Monday, January 28, 2008

Family Blogging

My wonderful family has been a rich source of material today. Mrs. Woody blogs about the Doodle here. Doodle has also recently posted, and that can be seen here. Give 'em a read!

Aging Like Fine Whine

The following conversation, more or less, took place not 10 minutes ago:

Jelly Woodyette: Mommy? What date was it yesterday?

Mrs. Woody: January 27th.

Woody: Hey! That's my anniversary for going to the temple for the first time! So, let's see, that was 1977... no, 1978. Wow. That's been 30 years.

[Impact of previous statement hits Woody]

Woody [weeping]: That means I went on my mission 30 years ago...!

Mrs. Woody: Eat your fiber, dear.

Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley

The death of a living prophet is always a time of both mourning and excitement. Members of the Church may understand this feeling; we mourn the loss of an old, dear friend, yet look forward with great anticipation to a new administration and the changes that inevitably follow.

President Gordon B. Hinckley passed away last night. We were privileged in Southern California to hear from this tremendous servant of the Lord one last time a couple of weeks ago in one of the multi-stake broadcast conferences that the Church has implemented. It's a little ironic, perhaps, that immediately following that conference session I told Mrs. Woody that I was no longer worried about losing our prophet any time soon. I had expressed that fear after our last General Conference in October. Pres. Hinckley had seemed so frail (comparatively, that is) during the conference, and I voiced my concern to my sweetheart that Pres. Hinckley was not long for this world. She agreed with me, and we both dealt with that melancholy feeling one gets at such a thought.

During the Stake Conference, though, Pres. Hinckley had seemed somewhat more vigorous than he had during General Conference, and I felt that perhaps he had rallied and was ready for another busy year. In truth, what I probably sensed was the energy given to a man to bear one final testimony before yielding up his spirit to his Father. I saw this when Bruce R. McConkie bore his final, powerful witness of the Savior in General Conference shortly before his death of cancer. Likewise Elder Neal A. Maxwell.

At the Stake Conference, Pres. Hinckley's theme had been that of broken families, and moving forward after dealing with those issues that affect more and more families than ever before in our history. Money, infidelity, self-centeredness; all of these were summarily dealt with by our inspired prophet, and he counselled us with tremendous energy. Having been through one broken marriage, I came away with the counsel that we need to move forward from here. Fix those things that need fixing, and live our lives in accordance with God's will. It was a spiritual boost that I needed at that point in time. Not because my marriage to Mrs. Woody is in any kind of trouble, but because I still need to heal from the divorce. Or, more particularly, I need to close that chapter of my book and plow on through to the end of my earthly story.

I have loved every prophet that has served in my lifetime. David O. McKay was the prophet when I was born, and he served until I was eleven years old. I have no memory of ever hearing from Pres. McKay during a general conference because by the time I was old enough to appreciate conference, Pres. McKay was too frail to attend. I believe I regarded Pres. McKay as a kind of grandfather figure, with that brilliant white hair of his. I enjoyed the administrations of Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith, and Harold B. Lee who were the prophets during my early years in the Aaronic Priesthood.

Then came Pres. Spencer W. Kimball who served during those most critical years of my youth when I needed to grow up a little (note: tongue firmly in cheek) and get ready for my mission. It was Pres. Kimball's signature on both my mission call, and that of my future bride. Pres. Kimball helped transition me into adulthood.

With the passing of Pres. Kimball, Pres. Ezra Taft Benson took the reins. His was the administration of the Book of Mormon, and he constantly and consistently admonished us to "flood the earth" with that great book. Then Pres. Howard W. Hunter served for the briefest administration of any living prophet. Fortunately, I had come to love him as a great apostle of the Lord long before he ever sat in the Prophet's chair.

And now we mourn the passing of another great leader and friend. Pres. Hinckley, for many in the Church, will be their Pres. McKay, or Pres. Kimball; the prophet who served for a significant portion of their lives and molded their spiritual development along the way. We love him for that. We love him for having served well and faithfully for so many years. We love him for building temples around the world. We love him for presenting a friendly face to the world at large. We even love him for being interviewed by Larry King. (It's a good thing I already love and appreciate Pres. Monson. He has extremely well-worn shoes to fill!)

Farewell, President Hinckley. May the Lord receive your spirit with joy and gladness, and may your earthly family — and friends — be comforted.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sniffle. Cough. Moan.

