Contributor: trishkovach Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Sarah was my grandmother Scott’s youngest sister. When I was a little girl, I loved to look through the picture album that had belonged to Aunt Petrea. Grandmother named all the people for me and that is how I learned about her sister Sarah. There was a picture of a beautiful young girl dressed in the styles popular at the turn of the century. Lace decorated the collar and cuffs of the long sleeved dress. A fancy belt buckle adorned her waist and a spray of flowers were pinned on her shoulder. Her blond hair was piled on her head with evidence of the use of a curling iron. She had a Mona Lisa smile on her lips, somber eyes staring right out of the picture and a soft round face. I thought she looked like me.
Sarah was the seventh and last child born to Mads Jorgensen and Elvina. Her mother was thirty-seven years old when she was born and her father was fifty-seven. She was born 17 March 1884, just two years younger than my grandmother. I imagine that she was adored by her two older sisters and four older brothers. She might have been named for her great aunt Sarah Graveson, who joined the church in Denmark (along with her sister and my great, great grandmother Anne Cathrine) but did not come to Utah.
There are a few references to her in the letters her father wrote home from his mission in 1888-9. “How is my little Sarah with the cat?” referring to a family picture that grandmother Elvine had sent to him. Grandfather also said in one of his letters that he didn’t think he would have to go to prison when he got home from his mission because of Sarah’s age they couldn’t “prove he had been living with his plural wife.”
About all I know about Sarah is that she was seventeen when her mother died. She and her father then lived in the family home. When he died in 1905, Aunt Petrea moved into the home and she and Sarah lived together until Sarah died at the age of 26 on 11 June 1910.
One day a dark family secret surfaced, the truth was out. Grandmother told me that Sarah was an epileptic and had had a seizure and drowned in an irrigation ditch. But we couldn’t talk about it because if we did people would think it was hereditary and no one would marry into our family.
When I found Sarah’s patriarchal blessing among my grandmother’s treasures (which was given when she was eighteen years old) I was much consoled to know she had been accepted of the Lord and that her affliction was for her “good” because it taught submission to the will of the Father. She was promised that a worthy priesthood holder, one strong in the faith, would someday claim her as his own. Her name will be renowned and her children will bless her to the latest generations of time. “And when you shall look back upon your life, you will be astonished at what the Lord has wrought through you.”
Aunt Sarah’s promise is a further testimony to me that our Heavenly Father is mindful of each one of us and that we all have the opportunity to inherit his kingdom. When we view life from our mortal perspective we can see no fairness or justice. We are prone to wonder why some are taken so young while others linger on long after their bodies or minds collapse. We wonder at deformities and infirmities, at abuse and neglect, disease and suffering. Can all these things truly “give us experience?”
Why are some blessed with so much and some so little? Why didn’t the Lord heal James Hendricks on the spot? Why did Grandmother Scott have to live on fish and turnips all one winter? And one half bushel of cornmeal for a family of nine without any salt or sugar! Why did cholera take so many lives that winter of 1846? Why was my father taken so young? Why didn’t priesthood blessings heal my husband? Why was the handcart company caught in the winter snows of Wyoming? Doesn’t the Lord have control over the elements? And the crickets. Surely the saints did not need crickets to add to their trials.
The questions go on and on, unless we view life for what it is. This life is a test. Only a test. Not to prove to our Heavenly Father what we are capable of, but to prove to ourselves. When the day of judgment comes, we will see clearly where we belong. Someone has said that hell is viewing the man you could have become against the person you are. I truly believe that each experience is for our good- to help us develop strengths where we have weaknesses. And the process will go on until we reach perfection. I believe that each of us are placed in the situation that has been custom designed for us.
My continual prayer is that I can so live as to have the Holy Ghost as my constant companion so that I can make it through the mists of darkness. I am thankful for the iron rod, for a clear view of the path that leads to the tree of life. But I don’t want to reach the tree alone. What a hollow victory unless my posterity and those I love are there with me.
I earnestly pray that I can emulate my great aunt Sarah and when I look back on my life I will be pleased with what the Lord was able to accomplish through me. My weaknesses hinder me just as Aunt Sarah was limited by her affliction, but I know the way to perfection is to take one step at a time, one day at a time, one deed at a time, one lesson at a time, one calling at a time, one challenge at a time and above all live life with the end in mind. This life is a test. Only a test.