Sunday, July 01, 2012

People Matter

Some years when we attend the Nebraska Reunion, I come home dissatisfied and vow I'll never go again. There are many people that now live in Utah or surrounding areas outside of Nebraska that show up and many I don't know. This year we had a good cross-section of people come and the night would have been worth it just for two groups that came.  Barbara Catts (and her son Steven) and the Golds made the night more than worth it.  When I came home and downloaded the photos, memories of our life in Nebraska came flooding back. Silly little details came to my mind. Important meetings and testimonies popped up. Examples by everyone that was there stood as strongly to me now as they did then. Time dimmed some of those memories. And so now I want to pay tribute to just a few of the people that were there so I don't forget what they taught me.

The first one is Barbara Catts. She was always a tall, lovely lady. She is now very small and very old but her humor and bright smile haven't changed a bit. I love taking pictures of people that show character in their faces and her's is the perfect example.  She was a member of the church but not active for many years. She married a non-member man. They moved to Nebraska and a Primary teacher paid a visit to their house inviting their son, Steven, to come to Primary with her and her kids. Barbara wasn't against the church, just not terribly interested. She allowed Steven to go.  After watching Steven thrive and love Primary, Barbara became a little more interested in the stories he shared and she decided she needed to go, too. I believe she was called to be a Primary teacher and fell in love with the children and the organization. She became fully active in the church over time. Her husband wasn't interested in being baptized but he went to church with his family. He was a marvelous man! We all loved him.  He even served in some kinds of callings and did a lot of activities in their ward.  Steven continued to thrive in the gospel and by the time he was made an Elder at age 18, he said to his dad, "I'm going to go through the temple before I go on a mission in one year. I want you to be there with me."  I don't know how many sets of missionaries they went through but this was the goal Steven set with his Dad. Unbeknownst to Barbara, they set up a baptismal date, invited her to go to the church where she discovered that a baptism was going to take place and it would be her husband with the son doing the baptism.  They went through the temple a year later just before Steven left for his mission.  I served with Barbara in the Stake Primary. She was the first councilor and I was the secretary. I adore this woman for so many reasons.
 The picture below is of  Roy Sneddon.  I am great friends with his wife, Kathleen. Their son is still missing in China. Most of you know the story about his trip out there to teach English and the day he was going to catch a bus to come home, he went on a hike and never came back. I can't imagine how, as parents, you live with that mystery day in and day out. He disappeared the same week as Jared Bardsley's brother.

Roy was a councilor in the Stake Presidency most of the time we lived in Nebraska. He was a straight shooter. He didn't mince words but his words were always profound. One night, shortly after I got pregnant with Lance, he gave me a Priesthood blessing. I can't remember why I was even in his office. He blessed me that whatever ailments I had had in the past with pregnancies and afterwards would not affect me this time. He had no idea that I struggled with Hoshimoto's Disease with the three previous pregnancies and had told Jim that if it hit me again I would not have any more children. He didn't know any of this. I never had the problem again. He gave us counsel and blessings just before we left Nebraska, moving to California. He and his wife have been constant friends through all these years.

 This is Steven Catts, the son of Barbara, who baptized his father and served an honorable mission. I hadn't seen him since he left on his mission when he was 19 (about 29 years ago).
 Here are the goof-balls of the bunch. Roger and Julie Gold. Roger became one of Jim's councilors in the bishopric and we have been friends ever since. They have a couple of sons that are the ages of ours and the boys got along very well.  Julie told me as I was taking this picture that she didn't like her double chin so Roger grabbed her neck to pull her chin backwards. It was pretty hilarious. They live in College Station, TX where he is a professor at Texas A&M (I think that's correct). He is an entymologist and a well-known one in the nation.
One afternoon I took the boys to Cub Scouts at the Ertl's in Lincoln. While we were waiting for them to get out, an ice storm hit. I had never seen one and had no idea how deadly it could be. I didn't know what to do so I just stayed in the truck until the boys were done. We didn't know the Golds very well at that time. They knew I was new to the world of ice storms so they followed me all the way home (25 miles) to make sure we made it safely. And then they had to turn around and go back again.  I couldn't believe someone would be willing to do that.  One more incident stands out in my mind. The night Jason had his appendix removed, Roger and Jim Peterson came over to the hospital to give Jason a blessing. Jim had left that morning and was on his way to California, having no idea that his son was in the hospital. I received a great deal of comfort from those worthy Priesthood holders who stood readily in the place of a father.
 This is Brent and DeNeese James. Brent was our bishop when we moved to Nebraska. They have remained good friends since the day we met them. Jim served as his first councilor  before Jim was called as bishop. This couple have often come up to the the hospitals to visit with Ammon.  Sometimes I even feel like they are still serving us and watching over us like a bishop would do.  They are great, humble people.
I realized how much people really matter in our lives. Some of these people I only interacted with for 4-5 years, some a little longer, on a weekly or daily basis. And then we moved. I figured that most people would forget about us. They didn't.  I didn't forget about them, either. The details of our lives together have helped make me a stronger and better person. Each has set a stellar example for me and for my older kids that had the privilege of knowing them. All of us matter to someone and rarely do we know just how much until years later. I hope you keep track of events and service from others so you don't forget, either. We all matter. We are all brothers and sisters in the truest sense of the word.


