Sunday, May 10, 2009

Running and the Mothers in my Life

I do have a good explanation for this title. I needed a good diversionary concept to mentally explore as I struggled through the Lake Geneva half marathon yesterday. At about mile 7, the race route headed due west into a 20-30 mile and hour head wind, and I was struggling. My "get ready for mother’s day" task list was causing me regular subconscious discontent, so my thoughts went from that list to mothers in general, to the wonderful nurturing instinct of the women in my life and to my role in helping my daughters discover and accept this most difficult, but eventually rewarding change in their lives.Hopefully, here’s a sufficiently lucid interpretation of my pain-induced flow of thoughts.

As I was running in the less painful first five miles, I was enjoying the wide diversity of runners around me.You’d think that the rigors of running would leave only a few elite,tall,thin focused enthusiasts. I was delighted that the crowd ranged from the under 5 feet to 6' 5" or better,from frumpy to very stylish, from people who looked like linebackers to those who had absolutely no wind resistance, from the young to the old and weathered. We all had a common goal and an unspoken camaraderie as we faced our common obstacles.

I then thought on my two grandmothers, my mother and my wife, four very diverse women often with strong opposing opinions on many things, but bound by the common calling of motherhood.

My paternal grandmother is Gladys Allred, slender and fragile. She married at 16, and had no real accomplishments outside of her immediate family.She was a quiet, sweet, kindly soul. Her church service was nearly all spent in the primary. She did work at the family dealership in her later years, but it was more of a reason to be with her boys than filling an essential role in the operations. On the other side, I’ve never seen a Mom more revered by her husband and sons. She fostered expectations of greatness. She instilled in all of us an understanding of the safety that comes from strong family bonds. When my grandfather passed away, her overriding desire was to go join him and she shortly did. I wish my kids could a known her a little. I see her influence in how my dad treated my mom, how I try to treat Tami and how Jonathan treats Kate.

My maternal grandmother is Carol Olive Wignall Lindley. A short athletic, auburn-haired bundle of energy and mischievousness. Life threw her a tumultuous road full of uncertainties, heartaches and sorrows some of her own making. She embarked on a career to take care of her family. She remarried. Disciplined gospel living was not consistent; however, she loved her children, taught them strong principles and made difficult choices to bring stability. When her children were finally raised, she felt a desire to give back to the Lord, by fulfilling a service mission. The call came back for a proselyting mission and she faced a challenge of faith. She responded,as always, by making the necessary changes in her life and served three proselyting missions and many years of temple service. What a great example to her children and grandchildren of how to respond to the call of the Lord. From her I've learn to enjoy life, to persevere through challenges and to forgive myself.

My mom was nothing like my grandmother. She was quiet and serious more into books and the kitchen than the outdoors. She was blessed with an obedient spirit and an early testimony of the gospel. She sought and found stability in her life through my father. What a great couple they were. Together they seemed to find those willing to receive succor and blessed many lives. Deep down we found her mother’s fire and we loved to bring it out by getting her riled through teasing.She endured it well to a point. My mom was resolute in her expectations on what we could achieve. I grew up believing that I could and would accomplish great things. Her expectations were constantly in my quiet thoughts and helped keep me on the right side of foolish decisions. My mom continues to be an inspiration as she learns to cope with life without my dad and continues to seek ways to help others.

You read my comments on Tami for her birthday. She is a pioneer within her own family as she had no gospel family tradition to base her own parenting technique.She hated cooking and cleaning.She had no background in piano or music.Her biggest fear was being trapped by life and no means of escape. After months of Jonathan constantl screaming, her fears seemed to come to life. She proved that with faith, persistence and the support of good friends and family, you can overcome even the most ingrained fears. Her children are the fruit of the price she paid. They are scholars. Music has blessed our home. Our children are not afraid to risk failure because they know mom is there no matter the outcome and her love will never diminish. Her understanding of her own mom has opened and healing has occurred. I've learned from her that freedom truly comes from righteous living and love is the natural outflow of testimony and righteous intent.

And now I have Kate, the mother of our first grandchild. She is bright, prepared, disciplined. She loves my son. She loves her daughter. I’m watching again as a young mother makes those sacrifices to personal ambitions in response to a higher calling. I love her for that willingness to sacrifice. I love seeing her tired eyes after a difficult night with Ellie (Sorry Kate). I can’t wait to add Landon’s wife and my 3 daughters to this group of mothers to cherish.

With all this said, here’s my insight. Just like the runners, the size and shape of moms vary greatly. Their varied backgrounds distinguish their personalities and the stories they tell and their talents are amazingly diverse. They are distinct and so different. Yet somehow, as they hold their children in those late moments of the night when the dads are peacefully sleeping, the veil between heaven and earth is parted, spiritual impressions are given about the divine nobility and worth of these children and these good women become willing and capable partners with our heavenly parents in guiding these spirits and give up self to this greater cause. Through this sacrifice they achieve depth, stature and understanding that the world could never give. As a member of the denser sex, I have come to cherish these women, to give heed their counsel, to listen earnestly to their promptings. Like experienced runners, they have mastered their skills by many lonely painful hours and can give light, hope and understanding to all that follow.

To Emily, Molly and Anna, I hope this gives insight to the challenges and joys you'll face. Never be ashamed of the calling of motherhood. We will be there for comfort as you face the overwhelming days. To Landon, go find yourself and then go find that girl. You need to look no further than your mom for those inner traits of character and faith that define a remarkable woman and mother.

Happy Mother's Day to all.


  1. well put Dad. I always appreciate your wise counsel.

  2. Tami, You do have a wonderful husband! Wow! I am speechless.

  3. This is Paula Robinson. First David is right about Tami. I love my sister. She is amazing and patient and good and loving and an such as good match for my brother. Dave, you brought me to tears.... We have had such great women in our lives and have been so blessed by them. Maybe your fourth love (Tami, Kids, running) should be writing.