And… Emily is here!

At our family Christmas party, my sister Shellie announced that they would be adopting a FOURTH baby due to be born in January.  Well, that baby was suddenly born a few days later on December 29th!  My sisters’ family quickly drove to California where they are now waiting to bring baby Emily across state lines back to their home in New Mexico.  Introducing Ms. Emily Jean Erikson… this is baby Jess’ first cousin, once removed 🙂

Shellie & Emily

*I previously wrote a blog post about my sisters’ baby John

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Who is John Kelsey Erikson?

Newborn John“Baby John,” as he is known in our family, was my nephew.  He was born to my sister and brother-in-law, Shellie and Bill.  Today is the 17th anniversary of his death.  He was born 3-months premature and only lived 8-months.  The best description of John’s short life was given in this Eulogy by his father during the funeral.

John only weighed 1-lb 5-oz at birth.  My family was living in California and my sister’s family was living in Utah.  I never saw John alive.  My husband did see John while on a business trip to Utah.  He said you could put a wedding ring over John’s hand and all the way up his arm to the shoulder.

Tubed JohnJohn spent almost his entire life in the hospital, with the exception of two stroller rides.  When he was finally able to go home to his family, he lived there only one week before passing.  It’s almost as if he was hanging on to life for just that chance to live with his family for one brief, happy week.

Despite his health challenges, he did have a happy life… and was definitely well-loved.  He seemed to adore his older brother, James.  Elder James Erikson is currently serving an LDS mission in Ecuador.  If John were still alive, he would likely be preparing for his own mission before his 18th birthday in October.

JohnJamesI first saw Baby John in person the night before his funeral.  I helped my sister dress him for burial and held him for the first time.  I was astonished by my sister’s strength when she stood to bear testimony at the end of the funeral.  She said she knew she would have the opportunity to see John again and raise him as his mother.  When she said that, I also knew it was true!  Her tears were due to sadness for the long separation ahead.

John is buried at Vine Bluff Cemetery in Nephi, Utah.  Gone, but not forgotten.

Funeral Program (inside)             Funeral Program (outside)            Obituaries

Headstone- Erikson, John K

Who is Michael Earl Hicks?

Michael Earl Hicks1Mike was my cousin, the only son of my dad’s oldest sister.  He was born 27 May 1957 in Schurz, Mineral, Nevada.  My uncle and auntie adopted him from the Walker River Indian Reservation there.  His name was Rudy George.  (Nothing is known about his biological family… except that his mom’s name was Rose.)  My uncle and auntie lived in Garrison, Utah where they worked for the Utah Department of Transportation.  At first they lived in an old log cabin until a trailer house was provided.

Garrison, NV House1

Michael Earl Hicks2

I grew up with Mike, although I was a few years younger.  His family had moved to Beaver, Utah and my family lived in Nephi, Utah.  I knew him about as well as I knew my other male cousins… just from interactions at Kelsey family gatherings.  His adoptive father, my uncle, was James McKean Hicks.  James was Michael Earl Hicks3born 10 Jan 1921 in Spanish Fork, Utah to James Hicks and Dorathea McKean.  My uncle died unexpectedly on 3 Sep 1973 at his home in Beaver.  I remember attending the funeral and seeing my auntie weep.  Mike was only 16-years-old at the time.  His adoptive mother, my auntie, was Marcia Louise Kelsey.  Louise was born 21 Mar 1930 in Eureka, Utah to Arthur Franklin Kelsey and Myrtle Louise Skinner.  After JaMichael Earl Hicks4mes’ death, she married three more times and was widowed each time.  She had moved to Nephi and so had Mike to live in a trailer nearby.  Louise was diagnosed with cancer and eventually died on 2 Jul 2004 at her home in Nephi.  My mother had been helping Louise get to the doctor at times, and asked her who was the love of her life… Louise said it was James.

The picture below shows Louise’s surviving siblings and her son on the day of her funeral.  From left to right: De Kelsey, Ken Kelsey, Gary Kelsey, RaNae Hazel, Randy Kelsey, Ralph Kelsey, and Michael Hicks.

