This morning as I was walking, I was thinking deeply about friends who hurt. Sometimes we all go through things that are so incredibly difficult, that it is hard to see how you can ever get past it or over it. And yet, we do. And it does. Sometimes not for a long time, however. As I sat watching over youtube, the funeral for a dear childhood friend, who had lost his life to suicide last week, I was struck at how brutiful life can be at times. I wondered why he did it, when he was clearly so well-loved and adored by everyone around him. And as I kept walking, thoughts of my great grandfather came to mind. . .
My great grandfather Alma went through adulthood and parenthood during the great depression. My grandpa was just a little boy when the dust bowl hit. There was scarcity everywhere. They lived in the wild west of New Mexico, and it was not uncommon for wild Indians to steal their animals that they were raising for food. My grandfather would often walk into the garden and pick whatever was available to eat, or walk down to the reservoir to fish for dinner.
My great grandfather prided himself on providing for his family, but during this time there was almost no work to be had, and the family was suffering. Feeling particularly worthless one day, He decided to take his own life. Fortunately, my great grandmother was there to catch him and stop him before he could complete the act. . .
He was so angry with my great-grandmother, but decided to go get mental health treatment, which took a considerable amount of time. But when he came back, his wife no longer wanted him and was ready to move on in life without him.
Without a home or a family, and still feeling responsible for his children, Alma found various jobs until he was back on his feet again. By this time my great grandmother had decided to move her family to Utah to have access to better education for her children, something which has blessed my family’s life for generations.
But Alma was still alone, so, he decided to dedicate two years of his life to becoming a missionary for his church. He was sent to South America, learned Spanish, all at a time when most men are starting to think about retirement. On his way home, his mission president sent his stake president a glowing letter of recommendation, remarking on how blessed the mission had been to have him, and what a blessing he was to the younger missionaries in his area.
One of the greatest family treasures my family possesses is his mission journal, which is filled with notes from his journey, scriptures he had painstakingly cross-referenced without the aid of computers, and a brief study of the main religions of the time and how they could be compared and contrasted.
When my great grandfather Alma Hawkins came back from his mission, he started his life over and found a beautiful woman to marry, named Emma, found a new home, a new job, and moved forward to the end of his days.
I am so grateful to my great-grandmother Cora, for having the courage to rescue a life that was definitely worth saving. The hundreds and thousands of people who have been impacted by that one choice alone must surely be full of gratitude, that one woman was willing to risk her life to save another.
As a single parent, life can be excruciating at times, but when I look back on the life of my great grandfather Alma, I am filled with hope that even the darkest days will not last forever.
If you are deep in the pit of despair, please do not give up. Better days are coming and the best miracles come when you decide to stay. You are loved and you are wanted and you are needed. Much love, dear friends!