As I look back over posts from the past, I notice that many of my family-related posts seem to deal with disease and pestilence. I blame the kids, of course. No, really. Kids and disease just seem to go together, and parents have to accept that. We know, for instance, that the moment our kids go outside (and, even though we homeschool, we do occasionally send them outside) they will probably glom onto whatever passing virus is in the air. This will touch off a cycle of coughing, sniffling, wheezing, sneezing, and fevers that will be passed from family member to family member and may last well into the next presidential administration.

The so-called Circle of Life.

Anyway, I don't mean to grouse so much about it. For as long as my kids are under my care, I deal with it. I, the Man of the House, the Lord of the Manor, will deal with all menaces to my family's well-being. I will get sick. The idea is that, as the Examplar in our home, I can't ask my family to do anything that I'm not willing to do myself.

(Note: This does not apply to Mrs. Woody's recent hospital visit that effectively cancelled our summer last year. I would gladly have offered to go to the hospital in her place, but the insurance would never have covered it. So I was willing, but it just wasn't practical. See?)

Right now, for example, the Woodyettes are vying for Most Miserable Creature on the Planet status. Jelly has already been through her cycle, and now it's the Doodle's turn. I have to say, the girls both have creative ways of putting on their Miserable routines. Jelly, for instance, is the worrier. She's the one who will ultimately drive her doctors into early retirement by grilling them on every little symptom she feels. "But, Doctor, what about those little scaly things I just noticed on my hands?" "Miss Woodyette, really, it's just dry skin. Drink more water and use lotion." I'm not saying she's a hypochondriac, mind you. I'm just saying it doesn't take much to put her in Full Alert Medical Mode. At this tender age, most of that worry is connected with trips to (you guessed it!) the Doctor's office. She views trips to the Doctor's office in about the same vein as deployment to Afghanistan.

Doodle, on the other hand, is one to milk the situation. And she is a consumate pro:

[sniiiiff, cough, sniiiiiiff, cough, low moaning noises]

Mommy: Whassa matter, Doodle?

Doodle: [weakly] I don't feel so good, Mommy!

[Sound of Mommy-heart melting into bright red puddle]

Mommy: Come have a snuggle, Love.

While Jelly will kvetch endlessly about how much fun she's missing by being sick, Doodle wonders how long she can get away with vegetating on the couch or in her bed. If I send two sick children to bed on any given evening, the chances are about 75% that I will find a child on the couch in the morning, and that child will look an awful lot like my youngest child. Only miserable.

The irony of the Most Miserable Creature on the Planet contest is, of course, that neither child stands a chance. That crown will always be in the possession of Daddy, who can out-miserable the entire family. I should, too: I practiced long and hard as a child to perfect these skills. When Daddy is miserable, the world as we know it comes to a complete stand-still:

Daddy: Yep, just as I thought, it's diarrhea. Probably dehydrated, too. That would explain why my forehead is hot enough to fry eggs and my lips look like the Grand Canyon. [Various moans and groans while Daddy shuffles painfully to the couch, where he will drop roots and sprout leaves.]

Mommy: Poor thing. Maybe you should lie down?

Daddy: Not sure I'd make it to the bedroom, Dear, but thanks for the suggestion...

Speaking of Mommy, she's the only one who's never allowed to get sick. Mama may feel like death warmed over, but kids still need to be fed, Hubby still needs to get that project done for work, and Mommy herself feels far too guilty that she's not touched the kitchen all day to allow herself to have a rest in bed.

This is not to say that Daddy is entirely heartless. Hey, I can heat up a can of soup with the best of them. If I can find it, that is.

"Honey, are you sure it's in the can cupboard?"

"Pretty sure, Bud."

"Well, I don't see it. I don't suppose you know where the Lipton soup is?"

[Sound of Mommy dragging herself into the kitchen to prove to newly-blind husband that the soup was in the cupboard all along.]

I exaggerate a bit, I guess. I'm not as bad as all that, and my girls really are fighting the crud right now. Especially the Doodle. As I type this, she's just snuggled herself into a fitful sleep while watching Mommy play with Jelly's Nintendo DS. Mommy probably only started playing with it to entertain the Doodle, but now she's hooked on the game and is studiously trying to figure out how to get her character to cooperate with her desire to accomplish some task or other.

Guess I'd better go get the Doodle and put her to bed. Probably find her on the couch in the morning.