Thursday, March 29, 2012

Love Echoes

While combing through my family's memory boxes recently, I came across a letter I wrote to my mother on her birthday on April 22, 2002. In it, I included a birthday poem (the quality may be blah, but the sentiment is sure) and a short note*:
Love Echoes

Sweetly, fully, gently
A mother's unforced love
Giving, helping, sharing
A treasure from above

Beauty, goodness, virtue
Locked within a glance
Reaching, caring, saving
She gives the world a chance

Her worth, no mortal tongue may tell,
This precious gift was giv'n
And sent to lowely earth to dwell
A living glimpse of heav'n

My pen is reaching to express
My thankful heart, yet still
These words could ne'er quite convey
The gratefulness I feel

But thank you, thank you, mother dear
Your son, still standing true,
Would shout these words for all to hear
Dear mother, I love you
Thank you for the love and the support you've given me. The Sons of Helaman may have had wonderful mothers, but I don't know how they couold possibly compare with you. You do so much for our family, the community and the world. You are the original Super Mom. ... Thank you, and Happy, Happy Birthday, Mother Dear, happiness will come to you all year.
Love, Matt"
* NOTE: The letter also included a short message from my companion at the time, Elder Greg Cottrell:
The Cottrell Corner: Mom! Happy Birthday! I hope you can forgive me for all the years I've missed. You're great! Okay, so I've never met you, but your son is great, so he must have a great mother. Thanks for reading "The Cottrell Corner" and Happy Birthday.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Each Life that Touches Ours for Good

"All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother."
In this life of difficulty and conflict, the Lord often grants us tender mercies that, among other things, "fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live." As I can now testify, such tender mercies also give us strength and comfort to face the many challenges inherent in this sphere of existence, often coming in the very hour when we most need that strength and comfort.

Indeed, as Elder David A. Bednar explained:
When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
In the days and weeks since the death of my wonderful mother, Sherie Porter Wright, on March 10, 2012, the Lord has poured out His tender mercies on me and my family in great abundance.

As one instance of such mercies, the Lord has allowed me glimpses into the many ways in which my mother served and touched the lives of her neighbors and community. Such glimpses have come through comments and stories from family, friends, neighbors, mourners and strangers (at least to me), many of which have come in the form of letters and cards, such as the examples below:
"When I moved here I had no friends and was judged for my appearance (I had lots of tattoos). Sherie was the first person who genuinely embraced me. Loraine Whitear introduced us and since that day Sherie was my friend. She was always so happy to see me - at school or at home. I wasn't active, but she didn't care. When I started going to church and 'Sisters in Scriptures,' she always made my daughter Shiloh feel safe and happy to go to nursery at 6 months old. Sherie always made me feel loved, even when no one loved me. Sherie had the true love of Christ and she blessed me with that. I will always hold her close to my heart. I will always know that I am lovable because Sherie loved me. Thank you for sharing her with us."
"Dear Sherie - You probably don't know who I am, but I know who you are and I wanted to tell you that you are a great example to me of faith, courage and steadfastness. I look up to you and think you truly are an outstanding woman. May God give you the strength you need to continue on with life. My prayers are with you and your family."
"You are such an example and inspiration to me and so many others I know that even during this trial in your life, you continue to be an example of strength, love of the gospel and the peace that comes from living righteously."
The above are a small sample of the volumes that have been (or could be) written by the many individuals who have been (and continue to be) blessed by the life of my angel mother. The true impact of her life on this world may not be recounted in the annals of world history, but she will ever stand in the records of heaven as one of the choice daughters of our Heavenly Father who loved Him by serving and loving His children.

I love you, mom, and I simply can't wait until the glorious day of promise when I can see (and hug) you again.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Literary Musings of Mark Wright (circa 1993)

Bless our public school teachers. They may not be perfect, but, by golly, they deserve our respect (and a much better salary). After all, without them, I would never have come across the following tales (reproduced exactly from the original) written by my younger brother Mark when he was in the second grade (as he tells me now, these musings show only a glimmer of his fecund seven-year-old imagination):*
"The Day I Learned to Fly"

One day a witch came and I asked her if I could fly, so I got to fly and I went to see if it worked. I finely started to fly. I could see everyone in the city. I went over to my friend's house. They said, "how did you do that?" I told them, "a witch told me I could fly." But when I said that, I tried to fly and I fell flat on my face.

"All About Me"

I like riding horses. I also like going to the zoo. My favorite color is blue. My favorite food is pizza. My best friend is Bret Osborne. I like playing transformers with my friends. I have nine people in my family. I also like watching T.V. with my friends. I write with my right hand. My favorite animal is a horse. My favorite animal in the zoo is a bear. I like reading pages. My favorite cartoon show is Batman.

[Editors Note: Mark still likes bears and watching T.V. He insists his favorite show at the time he wrote this was actually X-Men.]

"My Family"

I have 9 people in my family. This their names: Kelly, Sara, Mike, Sharry, Matt, Amy, Timothy, Thomas and me. I like going camping with my family. I also like going to the store. My dad is 40 years old and my mom is 30 years old an dike is 13 years old. I have 4 pets. They are a rabbit called Lacie and a dog named Cotton and I have 2 cats named Pumpkin and Garfield.

