Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Memoir from Me

It's Christmas Eve and I got all the presents wrapped around 10:00 pm.  I really thought I would be up until midnight, but these last few years I've been able to get everything done at an agreeable time.

Today was a beautiful clear day and I attended a funeral up at one of the older Grandview chapels.  I had never been in this particular chapel before, and I was impressed by the beautiful woodwork and large windows. Since the funeral or memoriam was around 11:00 am the sun light was shining through and there were no electrical lights that needed to be used. It almost felt like we were in a church some where in Europe with beautiful flower arrangements everywhere.  Emily Harrison was buried yesterday and her family had a service for her today.  I cried during almost all of the talks because this wonderful woman has touched so many lives.

Sister Harrison was my Relief Society President when I had just moved to Provo, Utah as a new bride. My first calling in the ward was taking a cassette tape of the Sunday RS lesson around to all the elderly women in the ward who couldn't get out of their homes very often.  One of the women was Sister Harrison's mother in-law.  I grew to love my calling because these women became my first friends in a place where I had no family.

I knew Emily grew up in Finland because she had such a beautiful accent and loved to talk about her homeland.  I didn't know that she started going to the Mormon church at the age of sixteen.  Her parents wouldn't let her get baptized so when she turned eighteen she secretly got baptized on Christmas Eve. Her parents found a picture of her baptism inside her bible. When Emily got home from school the day they found the picture all of her belongings were packed in suitcases and put outside in front of her home.  Fortunately her grandmother took her in and when her aunt won the lottery in Finland she gave some of the money to Emily so she could travel to Provo, Utah and attend BYU.

Maybe that's why Vuokko Emily Harrison was filled with so much love and compassion.  She had lost everything at a young age but came to Utah and married a returned missionary who had served in Finland while Emily was attending BYU. Emily and Harlan had nine children and I am so grateful to have been able to have associated with the Harrison family for the first six years of my life in Provo.  I felt so much love from the Harrison's that I wanted to be like them.

Today one of the speakers said that Emily told her once that a good marriage isn't from compromising but having the gift of giving.  Someone in the marriage has to give and give and give.

Underneath Emily's picture on today's program it read: Christmas Eve in Finland, families go to the cemetery and place candles on the graves of loved ones to light the dark Finnish winter night.  Emily has done the same with her children for 46 years.  Tonight they placed their first candle on her grave.