like my father.
Judy: I remember sharing and saving money for Nancy Drew books, playing with Babies and waiting to grow into her hand-me-downs which never really fit me because of her four inch height advantage. We’d take turns reading the red, blue, green, orange, yellow purple and brown fairy tale books. Then we’d play Barbie’s with her telling the most wonderful stories. Her stories of princes, princesses, castles, rescues, good winning over evil, were much better than any of those in the books. I remember her favorite name for her Barbie was Queen Deborah, a Queen Ester heroine figure.
Oh, how said I was when she didn’t have time to play anymore. I missed her adventure stories. The ones I made up were never as good as her dramatizations. I remember her and my big brother, Jim, putting on a grand catsup gum fight in the living room while my parents were out. They were so dramatic, slapping catsup on their bodies where they were “shot”. We clapped and begged them to do it again and again. Somehow it was cleaned up before Mom came home.
I remember her love of pretty things like my mother, such as antiques, china, books, flowers, Gunnysack dresses and befriending people and strange animals. At twelve years old she had waist length brown hair and an hourglass figure. I remember returned missionaries coming to see Dad and being disappointed and surprised to find she was only thirteen and not yet old enough to date. They were amazed at her spirituality as well.
Suzanne Marie, or Suzy, is sweet and sunny with a lovely smile. She’s sensitive to her surroundings, concerned with others, and an easy child to take care of. I always think of her as being older than she is. Here again, she’s just perfect for a second child. Suzy wrote to President McKay to ask what she could do to help a little baby she saw with congenital defects. Pres. McKay was ill at the time, and one of his secretaries answered her letter knowing our Suzy, I didn’t worry about what she would write. Suzanne will be a beautiful woman.
To My Future Children
This is a journal in which I would like to say some things unto my children and posterity—things which are sacred and personal to me, that I hope will have great value in their lives and help them return to their Father in Heaven’s presence. I am 18 1/2 years old. I am a freshman at BYU, 1973 (Fall). The most important thing that I would have you learn in this life time, my dear children, is to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, might mind and strength. All other things in this life are an appendage to this. This is the First and greatest commandment. Only those who truly love the Lord more than anything else can become like him and return into his presence. Joseph Smith said that any religion that does not require everything of a man cannot save a man. If we are too selfish and shortsighted, if we cannot or will not be willing to sacrifice all that we have for the Lord…how can we expect to become Gods? If we can not do even as Abraham of old, did, willing to sacrifice his only son.... how could we sacrifice our son to atone for other worlds as Elohim did Jehovah? Our greatest happiness, both in this life and the next, depends on our ability to live this law. If we do not love the Lord with all our hearts, we can’t truly love anything else. We cannot love ourselves or fully realize our potential as his children. We cannot love others as much, because we won’t fully comprehend their divinity or godly heritage. If our love for our Father in Heaven is limited, our love for others will be limited. Anything that is good comes from God. Love is a gift of God. The closer you come to him, the greater your capacity and ability your worthiness to love.
Love, like all Godly attributes, is divinely inspired. It’s something to be sought after, and when obtained, nurtured and cherished, protected and added upon by righteous living. Love is Sacrifice and Giving, being stern and steadfast in truth and principle, but quick to forgive an offender. God is the source of all love. The more like him we become, the more we love. The most Godly of all attributes is the ability to love.
Know that God loves you so much that one can hardly comprehend it. I think that one can catch a glimpse of how that Heavenly parent loves his children when one becomes a parent oneself. I know that Heavenly Father loves me. I know that he only wants for my happiness, and would not suffer me to do anything that would not be for my best. I love him with all my heart. He has blessed me with all that my heart could desire—the gospel, a good family who taught me the gospel, the opportunity to be born in these latter-days, when the gospel has been restored, with prophets alive and guiding his flock, in a land of freedom and opportunity (yes, even a land choice above all other lands). He has blessed me with all that I need for my physical body. He hath redeemed my soul from death and hell and sin. Yea, though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil, for He is with me.
The most important decision one will ever make thought time and all eternity is to choose whom we shall serve. We already made that decision once in the pre-existence. Every single on of you chose to follow the Lord. Now it is important that we abide by that decision. I, like Joshua of old, cry out “As for me and my house…we will serve the Lord.” I want nothing more in this life than to be worthy of his love, and to bring Him Joy and Happiness for my life of service. Oh the ecstasy, to return to his presence, kneed at His feet, and have Him throw his arms around me and weep with me saying, “Well done thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord.”
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I gladly entrust all that I am and have into his hands. My joy would be full indeed if all my precious children were held in those loving arms also. Suzanne Marie Brown 1973
1973 June I graduate from Los Altos High School and began modeling Wedding gowns. I also go to a Laurel conference in Glendora with Melinda Romney and meet a young man in the hallway who was teaching a Sunday school class. We talk and he offers us a ride home in his red 1956 Station Wagon. He puts me in the back seat where I can see the ground through the floorboards of the old red station wagon.
1973 September – I go to BYU for my freshman year.
Feb 23, 1973 sitting, outside Glendora chapel across from Citrus College. I had just attended a laurel conference held in (a wonderful war family with 8 children in Glendora. II Ward) attended workshops, a Marvin Payne Concert and a dance Saturday and then a devotional Sunday with President Don Smith of the LA temple visitors Center. Melinda Romney (who was living with my family my last semester in High School) and I were sitting or lying in the hot sun by the parking lot of the chapel waiting for my brother to come pick us up. We kept waiting and waiting and waiting, but no Jim. We had offers for rides but no, I was sure he would come. 2 hours went buy. Still no Jim. By now quite frustrated and anxious, I went in to phone. For some reason Jim could not pick us up. Then for another hour or two I continued calling a non-member guy I had dated but decided I was unwise. And somehow or another Melinda and I had struck u a conversation during our wait with an unusual interesting young man with Sandy hair, blue eyes, and a beige corduroy jacket. He had a 56 Ford, maroon in color. I remember thinking what a bomb of a car. He had all kinds of boxes or junk in it. When he discovered we were stranded he quite gallantly offered us a ride saying he had o go out that way anyway. He put Melinda in the front seat with him (or else she insisted) and me in the back seat with the sleeping bags, suitcases and all. It seems o me that we took some other girl or girls home too although I can’t be sure. On the way home we talked about various things and he was quite intriguing to me. When he said he had majored in psychology, something clicked inside of me. – I’ve always had a craving for the subject and wanted to major in it myself. I was a little put out at having to sit in the back while my coquettish girlfriend vied for his attention. I did all I could to appeal to his intellectual side in our conversation since my pride will not let me compete with my girlfriend in a flirtatious way. He said he was a schoolteacher, and was 26 years old. At first we were very skeptical. He seemed too young to be that old and already a schoolteacher. I remember wondering if he could have gone on a mission and if not, how come) if he was very active and if so…how come he wasn’t married (26 seemed ancient to my just tuned `18 years) Hacienda Heights was quite a bit out of his way, but he couldn’t very well dump us, so he continued onwards. Discovering that he was interested in restoring old MG’s. I offered to show him my dad’s Rolls Royce’s especially y the 32 wagon. Kent nearly dropped his teeth and then proceeded to give me a bad time about being “used” to so many nice things. I had never really thought of that before. Would I be dissatisfied starting out struggling on my own with my husband who maybe couldn’t afford as nice things for me? Kent wondered. That gave me some food for thought. I didn’t think so. I showed him the house, the car and gave him some avocados. I think before he left I invited him to come over again and bring his old MG, and we’d give him a ride in the 32. He said he might and left for his Sacrament Meeting.
