KARA: "Describe yourself."
LAUREL: "Kara, I am 75 years old, mother of 3 and step-mother of 2, grandmother of 22 (including two deceased children), and great grandmother of 27 with another one being born today and one due in June. I am including my husband's daughter's children and grandchildren as my own because in truth that is how I feel about them and they about me.
I am an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and have been since 1961. It is one of my joys and has been responsible for much happiness in my life!
For a number of years I have been doing digital scrapbooking and that is one of my favorite things to do. I enjoy reading, sharing time with my family, anything to do with computers, cooking, exploring new recipes, sewing, walking, traveling, photography, baseball, genealogy, barbecues and picnics, a good play, and lots of other things. My husband and I were very involved with an air group for many years and that was a lot of enjoyment. Now that he is not physically able to do the things we did with the air group we are no longer involved but still love flying and airplanes."
KARA: "What makes you an incredible woman?"
LAUREL: "This question totally baffles me because I can't think of one thing that makes me any more incredible than any other woman! I can think of so many woman who better fit that description."
Laurel was nominated by her daughter, who thinks she definitely deserves the title of Incredible Woman!
KARA: "Describe each member of your family."
I married a wonderful man, Fred, almost 35 years ago. We had both been married before. Fred's wife of almost 30 years died in 1973 and I met him not long after that. I knew the first time I saw him that someday we would be married. I saw him in the chapel of our church and asked someone who he was. They told me his name and that his wife had died recently. I remember saying to myself that someday he would want to marry again and I hoped he would look my way. Then I spent the next two years avoiding him for fear he would see how I felt. Sure enough the time came that he thought about getting married again and he did look my way and asked me for a date. I said no the first time but when he asked again I accepted and the rest is history. We were married in the Los Angeles Temple in 1975. Fred is 14 years older than I am. He will be 90 in May and most people are shocked that he is that old even with his handicap. He is an interesting man and has lived an interesting life and as a result is a great story teller. He played minor league baseball until he was drafted a year before the second world war started. Pearl Harbor was attacked just before his year was up and as a result he spent the next 4 years in the military. Fred was a drill instructor for part of the war, then he served in England on B17's. That pretty much ended his baseball career and when he was discharged he went to work for the LAPD. After he retired from the Police Department he moved to a mountain community and became the Fire Chief. All of that was before I met him. It has been a warm and wonderful life with Fred.
I have three children, Joseph, Pamela, and Susanne by my first husband. My son, Joe, married Lynn and they have six living children, Jennifer, Kathryn, Joseph, Daniel, David, and Rebecca. Their son, James sadly died shortly after birth. Joe & Lynn have 7 grandchildren. Pam married Scott and they have five children, Scott, Amanda, Paige, Coralie, and Haeli, and they have 9 grandchildren. Susie married Rick and they have 7 children, Heidi, Michelle, Jeanie, Sam, Anthony and the twins, Jeff and Ben. They have 7 grandchildren and another one is due in June. In addition, Fred's two daughter are Christy and Cindy. Christy has two living children, Jon and Amber. Christy's son, Andrew was hit by a car when he was 7 and died shortly after. Christy also has 4 grandchildren and another one being born as I write this. (Addendum: Amelia Rose was born 45 minutes ago!) Our grandchildren and great grandchildren have blessed our lives more than I can ever express, each one delightful and special!
There are so many things about my children and grandchildren that make me very happy. Among those things are the kind of people they are, valiant and good and loving. All of them that are married were married in an LDS Temple. They are all raising good families in the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Many have served missions both in the United States as well as abroad. They have all served in the Church in many different positions and done exceptional jobs wherever they are called to serve. My son served his mission in Alaska/British Columbia. Grandson's have served missions in Zimbabwe, Africa, Mexico, & Finland and a granddaughter served her mission in Russia. The others have served all over the United States. Another granddaughter spent a summer volunteering in an orphanage in Ecuador. There are so many other things they have done that I can't even begin to thank Heavenly Father for the blessings of family!
Joe is an Engineer and works as a Project Manager for an electronic firm in Salt Lake City. He and his wife are docents at the Church History Museum. He has taught Institute classes and served on the High Counsel and has had many other ward and stake callings. He is an exceptional teacher. He deeply loves to teach gospel subjects.
Pamela has taught seminary for the past 5 years and is loved by all her students. She has served as RS Society President, Primary President and Young Women President as well as many other positions. When Susie's son, Anthony needed another kidney after his first transplant failed, Pam spent her 50th birthday in the hospital having one of her kidneys taken out and given to Anthony. Pam is really an incredible woman and is a wonderful example of a friend to everyone.