De, Ken, Gary, RaNae, Randy, Ralph, & Michael Hicks

Mike had a few girlfriends, but he never married or had children.  He struggled with alcohol and had difficulty keeping a job.  He inherited money at his mother’s death but it quickly disappeared, possibly into the hands of others that took advantage of his weakness.  When Mike expressed a desire to return to the reservation, a family member towed his trailer to a KOA near Reno, Nevada and dropped him off.  Before long he was in jail due to intoxication.  My father visited there a couple of times and retrieved the trailer for Mike to use.  Mike soon found family members on the reservation and begged for money… it was always spent on alcohol.  Mike eventually became so ill that he was taken to a health clinic.  Seeing the serious nature of his malnutrition, the doctor sent him to a hospital in Boise, Idaho where Mike suffered a heart attack and died on 15 Jul 2008.  His body was returned to the reservation where they held a funeral and buried him.  My parents received a letter from the Pastor that directed the services.  Mike is gone but not forgotten.

Mike Hicks Grave

DeVere, a classic “Utah” name

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DeVere Kelsey

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18 April 1940

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Happy 72nd Birthday to my father… TODAY!!  He prefers to go by the name of De… but I revere DeVere, because of the choices he made in his life that had a huge impact on my life.  Dad was born in the middle of 9 children to a very poor family in Utah.  He and many of his siblings were able to break out of a legacy of alcohol that had kept their family in poverty.

The best choice my father made in his life was to marry my mother.  Despite opposition and/or lack of support from their own parents, my parents chose to marry for eternity.  Dad has told us that once he and mom were kissing a lot in his car.  They stopped suddenly and reminded each other that they wanted to marry in the temple.  So, they said a prayer together asking for help to remain worthy to marry in the temple.  Sounds like a small thing, but I believe this choice was a turning point in their future lives together.  My parents were married on 9 Dec 1960 in the Manti Temple.  I was born “in the covenant” the following November.

Dad told me once that he had wanted to get work with a railroad company.  His mother sent letters to family members asking for financial help to get him into this career, but no one responded.  Instead of giving up when this career didn’t work out, my father went on to join the national guard, work for the forest service, work as a police officer, own small businesses (i.e. upholstery, retail foods), and work as a truck driver.  Basically, my father worked hard in his life to provide for himself and his family.  Despite many setbacks in every career, he chose to keep trying and striving to succeed.  I have heard him say that “you have to do it yourself because no one is going to help you.”  That has been true for him in many ways… and yet, that hasn’t stopped him from helping others when they needed it.

For example, I remember one experience I had with my father as we sat peeling potatoes in the back room of the Fros-T-Freez.  My Uncle Ken, dad’s brother, arrived unexpectedly for a visit.  The purpose of his visit was to ask my dad to help pay for a mission.  My dad asked many questions about why Ken wanted to serve a mission, which Ken answered admirably although he was put on the spot.  I’ll never forget the Spirit I felt as I sat there peeling potatoes and listening to them talk.  I thought I would bust with pride when my dad said he would help Ken pay for a mission.  I believe this experience laid a foundation for my own choice to serve a mission several years later.

I love my dad and I love how enthused he gets about collecting things like coins/tokens as well as how creative he is with painting and wood-carving.

Happy Birthday Donna Jean

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Donna Jean Bowles

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25 March 1941

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My mother celebrates her 71st birthday TODAY!  Happy birthday to one of the most compassionate women I know.  Not only has she accomplished the great feat of raising 7 children, she currently is a loving influence on 22 grandchildren as well as the first great-grandchild born in the last year.

Donna has worked side-by-side with my father for more than 50-years.  In their early years, when dad worked as a police officer, they enjoyed entering “shooting” competitions where she almost always came out the winner.  In their later years, they owned and operated the Fros-T-Freez drive-in and High Mountain campground in Nephi, Utah.  Both she and dad are retired now, but she keeps very busy with church service and with piecing beautiful quilt tops that become immediate heirlooms when she gifts them.

One of the greatest tributes that can be paid Donna is that she honored her own parents by caring for them in their last years.  They lived a few blocks away, so my mother was able to visit them almost daily to look after their needs in their own home until her father passed away.  Then she brought her mother home to care for and was privileged to be holding her mother’s hand as she passed away.

I will always love my mother because she first loved me and believes in me.  She has successfully fulfilled the most important roles in life… daughter, sister, wife and mother.

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