MY EARTHLY MOTHER
MY MOST INFLUENTIAL TEACHER
MY MOST INFLUENTIAL TEACHER
There have been many teachers in my life who have influenced my life for good: my first art teacher, my science teacher in seventh grade, my world history teacher in High School, an English and Book of Mormon teacher at BYU, and my teachers in World Religion at UH.
Of all my teachers in my life the most influential teacher is my Mother, Callie. I was her first born when she was 40 years of age and two years later she had my sister E. She was thrilled to have two healthy babies, in addition to the five children in my Father's first family. L, my Father's first wife, died suddenly in the flu epidemic in the mid-twenties. He was so broken hearted that he could no longer stay in the community where they were living, so he moved his five young children to Twin Falls, Idaho and went into an upholstery business with his brother.
Callie was a convert to the Church of Jesus Christ when she was 16 years of age. Her Father, a Justice of the Peace in Reed Hill, Tennessee, paid the bail for 'two nice missionaries' and invited them to share their message with his family. Her Father was a farmer and her Grandfather was a Baptist minister. Callie taught school in a one- room schoolhouse before the family moved to Twin falls, Idaho. Callie worked in a sewing machine store and a music store prior to serving on a church mission in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
When Callie returned from her mission, she was active in the youth auxiliary in the Church, which was called the Mutual Improvement Association. George was active in this program also and was called to be president of the young men's association and Callie was president of the young women's association. George eventually got his courage up and asked Callie if she would marry him and become the second Mother for his family. She accepted and they moved to a small farm George had homesteaded in Declo, Idaho.
When I was born in 1932 Callie was determined to be the best Mother possible. She taught me that she and my Father loved me. She gave me a wonderful gift of her time. She told me that when I was a baby she would lay me on a pillow next to her as she taught classes in Church. She made me feel of worth and loved.
Being a teacher at heart she wanted to teach me everything she could. When I was three and four years of age Mother taught me the alphabet and numbers, patently telling me how to spell various words that I would write down on a slate. I was soon writing words on paper and in homemade books. She made sure we had a room in our home which was filled with books and which we would call a 'library'. I saw that she loved to read good books and that she loved to read the scriptures.
Before I could read very many words I remember Mother gave me a tract of the Joseph Smith prayer and vision. I would go through it and underline the words I knew, such as ‘the’, ‘and’, and a few other simple ones : )
Mother bought me several small New Testament books- perhaps 3 inches by 4 1/2 inches. The Book of John, Luke, Matthew, and Mark. I would put them in the pocket of my overalls, that I wore sometimes. It was long pants with a bib that I wore over a blouse. If I had to wait for some reason I could take out my little scriptures and read. I remember reading the little book of Luke when I was riding the horse to take the cows out to pasture at about 10 years of age.
Mother would make small hand sewn books out of brown paper and then I would write my 'life story' inside. In this way I was learning how to write histories, as well as learning about my family and myself. Mother also taught me to write by filling out family genealogical sheets and pedigree sheets. Later, I wrote and rewrote my life story on family history sheets. She taught me how to organize my Book of Remembrance filled with records and histories.
Another interesting thing Mother did was how she taught us about free agency and consequence. She would draw a path and then have it divide into two paths and would make signs along each path. When I could draw things she often had me draw the charts of choices and consequences. One path to the right would be the path Heavenly Father wanted us to take to find happiness and joy in our life on earth, the path to the left was the path that would lead to unhappiness.
Mother taught me to sew, embroider, to knit, and crochet, even as her Mother had taught her. I did not become as proficient as she was in sewing, but I did learn some of the basics.
Mother taught me about healthy and unhealthy foods by having me cut out pictures from magazines and make scrap books about what was good for our bodies and what was harmful. Those pictures were worth a 'thousand words'.
She taught me to pull weeds in the garden and to gather vegetables and fruit and clean them and prepare them for eating. I did small jobs to help when she bottled fruit for the winter time.
Mother taught me to cook as I helped her prepare vegetables and sometimes meat or poultry for supper, as we called it. Breakfast was usually whole grain cereal and fruit and whole wheat bread. Lunch was salads and several cooked vegetables. I always remember the delicious corn bread she would bake. She taught me to bake corn bread and I have taught my daughters. Mother would bake whole wheat bread in round juice cans and put about eight in the oven at one baking. Even though I don't bake bread in the round cans like my Mother, I still enjoy baking bread because of her example.
She taught me to do housework; to clean the house and keep things in order. We always cleaned the house on Saturday to get everything clean for the Sabbath day. I remember how good I felt when we finished and everything was clean. Mother taught me the value of hard work.
Mother bought art supplies for me and encouraged me to draw and paint. She took me to art shows and I remember standing before the paintings in an art gallery in Rupert, Idaho and being in awe. From that moment I wanted to be an artist! Mother bought me my first sable watercolor brush and my first 'real' watercolors in tubes. She ordered pictures of artists and their paintings and musicians from the Perry Picture Company, so that I could become familiar with the best art and music.
She encouraged me to love good music. I remember listening to Operas on Saturdays and reading in a small booklet about the plots and the singers. I remember listening to Hawaii Calls with Dudley Edwards, coming to us from the shores of Waikiki, and loving the Hawaiian music. She played many recordings, which she had purchased when she worked at Claude Brown's music store. Mother played the organ and the piano and we would sing and enjoy being together as a family. When I was six I began taking piano lessons and at twelve years of age I began playing the violin she had purchased before her marriage. Mother also taught my sister and I how to conduct the music and had us make little books showing the pattern for 3/4 and 4/4 time, etc. When we had our family home evenings we would take turns being the conductor for the music.
Mother taught me to love the Bible stories. She used to make scrap books with pictures she cut off of calendars from mortuaries. She was certainly an early ‘scrapbook’ enthusiast. We would listen to Bible stories that were broadcast on the radio. She would read to me and tell me the stories from the scriptures as she showed me the pictures she had saved.
Mother taught me that I am a spiritual daughter of a loving Father in Heaven. She taught me to love Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. My Mother was a loving Mother, so it was easy for me to believe in a loving Father and Mother in Heaven.
Mother taught me to pray by having me pray from the time I could talk. When I would loose something, even a pencil, I would go in my room and pray and ask God to help me find it. When I found the item my faith in prayer began to grow very naturally. We always turned our chairs around and knelt around the table for family prayer morning and evening. In addition we would thank our Father in Heaven for our food and ask him to bless the food we were about to partake of.
All these things she taught me before I was twelve years of age. She taught me many more things in the next eight years before I left my parent's home, but I often think that those first twelve years were the sure foundation for my life.
I'll be eternally grateful for my Mother, Callie, for she was my most influential teacher.