I remember thinking he was a little colorless or monotone in appearance (what with a light jacket, light hair, light complexion – all about the same color – and light blue eyes) But his personality and communicative ability really intrigued me. (I do have to confess however that in 5th grade I put in an order with the Lord for someone with Sandy hair and blue eyes. That was my favorite combination, and all my dream heroes would have passed for Kent’s twin) I wondered to Melinda if he would ever come over (I kinda liked him) She shrugged and said He’s weird and gave a snorting laugh. I shrugged to and de did maybe she was right. After all he was too old… I can’t decide now if Melinda said that because she thought he was funny (humorous) or because she was slightly jealous of a slight interest on Kent’s part towards me. There was something about him that was quietly intriguing to me, though I had to admit it.
I wondered if I’d ever go out with him…or if he’d ever come by. I would have liked him to. Over the next year and a half at Regional activities I noticed him out the corner of my eye. He sat back on the outskirts and sort of observed what was going on he seemed to have a cynical aura about him. I could really relate to that deep down inside, and sometimes I felt like going over and standing by him. I enjoyed watching people too. And sometimes I felt quite cynical also. But I was on my “ego trip” sage. Where I was out to get attention from as many different sources as I could. While I could tell Kent was interested and me and I considered bouncing his way and flirting with him. Some thing inside of me said, “no.” I was like a valve turned off and all interest in Kent dried up. I decided maybe he really was a schoolteacher and as old as he said he was. I told myself he was much too old and probably) or at least should be) looking for a wife, and I wanted to play around still (feed my ego).
1973 Kent drives his newly restored MGBTD around San Gabriel valley and occasionally he considers visiting Suzanne, however he discards the idea when he considers how young she is. He also sees her at a couple of dances but feeling the way he does, doesn’t approach her. She is stunning.
Kent and Suzanne Courtship
July I go to a Know your Religion talk in Claremont to hear Truman Madsen speak on the “Steak and the Sizzle”. He tells us that women like the sizzle or romance and men just want the steak or affection. I am sitting on the front row and spy Kent on the back row and decided to walk back and sit next to him. Afterwards he walks me out to the car, an old Jaguar, and we talk for a long time and eventually he asks me out to a Dodger game. When I get home I realize that it is the same night as a friends wedding reception that I really want to go to. I beg my mother to change the date but she won’t let me.
Planning to go to Dodger Game with Kent. Remembered it was Wayne Hedges Wedding Reception. Had been planning to go for a year. I entertained the idea of throwing myself at Kent’s feet and crying out my dilemma. My mother discouraged me. I got ready for game and went, resignedly. Had a simple delightful evening. Was very surprised and glad my mother discouraged me from carrying out my plan. We he said he didn’t believe in using physical forces on children, I hugged him (or rather his arm.) I couldn’t resist. I decided right then this Kent Gardiner was really something worth looking into. He fascinated me (sat on floor)
Tuesday July 23
Kent picked me up from work. We went to the top of Broadway Plaza to their cocktail Lounge that revolves around: Angel Flight. We had orange juice. Then we had dinner at Marie Calendar pies. His interest in communication fascinates Me. He kept teasing me and putting me on the spot so I confronted him. II told him how Bishop Cluff had a crush on his third grade teacher and so threw a rock at her. I asked him if he was throwing rocks at me. He admitted he was (I think he has a crush on me).
Saturday July 2
We went to the Schubert Theater so see “A Little Night Music” The play didn’t do too much for me but Kent sure did. I couldn’t believe how much he turned me on. It was frightening, a little because I enjoyed it so much. I would have liked him to kiss me so much I was afraid he would. After the play we walked around century Plaza Hotel. As he was leaving (walking out to the car) my mother suggested he come in for cookies and milk. I ran outside, hoping I could catch him. I did and we had a nice chat. I think he was feeling a little bad because he knew I didn’t really like the play. I’m glad we talked and he came in.
Kent was really beginning to affect me. I was terribly infatuated with him and very physically attracted to him. So much so it embarrassed me. I wanted to do the right thing really bad so I began praying to ask heavenly Father that I could hurry up and start to really care for him so I could get those “lustful” feeling under control.
There’s such a difference between love and lust I know that when you really care for someone, you are concerned with their growth, happiness and fulfillment more than your own gratification and desires. I communicated this strong attraction for Kent to my dad. He said that when he and my mother were going to gather there was really a strong physical attraction between them. But he loved her so much he didn’t want anything to happen to her that would hurt her. She often told him that he made her feel precocious and treasured. I decided that I wanted to love Kent that was. I decided to try concentrating on serious spiritual things when I was with him.
He excited me so much that in a week’s time I went out and bought nail polish lipstick, earrings, and really began to fuss over how I looked and what I wore. It was all so ridiculous I felt like I was 15 and had never been interested in anyone before. I was getting a kick out of watching my own reactions.
August 5, 1974
Tonight I told Kent Gardiner that I was beginning to love him very much. It was our sixth date. Crazy.
To love you
After so short a time
Is as natural as if
You had opened a door
And sat down beside me.
It seems incredible
That anything like this should ever happen to me
I’m really not complaining;
I’m just wondering what
I ever did without “we.”
You are springtime after a long winter.
Your mouth is warm
I think I could get drunk on your kisses.
Come, desert boy and walk with me awhile…
And together we will look
For the beautiful celestial city
Where Enoch, Abraham, and the Gods
I will make for you an oasis
Of love and acceptance,
And with a balm of understanding
Soothe your dry aching feet
From the hot desert sand.
I will fill your heart with a
Melody of joy,
And together we will laugh,
And discover the hidden treasures
That most do not see.
We will bask in the light of the Son,
And run through the fields of prosperity;
Sit under an oak of righteousness
And listen to the warbling song of
We will draw long upon the cool waters
And raise a brimming chalice
To the thirsty and dry;
We will feast upon the nectar of
And breathe deeply the sweet fragrance
We’ll wear stewardship as a garland
And pluck the flowers of opportunity;
We’ll sift through golden shafts of knowledge,
And create a bouquet
As a gift,
For anyone who wants it.
We’ll walk a path of diligence,
And take from the timber of faith and obedience
Lumber to build temples,
Sturdy and strong,
That will shield us from storms
That will surely come.
And when they come..
When mountains of despair
When valleys of loneliness yawn to
And hot winds of hate
Lash you and whip you about…
I will not leave you;
I will stand by your side and
We will look for the dawn
Must surely follow the night.
How long our paths lie parallel
I cannot say’
But if I bring warm rains
That fall softly
Upon the vast wastelands
Of your soul,
Until it is fertile’
With the promise of harvest
And rich with life and hope;
If the journey was pleasant
And the city
More with reach;
Come, desert boy and
Walk with me awhile.
August 20, 1974
I polled my family regarding their feelings about Kent and I:
My mother--feels very good, confident right from the beginning. She wants Kent to ask my dad. She has reservations about time, not Kent. My dad--says let Kent figure out things--he's doing the right things. He's really for it. Says we're doing what's right. Jim, Jr.--feels "really good" about it Charles --thinks it's "okay"; he likes Kent, can live with him. Judy--he fits in with the family.
I tried to remain calm, but this was pretty exciting stuff. We looked at settings around the Mart and talked about rings. I said that I wanted mine designed. Kent wants a thin simple band. We went to Bullocks to look up Vaughn's, a Men's clothing store and bought a safety pin so I wouldn't be tripping so much on my torn pant cuff. We stopped at Vaughn's and Kent found a blue plaid suit he liked. We returned to the car parked in Arco Garage. I was tired, hungry, and bored with the day, and I fell asleep in the car. I made lunch while Kent and my dad went down to pick up the Jag that was being worked on. I called the Police Station and gave information, etc. It seemed that Kent and I couldn't leave until 4 pm to run lots of errands. We went down to DMV and got a temporary license. We talked about reading the scriptures together when we were married. We went to May Co., where I got 2 blouses. We were bored and tired, mostly tired. I wanted something to perk us up and so I told Kent (as we were walking out of the store) that the next person I saw I would tell them how wonderful he was. I saw a lady and I began walking towards her and Kent covered my mouth. I got in the car and spotted some little old man sitting there in the parking lot (he was there when we went in). Kent went to get in and I stuck my head out of the window and said, "Hey, you know what?" He's wonderful," pointing to Kent. The man laughed, and Kent pulled me in and kept grabbing and pinching my thigh on the way to the leather works shop for a new purse. He loved it. The next person I saw was a Chicano sitting in a car smoking, and I said I was in love with Kent.
