Sunday, March 21, 2010

A piece of my mind

Last night we went to a birthday / retirement party on a Norwegian Trawler and I didn't get to bed until gone midnight. I'm feeling bleary-eyed but I think it was worth it.

To see Bev so radiant and bubbly was a sight to see. She looked so happy and beautiful.

Today we were talking about miracles at church (the creation) and it brought to mind a miracle I witnessed recently. You may not think it a miracle, but I do.

Sunderland is about 200 miles away but we were able to be there and here in Newark at the same time to see her blow her candles out and sing 'Happy Birthday'. We also were able to watch the family have a home-made Bobsleigh run. You just have to see the video on the Poulton Family blog (blogs I follow) under the post 'Bobsleigh'. It's hilarious.

Aren't these modern-day miracles?

Edith Piaf
I've been reading a book about Edith Piaf while I was waiting for a book to arrive from America. It arrived yesterday and I immediately put Piaf down.

I'll always consider her one of the greatest singers to have lived. I don't have to know what the words mean to feel the passion and conviction in her voice. She makes the hair on the back of my neck stand on end and can make me cry by the way she sings a song.

On the other hand, she appears on the surface to be everything I dislike in a person... questionable morals. Possibly a home breaker, thief and liar. She appears to have little control over her emotions. She's often selfish, weak, arrogant, vindictive, inconsiderate, greedy and petty.

It has been said that you can take a person out of the slums, but you can't take the slums out of a person. Perhaps it's going too far to apply this to Edith, but the thought did pass my mind.

I've only read a few chapters, so I'll finish the book at some point so as not to be guilty of only getting half the picture, but for now I'll be reading this...bought for 99p (cheap but extremely powerful).

For this reason...

We share the same family line in Hannah Middleton Hawkey and Jana has researched and tells the story so well of her great-great grandmothers.

The book is a tremendous insight into courage, faith and sacrifice and she is herself searching for the same faith and inner peace that her great-great grandmothers possessed...on the back of a motorbike. She left the Mormon church as a teenager and has some very interesting things to say. My heart goes out to her as she struggles with all kinds of emotions.

Within the first chapter she has this to say of Hannah...when Hannah Middleton Hawkey heard the screams of her three-and five-year-old daughters, who were propped on top of their belongings, she dropped the shafts of the hand-cart she pulled and made her way to the rear where her fourteen-year-old stepson, James, had stopped pushing and had dropped facedown in the knee-deep snow. She reached down to help him up. Having stooped for this purpose so many times, she was barely aware of her actions. But this time she knew immediately when she wrapped her hand around his shrunken arm that he had at last yielded to hunger, to cold, to pure exhaustion.

Hannah buried James beneath the snow in a grave marked only with the ephemeral prints of her devoted hands, near the icy North Platte River in Wyoming.

Forty-three days later, on November the 30th, 1856, after having walked more than twelve hundred miles, she was brought out of the mountains into the Salt Lake Valley in the back of a rescue wagon sent by Brigham Young, toes burst open from the cold, her two young daughters clinging with frozen fingers to what was left of her tattered skirts.

Hannah would remain bedridden for several months; her damaged feet would not carry her another step until the following spring.

As a result of the post I did on Hannah (see archives 24th June 2009) the descendants of the two little girls have made contact with me.

On a personal note...
I embraced the 'Mormon' faith as a 23 year old rebel thinking I was the only one to do so in my family.  I'm now aged 58 and would leave the faith tomorrow if I had doubts about the doctrine or its authenticity. I have no such doubt. I'm far from perfect but I know the direction I face and want to go.

I have friends who share different beliefs and I get on well with all types and persuasions. I think the world is big enough for us all. If someone asks about my beliefs, it's because they see I'm living them and can give an honest response without pushing. Don't ever believe Mormons to be pushy...missionaries may appear so, but show me a missionary that isn't over-zealous at times.

The faith I enjoy has like-minded individuals in abundance who are down to earth, talented, funny, humble, faithful, honest, mostly hard working, ever-searching people quietly living their lives. They are people you can trust with your life. They've stood the test of time. That isn't to say that other faiths are bereft of such people and truth, but I've yet to find answers to satisfy all the questions I had and still have, outside where I go every Sunday.

There, I've said my's not so bad, is it?

I'm now looking forward to reading lots more about my Great Great Aunt...the book is barely started and already I'm fighting back the tears. They are my kind of people and I'm proud to have them as family.

Note to the author...put the North Platte River in Wyoming on your bucket list.


  1. That looks like a very interesting book.

    It is good to remind oursleves every so often what cushy lives we lead today and what our ancestors had to endure in order to survive.

  2. Hi Jean
    It's very interesting so far and you are dead right...we do lead very cushy lives in comparison.
    I'll let you know if it's a must read when i've finished it.

  3. Ah! I forget you are a biker. From what I've read so far, you'd love it. A woman biker all alone in unknown and possibly hostile territory.

  4. Ken--Was Hannah part of the Martin Handcart company? Last August I stopped at Martin's Cove in Wyoming which is on/near the Sweetwater and N. Platte rivers. We spent about an hour there in the visitor's center, learning about the tragedy that took place one winter, involving the Saints. It was quite a touching visit.

  5. Hi Randi
    Yes, she was part of the Martin Handcart company. Quite an experience.
    We hope to be making the same journey one day...different transport!