KARA: "I know you’ve gone through some trials in your life. Talk about those if you can, and tell us what has been the most difficult of those trials – what has helped you to overcome those trials? And, how have they changed you?"
WENDY: "I have gone through my share of many trials just like every one else in life and over the years when I have been going through them and I'm about to feel sorry for myself, I look around me and find that there are people who are far worse than myself and then I don't feel so bad, it could be worse.
In one of the paragraphs of my Patriarchal Blessing (a blessing we can receive for ourselves in our church by one who has proper authority)says, "Problems and difficulties will confront you throughout your life, but be mindful that your Father in Heaven stands constantly ready to sustain and strengthen you." Wow! That is so true! I have been through a lot, but the Lord has been there too for me. He has been the one who has carried me though them and given me the strength to conquer them!
The earliest trial I remember is when I was 6yrs old, living in Van Nuys, California. My sister who was 8yrs old and myself were walking down the street and around the corner to a corner store to buy treats and on the way home we were approached by a Hispanic man who was a hunch back and spoke no English with handfuls of money he wanted to show us. We were intrigued and as we got close enough to hold it in our hands ourselves he grabbed us both and dragged us up some stairs to his apartment. I remember trying so hard to get out of his grip, but it was too tight. Once we were inside we sat on his couch and he offered a sprite and we turned him down, we noticed he had several locks on his door and he had locked all of them.
My sister, wise for her age said, "We are going to call the police!" He understood the word POLICE and went to his door and unlocked a few locks to make us think he was going to let us go, but that was not so. We tried several attempts to run to the door, but each time he stood in front of the door to block us. He then gave one of us a pair of binoculars to look out the window while he molested the other and vice versa. I don't know how long all this took place, but it seemed like hours to me. We again were sitting on the couch and my sister whispered to me, " This time we are going to run to the door and not stop!" We ran and of course he jumped in front of us and my sister kicked him right in the balls, he fell to the floor (that must have been a really hard kick from an 8yr.old) and we were able to run out the door and run home. I later found out that he was an illegal immigrant and was just sent back to Mexico and probably came back and did it again to who knows how many more children.
Then when I was 16yrs old I was again molested by my bus driver who was my bus driver thought grade school and Jr. High. I don't want to go into detail about that, but I had to go to court and testify against him. From what I understand I think he only served 3 months in jail and over the years I have found out that he molested several girls that I knew. Several years after I was married my dad called me to tell me that the bus driver had died, my comment to my father was, "Good, I hope he burns in hell!" My dad then said, "Well there is such thing as repentance". Well, in my opinion if he repented, then he should have gone to every one of those girls he hurt and asked for their forgiveness for what he had done to them, that is repentance.
What I learned from this? Well, for a while I hated men and did not trust them and through my loving husband I realized that not all men are bad, there are good guys out there. Also, I DID NOT DO ANYTHING WRONG AND IT WAS NOT MY FAULT. Once I was able to sort though these things, I put them on a shelf and left them there. I have not let this control my life!
Next trial (and this has been my hardest) July 7th 1981
At the age of 14 I lost my mother tragically in a car accident. We were coming home from a vacation in California and had been driving all night and we had stopped for doughnuts and milk and gas in St. George, Utah. (My last happy memory of my mom is running with her to the bathroom at the gas station and seeing who could go to the bathroom the fastest and then back out). When we were done there we all piled into our custom big van and my mom was driving, we got about 15 miles out from Cedar City when the accident happened. Either a tire blew or I think she fell asleep no one knows for sure, but the next thing I know we were going off the road and I heard my mom calling out for my dad. He was back sleeping on the bed in the back with my brother Chris and tried to get up,but tripped over me who was sleeping on the floor and could not make it to her, it was too late. (For years I blamed my self for that, thinking, if only I wasn't there on the floor then dad could have gotten to her) We went off the road and hit the median, flipping several times and I remember at one point opening my eyes and seeing myself hitting the inside of the van as it rolled, we then landed on the opposite side on the south bound high way.
I remember my sister and I were okay and not thrown from the van and I was able to climb out of one of the windows in a complete daze and it took me a while to figure out what had just happened(I was in shock) I saw people running everywhere to help. I walked around and found my brother Chris (age 9) on the road hurt and crying, but there were people helping him so I walked around and found my brother Todd (age 7) on the road hurt and crying and at one point he looked up at the sky crying and said,"Oh, Heavenly Father please help me" I will never forget that. I left him there for he was being helped also, I then found my dad(age 41) surrounded by many people and he was bleeding from his nose, mouth and ears and flinging his arms at everyone screaming in pain, I was so shocked at how he looked I had to turn away.
I then proceeded to look for my mother(age 37) and I found her some distance away on the side of the high way face down with her head in a pool of blood. I sat by her and talked to her trying to wake her thinking she was alive, but she was gone. I could not understand and I remember being angry because no one was helping my mom and they were helping everyone else. I stayed by her, I did not want to leave her alone and kept trying to wake her thinking she was alive. A police officer came and took me away and put me in his car and told me to sing primary songs. He then walked right by my mom and I got angry again, why did he not help my mom? I got out of the car and sat by my mom again and cried. He then took me again and put me in his car and walked by my mom. I then got out and found my sister Tina(age 17) who was wondering around like me in shock and as we stood together we saw the police officer cover our mother with a blanket. We both looked at each other and said, "Mom is dead". The reality was sinking in.
I won't go into any more detail for it will be too long, but my brothers and my dad were life flighted to a Provo hospital and were in the hospital for a while and were not able to attend the funeral of my mother.
My grandparents, bless them forever were there for Tina and I and they helped us plan our mothers funeral. I remember our grandma going with us to the funeral home and helping us decide all the details of the funeral and in the end she let us make the final decision on things.
