Cherished Memories of my Mother – Margaret Lister Glen Gagon
Contributor: SouthPawPhilly Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
By: Margaret Gagon Carter; written in October, 1976
(This is compiled from excerpts from Margaret Gagon Carter’s history)
I was born March 10, 1918, to Godly parents, the sixth child and fourth daughter of my father and the first daughter and second child of my mother.
My father was born December 15, 1879, in Vernal, Utah; the son of William Highland and Lydia Ann Taylor Gagon, who named him Joseph Albert Gagon. He grew up in the Uintah Basin, which is the eastern part of the state of Utah. He married Emily Finch in 1901. She bore him four children; Leo Hyrum Gagon, Mary Genevieve Gagon, Twila Gagon, and Roseafton Gagon. After eleven years of marriage Emily Finch Gagon died on March 3, 1912, leaving my father with four young children to raise. Approximately one and one half years after her death, he was called to go on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of which he was a devout member. He left his four children in the care of his wife’s family and in October of 1913 left for Scotland to serve his mission. While in Scotland he met my mother, Margaret Lister Gagon. When his mission was over she returned to Utah with him where they were married in the Salt Lake Temple on March 17, 1915. She bore him nine children; Joseph Albert Gagon, Jr., myself-Margaret Gagon, Glen Scott Gagon, Isabell Lydia Gagon, Ira David Gagon, Lillian Gagon, Ronald Eugene Gagon, Patricia Rae Gagon, and Thomas Richard Gagon. As of this date, October 1976, all nine of my mother’s children, except Glen, are living. Glen died at the age of 49 years old after surgery for a brain tumor. At the time of his death he was a world renowned educator and had held many important positions in the L.D.S. Church.
My mother was born July 10, 1891, in Cambusland Lanarkshire, Scotland, the eldest child of Thomas Glen and Isabell Crombie Glen. I remember my mother as a soft spoken, happy woman, with brown hair and eyes. I used to like to listen to her life in Scotland. She told us of being left an orphan at the age of eight years old, and how she never got to live with her sister Lily, as most sisters do. Her mother died giving birth to Lily when mother was only two years old. Her Grandparents on her mother’s side took the baby to raise and my mother went with her father. They lived in boarding houses most of the time. One day her father left her in the care of the woman who operated the boarding house. She told mother to get her little boy dressed. He kicked and cried so much Mother couldn’t get him dressed so the woman picked up a walking cane and beat mother with it leaving welts all over her. When my grandfather returned and saw the welts on my mother, they left and went to stay with one of his sisters. When my grandfather died, mother lived with some of her aunts and uncles on her father’s side of the family.
While living with one of her aunts, while still a little girl, it was mother’s job to see that all the families’ shoes and boots were polished. There were fourteen pairs of shoes and she had to do this every night before going to bed.
Mother was able to only go as far as the sixth grade in school, yet she spoke very good English and often helped her children with their homework. At the age of fourteen she had to get out and help earn her living, and what she did earn she had to give to her aunt. When she was around seventeen or eighteen, she had a job working for a doctor and it was while she was employed for this doctor that she heard of and listened to some Mormon missionaries and was converted to the L.D.S. Church. After being baptized, her employer heard about it from some of his other employees and he told mother that she would have to either give up her job or her church. Mother gave up her job although it was the best one she had ever had. After this she went to work in a laundry.
I remember her telling us of how she met Dad. She had met a girl at the laundry, who belonged to the Church, and she kept after mother to go out with some of the young men she knew, but Mother always had some excuse not to go. Mother told her friends that she wanted to go with someone who had high ideals and neither smoked nor drank and who belonged to the L.D.S. Church. One Sunday Mother and her friend went to church to hear two new missionaries speak. When they entered the church Mother saw Dad and said to her friend; “There is the kind of man I would like to marry.” Mother and Dad became acquainted and when Dad was released from his mission, Mother came to the United States on the same boat with him and other missionaries returning home. She told us of how seasick Dad got and how he was not able to leave his cabin during the whole time they were crossing the ocean.
Many times Mother told us of the terrible homesickness that would come over her. She often said if she could have she would have walked back to Scotland, across the water and all. She told us of her struggle to learn a new way of life; of learning a new language; learning to take care of partly grown children; to cook and sew; and to eat foods she had never seen or heard of. Sometimes she would laugh while telling us about learning to mix bread (and of sometimes having to take it out and bury it.) But I can remember coming home to delicious, fresh, warm, homemade bread and the smell of delicious pies she had made and baked and of eating many, many delicious family dinners she had cooked.
Mother had a great love for her family, church, and home. She was rather short and Aften said she and Dad looked like Mutt and Jeff when they walked down the street together. She always seemed to have a song in her heart and loved to sing. She often was asked to sing in church, at funerals, and at church socials. One Christmas she was asked to sing at a special Christmas program; and for two weeks she practiced singing “The Holy City.” When the program was over George Forsey, Jr. walked up to her and said, “Mrs. Gagon, I sure do like to hear you sing those Scottish songs.” She got quite a laugh out of this.