Next we went to the stamp redemption center for two blankets. We got lost on the way and got there just as they were closing up. I couldn't make up my mind what to get, but we said, "We love you" to the salesperson and "I'm in love with him" (Kent). Kent told me I was crazy but that he loved me anyway.
His Old Car
We went over to his house to get his old car. We got malt, and I called Grandma Breiten. I cleaned up the dishes and told him about the rule in my parent’s house about being alone in a man's apartment (it's a no-no
Suzanne: August 22, 1974, we spent a quiet Thursday evening together.
About this time Kent wrote this poem for me:
I like you just the way you are
Your walking your talking your interesting moves
And yet these things change with time,
I like your ways of becoming
Your moods, your feelings, your patterned light
And yet others possess these same qualities,
More than anything else, my dear,
I like you for your inner beauty becomingly displayed, your spirituality virtue, trust, kindness, and delicate love but most of all your closeness to our Father in Heaven.
He wrote this poem for me before I left for school:
I'm lost in the depth of her love.
Entrapped by arms that know my name
Nestled in a listening tenderness and
filled to capacity by her
Overpowering adoration, abounded
Understanding and a depth that goes beyond.
After I got settled in Campus Plaza, Kent came up to see me that first weekend in September (7th and 8th). I remember sitting out front with him on the curb with our feet in the street gutter talking about getting married when I said to him, "Hey, do you realize that you've never officially asked me to marry you?" And so he said, by the way, would you marry me? Of course I said yes. Then I called to some passersby, "Hey! This guy just asked me to marry him!" They looked kind of askance at us, and we laughed. Our courtship and love had come along so quickly and naturally that we had just began to assume that we would get married.
I penned these words:
Are you humming?
Yes "Are you humming?" he asked her.
She sighed contentedly, her chin resting on his shoulder.
A warm sensation was generating from her chest and circulating throughout her entire body.
It soothed, comforted her flighty mind with a soft melody, calm and peaceful, refreshing as a cool breeze on a hot summer day.
It rolled up in a ball and caught in her throat, sometimes making it hard for her to swallow or talk.
A small fire glowed quietly within her secret chambers.
Kindled naturally by the Son and fueled by a faithful lover, it burned steadily and grew brighter with each passing day.
If she gave it sufficient air she knew someday it would consume her whole being. Once he asked her, "How will you know?"
At the time she wasn't sure.
Now she was.
It's because she hums.
By October 25th
I had a picture taken by Revoir studios (I bought a special 8x10) for Kent as a wedding present. I checked out colleges to attend the spring semester after we were married, and had transcripts mailed out. I had decided to attend Cal State Northridge, which was about 30 miles north of Santa Monica where Kent had found us an apartment. Grandma fit me for my clothes, and we chose and ordered our announcements.
The other night, Sweetheart When I said my prayers, I asked Heavenly Father to marry us, I extended a personal invitation To Him, the Son, the Holy Ghost, And all the hosts of heaven To come to our wedding. I made a special request that your mother be present.
The next few weeks were especially hectic because a lot of decisions needed to be made. Kent and I moved the date up to the 21 of December after some deliberation and thought. Kent scheduled our wedding at the Los Angeles temple for the morning of the 21st and found a small apartment in Santa Monica for us to live in after we’re married.
We listened to music Friday evening, and I went to bed after washing and setting my hair about midnight. Then I had to get up at 4:00 so that we could get to the temple by 6:00. I had come fasting that morning and was really excited about the coming events. I knew that this was the most important step I was taking in my life.
I remember really feeling an overpowering cleansing Spirit of the lord during the Washing and Anointing. The endowment was interesting but so different than what I was expecting and confusing to remember everything. My dear mother was my escort and she fussed over my bows and clothes to be sure everything was right and I was embarrassed. Afterwards we went up to the Solemn Assembly room to wait to be sealed. I remember that the air was so still and warm in those upper rooms and I was faint with exhaustion and hunger. I think we were sealed in room 3M by President Evans, the temple president.
I seem to remember him telling us to pray, pay our tithing, come to the temple often, and continue our courtship. He said something about our children and I thought he said our "eight children" which startled me, as I wanted six. (Kent said later he didn't say that.) My ears were popping and again things were overwhelming and dreamlike. I could barely take it all in. Kent said later that he felt that he was going to be consumed by the burning power of the Spirit he felt it so strongly in that room. I remember kissing across the altar, looking in the beautiful parallel mirrors at our forever reflection standing in that chandeliered room with all our family and friends. It was a glimpse of heaven to contemplate endless association with all those dear people. I remember Kent's home teacher Brother McFarland and Brother Thielens, from Glendora Ward, Kent's folks, his Aunt Audrey, his brother Mark, Murray and Faye Cluff (my first Bishop), Felice and Mayo Smith, Joics and Gene Stone, my folks, my grandma Brown, and my sister Johanna. I'm sure that there were others (like probably Bishop Bradford and his wife), but I don't remember now.
After the sealing we took pictures outside the temple, then came home to a cold buffet at the house, which was supervised I believe by my grandmother Breiten and Joyce Osborn. Then I tried to take a rest and curled my hair for the reception.
A Little Tiff on the Honeymoon
I remember on our way to the Ballet that Kent and I got into a tiff. Probably because we were tired out from going all the time on so little sleep. I was eating some carrots and he got really annoyed with me for eating them so noisily, and my feelings were hurt.
We tried to say our prayers every day and attend to our church responsibilities, and do what was right, but the reality of every day married life to one so emotionally immature and ill prepared as I was put me into a state of cultural shock. Our little apartment, which had nothing but a bed and a stereo, was quite depressing during the day with Kent gone. We had hardly any lamps and the homemade curtains over the windows made it so dark inside. I remember sitting with my hands folded hardly able to do anything in the way of work or recreation. I could barely cook, and we had few utensils. I burned our first meal of potatoes and chicken. We took some of our wedding presents back to the stores in exchange for money or other items we needed like pots and pans. Kent got an old wooden spool that we covered with a tablecloth to eat on and we sat on stools. On Sundays Kent lay around in his garments on an old green vinyl swaybacked sofa that was given to us and wanted to watch TV all day--not at all like my dad whom I rarely saw out of a suit his whole life. I remember being afraid to call home for fear I would cry if I heard my daddy's voice or become defensive if I heard my mother's.
We stayed in the one-bedroom "hole" apartment on Oak Street a couple of months, and then moved to a wonderful airy upstairs two-bedroom apartment on Hill Street just a few blocks from the beach and the chapel. It was owned and managed by Goldie Schiess and his wife. He was on the high council and later became our bishop. Most of the people he rented to were LDS like ourselves, and we paid the same amount ($150.00 month) of rent for this delightful place as we did the previous one. The Schiess charged us much less than they could have if they wanted to. A mature couple in the ward (the Sergeant’s) gave us a refrigerator they didn't want any more.
1979 January 21
Suzanne again looks terrible and had a temperature of 100 but she wants to hold a YW presidency meeting. I encouraged her not too. She said she would go even though sick. I went to priesthood and had Bishop Higley call her and suggest that she is sick and should stay home. He says: “Listen to your husband. If you don’t we’ll release you. We appreciate all things you have done for our youth but your family should come first.” When I got home Suzanne said I had embarrassed her, then smiled at me.
