Family History

Photo of Marie Garff Gudmundson

I am in the Primary Presidency in my ward and this year the Stake has set a goal that every child  from 8 to 11 submit a family name to the temple.  I was completely overwhelmed by this, thinking how can I encourage these kids to do something I don’t do?  So this last week I started and I am so grateful I did.  It has been amazing to work with my 9 year old son finding out all we can about our family history.  I have truly felt the spirit of Elijah in our home.  I found out that one of my ancestors ironed shirts for Abraham Lincoln, that I have ancestors who came over on the Mayflower, and that many of my ancestors were pioneers who gave up everything for their faith.  My great grandmother wrote a poem for her grandmother thanking her for the sacrifices she made.   This poem touched my heart greatly and made me realize how being asked to encourage the children in primary to do family history is such a small task compared to what others in my family have been asked and were willing to do.  The poem is as follows:



Today we sang the old songs you sang so long ago,
Today I read your history, proud to let my friends all know
That in my veins runs noble blood, so fine so pure and true
Inherited from pioneers, such fearless ones as you.

All is well, I hear you singing by your campfire on the plains,
As the darkness of the prairie vibrates the sweet refrains;
I see your fretful baby nestle closer to your breast,
As those strains of gentle music, lull the little one to rest.

I see the baby start with fear get closer, hold you tight,
As the cry of a hungry wolf pack breaks the stillness of the night,
Perhaps your heart would start to pound and wake him from his sleep
A thousand dangers threatened, as your vigil you would keep.

I see your husband lowered in a hole beside the trail
Watched by weeping children, and you so weak and frail,
The spot obliterated, and a few miles farther west,
In a little prairie grave your tiny girl is laid to rest.

I see you pushing on your heavy laden cart,
Laughing talking with your boys, to hide a breaking heart;
Your hands and face, that in Denmark had been so soft and fair,
Now calloused, blistered, bleeding, and tanned by sun and desert air.

How the memory of your homeland must have caused your blood to burn,
Comparing this with life back home, if you would but return;
But you kept your face turned westward, praying for a helping hand
To guide you and your hungry boys into the Promised Land.

And then your reach that summit of that last steep rocky hill,
And you look down in the valley, barren, desolate, and still,
As you viewed that land of promise you had come so far to gain,
Ah, Grandma, did your heart ache, did you whimper and complain?

No, bravely down the mountain side with blistered feet you go,
Cheered by smoke from chimneys in some mud roofed huts below,
That curling smoke, and those little huts, and the fragrance in the air,
Bespoke of warmth and friendship, that pilgrims long to share.

To the mountain tops of Zion, you had wandered from afar,
Security and freedom had been your guiding star,
But when you go to bed that night, weary sore and weak,
Your bed is made among strangers, whose tongue you cannot speak.

A frail little Danish mother, with hand unused to work,
Must feed four husky hungry boys, you must not could not shirk,
Your money gone and nothing left to feed the little breed,
Your dear dead baby’s precious clothes were traded off for food.

Volumes could be written on the hardships that you bore,
Sometimes it seemed the heavens were sealed, and your prayers were heard no more.
The faith that had sustained you through those long, long weary miles,
Was often weakened, almost lost through unexpected trials.

You passed by ninety milestones, never reached a place of fame,
But you left a great posterity, who honors your dear name.
No earthly goods you left behind, to cause discord or strife,
No bells tolled, nor flags flew half mast, when you passed out of life.

The world moved on without a pause, and when your bit of clay,
Was tucked back into mother earth, and the mourners went their way,
Me thinks I hear the angel ushers, there at Heavens Gate,
Say, “Welcome, and well done Marie, take your place among the great!”

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