She Was the Mother I’d Never Known

    “She Was the Mother I’d Never Known,” Ensign, Jan. 1977, 24–25

    She Was the Mother I’d Never Known

    My mother died when I was only six, and the longing to know her left an emptiness in my heart, especially during my teen years. I wanted, to know about her activities, her dates, her clothes, if she had ever taught Sunday School (that was my job at the time). So when I was eighteen, I made a book and dedicated it to my own future eighteen-year-old daughters, so that they would know about my life.

    Then, several years after my marriage, my mother’s father gave me a small notebook he’d found. It was a five-month diary of my mother’s, beginning with her high school graduation in 1917. How thrilled I was to read her own thoughts and feelings at last, rather than getting secondhand reports. I found out what her daily activities were: washing and scrubbing and cooking for her family since her own mother had died two years before.

    But she found time for other things: in five months she saw twenty-four movies. I found out about her dates, the excitement of traveling to the old Saltair resort on the shores of the Great Salt Lake, of strolling through Liberty Park on Sunday afternoon, and of faithfully, every week, teaching her Sunday School class.

    Then, in the fall of 1975, a cousin brought from California a photo album that had belonged to my mother’s sister, containing several dozen photos of my mother. My heart’s desire was fulfilled. She was always smiling—sparkling. And her clothes! Velveteen skirts, beribboned blouses, large-brimmed hats loaded with flowers.

    Seeing these pictures and rereading the words she wrote, I feel very close to my mother. When I meet her again, she won’t be a stranger.

    Illustrated by Glen Edwards