Suzanne and I go to Hawaii with Madeline Hunter. We enjoyed Hanamma Bay with clean water and fish, swimming in the toilet bowl. The slippery slide was great; the flowers Banyan trees, volcano, beaches, lush growth were inspiring. Suzanne liked the rain forests, the history of King Kamehamah and his family, the beaches, waterfalls, and fern grottos. It was a lovely romantic time away from everything.
1976 May 8, Chad is born.
Rachel is born January 22, 1978
Eric is Born
1980 March 24
Eric is born in the San Gabriel hospital. At first I had wanted to stall so Kent could see the birth but that lasted only a few minutes. Very quickly my one consuming interest became pushing the baby out and getting it over with. I soon got the knack of bearing down, and as soon as the head poked through, dad had HIM out. We were all elated: me, because I think I had secretly wanted a boy, and my dad, because he had delivered his own grandson on his own birthday—March 26, 1980, Wednesday. Kent walked in not 5 minutes after Eric’s birth, while they were cleaning me up. He took pictures of the baby and all of us. Eric was born at 9:15.pm.
1981 April 19
The week before last I complimented Suzanne on giving her lesson to the Stake ladies. A day or so later Suzanne told me that she had placed all of my clothes that I left out that night into the trashcan! She later reconsidered it and took them out! When she told me this I lay down on the floor and laughed till my sides hurt!
1983 July 21
As I held hands with your father in a Swanson’s ice cream parlor the night before you were born, I told him that “As difficult as this has been for me (physically) and as crazy as the world must think us for wanting another child, I know that 20, 30 or even a million years from now, we will look back at this moment as being very special.
1983, July 22
Ryan Philip was born Friday morning July 22, at 9:22 a.m. Delivery and labor went fine – except it was tough to push him out. I guess we were all expecting a tiny little girl, and were surprised to find out it was a BIG boy instead: 23 inches long, 9 pounds 1 oz. And he is beautiful, a perfect “10” baby. He has medium brown hair, medium complexion, well proportioned, all the right number of fingers, toes etc. And he’s a good cuddlier and sleeper. He already is trying to focus in on people’s faces and is interested in sounds of people’s voices, water running, etc.
1986, February 22, Ashley
After having Ryan, we looked forward to having another child in the family. Ryan had been the model baby. We could take him camping, to the movies, and church was a breeze. He was always happy, content and peaceful. I babysat some older children of two mothers in the ward who were having babies and began to yearn for another baby myself. We talked about conceiving another child in a few months when we thought our financial situation would be improved enough so that we could buy a larger home. We already had four children in our small three-bedroom home and didn’t see how we could fit another one in.
But then surprise! Surprise! The week following Memorial Day, just after we got home from camping in King’s Canyon with the Beitlers, we conceived. For several months previous to this, I had been having some physical problems. and worried about being able to have more children. One afternoon while taking a nap, I was awakened by a male authoritative voice saying very distinctly; “You will have two daughters”. I was working in the stake Young Women’s presidency at the time, and so really hoped that I would have a little girl
That night at the temple, I was thrilled to be proxy for a woman named Rebecca, a name Kent and I had treasured for some time for our next girl, and also the name of my 3rd great grandmother whose temple work had recently been done. We felt that this was an “omen”, as the last temple visit before Rachel’s birth I had been proxy for Rachel Ann.
When discussing the name Rebecca two weeks before with the other children, some of them weren’t sure if they liked it or not. Chad suggested the name Ashley, the name of a girl at school he had a crush on (but wouldn’t admit). There was a darling little girl at Kent’s school named Ashley May, and so he said that if it was a girl, he might nickname her Ashley May. I didn’t like the name May, it sounded too southern-belle-ish. So Rachel’s suggestion was to compromise with the name Ashley Rebecca and we all liked that.
In January I got a letter from the British South Mission stating that they planned on having a missionary reunion in England during October. We left on October 1, and that morning we had a 6.8 earthquake that had us all rushing for sanctuary under the dining room table. However we were undaunted and we took Ashley, Rachel, and Eric over to the Gardiners and Chad and Ryan over to the Browns.
Suzanne wanted a bus tour of London and I insisted that it was a waste because we were going to see it all anyway. We went to visit St. Pauls and Westminster Abbey, which was closed and then went home. I learned that Suzanne has a few little needs, as we all do, that need fulfilling. Tours, soup, warmth, a nightly bath, regular food and sweetness are all she needs and she’s mine. The next day I insist that she take a bus tour of London and I walk the shops. Our feet
really ache tonight and the next few days just makes them hurt all the more.
Well, it is back to reality for us after a fairy tale adventure in England. And for us it was just that, a fairy tale. Two weeks alone with Suzanne, was just wonderful we saw three plays, two
in London and Shakespeare in Stratford. We visited small towns, castles, churches, stores and friends. We saw places I had lived in and streets that I had tracted. We went through the temple with 18 other former missionaries and the mission president and his wife. We held an unforgettable testimony meeting at Crawley chapel. We visited with people I had baptized twenty years before and even found that one of their children was having the discussions the very weekend we were there. It was absolutely wonderful to see these people again. One lovely young mother that I taught twenty years ago was pregnant back then and now twenty years later, she was a] pregnant again.
1987 December 31
Well, it is the end of the year. It has been a year of great sweetness and contentment in my personal relationship with Kent and the children, one of sadness and recommitment to the gospel truths through the death of my mother, and one of tremendous frustration financially, as planned escrows have drug on and on, and the depths piled higher and higher.
This past summer was like a second honeymoon for Kent and I, romantically speaking. We slept on the floor in the front room (while Ashley slept in the closet in our room), and developed such a closeness and sensitivity to each other – like many couples finally do after the children are grown and they spend time along together. We loved our trip to England for his mission reunion, it will always have a special place in our memories.
1988, February 8
Suzanne is a strikingly beautiful woman. Composed, thoughtful and intelligent. She usually weights 145 pounds, is 5 foot and 8 and a half inches tall with thick luxurious brunette hair, the kind others envy. Her brown eyes sparkle. She has an attractive figure that looks good in all kinds of clothing. She prefers red, turquoise and black. Traditional clothes are preferred but she is also comfortable in denim and tennis shoes.
Her hands are exquisite. They’re like matching set of doves; moving gracefully across find bone china, quietly resting on cut crystal. Pianists would die for such hands, long graceful ending in long sculptured fingernails.
She is a gifted communicator. With only one meeting people have told me what a wonderful, caring wife I have. She is extraordinary. In front of a group she presents herself as an organized glib, fun filled intelligent speaker. She has presence. Her writing also reflects her ability to communicate. She writes with the clarity, description and directness of English novelists. This is reflected in her extensive journal entries over the last 13 years. They are detailed, sensitive insightful portrayals of herself and her family. She has a phone book of phone numbers memorized, understands and can expound on the scriptures, is gregarious with all types of people and has style and culture. She is a wonderful person and a wonderful wife. Kent
Suzanne is 33 Years Old
Suzanne, February 8, 1988, Dear Family,
Well, I hit a BIG 33 this week. I thought that I'd be more depressed about it than I actually was. I guess I'm too busy with the family, Primary, Scouts, and PTA (and enjoying myself) to stew too much about it. Life does get better with the passage of time, if only we could figure out some way to get wiser without actually aging any. But maybe that's something we get in the Millennial Post Graduate Course.
