Memorial / Obituary / Personal History
Contributor: BarbaraLeishman Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE
One hundred years from now it will not matter what kind of house we lived in or what kind of car we drive. Nor will it matter how much money was in our bank accounts...But it will matter that you and I have made a difference in the life of a child.
I want you to know that MarDene Sparrow has made an enormous difference in my life. I am so grateful for her love and example to me. She has been a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, an aunt, a friend, a business manager, a nurse, a confidante, a counselor, a teacher and leader unsurpassed.
Walk with me back in time to the farm at the mouth of Mink Creek. It is a very VERY windy Spring day. So windy that Grandpa’s hayrack has been tipped over and his machine shed has been blown two feet closer to the river. Grandma has been very ill with albumin poisoning and has been bedfast for several months to protect her life and the life of her unborn child.
Now labor has begun. Doctor States has told Grandpa to fear the worst in regards to his wife. The doctor figured that he could save the life of the baby, but the mother was another story. From the borrowed phone at the Bosen’s Grandpa calls for the doctor only to learn that the good doctor is out of town. “This is a hell of a mess,” he tells his neighbor. So Aunt Nancy Rasmussen was called. She was a midwife and she took over and saved both the mother and little MarDene. This event was always considered a very special blessing and the answer to many many prayers. PRAY BECAME AUNT MARDY’S FIRST MOTTO.
Grandpa and Grandma Hansen have worked so hard to make a living and to make a loving responsible home. In 1931 the United States economy was experiencing the Great Depression. Grandma and Grandpa were buying their farm and now had six children. Everyone was poor, but in the Hansen home there was always an abundance of love. Goodly parents they are.
Their youngest is adorable and an absolute joy to the whole family. Together with two brothers and three sisters Aunt Mardy ran and roamed and played, prayed and worked and learned. I see her highchair between her oldest sister and her mother and the other family members gathered around the big round kitchen table. I see Aunt Mardy’s crib and my mother teaching her “little sis” to say her prayers before tucking her in bed. Her sisters carried her around while doing their chores and listened and listened to endless stories. Aunt Mardy is loved by her brothers and sisters. Together they learn to do a job perfectly and at a regular time each day. WORK BECAME AUNT MARDY’S SECOND MOTTO.
Big John is her playmate. He insists on doing boy things. Aunt Mardy becomes quite a Tomboy. They kill magpies for half a penny a head, and keep the heads in a sack. Uncle Hugh also has a sack of rabbit ears to sell for the bounty. They ride old Queen bareback all over looking for magpie nests. When Big John started school Aunt Mardy hid his clothes, especially his cap. She hid the little chair he had to stand on to comb his hair and wash his face. When these tricks didn’t work she cried. And that trick didn’t work either. She would have done anything to keep him home with her.
I see the Mink Creek school house with books containing Aesop’s fables and fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson. Aunt Mardy thought her Daddy made those wonderful stories up. She was so surprised to find them in real books. I see the softball and volleyball games, the jump rope, jacks and hopscotch at recess. Remember those strict teachers who made us learn? There are jam sandwiches wrapped in newspaper and milk to drink. Aunt Mardy loved the rice pudding when prepared school lunches were served there. ALWAYS KEEP LEARNING BECAME AUNT MARDY’S THIRD MOTTO.
Oh, the holiday operettas were so wonderful. She wore stage makeup, costumes, and the works. Grandma Hansen recycled and sewed everything Mardy wore. She was always proud to say, “My mother made it!” And in the summer remember the rodeo? Grandpa Hansen loved rodeo and always took his family to Preston for the special occasion. The Ferris wheel and the merry-go-round were special treats, too.
I see old black and white photographs of golden haired bathing beauties sitting outside posed on the piano stool like cover girls, in what was at the time, the latest of bikinis. And I want to know who the photographer was, and how Grandma ever let her girls do such an outrageous thing. Grandma Hansen was a very proper lady, but she was also very fun loving. Aunt Mardy inherited her mother’s fun loving nature to the max. MAKE IT FUN WAS AUNT MARDY’S FOURTH MOTTO, and she did.
I see a family watching for letters in the mailbox, listening to the news on the radio, and following the fighting of World War II on a big map hung on the kitchen wall. Brother-in-laws and Uncle Hugh were very far from home and in danger. Family prayer every morning never ended without tears and moist eyes as the Hansens prayed with all their hearts for the safety of their boys. Now Grandpa and Uncle John have the big job of running the farm with horse drawn equipment. Aunt Mardy helped in any way she could. She tromped hay and did other odd jobs. Grandpa didn’t like using his girls in the fields, but Mardy liked it. HAVE FAITH WAS AUNT MARDY’S FIFTH MOTTO.
