What an amazing phone call. 90 minutes of pure joy. There are many moments of joy in my life but this was one of the best and probably will be for all times. I had arranged a time when they would be home and I would call. BEST 90 MINUTES EVER! Naturally I sat with tears in my eyes or flowing down my face more times than I can say. And then I'd look up at dear Robert and see his look of a crumbling face which meant tears were near. OR I'd hear Elder Day with tears in his voice. Wow. Naturally I took notes like a madwoman so I could record our conversation here...with the determination I need to save my money and make one more trip to Utah. It's a goal.
They loved meeting Cody, and Sister Day called him 'a darling boy' and offered to be his Utah grandparents, a meal if he was hungry, a place to study or even do his laundry. Their nephew Braden Bate (or something like that) came over Sunday night and when they told him about Cody's visit it turns out HE KNOWS CODY! How's that for a small world moment!
Elder Day said he's always had a soft spot in his heart for the Holmans/Centers. He remembered the time when my mom called him or wrote to him about coming to Utah in May 1972. That's when she and Daddy Center were being sealed in the SLC Temple but on the 27th Robert and I were being married in Manti. And as paths cross, they were going to be in the Manti Temple that same weekend doing the work for the dear son, Richard, who had died in a swimming pool accident! The president of the Manti Temple at that time was Elder Day's mission president back in the day and so Elder Day managed to get him to seal Robert and I and it was a lovely ceremony. That's the last time we saw the Days (previously I had seen them in 1962 when Grandma Holman went to SLC to be sealed to Poppy Holman. The Days accompanied Grandma to the temple and I met Sister Day's sister Caroline!).
Dear young Richard has been felt from the other side of the veil by all the family, especially their son Doug who while serving a mission in England said that on difficult days he felt his brother Richard reaching out to him and sustaining him.
Next Elder Day fondly remembered meeting the Holmans while on his mission. It was Christmas Day. He had only been out serving in Ohio since October. He and his companion (Elder Thayne) were sitting in their one room studying when he had sat long enough. "We need to get out of here and go tracting," he told his companion. It was a very cold Christmas day and they had to don galoshes, lined gloves, hats, earmuffs, etc and started out, being pelted with snowballs by boys building snowmen. At each door, people appeared irritated that they were bothered on Christmas Day. Then they knock on this one door (6510 Morningside Drive, Parma, OH) and my grandmother came to the door. Elder Day introduced themselves and said, We are ministers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we have a message for you. My grandmother said, "Come in," and turning to my grandfather called out, "Richard, we have ministers at our door." Elder Day said it was wonderful how they accepted everything they taught as they sat at the counter in the kitchen. "As long as I live, I'll never forget that day. It must have been the Spirit who knew a special family out there would listen and have their lives changed....and here it is 5 generations later and what an impact the church has had on the lives of that one family." These might not be exactly the words Elder Day said to me but from my notes, it is as close as it can be. Their oldest granddaughter is serving in the Ukraine and sends home lovely letters. She's currently planting seeds and not seeing a lot of baptisms but after Cody stopped in Sunday, Elder Day wrote to her that it only takes one good contact to reach to the 5th generation (and I sure hope longer than that).
He remembered how Grandma also fed them every time they came by. He remembered her minute steaks (and oh so do I...I have tried often to replicate them but I think the cuts were different then). She'd have a cake made and would cut it in half and then one half she'd cut again and gave each elder 1/4 of the cake to each elder and insisted that was their portion. She also made them British Trifle. After each meal, the missionaries would ask my grandfather to play the piano and sing for them. My grandfather was a concert pianist as well as an opera singer. It was a pleasure to tell them that my grandfather's very piano now sits in my front room and that we still play it. Elder Day said to play something one day and he is sure he will be able to hear it. On the food issue my mom, not to be outdone, always made them homemade spaghetti and meatballs.