What every woman fears 1988
In late March I thought I discovered what every woman fears a breast lump in my left breast on the inside. I kept checking it over and over again to be sure and feeling a little surface panic. Then it seemed to go away, but I rediscovered it in April. I finally talked to Kent about it and we decided that I better get to a doctor as soon as possible, and while I was concerned about it, in my heart I found it impossible to believe that it was very serious. I called the Pru Net office and got the name of a Dr. Rodriguez here in Valencia who is an OB GYN. I'd heard his name before from some other LDS women in Canyon Country who had him deliver their babies. I went to him and told him that my husband and I were planning to have another baby but that this lump was nothing first. He said that it was probably okay, but that it would be good to have a baseline mammogram to be sure and for future reference. He said that many young women have these small fibro somas which are nothing, and that I was not a high risk patient for cancer. I had my mammogram done at Valencia Radiology and talked to the girl who took the X rays about my film. She showed the pictures to me and said that the lump had clearly defined edges and was not attached to any bone which were good signs. The cancerous lumps usually have webby edges and/or were attached to bone. She said that they would send the results to the doctor. I felt a great sense of relief.
Yesterday afternoon after you left I took a nice nap, then went swimming with the kids. When we got home, we made the beds, cleaned the house, ate hamburgers for dinner, watched "Airwolf", read some books and went to bed. This morning, Eric and Rachel did Chad's route and I called the Signal.
This afternoon the children are watching Fawlty Towers; there's nothing really on TV. We've already done journals. At 4:00 pm we're going to eat and take a walk around the tract to deliver swimming cards, then come home for a bowl of ice cream and Disney.
In church today, Kevin Large bore a very moving testimony about his decision to go on a mission and how grateful he was for the church's true principles, including no paid ministry, which allowed him to serve in the Bishopric and fumble around. Then Shandra Forinash told about her doubts about her marriage outside the church and her fiance's interest in the Book of Mormon, fascination with her family, and friendship with another LDS young man on his ship. They are holding meetings, praying and studying together. She expressed her love for her brothers and sisters and her parents in a very sweet way.
We had only three girls in class today: Amber, Jessica, and Rebecca M. Today is Corey Greenlaw's farewell. Terry Beitler showed up with about 8 of his scouts on their way to scout camp in Catalina. The Conkling and Andrus babies were blessed. Chris Conkling didn't know what to say and so he and the Bishop had a hurried up whispered conference while his male family members all stood around the circle and everyone in the audience waited with baited breaths. Lorna and Rich bore very sweet testimonies about the joy of having another child in their homes.
Ryan is bored and hungry. Eric broke his fast early with my okay. (He sure gets in a bad mood when he is hungry.) Everybody is safe and healthy. I wish I'd thought of your pants and belt early enough for you to have them up with you. I'll write you again tomorrow; right at this moment Ryan is setting the timer on me to fix dinner.
I love you very much and I miss you too (especially at night). Suzanne
September 16, 1988
Ryan was the Yankee Doodle Dandee
Ryan was the Yankee Doodle Dandee this week in school. He brought his blanket, his big red plastic car that he got at a garage sale for 50 cents, his little crocheted lamb made by Grandma Great, and his money box full of pennies and English coins. He also shared a family picture, a baby picture and a recent picture of himself. He told the class that he liked all the colors best, he was good at jokes, and he could teach others to be nice.
He is in Ms. Hankla's afternoon kindergarten. Ms. Hankla was all of the older children's kindergarten teacher. She even remembers when Rachel brought Ryan for sharing one day five years ago and showed her classmates how to change a paper diaper. I believe that she is the finest K teacher in the district. Ryan's been sort of luke warm towards her personally thought. He was initially tested for kindergarten by Mrs. Martin. She used to be a traditional kindergarten teacher but now teaches 4 Vacation morning overlapping Ms. Hankla's afternoon class. She's quite pretty, and I think Ryan got a crush on her from the first. He sometimes tells me he wishes that he came in the morning so he could be in her class. But it has really worked out well having him in the afternoon class. He entertains Ashley in the morning, and in the afternoon while he's in school she and I can take a nap. Also, Debbie and I trade off babysitting in the morning if we have some place to go.
Ryan was released from the Remedial Speech Program a few weeks ago, because the only speech patterns he had difficulty with were sounds that most children could not pronounce well until seven years old, and he was schedulable in them. They were the "R" sounds in rabbit, better, and early. This is surely a miracle, and the opportunity he had to be in this preschool speech program was an answer to prayer. Two and three years ago he was nearly incoherent in his speech, particularly in his consonants, which he omitted or pronounced incorrectly. He has advanced from being severely speech impaired to being only mildly impaired. I am grateful to Debbie Hilton for telling me about the Preschool Speech Program for Ryan and suggesting that I call Mrs. Ramieri for an appointment. Mrs. R. was his teacher the first year, Ms. McQuirk the second, and Ms. Rolls a few weeks of this year before discharging him.
Eric is the best
Eric is one of the best soccer players on his team "Cougars". This is his third year playing and he says that FINALLY they got good uniform colors (mint green and grey). His coach is Bill Barrett, who coached him in T Ball 1 1/2 years ago. Eric always plays Forward or Goalie. He's real aware of the ball and directs the other players and gets right in with it. I think he falls down or gets tripped up more than any other player on the field.
I sure agonized over his teacher and classroom placement this year. At first I wanted him to be in a third or a 2/3 class so that he could really shine as a leader of his peers since he is always the underdog at home. I thought the straight 3rd grade class teacher was too nose to the grindstone for Eric and so I asked for the 2/3 teacher until I heard she played favorites in the class and was not approachable at all on problems. So I asked for the 3/4 teacher, Ms. Rightman. She is a very positive, even(tm)tempered teacher who does lots of fun and creative things with her classes. She gives out sourballs to the kids for rewards sometimes, lets them watch educational movies on Friday, plays math games, loves parent helpers and is very approachable on anything. Eric is very content in her class this year, and never complains about school only the homework, which he says is too much. She used to be a first grade teacher and he used to wish that he had had her then.
Ashley came with me today to help at school picture day for the Traditional school kids. She ran around saying peek a boo to the kids and lay her head on my feet. She quite captured the heart of the ladies from Thompson Photography who let her push the flash and sit next to them on the stage for awhile. She loves Debbie Hilton, and always runs up to her and giggles, waiting for Debbie to give her some attention.
Rachel has really blossomed these past few months. She is very content in her class under Mrs. Harrison, who doesn't use traditional textbooks and passes out tickets (redeemable for candy on Friday) for good behavior, etc. She has been nominated for Teacher of the Year, and has real copasetic classroom environment. Rachel's been cracking jokes, standing up under pressure better, and more affectionate since being out of Ms. Seidita's class (who was a nose to the grindstone teacher). We make Rachel give us kisses for punishment and she gets tickled regularly and often by her dad. It's helped her loosen up a lot. She's just finished reading the Yellow, Brown, and Green Fairy Tale Books, which were my favorite books when I was her age. I got them from my folk this summer. She wants to read the Blue and Red Fairy Tale books that I think my sister Janna has. I also hope to get for her half of my old Nancy Drew collection from my sister Judy.
Ryan jumped on the exercise trampoline while the sprinklers were going. He certainly has a lot of energy and a very loud voice these days. And he asks a million questions. His friend Matthew McGuire moved to a new house across the street in the end of a cull de sac. It is the Harmon's old house and has a spa. He still loves popsicles, gum, playing in the dirt on the side of the house, and riding bikes and hot wheels around. In the back on the porch and sidewalk along the side of the house the children drew "Stop" signs and traffic lines and they like to ride the bikes and hot wheels around. Ryan likes to play the policeman. He and Ashley and his little friends also love the play house. They climb up there to eat and play and stack the grey milk crates around.
When it is time for prayers, Ashley says "Hey guys, how 'bout I say pwayers!" and then she mimics very sweetly everything you say until she hears you say the name "Jesus", and then she announces "Amen!" and that's that. Her life still revolves around the TV, the other children, "Bink o' milk, PWEASE!" and going poo poo. She loves to ride a little Big Bird hot wheels that we got at a garage sale. She can count up to ten perfectly and gives a good try at the ABC's.