I see Grandpa and Grandma’s front room in Preston with the big front window. Beside the window in the rocking chair is a beautiful mother tenderly nursing her new baby. She saw me come in and smiled and told me to come see her newest treasure. She said the baby’s name was Elizabeth but we would call her Bethie.
Dena, Janiel, Bill, Marv, Vivian, and Beth are Aunt Mardy’s greatest treasures. She enjoyed them so much. She is a wonderful example of motherhood and being a grandparent is just that, GRAND. Her grandchildren and her great grandchildren are her precious jewels. They are the most beautiful, the most talented, the most clever, the most wonderful and amazing grandchildren in the world. Oh, did I leave out the smartest, too? I did. Her grandchildren are the smartest, too. I know because she told me so! I think Aunt Mardy loved to love. LOVE TO LOVE IS HER SIXTH MOTTO.
I see a little red bicycle that came to my house one day. It belonged to the Sparrow cousins. I really wanted to learn to ride a bike and Aunt Mardy knew it. She’d brought it for me to practice on, and she told me to not give up, and to tell myself, “I can and I will,” and I’d be able to learn how. She was right. I CAN AND I WILL BECAME AUNT MARDY’S SEVENTH MOTTO.
I see the guy at the gas station and the mechanic at the garage who just could not keep the look a-like Hansen Sisters named. The merchants of Preston really had a hard time when Annie moved to town. They finally started saying to Aunt Mardy, “Which one are you ?” And how the sisters loved that! To keep others befuddled by their natural good looks was one of their funniest jokes.
And how these sisters loved to go rock hounding with their Dad. I see the summer of the rock gardens. What one couldn’t think of the other one could and get the men and boys in their lives to build it TA BOOT.
I see the Blackfoot Reservoir with too many fishing poles in the water. Now, who would be guilty of such a thing? To catch a real big trout was one of Aunt Mardy’s joys. She even caught sea gulls who tried to take her fish away! Not even the ducks were safe when the Hansen Sisters converged on the lake. LET’S GO FISHING AND CAMPING WAS HER EIGHTH MOTTO.
I see the old Sixth Ward Church House with the enormous concrete steps in front and the ball field in the parking lot, and Aunt Mardy’s house was just down the road. Inside her driveway door was the dining room with a sewing machine against one wall. Here Aunt Mardy taught me how to sew. She could teach me anything. I see her sitting on the back porch practicing the guitar, and I hear her call us in from play to wash and eat or redo a task that we had NOT done properly. I see us with our heads bowed as Grandpa Hansen said the blessing on our feast for Thanksgiving.
I see girls in sleeping bags all over Aunt Mardy’s living room and in her garage because the salamanders had come with the rain storm into the yard the night our ball team tried to sleep over. I hear her greeting every time I came through the door. “Why, Kimmie Ane, it’s you,” she said with a huge smile. Her door was always open to anyone and hospitality flourished because love abided there. YOU’RE ALWAYS WELCOME WAS HER NINTH MOTTO.
I see her backyard and beautiful gardens full of cousins and aunts and uncles all enjoying a summer picnic and party. I can taste her Dutch oven potatoes and Grandma Hansen’s crazy chocolate cake. My Dad and I have both told Aunt Mardy to NOT stir the Dutch oven potatoes, but she did anyway. I think she likes them that way. STIR THE DUTCH OVEN POTATOES BECAME HER TENTH MOTTO!
I see Aunt Mardy going back to school and studying to get a nursing degree. She had a natural ability for medicine, and her years as a nurses’ aide qualified her for her many years of service on the Franklin County Hospital Board and the Pink Ladies. How many lives has she blessed through her countless hours of service and work? ONE PERSON CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
I see us camping and hiking in the great outdoors. She could see things along the way that I never saw. Even arrowheads along the trail as we backpacked into Worm Creek one Spring. One year we took the young women from Franklin Stake to Ox Killer Canyon. And one night while we were there a motorcycle gang drove up the canyon. There were some pretty rough individuals who were up to no good in that bunch. Aunt Mardy told me to stay with our girls in our camp and to keep them calm and quiet. She went with Orlando Larsen down the road and talked to the gang and stayed there most of the night until safety was restored. I was so proud of her! She kept her cool and used her head. She knew exactly what to do. NOBODY BETTER MESS WITH MY AUNT MARDY!
I see the Hansen Reunions with Uncle Hugh playing the harmonica and Mardy leading us in song. I see Uncle John playing baseball and all the uncles pitching horse shoes, and all the aunts cooking up a potluck. I see the SPARROWS WINNING THE TUG-A-WAR again. They could even out pull Uncle Hugh’s horse. How did that horse get tied to the end of that rope? “These are Mink Creek rules,” they said, “anything goes!” Family flag ceremony was always important to Aunt Mardy. Must have been all those years as a Blazer Scout leader or was it a love for her country and gratitude for our loved ones who had served in the armed forces and been allowed to return to us?