Elder Day remembered how my mom would have us arrive at church, always dressed up, with lovely gloves and hats, Debi and my hair in curls. I had to mention how I was trained to wear and wash kid gloves by my grandmother...and how when OJ Simpson's kid gloves didn't fit him at the trial, I could yell at the screen as well as to everyone since then when OJ's trial comes up that of course they didn't fit him. They were soaked with blood and he took them off so they shrunk when they dried. I was taught you have to put on kid gloves, wash them while on and dry them while they are still on, smoothing and caressing them til they dried and would still be supple or they would shrink and not fit. A stupid memory to be sure but one that I know is true...that's how I KNOW OJ did it. hahaha
He also remembered that mom always signed MIZPAH when she sent cards and letters. I reminded then of where that verse was found in Genesis and said she used that until she died, and how some friends would call her Mizpah. Of course I then had to relay how I had worked so hard to type of her funeral program but nothing made my printer print it so it could be run off. How I tried it several times, several ways and I am pretty good with technology. How I finally sat back in the chair, "talked" to my mom and asked...what am I forgetting? Then I looked at the screen. It all looked perfect and something urged me to add the Genesis 31:49 scripture written out. When I next hit PRINT it printed out perfectly. And some people don't believe there's a connection to the next life!
Elder Day reminisced about the lovely little chapel, the first in the Cleveland area, at 9509 Lake Avenue, Cleveland, and said if he had a million dollars he would like to buy it. I rehearsed how it had been sold but that Robert and I went there once and knocked on the door and were given permission to take a tour of the building and another time when the kids were visiting and we stopped there and got some pictures. But sadly I had to relay the information that last year it had been torn down, replaced with an apartment building. But I could tell him how Tom Rice went over to the site and snagged me one of the church's bricks/facade stone. It's a wonderful keepsake.
Currently Elder Day is the chorister in his ward and uses the 100+ year old baton that his mom, a soprano, used. Before the priesthood quorums were combined, he taught classes but now the younger adult men do the teaching and he still conducts the music.
Sister Day grew up in Yakima Valley and moved to SLC when in the 3rd grade. Elder Day grew up in a small town in Utah but worked with BSA in Merced but the BSA council office was in Modesto, CA. Every Christmas Elder Day always makes treats for everyone in their ward so they begin in mid-December making and delivering either Jam or cookies every single night.
Sister Day's sister, Carolyn McFarland Ford married a man who sold (and sold me) maternity insurance in Provo and then he went on to law school. They had 9 children and one has Downs. Carolyn has had serious medical conditions with diabetes and an autoimmune disease and marveled that her daughter with Downs would be the one to care for her. Isn't that sweet?!
In September 2015 while standing on the side of a highway, Elder Day was struck by the sideview mirror by a car towing a trailer at 70 mph, and then by the trailer itself. He should have died right then but despite the pain he still suffers in his back and his head he survived (and obviously continues to bless everyone).
We talked about doing family history and I told them how Robert is so into this. Because he comes from pioneer stock basically all his people are done so he's tried to help me with my Polish which is not easy. But he's also helped our blind friend (convert) with her family names and now is working on another friend's line (also a covert) who is dying.
And this next brought us all to tears. Elder Day asked if we would send him a Polish man and a Polish woman's cards and they would do the work in the temple and feel a part of another generation of my family. Again Robert's face crumpled, I could hear the emotion in Elder Day, and of course, I was in tears. So we need to find 2 more names!
Sister Day told me that they were among the first group to be set apart as temple workers in the then-new San Diego Temple and she was set apart by the temple president. He foretold that when she dies multitudes of people will greet them and thank them for the work they have done in the temple. I don't think I have spent enough time thinking about this but what a wonderful moment that will be.
At the end of our it was just Sister Day and me finishing up. She commented about what a wonderful man Robert must be (and he so is) and then commented about being a young girl attending seminary and watching the younger adult men teaching the classes. She said they would be standing there teaching wearing white shirt and ties (just as Robert does each morning as he has started his 5th year teaching seminary in our home) and how she thought to herself, "that's the sort of man I want to marry one day". When she was just dating Elder Day she watched him teach a class wearing, what else, a white shirt and tie, and figured "he's the one." How such a little thing can cement in our lives dreams that can lead us to their fulfillment. Her final comment to me was "What a blessing it is to marry the right person".
And thus it is!
There will be more phone calls and more letters and pictures between Utah and The Ohio. And I still hope we can make it out to Utah one day.