I can remember her singing or humming around the house. When she didn’t I knew that she and Dad were on the outs with one another. I never did hear my Mother and Father argue or quarrel in front of the children. Mother never raised her voice or screamed at her children.
I can still see in my mind and remember the Easter outfits she made for Isabell and I. She put in many hours remodeling and sewing for us so that we always had attractive clothes to wear even though it was a great struggle for Mother to learn to sew.
Both my parents were very tender hearted over other people’s troubles and also towards animals. I have seen Mother cry when she saw our dog get hit by a car and she cried with the rest of us when Dad sold the family cow because it was so old.
Not too long after moving from Knightsville to Eureka, Mother invited some friends and neighbors in for a social or get together. I was put to bed (our bedroom was just across the hall from the living room) but I kept getting up and causing one disturbance after another. After being put back to bed several times, Mother came into the bedroom and spanked me. Later she came in and sat on the bed and cried with me and kept telling me she still loved me. This was the first spanking I can remember ever getting from her. There was only twice in my life that she ever spanked me and I deserved them both.
I can still see Mother coming home from the beauty parlor after having her long beautiful hair cut for the first time and after having her first Marcel. She kept her cut hair wrapped in tissue paper in the top drawer of her dresser with other valuables.
I realize now the many long hours she spent at washing and ironing. Sometimes she stayed up until one and two o’clock in the morning ironing. She spent months (practically the whole summer) putting up fruits of all kinds. Even Dad got into the act on these projects after bringing home bushels at a time.
There were also long and thankless hours spent in nursing all of us through our many illnesses, from toothaches and earaches, to colds, flu, chicken pox, measles, mumps, scarlet fever, and even Glen with diphtheria. Mother seemed to have a gift for being able to rub away our aches and pains. Sometimes still I wish she was here to give me a good rub down to take my aches and pains away. I have heard Isabell say several times that when she doesn’t feel good, if only mama could hold her and rub the aches away.
Mother went twenty-five years without seeing her sister, Lily. When we received a letter from Aunt Lily telling us she was planning to visit us, it became an extra exciting time for the whole family. Mother could hardly believe it was true. She spent weeks preparing for Aunt Lily’s visit. The house had to be cleaned from top to bottom; special food was prepared and stored away. Mother was so happy and when Aunt Lily arrived it was like a happy celebration. She brought gifts for all of us and several things for Mother that had belonged to their parents. Some of the things had been wedding gifts to her parents. She stayed for about three weeks and the whole family took her places of interest around Provo and tried to make her feel welcome and loved. Aunt Lily and Mother got to see each other several times after, either Mother going to Detroit where Aunt Lily lived, or Aunt Lily coming to Utah. We also got to meet Uncle Bill Kerr, whom Aunt Lily married in the 1940’s.
Mother loved us all, she taught us many things. She cooked us a lot of delicious meals and she sacrificed and went without herself so that her children could have the things we all needed and wanted. We disappointed her many times and probably broke her heart too, but never did she quit loving us. She was always trying to improve herself and to make things better for those around her. She did all these things, but I believe I remember best her great and unshakeable faith in the Church, such as Relief Society President, President of the Young Ladies Mutual, Counselor in the Relief Society, and as a Church Welfare worker spending long hours at the Church cannery, and quilting or making quilts for the welfare program.
I remember being invited to a party for Mother’s birthday (not too long before she became ill and started losing her memory), by some of her friends. It was held at Mother’s home and as we all sat down to eat a pot luck supper, one of the ladies suggested each of us take a turn in telling what we considered our most valuable possession outside of our families. Each woman took a turn, some saying it was their new car or a fur coat or a special piece of furniture or jewelry. When it came Mother’s turn, she said without hesitation, “My membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and all the blessings that I have received from being a member.” There was quite a few tears shed and it is an evening I will never forget.
I remember a time shortly after moving to Provo when Mother and Dad were having quite a struggle financially and it was just about a week before school was to start. There were several pairs of shoes needed as well as other articles of clothing and money needed for books and school supplies. On top of this the power company had sent Dad a notice that they would turn the power off if the bill wasn’t paid. At our family prayer that night Dad prayed that he would be able to solve these problems. The next morning he decided to sell one of the cows. When he came home with the money, he told Mother to get ready to go to town. But instead of going to town she said she thought they had better go and pay their tithing first. After doing some figuring, they found if they paid tithing they would not have enough money to buy the other things needed and pay the power bill too. This time Mother and Dad went into their bedroom to pray for guidance. When they came out they both got ready and took their tithing down to the Bishop’s home. This took place on a Friday. On Saturday morning as we were eating breakfast, a knock came on the door and Dad got up to open it. It was someone from Eureka who Dad had given credit to when he had the dairy. The man had come to pay what he owed and thanked Dad for being so good to him and his family. Before the day was over, several families from Eureka called to see us and all brought tomatoes, vegetables, cantaloupe, and watermelon from off the farm. At the end of the day Dad had the money needed. I remember Mother saying “If you just have faith and do the things we are told to do, everything usually works out.”
