Saturday, April 28, 2012

In Tribute to Patsy Hewlett Goates

Merilee and Patsy Goates
This week I've been living with two of my favorite women under one roof - my wife and our youngest daughter, Merilee. I realize in this circumstance three's a crowd, and I gladly accept my fate as a husband and father. They've been having way too much fun together, and I'm not about to spoil that by demanding equal time from either one.

We've been doing a lot of celebrating around here lately. Our 40th grandchild, Emma Lynn Goates, was blessed and received a father's blessing from her father, Andrew, last Sunday. She completes another circle of four generations of women in our family! We gathered in sacrament meeting where she was blessed and for a brunch following that coincided with Emma Lynn's mother's graduation from BYU. Congratulations Jessica!

Jessica, Peggy, Emma Lynn, Patsy
En route to the meeting, Merillee and BBF Kate got lost in Orem trying to find the building. After several attempts and text messages and conversations on cell phones trying to guide her to the meeting, they gave up and parked the car awaiting a rescue when the meeting was over. Her final text was classic, and provided an object lesson that will serve her well in the mission field: "We're tired of wandering around in circles, and we're lost. Will you PLEASE just come and find us and rescue us and show us the way back to Andrew's home when the meeting is over?"

Jessica, Emma Lynn, Andrew
The reason the object lesson is so profound is that Merilee will depart next week as the eighth missionary from our family for the Missionary Training Center in Provo, prior to her departure to the Washington D.C. South Mission, headquartered in Virginia. I reminded Merilee to treasure up in her heart the feelings she had as a lost soul, because it will help her identify with so many potential converts she will encounter on her mission.

It's all about perspective, and no one understood "perspective" better than Joseph Smith, unless it was the Savior Himself. Incarcerated against his will and falsely accused, Joseph Smith languished through the bitter cold winter months of 1838-39 in his dungeon temple - a Missouri hell hole ironically named Liberty Jail.

Liberty Jail
From his pen flowed these incredible words that follow, later canonized as scripture. These words illustrate the lofty revelatory heights to which an itinerant unlearned plow boy had risen in a few short years. One cannot read these words today and fail to be impressed with the prophetic insight Joseph possessed. The false claims and outrageous bigotry still raging today against him and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will someday have its end, but for the moment we can stand in awe of his prophetic tone:

And all that are in the magazines, and in the encyclopedias, and all the libelous histories that are published, and are writing, and by whom, and present the whole concatenation of diabolical rascality and nefarious and murderous impositions that have been practised upon this people 

That we may not only publish to all the world, but present them to the heads of government in all their dark and hellish hue, as the last effort which is enjoined on us by our Heavenly Father, before we can fully and completely claim that promise which shall call him forth from his hiding place; and also that the whole nation may be left without excuse before he can send forth the power of his mighty arm.

It is an imperative duty that we owe to God, to angels, with whom we shall be brought to stand, and also to ourselves, to our wives and children, who have been made to bow down with grief, sorrow, and care, under the most damning hand of murder, tyranny, and oppression, supported and urged on and upheld by the influence of that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity.

It is an iron yoke, it is a strong band; they are the very handcuffs, and chains, and shackles, and fetters of hell.

Therefore it is an imperative duty that we owe, not only to our own wives and children, but to the widows and fatherless, whose husbands and fathers have been murdered under its iron hand;

Which dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder, and to stand aghast and pale, and the hands of the very devil to tremble and palsy.

And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart —

For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it —

Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven —

These should then be attended to with great earnestness.

Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things.

You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.

Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed. (D&C 123:5-17, emphasis mine).

Despite the opposition, we are still in a season of gathering, and it is a prolonged season because of the patience of God. We are gathering the gatherers still, searching for the predominant blood of the sons of Israel flowing in the veins of the descendants of Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. It is "believing blood." They are the good people of the earth who are searching to be reclaimed from their fallen and lost condition and to be brought into the light of the fullness of the restored gospel. They are lost and we know the way. They want it, but they simply do not yet know where to find it.

Merilee and all those 56,000 missionaries like her scattered throughout the earth today, will lead them one by one into the light, point the way to happiness now and everlasting joy eternally. She will lead them into the light and when they meet her they will find the missing piece in their lives explaining their mortal condition in simple and cogent terms even a child can understand. She will help lead them home to the stakes of Zion where safety and hope abide in the midst of a chaotic world gone mad. Oh, did I mention she's going to the belly of THAT beast in Washington D. C.? I love that part. . .

The other significant event this week was Patsy's birthday. I titled this post as a tribute to her. I am so grateful for this magnificent woman. As we sat at dinner with her mother the other night, I commented that the best thing her mother did in this life was giving birth to this choice daughter whom I married for time and for all eternity on a December morning many moons ago. She has welcomed thirteen choice and extraordinary children - one at a time. For twenty years she was bearing children. We once calculated the number of months (including miscarriages) she had been pregnant. It was a large number we have both blissfully forgotten as we entered grand-parenthood.

Together we have coached an All-Star team of superstars. We have walked together through sunshine and shadows. Each child is a unique creation, so similar in their extraordinary spiritual gifts, but so divergent in personality, temperament and talents. When asked which we love best, the simplest answer is whoever we're with at the moment.

We used to think we loved them so much when we were all together as a nuclear family, but as we now bid farewell to our youngest and we have witnessed the addition of spouses who outshine even our children, and they have in turn welcomed 40 grandchildren into the mix, we cannot say more than "our cup truly runneth over."

As a husband and father, it is Patsy to whom I owe everything in the joy and realization of all these supernal blessings. I've always said she did the heavy lifting on the homefront, and I did the easy part - I got to go off to work every day. Giving herself as she has through all these years to me, her children and now her grandchildren is what she has excelled at.

When we were younger and having our family, we were often reminded about how wicked the world was, and we were questioned routinely about whether bringing so many children into such a wicked world was well-advised. Now that they are grown, we can refer our critics to each of our children and have them ask, "Are you happy to be in such a wicked world, or would you have been better off never being born?"

I'm hoping they would all answer that mortal life has been considered a gift, having a physical body enshrouding their eternal spirit is a blessing, and the prospects of eternal life despite all the opposition is worth it all. Only as we bring children into this world and become parents ourselves do we begin to grasp the significance of the great plan of happiness. As a grandfather in my advancing years, I am only now beginning to understand the full implications of the word, "FATHER."

There's a magnet on our refrigerator door in the kitchen, bearing words from an unknown author:

"Yesterday is History,
Tomorrow a Mystery,
Today is a Gift,
That's why it's called the Present."

Every day for the next eighteen months, Sister Merilee Goates will give a gift of inestimable worth to the lost souls she encounters - she will give a present of herself as she has never given before.

Every day of her life, my beloved companion Patsy has given me a present of inestimable worth - the gift of herself. She has demonstrated that in the giving - only in the giving - is the getting.

So today, I pay homage to the two women under my roof, and in the case of the younger we wish her well as she embarks on her latest adventure.

To the older, I owe everything. Thank you Patsy.

1 comment:

  1. Dave, I've been reading and enjoying every line of your posts! This one made me cry right here in the middle of the office; thanks a lot:) I look to examples like these of truly extraordinary families to continually motivate me to seek excellence in my life and in those with whom I surround myself. Congrats to your dear wife and you for enduring well.

    I have misplaced your email address that I was going to message to find out when you'll be teaching at LDSBC. Can you send that to me if you have any details?