Greatest Decision as Parents
Reading the scriptures daily with our children is the single greatest decision that we've made as parents. I have a testimony that those families who do this will draw closer to Christ, receive great blessings, have the ability to resolve their problems and be better parents and family members. I think that the greatest thing that parents and ward members can do is to encourage consistent ongoing study of the Book of Mormon. There is no greater legacy that you can leave with your children than a testimony of its truth and the knowledge that God lives and guides his children who strive to keep hi
When I went to the temple this month I ran into WillaRae Walker, GlennaRae White's mother, who is temple matron. She told me to wait a moment while she finished talking to someone she had something to share with me. Then she told me about what had happened at the sealers' special meeting in the temple (it had been shared with her by her husband). Pres. McEwan had called on my dad to speak and he said,” If I had known earlier what I know now, I never would have let my sweetheart Marjorie out of my sight. Brethren, love and cherish your wives." It brought tears to my eyes to hear he felt that way about my mother. She said that Pres. McEwan told the sisters later that he wished that he had included the sisters in that special meeting if for no other reason than to hear Brother Jim Brown's expression of love for his wife. WillaRae said that her own husband came home afterwards and held her in his arms and told her how much he loved and appreciated her. She had thought about telling her daughter about this to tell me, but thought that something this special should be told to me personally. I was very grateful to have heard it.
Tomorrow I turn 34 years old.
For my birthday Kent and I went out Wednesday 2/1 and split a boysenberry yogurt and rented the video "Children of a Lesser God". Kent gave me "7 scents", samples of seven of the world's most popular perfumes. Chad got me Mrs. Polifax on Safari, by Dorothy Gilman, Rachel gave me some thank you cards, a book mark, and See's orange bon bons. Eric gave me some little faux pearl earrings he bought on a field trip to the San Fernando mission and some chocolate-covered cherries. Ryan gave me a really cute picture of a snowman and some film for my camera. My dad let me pick a piece of my mother's jewelry at Christmas time. I guess her silver conch belt that I chose is my present, but I'll have to wait until after the baby is born to wear it.
My dad called me on my birthday to wish me a happy birthday. It was a good day for me--I felt good about where I was in my life. I went out to lunch with Nancee Large to Marie Calendar's. I had the turkey pot pie, some vegetable soup and rhubarb pie for dessert. We had a nice visit. It was the Relief Society Circle of Sisters Day (where we were supposed to do something with another sister) and we decided to go out together.
6 Children is The Number for Me
In April when I go in for my temple recommend interview I am going to talk to the Bishop and Stake President about getting a tubal litigation after the birth of this baby. I've been praying about it and I feel that considering my health (breast lumps in my left breast must be watched closely for cancer), how poorly I feel during my pregnancies and the increasing demands of my growing family, Kent's nine-year age difference and approaching retirement (and our desire to serve a mission together after the children are raised)--that such a course of action is acceptable to the Lord for me. I have always felt that six children was the number for me. I have loved and wanted each child that I have but I feel that my child bearing time here in mortality is coming to a close. I love the plan of procreation, and hope to be worthy to continue to have children with Kent in the eternities. I want to be sure that my decision and feelings are in harmony with the counsel of my priesthood leaders, though, and so will discuss it further with them before pursuing it with my doctor.
I am very proud of the way my children are turning out. On Tuesday February 28 I went with Chad to his quarterly exam with Dr. Greenwald. Right after that I dropped him off and went over to Rosedale to conference with Rachel, Eric and Ryan's teachers. The following is a summary of those interviews:
Rachel: Mrs. Harrison said that the only reason she called me in for these conferences is to tell me how wonderful Rachel is. She wrote on the report card: "Rachel continues to go beyond the expected in all areas. She is challenged by enrichment activities. She is a leader in our class and others." and she gave her 13 O's for Outstanding in work and study habits and her effort in academics. She said that Rachel was very mature in her perspective which contributed to group discussion, had tremendous conceptual understanding in reading and math, and was very directed and disciplined in her approach to her daily work. (Rachel told me that one time Mrs. Harrison explained something in math wrong and when the class did the assignment she was the only one who did it right, so the teacher gave her an A+. Now the teacher has given her a booklet on how to play a game and told her to read it and explain it to the rest of the class.) She is well-liked by her classmates and is viewed as a leader and resource person by others who needed help. I was particularly pleased to hear this latter part as I felt that this was the area she most needed to work on in order to increase her confidence with her peer group. I have noticed such a difference in her attitude and confidence level this year. She is much happier, much more willing to try new experiences and challenges, like the Coastal Sealife intercession class that she asked me to sign her up for during Spring break (they're going to Catalina on the last day).
You are important to our family because you bring us so much love and goodness.
I remember how excited we were to have you come and live with us from Heavenly Father. I knew even before you were born that you were a special son of God who would grow up to be a great missionary and leader in the church.
You were such a good little baby--you hardly ever cried. You were a joy to care for. You are very loving to everyone in the family, always sharing your toys and treats, and giving great hugs and kisses. And you are very kind and patient, especially to your little sister Ashley who can sometimes be a pest. At school you have stayed in the green zone for three whole weeks straight. Your teacher Ms. Hankla says that you have been very good in class and are very loving to her.
You are a good worker. You like to help your dad; you take care of the trash for us everyday and you stack the milk your dad brings home. You also clean up the backyard for us.
You like to learn new things. You try to read books to me and write letters. You make little model houses for our family's train set. You just learned how to ride your two-wheeler bike and like to practice riding it everyday.
We are so glad that you are an important part of our family, Ryan. You are very special, and we know that Heavenly Father has lots of good work for you to do someday.
Lots of love, Mom and Dad
I wrote this letter to Ryan March 5, 1989 for his Primary Class (he's a Star B) lesson "You are Important". His teacher was Sister Pam Davis.
Crazy to Want 6 Children
Sometimes I think that I am crazy to have wanted six children and to have gotten pregnant again, but I know that there was another child who was supposed to come to our home. At other times I agonize, wondering--couldn't I have just one more? And I think of all the righteous women I know who have had more children than I, from Mother Eve down to Nancy Miller in Aqua Dulce who had her twelfth. But I feel such a blank or void when I ask that question. I don't think that there are any more children that I am supposed to have, and that for physical reasons involving my health and our ages, it would be unwise for me to try to have another child. I always think of Kent's mother who died (just two years older than I am now), shortly after having another child, and the tragic consequence that it was to Kent, leaving him the oldest of seven children at only fourteen years of age, just one year older than my Chad. No one can replace "Mother" in a child's life. I have talked to the Bishop and stake president about this during my temple recommend interviews, and Kent and I have prayed about it and feel at peace concerning our decision to stop having children. In a way I am sad though. Procreation is so very sacred to me. I love the whole process. In no way can a man and woman draw closer to Deity than through this divine process. I dearly hope that Kent and I can be worthy to continue having posterity in the next life, or after the resurrection. I hope that all of my children want to be parents in Zion and in eternity someday also, for it is a central part of learning to be like our Heavenly Father.
During my temple recommend interview with President Mckeon when he asked me if I believed in Heavenly Father and in His Son Jesus Christ, the tears welled up in my eyes as I said "yes!" I felt an overwhelming burning testimony within me as to their divinity and actuality. Pres. McKeon felt the spirit too.
On Tuesday night I asked Kent to give me a blessing because I felt so uncomfortable and I felt the baby's birth was imminent. He and Michael Hilton gave me one. On Wednesday I felt better than I'd felt in weeks, and the contractions seemed to stop.
Only Gained 20 Pounds
I've only gained 20 pounds which I know is all baby weight. My tummy is HUGE. This is going to be a big baby--at least an 8 pounder. It was so hot last night I put my hair up in some combs and was lounging on the couch in my lavender Mexican dress, looking like a purple blimp, while the children were cleaning up. Ryan came by and said, "You look better with your hair up when you're skinny." And I said, "I look better when I'm skinny--period!"