[Editor's Note: My mom and dad are, in reality, only nine months apart in age.]

"My Friend the Ghost"

One Halloween night I went to the graveyard to see my dead grandpa. Then a ghost came out of the grave. Then I said hi and then the ghost became my friend. Then we played Nintendo and he won. Then we played checkers but then I won. After, we went trick-or-treating. The ghost scared everyone. We went back to the graveyard and we both said good-by. I went home and went to bed.

[Editor's Note: Both of Mark's grandfathers were alive when he wrote this. Also, the most improbable part of the tale is Mark losing at Nintendo (even to a ghost). Mark is a serious gamer.]

"Escape of the Thanksgiving Turkeys"

One day, the turkeys went on an airplane to New York. They were going to have Thanksgiving in California, but went to New York instead. They went to New York and got ate by the pilgrims and Indians. That was the first Thanksgiving.

[Editor's Note: This account is remarkably consistent with Squanto's story of the first Thanksgiving]

"Our Thanksgiving Feast"

At first we go to the store and buy turkey and stuffing. We go home and cook the turkey. And in a little while we take it out and stuff it with stuffing. We also have rolls and jello and mashed potatoes and gravy. Then we set the table and put everything on the table. We all sit down and eat. I go to eat in a cabin. My favorite food at Thanksgiving is jello.

"December, 1993"

I've been a good boy this year. This is what I have done, I've been nice to my friends, help my mom do the dishes, and I helped my dad clean the shed. I'm thankful that last year for Christmas you brought me a fort with horses and people. I would like the Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers. I would also like the movie Beethoven, and some money. Your Friend, Mark Wright

[Editor's Note: None of Mark's claimed acts of goodness have been verified. Also, Mark still likes money.]

"An Elf in my Stocking"

One Christmas morning I looked into my stocking. In my stocking was an elf. He was 6 inches tall. We got him out and he said what do you want from me. I would like a Wooden Reindeer. So he built me the Wooden Reindeer. Then I said what is your name? He said my name is Christmas Tree. All of the year we played with all my toys. I wrote a note that said, Santa please come and get your elf. I put the note on my stocking. The next day was Christmas morning I got up and looked in my stocking, the elf was gone. I said thank you for coming and getting your elf. Good-bye!

[Editor's Note: True story. Every word.]

"My Own America"

I am glad to be an American were I know I'm free. I like the beautiful place and you get to do whatever you want to do. I can watch any movie I want to, but not R rated movies. I'm never going to move from America. I can read any book I want to. I can see anyone I want to.

"I Wish I Had ..."

I wish I had a dragons head so I could breath fire. I wish I had it so I could scare my teacher and my friends. So I went to the wishing well and wished I had a dragons head and I dropped a penny in there. But it would be a problem because my mother would not know who I was. So I got my dragons head and scared my teacher and my friends. But then I got home my mother said "What is that?" So I went back to the wishing well and wished the dragon head was not there. I threw in another penny and the dragons head was gone and I went home and played with my friends.

[Editor's Note: As with all great writers, Mark's tales share certain recurring themes and motifs. For instance, there is the "wish to be something, become something, grow tired of the new something and wish to return to normal" theme and the "really like to scare people" theme. Can you see any others?]

"How to Lose a Tooth"

First, I wiggle it to get it loose. If that doesn't work, then I get a string and tie it to a door. Then I slam the door. If that doesn't work, I use my dad's pliers to pull all my teeth out and it all most always works.

"The Day the Valentines Came Alive"

On the day we passed out Valentines one of the bags started to shake. Then all of them started to shake. So we took out all our Valentines and they jumped all over the place. We grabbed them and opened them. We found hearts jumping all over the place. They said, "I love you."

"My Kite Flying Adventure"

One day I made a kite. The kite was green, red, and blue. It was 3 feet long. I flew it in the air and it went so I high I went with it. We went really high and then the kite got stuck in the tree. I threw the kite back in the air and off we went. Then the wind stopped blowing and me and my kite both fell to the ground. Then we went home.

[Editor's Note: Add a stuffed tiger and you could call these tales "The Adventures of Mark and Hobbes."]

"The Day I Turned Green"

One day in March it was close to St. Patrick's day. Then it was the day before St. Patricks day I found a Leprechaun and he said "Do you want a wish?" I said yes, so I got my wish. It was to turn green like a Leprechaun. So he turned me green and I shrunk. I went around in trees and scared people. I tried to find the Leprechaun so I could have my last wish. I found him after a while and said turn me back to a human. So he did.

"April Showers Bring ..."

April showers bring grasshoppers, armies of ants, golden books, gold horses, rainbows, flowers, golden rabbits and birds.

[Editor's Note: Horses may be Mark's favorite non-zoo animal, but gold horses are everyone's favorite non-zoo animal.]

"The Most Important Thing About Mark"

The most important thing about Mark is he likes his teacher. He laughs a lot. He likes riding horses. He likes playing baseball, football, soccer and basketball. His favorite food is pizza and nachos. He likes snakes. But the most important thing about Mark is he likes his teacher.

[Editor's Note: The MOST important thing about Mark is he learned to be a brown-nosing suck up very early in life.]


* I found this book while going through my family's memory boxes. Lesson? As an expectant parent, I'd best make sure to pay attention to (and keep) all such treasures.