Another experience when her faith paid off was when Ronald was hit by a car and fractured his skull. He was not expected to live. Mother sat by the side of bed holding his hand praying and almost willing him to live. He did live and recovered from his injury.
Probably the most spiritual experiences I have ever had were when Tom was in the hospital with his leg. His one knee and leg was so swollen and he was in so much pain, but the doctors could not find out what was causing it. On a Sunday morning Joe called me on the phone and told me that Tom had been taken to the hospital and that he had lapsed into unconsciousness and that Mother wanted the family to come to the hospital. As many of us that lived close enough went to the hospital expecting Mother to be really broken up. Instead, she was going around comforting and loving the rest of us. She told us she had called her Bishopric to come and give Tom a blessing. When the doctor came out of Tom’s room he told Mother it was useless and that Tom could not live but a few minutes more. Mother told him “If I am to lose my son, I want him given a blessing and dedicated to the Lord.” We all went into the room. The Bishop asked if any of us lacked faith in the priesthood and if we did to please leave the room. None of us left. We were then asked to form a circle around the bed with our arms around one another. One Bishop gave him the blessing. There was such a beautiful and wonderful feeling in the room and I felt that Dad was with us too. In the blessing Tom was promised he would be made well both in mind and body, if we but had faith. He remained in an unconscious state for quite some time (several days) and the doctors told Mother if he should live, through some miracle, he would have brain damage. Mother told the doctor this would not be so. It took the doctors weeks before they found what was wrong with Tom, and then it was a doctor from Salt Lake that happened to be in the hospital and had asked to see him. After examining Tom, this doctor told Dr. Clark he was pretty sure it was osteomyolitis of the shin bone and that surgery would be required. After the surgery and treatment was started, Tom regained consciousness and he knew everyone who came to see him. There was no brain damage. It took a long time before he was completely well and had to through surgery several times. When Mother took him home from the hospital the first time, several of the doctors told Mother it was truly a miracle and that a power much greater than theirs had made it possible for him to live. It took two or three years (most of his high school years) before he was completely well and I know he had pain and misery with his leg, but he did make a complete recovery. He was able to finish school, to marry and hold down a good job, and is the father of two children.
When my son, Floyd, became so sick it was my Mother that I turned to. When the doctor told me Floyd had only a few months to live, I thought I could never stand it. Mother took me in her arms to comfort me then told me I could bear up under it if I would but get down on my knees to pray for the strength to meet each day with courage. I did this and each day I was blessed with courage and strength to take care of my family and to give Floyd the special love and care that he needed. When he died, again Mother comforted me and told me to think of his death as a graduation from one life into a much better one.
To me, my mother was truly a great woman and person. She had the love and respect of everyone that knew her. I truly loved and respected her.
Mother used to send some of us with hot bread, biscuits, or cake to a Swedish bachelor by the name of John Stromberg. He was a convert to the church and Dad had befriended him. Usually Mr. Stromberg would give us something in return. When he didn’t go to his cupboard, I just stood there waiting. After several minutes and Joe (my brother) asking me to leave, I finally asked Mr. Stromberg what he was going to give us. He laughed, as though he knew what I had been waiting for, went to the cupboard and brought out a jar of candy and handed it to me telling me to be sure all the family got some. Joe was so mad at me he scolded all the way home and as soon as we got in the house, he told Mother and Dad what I had done. Mother scolded me and Dad took me aside and tried to explain why it wasn’t nice to ask people for things and that we shouldn’t expect to be paid for being nice to people for running errands for them. Mr. Stromberg continued to give us children gifts as long as he lived.
When we moved to Eureka, Mr. Stromberg also moved but to a different part of town. He always came to see us and was often asked to come have Sunday dinner with us. One Sunday, when he was there for dinner, we were about half through with the meal when I opened by big mouth and said, “Mr. Stromberg, why don’t you marry Twila?” Everybody was so quiet for a few minutes. I looked up and thought for sure I was going to really get it this time, but I didn’t. I do believe Twila felt like strangling me and poor Mr. Stromberg about swallowed his false teeth and turned forty different colors. He did not come back for sometime.
As I have been writing things I remember about my life and Mother and Dad, there are many other things I remember also like the many Christmases and Thanksgivings, parties, sharing our thoughts and treasures with each other, of Mother and Dad seated at the head of the table and having family prayers, of family home evenings with even the small children participating, the good times and the hard times after the depression hit. I feel that I really had a good life while growing up.
I know that my parents had their faults and made mistakes, as everyone does, but I know that they both tried their best to live the “Golden Rule.” They tried to teach us what was right, to love one another, to honor and obey the laws of our great country and to always have respect for other people and to have pride and respect for ourselves.
I have tried in a small way to try and show you, my children, the wonderful heritage that you have in the grandparents that you have been blessed with. I am sorry that your grandfather did not live long enough for all of you to have known him. I know that some of you do remember your grandmother and hope you remember her love for you and all that she did for us as a family. Dad died on May 5, 1942 and Mother died September 11, 1957.