Susie, my youngest daughter, is an exceptional woman also. She has served in so many Church callings and is currently the YW President in her Ward. She has home taught many of her children. Her oldest daughter, who benefited from many years of being home taught, now has a master's degree and teaches college English in addition to raising a wonderful family. She is currently expecting her third child. All of her children are either college graduates or are in college or headed there when they get out of high school. She and her husband really value education and seriously encourage their children in this area. When Susie and Rick's son, Anthony, needed a kidney after spending several years of his young childhood on dialysis, Susie gave him one of her kidneys on her 40th birthday when he was eight years old. Susie is a talented woman, plays the piano, writes poetry, substitute teaches at the local school, and is a wonderful mother and wife.
I could go on and on about each one of my grandchildren and great grandchildren but I don't think you want a book, right?"
KARA: "What is one thing you have learned from each one of them?"
LAUREL: "Oh, my gosh! There are so many things I have learned from each of them! One thing, right? Ok, I will try to limit it to just one thing.
When Joe was little, about five years old, my marriage had broken up, and we were driving in our old car in Eureka, California, where we lived at the time. Joe was in the front seat with me and Pam who was a year-and-a-half, was asleep in the back seat. I was pregnant with Susie. There was a terrible storm raging outside and I could barely see through the windshield. My mind was filled with a storm just as wild as the storm outside. I had no money, nobody to turn to for help, and couldn't work because the telephone company had a rule that you couldn't work after six months pregnant. I was desperate! All of a sudden, out of the darkness, Joey said, "It just doesn't seem fair." I said, "What do you mean, Joey?" He answered, "Why are some people so rich and others so poor?" I was horrified to think I had filled his mind with fear. Then he looked up at me and said the words that have helped me through all the difficult years that followed. "Why are we so rich when so many other people are so poor?" Well, I started crying so hard that I had to pull the car over to the side of the road and I just hugged him and vowed that I would never forget that it isn't how much you have that makes you rich! I vowed to always make sure my children felt rich no matter what. I know I didn't always reach that goal but it sure made me aware of just how rich I was, no matter our financial situation or how many worldly goods we had! Thank you for that gift, Joe!
Pam has been a great influence on me in-as-much as she has shown me the inner workings of family life. She and her husband live closest to me, about 30 miles away so I have more time with her and her family. Not having been raised in a family situation, I really did not know how families functioned. As I watch her with her husband and children and now with her grandchildren, I learn more every day about family life, healthy family life. My other children have also been teachers for me in this area but as I said I am closer geographically to Pam's family so I witness much more up close and personal and see some of the inner workings of how they deal with problems, how they show love to one another, how they support each other, how they teach correct principles to their children, how they balance the various responsibilities they each have, their faith and dedication to the Gospel. Pam has a gift socially, has many friends that have remained close no matter how far away they may move. Because of her example I have learned to extend myself to others more often.
One of the things I have learned from Susie is how fiercely dedicated she is to her family, and how brave she is. She is fearless when it comes to standing up for what she believes. Just a small but typical example of how she faces trouble when it comes is from her teen years. She was on a date with a young man and they were just leaving the San Diego County fair when they witnessed a young man hitting a young woman in the parking lot. The boy she was with didn't want to get involved but Susie didn't even hesitate, simply plowed into him and made it pretty plain that the violence was going to stop right then! When I think of how she could have been hurt or even killed by this bully is scares me to death but it is so typical of Susie to just take whatever action she thinks is necessary when something needs to be done. She has also taught me that no matter what kind of blow life gives you, you can still be happy and productive and grow from it. Her life was changed forever when she was sixteen and started having grand mall seizure. Medicine didn't help, only made additional problems for her for many years but she did not let that stop her from living her life. Later her fifth child was born with a birth defect that ultimately caused him to lose both kidneys and yet through all the appallingly tough years of helping Anthony not only to stay alive but to live a full and rich life she has never faltered in her dedication to him and to all of her other children. I might mention that even though Anthony does not have any kidneys right now because both of his transplants failed after a few years and he lives on dialysis, as he has so much of his life, he is still serving a mission for the Church in a trial program the Church is developing for those people who have handicaps or are homebound and yet still want to serve a mission. What a remarkable Church we have!"
Since Laurel mentioned several things about the church she belongs to, I thought thought I'd give you a link where you can read about it, and have any questions answered - for those of you who are unfamiliar with the LDS church. Here ya go...
(click on the picture of Christ)
You can also visit Mormon.org if you'd like to.
Please return tomorrow - I'll be posting 2 more questions and answers from my interview with Laurel. She is a wonderful lady, and I hope you'll take the chance each day this week to get to know her better!