I hear Aunt Mardy’s beautiful singing voice filling the trees around the campfire. SING WAS HER ELEVENTH MOTTO. She has written wonderful poetry and stories for all of us to enjoy. READ AND REMEMBER BECAME AUNT MARDY’S TWELFTH MOTTO.
I see the baptism font in the Logan Temple with rows of wet Sixth Ward kids because Aunt Mardy took us there. I see her sitting beside my mother in the endowment room and greeting me in the celestial room many many years later. She believed in me, and she was there on the most important day of my life. TESTIMONY IS HER THIRTEENTH MOTTO.
I see faithful dogs named Ring, and Pooh-Pa-Loop, and Tippy. Grandpa Hansen always had an old dog and a younger one. Pooh-Pa-Loop was Mardy’s favorite. I see Four S in Grandpa’s barn in Preston, Ton in the kitchen and all over the house, Boo on the back porch, the lambs in the pasture, the cats about our ankles, and Aunt Mardy’s face when she lovingly called them each by name.
By: MarDene Sparrow
In his later years, Daddy had a saying above his desk. It said, “Every man in his lifetime is entitled to one good wife, one good horse, and one good dog.” Daddy had each of these in his life, and each could be the subject of many stories and experiences. Each humorous, serious, faith promoting, or character building. But my subject for this story is Daddy’s team, Chub and Jack. They are a legend in our family.
When the folks were first married, they bought a piece of land at the mouth of Mink Creek. It was 60 acres with a good water rite. Much of it was covered with sage brush and willow. Daddy, with the help of this choice team of horses set to work to move a little two room house to the property and then to clear the land.
Chub and Jack were well matched, and they were obedient. Daddy described them as being a good honest team. He said they worked together, and he never asked them to pull but what they gave him all they had.
It was the custom for the men of Mink Creek to get their winter wood out of the Strawberry Canyon. Several men would go together, taking their teams and helping each other. One day while they were cutting and loading their logs a snow slide came down the mountain and blocked the road. When some of the men began their return home they each tried to make it through the snow slide ahead. Each tried but was stopped because their teams balked with the depth of the snow and the weight of their loaded sleds. Not one could get his team to pull through the slide. Then they said, “We’ll wait for Bill. His team will pull through.” Sure enough Chub and Jack pulled through equal to the faith Daddy had in them. They gave the task all they had, and worked together, being obedient to their beloved master. They pulled through the snow slide. Then the other teams and their masters could follow because the trail was broke.
You know a team can be a couple, a family, or a group of people any size, with a common purpose or goal. We can pull through the snow slides of life if we are obedient to the master, work together as a team, and give the effort all we’ve got. I want to be like Chub and Jack. I want to be like Daddy’s team. I want to PULL THROUGH any problem, any snow slide that might block our road. I want to PULL THROUGH with my testimony still firm, my faith and my love for my Master still strong. I know the Lord loves me, and He expects me to PULL THROUGH.
Thank you Aunt Mardy for those beautiful words of counsel. You have broke the trail for us to follow. KIMMIE ANE WANTS TO BE LIKE YOU!
What would have Nunna and I done without Aunt Mardy? She helped during the last days my sister, Randa, was with us. Randa loves Aunt Mardy so much , and she did things for Mardy that I couldn’t get her to do. Aunt Mardy taught me so much about home nursing, and made me feel that I was able to meet the needs of my sister. We also had heartfelt talks on our drives to and from Lewiston, Utah each evening. Mardy helped me let my sister go. She encouraged me and held Mom and I through it all. And she was with us when Randa passed away. She sat on the bed and held Randa in her arms so Randa’s breathing wouldn’t be so labored. I will never forget the charity, the unconditional love that she has shown to me and my family. WHERE DID SHE GET THE TIME AND THE ENERGY TO DO SO VERY MUCH?
Another story about Grandpa Hansen and Chub and Jack that Aunt Mardy told me was about the building of the Twin Lakes Canal. Grandpa and his team worked with many men and teams to build the canal so that Twin Lakes Reservoir could be filled with water from the Mink Creek. During the construction one day there was dynamite used to blast through a hillside. In one blast Jack was trapped inside the hill with rock and debris all around him. He couldn’t get out or move. The men helped Grandpa clear a passage way back to Jack so Grandpa could talk to him. Everyday until the men got Jack out Grandpa would crawl twice a day on his belly with hay and grass and water back to where Jack was and quiet him and love him. When they finally got Jack dug out he was blind because he’d been in the dark so long. But Grandpa nursed him back to health and strength. The love that Chub and Jack had for my Grandpa was matched by Grandpa’s love for them. They made everything on his farm possible, therefore, he could provide for his family and his mother. They were extraordinary!