Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Other Life I Might Have Had

Today, in a meeting I attended, a woman shared her personal story. She told of meeting the missionaries when she was 14 and joining the church, and of being the only member of her family in the church.

“Ah,” I thought, “like my mother.”

Cindy 19

She told of her love for the gospel, and I thought, “Ah, like my mother.”

But then her tale diverged from my mother’s.  As adults, her children are not active in the church, a choice she attributes to the fact that their father was not a member of the LDS church.

In that moment I saw with clarity how different my life could have been.

If my mother had not been willing to leave her family and go to college with little money, in a place where she knew no one.

If my mother had not insisted on marrying someone who was also a member of the church, and doing it in the temple; even though this meant that no member of her family could come to the wedding.


The results of my mother’s choices and sacrifices are amazing to me.

6 sons, all returned missionaries.

July August 2007 pics 076

10 kids, active in the church.

July August 2007 pics 078

10 kids, married in the temple.

July August 2007 pics 079

What a legacy she has given us.


Please don’t misunderstand me.  I understand completely that not all temple marriages between LDS people have the same outcome.  I understand that different people get different trials and challenges.  But I also understand that her choices gave us the best chance to become who we are today.  And I saw this morning, sitting in that meeting, how different her life; and by extension, my life, could have been.


It is no wonder that “her children arise up and call her blessed…”


(The pictures were taken after my brother Jeremy’s wedding in 2007.  It was the first time since our mom’s illness in 1998 that we were all together.  Child #2, Margaret, was at the wedding in Washington DC but not able to come to the reception.  And I can’t seem to find any pictures from the wedding…)


  1. Wow- this is so good for me to think about. Sometimes I feel so inadequate for not doing all the little things that I see more "established" families do- because EVERYTHING is an effort for me- a departure from how I was raised. But reading this makes me realize how much I HAVE done toward giving my children a solid future in the gospel.

  2. I love the pictures. Makes me miss your family.

    Your Mom was magnificent. Truly.

  3. Aren't we blessed. I think of my pioneer heritage and know that I am who I am because of them. I feel an even greater urge pushing me to pass that on to my children and grandchildren.

  4. I sometimes forget to put perspective into my life. I look at the here and the now. All it takes is looking back, looking at her sacrifices, and I see very clearly the difficult path she chose, and the blessings she received for having mad those choices.
    And then I try to blink away the tears and figure out how to better use what she taught.
    And I do call her name blessed.

  5. Wow, does Laila ever look like her in that first picture!

  6. If any one ever wondered why I thought so highly of Cindy Riggs there's your answer.

    If any one ever wondered why I thought I was so blessed bein g married to Cindy Riggs there's your answer.

    If any one ever wondered why I love Cindy Riggs so much there's your answer.

    If any one ever wondered why I can love Ramona Luker so much there's the answer. In ways that matter Ramona is so much like Cindy.

    My blessings are too numerous to count.

    DAD / John

  7. Ah -- a wonderful post. I can't get over how much that first picture looks like Laila.

    When I looked at that first group picture, I realized I can, in fact, still name all the kids in your family. In order.

    Your mom was an example to so many people outside of your family as well. I count myself lucky to have known her.

    Thanks for sharing this!