Jason said...

I don't remember the Catts but I do remember the Sneddon's, the Gold's, and the James' quite well. It was Bishop James that interviewed me to become a deacon. His son Rodney and I never got along very well for some reason. Rodney and I actually got in a fight at Philmont because he kept calling me Jascum Cluck. Quite imaginative really and funny. I really looked up to Shane Gold (the oldest of the Gold boys). He was treated me very kindly even though he was 4 or 5 years older than me. He introduced me to classical music for which I still have a great love. Their son Ryan was closer to my age and I really liked him as well. It was the Gold's that put me on a plane to California after I got back to Philmont. I also remember that Brother Gold had a thing for Porches. Does he still own one? I also remember the 2 weeks spent each summer cutting thistles with Shane and Ryan around the farm. I really don't know why my kids whine about having to do the dishes - they have no clue.
I loved living in Nebraska. When Dad told me we were moving, I was so mad that I couldn't even talk to him. I'm sure I probably yelled at him and probably said some unfair things but to my 13 year old self, moving to California was the worst possible thing in the world. Too many good memories to enumerate.

Michelle said...

Where in Nebraska was your reunion?

Jess and Jen said...

I think moving to California is never a good choice!

The reunion was in Tooele, Utah, not actually in Nebraska. -Jess

The Duke said...

Jill Schwiendeman (sp?) Dunn is really the backbone of the group. Her husband actually performed Gillian's marriage and that was pretty cool. She keeps in touch with everybody and has a log of where they all live, etc. She is getting old and this was her last year to hold the reunion. But she will come to every one until she dies, I'm sure.
There has been a reunion for about 12 years now, if I'm right. Some folks never go, including the Coates, even though we invite them every year. I never know what group will be there. It's not on a set time of year, either so we just wait to get an invitation to find out where it is. This year is my 45th high school reunion. I would NEVER attend that. But this one is usually pretty fun.

Jason said...

Actually, Jess, the move to California was the best thing that could have happened to me. I went from 1 of three LDS kids in school to 1 of about 50 or more. I needed that environment, California will always hold a special place in my heart. To be honest, I would rather live in Sacramento than Provo. California certainly has it's problems (the pot house we moved into, for example) but it was a great place to grow up.

Michelle said...

Where in Nebraska was the reunion?

The Duke said...

Michelle, the reunion was held in Tooele, Utah. The people that come are those people that used to live in Nebraska and have now moved back West. Some people come from Southern Utah, some from Las Vegas. The Golds live in Texas and made their way back this year. Another couple live in Oregon and made this as part of their vacation. We all just gather together in Central Utah somewhere every year.

Jen said...

Dang, wish I had known about it; I would've been there! It would've been great to hook up with so many of you that I have loved and admired through the years. I have many fond memories of Jim and Brent as our bishops, Roy Sneddon as our stake president, Kathleen as my seminary teacher, etc. I was born and raised there (except between 5-11 years of age), but graduated there and remember so many of you. I loved getting reacquainted with Jess in our ward and was sad to see his family move from our neighborhood. They are great people. My parents, too, have many fond memories. Thanks for sharing the pictures. They are a treasured memory! Thank you for your shared experiences, too. It's amazing how many people affect our lives for the better. - Jeni (Potter) Scott