There are many other details in between all of this that I can go into, but I can't for it is so personal and even sacred to me. Basically my sister and I buried our mom on July 11th 1981 and it was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life! As I have had kids of my own I begin to miss her even more because she would have been a wonderful grandmother!!
What I've learned from this? Life is short and we will never know when we will be taken from this life. This trial made me who I am today and it made my testimony grow of our Fathers great plan for us here in mortality. It has made me a fighter and has made me more determined than ever to live my life the best I can so I will be able to see my mom again. I know I will see her again and I have envisioned our reunion so many times in my head, I can't wait to hold her again and tell her I love her! I know that she is aware of all her children here for I have felt her in my life and have had a couple of special sacred experiences with her that I know are real and I will not deny them.
Next and latest tria
I was in my annual woman's check up and my doctor said, "Now Wendy, you will be turning 40 in a couple of months so you need to go get a mammogram". He had been bugging me since I was 35 because he had said that he has been seeing more ladies younger and younger getting breast cancer and so he was encouraging all his patients at the age of 35. I had managed to ignore him for five years and this time I listened to his council and went in. I always heard all the horror stories of how terrible mammograms are and when I went in and had mine I thought it was no big deal, it was not bad at all!!
After I got the screening done I got a phone call the next day saying that they wanted me to come in for they had found something suspicious on the film. My husband went with me and they showed us the films and why they were concerned. They encouraged me to get a biopsy, so on Halloween of 2006 I went in for my wonderful biopsy. Now the best way to get through trails is you have to have a sense of humor and take it as it comes or you will drive yourself nuts! I walked in and told the nurse and doctor that I had searched and searched for a costume for that day, but I just had no luck finding a boob costume! That broke the ice for every one being so serious.
I then went home and waited for the news and it came November 2nd 2006 as my kids were walking in the door from school and just two days before my sons birthday that it was CANCER.
How do you stay happy and positive and try to throw a party for your son with that kind of news? We were honest and up front with our children with this news and did not hold anything back.
I then went in again for a chest MRI and that was so much fun! You lay on the table face down with your boobs placed in two holes with your arms stretched out straight in front of you and put into a tube for I don't know how long. You have head phones on to block out the noise and you can hear the lady speak to you in them. The lady rolled me in the tube and asked if I could hear her and I said, "YES!" Then I told her that I felt like a topless Wonderwoman flying in the tube! She began to laugh. That got me through that humiliating experience.
I then went in for another biopsy which was so fun too. All in all we had caught the cancer early enough that it was just a stage one and they went in and did a partial mastectomy on my left breast and then they found some precancerous cells on the right breast so they did surgery on that one too. My friend and her husband named my boobs for me and we took this whole experience with humor! They are called Rocky Righty and Lumpy Lefty.
Because we caught it early I did not need chemo, but just 6 weeks of radiation which was a whole other fun experience.
When I went in to do prep for my radiation the radiation tech called me back and looked at my chart and said, " Now you're here for your prostate, right?" I stood there looking at him and laughed saying, " I don't have a prostate!" He then said, "Good I was just making sure that you had a sense of humor." I had to strip down naked from the waist up laying on a table and two men come in with markers and began writing all over my chest and taking pictures, talk about awkward! I asked them if they were playing connect the dots?
The whole experience was hard, but not as hard as I thought it would be. I then found out that my cousin Kara was now starting to go through the same thing and my experience was a walk in the park compared to her experience. She ended up having both breasts removed and has been going through reconstructive surgeries.
Sometimes I forget that I have had cancer and when people come up all concerned and ask how I'm doing it takes me a minute to figure out why they are asking. Oh, yea I had cancer! Really it has been a much easier trial for me than I thought it would be.
What have I learned through all my trials? That you're not alone in them. That we have an older brother Jesus Christ who already had carried that cross for us and he bore the pains for us and that through Him we can accomplish anything!
Trials have made me strong and I have learned so much about myself through them, I even have thanked my Heavenly Father many times for the trials that he has given me. Some make think that that is strange to thank Him, but I have learned so much and learned to appreciate who I've become and I have to thank Him for molding me into this, I guess... Incredible Woman."
Just a thought:
Adversity is not a punishment, but rather a blessing,
for it is through adversity that we become strong!
KARA: "What inspires you?"
Inspire- To stimulate to think and to act, to influence
"What inspires me? My knowledge of who I am, a daughter of God. To know that I will some day stand before him and give him an account of my life and be accountable for my actions inspires me to try a little bit harder and and do a little bit better in my life, I just don't want to disappoint Him.
My mother inspires me!
Even though I only had her in my life a short time she has inspired me to be the best mother I could be! Life is short and we never know when we will be taken from this life and the lives of our loved ones and so we need to make the best of it! My mom was so beautiful to me and was a great example to me of how a mom should be. I know she loved me through her words and actions and I know she still loves me, I have no regrets with my relationship with my mother.
The only thing I do regret is that she did not leave behind a journal. The only thing that I have is a few handwritten recipes. I would give anything to have a journal with my moms handwriting and her thoughts and concerns. Because of this I have been inspired to leave my children part of myself through my journals. I don't want my children to have the heartache of having nothing to hold in their hands and not being able to read my innermost feelings in my heart and my feelings of them.
I want to leave my children happy memories and stories to tell and the ability to share that love for generations to come! Thanks mom, I love you!
KARA: It's often very hard for us to share some of the experiences we've had with others. I'm glad Wendy was willing to share her trials with us. I learned so much just reading through those trials. Thanks so much, Wendy. Tomorrow the interview continues with questions 7 and 8 - Wendy will tell us her Top 10 Favorites, and about some of the important relationships in her life. Please come back.