Suzanne in Labor
Mali called Dr. Umezaki and found out that Dr. Jon Rich was taking his patients that morning instead. I was really disappointed and said that I wanted my dad to deliver this baby. Mali said that Dr. Rich was very good and not to worry. At 10:15, when I felt the urge to push, she called Dr. Rich. He said that he would come over as soon as he finished with one last patient, and that I could have some pain medication if I wanted. I considered it because of the back pain but Kent talked me out of it since I hadn't had any for the other children. I worried about the doctor making it in time but Mali said she could do it with me right there in the bed if necessary. At 10:30 am Dr. Rich came in to check me and the bag of water was bulging. He broke it and it seemed like a gallon of warm water came gushing out on my legs. Then the contractions seemed to slow up. I told Dr. Rich that he was supposed to deliver one of my children since he came very close to being Ashley's doctor when my dad went down to San Diego the day she was born.
After a couple of more contractions, they wheeled me into the delivery room about 10:45 am and prepped me. I told Dr. Rich that I knew that this was going to be a good sized baby--at least 8 pounds. It was going to be bigger than Ashley, but not as big as Ryan. He said that he liked Ashley's size better. My back really ached and the contractions and pushing were difficult because I did not feel the urge to push. After the contractions were over the baby kept turning to his side and sliding back up the birth canal. It seemed to take forever. The doctor kept cracking jokes, saying that you could tell if it was a girl because she would put her hand out palm up; if it was a boy he would wave his fist. Kent was videotaping it but I was not really aware of what was going on. I just wanted the baby to COME OUT! and prayed that it would be over soon. The doctor was very encouraging, kept saying it was almost there and he could see the blackish/blondish hair. FINALLY, at 11:07 he came out, a BIG beautiful baby boy, so pretty the doctor thought he was a girl at first.
He was 8 pounds, 11 ounces. I told Kent it had to be a boy with him being scoutmaster this year, but I was surprised. I'd been so sure it was a girl towards the end, although I really always preferred four boys and two girls for some reason. Somehow it just seemed "right". His facial features are so pretty and perfectly formed. He's darker like Ryan, and his head is round like Eric's, and he was born on Chad's birthday. He has such a pretty little mouth and nose, and his ears are small and perfectly shaped, close to his head. I kept thinking what a pretty round face he had. I remembered Kent's blessing to me 2 weeks before his birth, in which he promised in the name of the Lord that this child would enjoy all the blessings of the priesthood. And I thought now it makes sense. Kent said now we don't have to use the guest room in our new house (I had agonized over bedroom space if it was a girl). I guess because I had wanted a boy so much I psyched myself up for a girl instead. But a boy will be better for us because as soon as he is on his mission at 19 then Kent and I can leave on ours.
I was bringing Ashley next door to Keith and Nancy Fingerett's house for her to babysit so that I could get a nap in during the day. I think that this was about the nicest present I could have had after having a baby--getting a nap in 2 or 3 times a week without having to feel guilty or worry about the child just older than the baby. Nancy adored Ashley and was very sweet and loving with her--just the extra little touch she and I needed.
On Wednesday May 24, 1989
Kent's folks got a morning away from caring for Carol's mother when her sister came out and so they came to see the new baby. Grandma loved holding Brett and gave him a cute baseball shirt and shorts which Ashley later put on herself and said they were for her when she went to play baseball. Grandpa took video camera shots of the baby and me, and they both watched Brett's birth video. It made me cry again to see the intense anguish and joy of his birth. Grandma suggested that I might want to "edit" it before passing it on to future generations. Perhaps.
Yes, We have Head lice
We tried to comb all of the little nits and dead bugs out of our hair but it seemed impossible--the combs were not fine enough and there were too many of them. On Wednesday I found a louse crawling along one of my hairs on the bathroom counter. And it looked like there was more in Ashley, Rachel's and Chad's hair. So we rewashed our hair again and on Friday Kent brought home a Derbac fine-tooth comb. My scalp felt so itchy I thought I could feel lice crawling all of the time. We combed and combed and combed. On Sunday I took off a few live ones from Ryan and we shampooed again. Kent said that this was getting very old and I agreed.
To The Temple
On Friday night Kent and I went to the temple to do an endowment. It was warm and stuffy and I was so sleepy I didn't feel very spiritual. My knee really hurt too (from tripping on some boxes in front of Tori Brown's house). I noticed a sweet older couple making eyes at each other and I was touched by that and wished Kent and I were closer to each other.
Tuesday Dr. Lim called to tell me that the tumors were multiple cancers and that more extensive surgery was recommended as soon as possible (Thursday afternoon). I was shocked. As soon as he hung up my dad called and I told him. He kept assuring me that it would all work out, but I was afraid. I asked him to be there with me at the hospital, and then he and Kent could give me a blessing.
I have been on my knees a lot today (Tuesday). Praying the Lord's forgiveness for not being more sensitive to the Spirit and seeking his guidance ahead of time, and sorry for rash thoughts and prayers in the past. I feel that the Lord loves me and I believe that He will forgive me and bless me, but it looks like I'm in for a rough go of it. I am going to put myself into his care and hope that I can endure it well. I have been playing with Ashley and caring for Brett today, as well as helping Ryan with his homework. I want to LIVE to raise my children, go on a mission and work in the temple with Kent, and do some more family genealogy. God bless me to be able to do this and endure to the end I pray. My children and my husband need me. I want to be here for them. Kent and I read through my Patriarchal Blessing and felt encouraged by the promise that I would see my children grow up in righteousness, and that I would endure trials and grow strong in the gospel.
Wanting 6 Children
I described how Kent and I met, how we wanted six children, and how we had come to know of the Lord's goodness to us because of experiencing his blessings to us in times past (such as blessing us during and after our financial difficulty and in blessing us in our new home).
I told about my breast lump, the decision to have Brett, which we felt was right, and the joy which he brought to us. Then I told about the biopsy results, how I was scared but believing, and the Priesthood blessing I had before my surgery. I told them also about the surgery and its results, and the relief I felt when the bone scan came back normal.
Feeling the Lords Love
I told them about how I felt the Lord's great love for me and the transforming affect it was to me--creating in me a great desire to be more compassionate to others because of his great goodness to me. I did not find it inconsistent to be told to listen to my doctors and promised that I would have the faith to be healed. I know of God's goodness to me in the past and I believe that He will bless me in the future. To be loved of God does not mean that your life will be easy; but it does mean that He will bless you, that His will shall be done, and someday you will be with Him and your loved ones.
Today I stayed home from church with Ashley (who has a bad cold) and Brett. This evening we went down for Tithing Settlement at 6:30pm, after watching "Miracle on 34th Street" and playing computer monopoly. Then this evening Kevin Large came by to help Kent give me a blessing. Brett kept crying every time he saw Kevin which was kind of funny. We had Chad take him into the bedroom. We sat in the front room and visited for a few minutes, sharing our concerns after talking to the doctors, our hopes and belief in the Lord's goodness. I shared a part of my Patriarchal Blessing in which I was told that my Heavenly Father would give me experiences in life which would strengthen my testimony so that I would know without any shadow of a doubt that He lived and that Jesus was the Christ. I also said that I felt that my mission in life wasn't over, and while I didn't know how the lord was going to bless me, nevertheless I did believe that he would bless me to raise these children that I wanted to have, and that my Patriarchal Blessing promises me I would be able to raise. But we needed a miracle.
1990 Stevenson Ranch
Kent and Suzanne and all six children move into the Stevenson Ranch home at 25307 Keats Lane
September 1994 Death
Magic Mountain 1992
Chad Graduates from High School. Chad is at COC the 1st semester. Suzanne dies September 24.
