Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Legacy

Helen Shuman Heaton
A few years ago, after my dear grandma Helen passed away, I knew that her life story had to be preserved.  I felt an overwhelming urgency to get it written down.  She led a remarkable life.  She grew up during the Depression in a remote part of Georgia surrounded by her loving siblings and family.  She had countless inspiring experiences that shaped her into the remarkable woman she was.

Over the course of her adult life, she started and stopped several journals.  For the most part, she wrote in spiral notebooks, carefully using up each line and margin.  (Clearly a reflection of her belief that nothing should ever be wasted).  The journals were hard to follow because most of the pages had been torn out and the order was completely mixed up.  Furthermore, her big curly handwriting made it seem at times, like I was reading and transcribing an ancient script.

I poured and scoured over her writings for months.  I studied pictures and faces in every photo.  It was an exhausting yet exhilarating experience to see it all come together.  I am grateful that her posterity can now turn through the pages of her book to catch a glimpse of who she was and the legacy she left behind.

(She has been on my mind.  Fall was her favorite season).

The Passing of Mary May Murdoch "Wee Granny"

 A few weeks ago, Nan sent us a copy of a compilation of stories and life histories of her mother's living family members.  The book is over 600 pages and is filled with stories and experiences that describe where and how the Murdoch relatives have ended up.  It took four years to compile.

One of the stories is about a lady named Mary May Murdoch.  Because of her tiny 4'7" frame, she was also known as "Wee Granny."  She died crossing the plains with the Martin Handcart Company.  Her last words were to be told to her son John who had left months earlier with the Saints.  She said, "Tell John I died with my face towards Zion."  A remarkable story.  Click here for a touching tribute to her. 

For the book, Nan, Dwight, Romney and each of Romney's siblings took the challenge to write their own life story.  It is a treasure to have this written down.  Their stories describe some life changing experiences that have helped shape them into the remarkable people they are.  I am confident that these stories will be read over and over for years to come.


The importance of history has been weighing on my mind.  I have just finished reading the new Relief Society manual called, "Daughters of My Kingdom."  It too, is a collection of stories that describe the history of the Relief Society program.

A lot of emphasis has been placed on this manual from the church leadership.  The General Relief Society Board has stressed that "Relief Society sisters have a glorious heritage and the manual will be an important resource for preserving that heritage." 


So, what is it about a history that is so valuable?

I have come to the conclusion that understanding our history and the legacy will give us the courage to be better.  Learning our history will help to define us.  Learning our history, changes our perspective of our self worth.  I firmly believe that until we recognize where we come from...where we will end up is unsure.

A friend of mine sent me a link to an amazing music video.  Click here to see it.  It is an inspiring song by Hillary Weeks.  (Grab a Kleenex).  It is a tearjerker, but the message is basically that our past experiences and history changes our perspective on life.  It allows us to see things from a different view.  Furthermore, it is clear that if you know where you've come from, it will give you the strength to face the uncertainty of your future.

Our histories shape us.  We all have valuable lessons to be learned from the past.

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