My wife’s had full, thick, sunny, auburn hair. It was rich like chocolate pudding. When we were first married she wore it long and luxurious like the mane of a colt.
I loved the feel her hair. One time one of the kids brought headlice home and I spend a weekend sitting in the backyard in the sunlight searching in her hair for nits. It took hours. I worked a section at a time and enjoyed caring for her hair. I felt close to her as I discovered a nit and removed it with a special comb. I felt good as I cared for her.
She is gone now but the other day I was going through some of her things and found an envelope with her hair in it. I carefully reached inside the envelope and gently touching the strands as I remember her face, her touch, and that chocolate pudding hair.
Dear Kent, You have become the fulfillment of prophesy – becoming the perfect husband – everything I have ever wanted and needed, you’ve taken very good care of me and I know I did right in marrying you. I’ve been fascinated by you ever since I saw you in Glendora ward. Your sorrows will be my sorrows; your triumphs will be my triumphs; for we are inseparably connected forever. When you read the scriptures, attend the temple, and administer in priesthood ordinances, and organize family events you will feel my spirit closest to you. I have found heaven on earth with you and my greatest desire is that it continues for eternity. I love you always and forever. Suzanne
Dear Chad, I will always remember the Great Spirit you have developed in your life beginning your freshman year in college – reading the scriptures and being so kind to me and the family. I guess because you are my first-born son I fretted and worried and put more time in you than all the others. Now as I see the tremendous goodness and responsibility and spirituality come into your life I have great peace and joy and hope concerning you. I truly believe that you will succeed and have a good and happy life if you keep the spirit with you. I will be watching over you and your sorrows and triumphs will be mine as well. Though it is impossible not to have down times in life, with this Great Spirit you are developing I know you will come out on top again. Be sure to marry the best girl you can find in the temple to help you during your down and ups and to return home with honor to the Celestial Kingdom. Remember, “no empty chairs,” heaven will not be complete without you and your family there too. I love you always. Your mother
Dear Rachel, You have brought me great joy since you were a little child. I loved to kiss you and make you laugh. I felt peace concerning you since infancy and knew someday I would have great joy over you. I can see that becoming true in the strength and direction you have developed in your life lately. You are becoming a lovely, intelligent, unselfish, hardworking, and wise young woman. I particularly appreciate the help you have given to the family during this difficult time. You have always had a gift for caring for younger children, which they appreciate. I remember when Ryan would crawl into bed with you in the morning for comfort. I’ll be watching over you and proud of your accomplishments. Take time to read the scriptures daily to help you to maintain your determination to do right. Marry the best young man you can find who will help you to continue to grow and will cherish you. Remember “no empty chairs” in the celestial kingdom.” We need you and your family there to truly make it heaven. I love you always. Your mother.
Dear Eric, I have sensed a strong reassuring spirit about you since before your birth. I have felt peace about you, knowing you would make good decisions and do well. You have a gift for working with others and leadership ability. Learn to be tolerant of other people and their weaknesses and the Lord will make you great. You are able to sense what needs to be changed and offer help when necessary. You are my best helper and worker. Even when you were little, you used to baby-sit Ryan and I while we napped after kindergarten. I will be proudly watching over you. Continue to read the scriptures and write in your journal. They will be a great strength to you. I expect you to be a great missionary and marry the best LDS girl who will help finish you off. Remember, “no empty chairs,” we want you and your family to return home with honor. I love you. Your mother
1989 Family Portrait
Dear Ryan, You are the fulfillment of prophecy. I knew that I carried a special spirit during my missionary and genealogical work and looked forward to your birth. I feel that God has a great work for you to do. You were always a very sweet baby and as a child helpful and loving—with a strong desire to do right. Keep this great spirit all your life and you will accomplish great good in God’s kingdom. I remember when you read the scriptures on your own. I hope you make this a habit, it will make you greater. I know you will be a wonderful missionary. Be forgiving and kind always and you will learn to be Christlike. I will watch over you, remember to marry a great LDS girl in the temple who will help you with your life’s mission to return with glory to the Celestial Kingdom. I love you. Mother
Dear Ashley, I believe Heavenly Father chose me to be your mother, you are a fulfillment of prophecy because Heavenly Father announced that you would be born to me before I got pregnant with you. You have been a great source of joy and love and sweetness and comfort and help. I know you will continue to do so. I remember as a child you used to put your head on my feet as I cooked dinner. It reminds me of how we will treat the Savior when we see him. I feel greatly honored and blessed to be your mother. Reading the scriptures each day will help you to continue to be sweet and good your whole life. I want to see you marry the finest LDS man in the temple, who will cherish your goodness and help you return to your home with Heavenly Father. “No empty chairs” in the Celestial Kingdom. I want to be with your family forever. I love you. Mother.
Dear Brett, You are a fulfillment of prophecy. I knew I was supposed to have six children. You were the last stone in my wedding ring. Every day I see you I’m glad I had you. I know I did the right thing. You are a great joy to me and to the whole family. Your enthusiasm for life and zest for living fill us all with love and make us want to do the same. You have a desire to grow up and do right. When you get older, read the scriptures every day. They will add purpose and direction in your life. Control your temper, be honest and obedient always, and God will give you great power to do good. I will be watching over you, I know you will have a great mission and marriage. Marry the best LDS girl in the temple to help you achieve your potential. I want there to be “no empty chairs” in the Celestial Kingdom. I want to be with your family forever. I love you. Mom
Dad by Rachel
My dad took us camping every summer to Mammoth. He taught me how to pick the be4st campsites, next to the bathroom but secluded, how to build and start a fire, and how to fish. Sometimes we fished from before sunri9se to well after sunset. There were times when, after five hours of fishing, I still couldn’t catch any stupid fish. Other times I caught the limit in less than an hour. Although I loved the adrenaline rush of catching a fish, I hated gutting and scaling my catch. My dad made me cook and eat one of the fishes I had caught that day.
As well as teaching me and all of my brothers and sisters, my dad also taught almost every kid on our street to ride a bicycle without training wheels. Dad held onto the back of my shirt and ran along side with me as I peddled away. I did all right until I realized he was gone. Likewise, I learned how to drive a stick-shift from my dad. I took my drivers test on a stick-shift; I had gotten so good at it.
My dad is Mr. Fix-it. When the car, stereo, garage door or computer is broken, he can fix it. My dad can make almost anything better, anything except my mom. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago. She went from good to bad to really good, to really bad until she died.
I remember when I was around nine years old, sitting in church one day, I decided my mother was the most beautiful woman in the world and some=day I wanted to be just like her. My mom lost all her gorgeous long b brown hair, she couldn’t hold down her food and eventually she couldn’t even dress herself. I love my Mom very much, but couldn’t ever tell her. I felt awful because she was going through so much pain. I felt like my dad wasn’t doing enough or treating her right. I hated my dad because I didn’t’ know what else to do.
Every day my dad took care of my mom. He dressed her, fed her, and encouraged her to become better. In addition to being her personal nurse, he was also super-dad. He came to all the football games and basketball games and soccer games, along with the tap dance and ballet lessons. My dad does all the laundry, mops the kitchen floor, and bakes the best homemade bread.
Last Friday night my dad spent the night on the hard, cold hospital floor, next to my mom’s bed. He stayed with her the whole night, scared to leave her side. Sunday morning my dad tried to read her will to us, but couldn’t because he started crying. After we all left, my mom asked him if she left anything out that he wanted. He said all he wanted was her love. My mom said she would love him forever.
My dad stayed home all day Monday and lay next to my sleeping mother, listening to her breathe. Monday night my dad called us all around her bad as she died. My dad held her hand and cried. He said, “Twenty years ago I saw Suzanne at a dance. Not only was she beautiful on the outside, she was also beautiful on the inside. And I’ve lover her everyday since. Rachel