Monday, March 2, 2015

A wonderful life: Norda Agnes Fife Emmett

My wonderful mother, Norda Fife Emmett passed away at the age of 87 on the morning of March 3, 2015. For the past 15 months she has been living with my sister Mary and her family. Mom was ready to go. The pain and weakness caused by slow moving lung and kidney cancer made it hard to do the many things she loved: gardening, quilting, reading, traveling and living in her own home. What follows are some photos of her life mostly taken by my dad over the years.

With her grandpa AJ Fife in Brigham City ca 1930

With her brother Bill ca 1937

At the Sinks in Logan Canyon, 1947


August 20, 1948 Wedding day

1953 with Bill

1955 with Bob

With Bill, Bob and Chad in Providence 1960

1962 with Jake

 With Mary and Jake, 1962

 1962 Providence

Grand Coulee Dam 1962

With Tom, 1964

Temple Square 1967


1969, Washington DC

Abilene Kansas 1969

Targhee with Mary and Tom 1973

Sending Chad off on his mission, 1975

Grand Canyon, 1981


New Year's Day fondue dinner. 1987

Four Generations 1987: Veara, Norda, Mary, Emily

 Tom and Shelly's wedding 1989

 Family reunion in Nauvoo 1992

 1996, Mission in Connecticut

2001 St. Louis Arch. The first of several road trips mom and dad took with different cohorts of grandchildren.

2004, chopping onions for curry

 Youngest grandchild, Will 2006

With Great-Grandchild Jack Emmett 2007

 Happily using her new snow blower throughout the neighborhood, 2009

 With great grandson Jack Falslev, 2009
  Christmas 2009

August 2013

2013. Norda's beloved live Nativity with grandchildren and great grand children. This was the last one at the "Twin Pine Ranch".

Great-grand twins Timothy and Emmaline, 2014


When I signed up for semester at sea, mom was in good health, but when the time came to leave, we knew she might not make it until our return. I called her from Hawaii, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore. During the Singapore call, she told me she was worried (that is what she does best) about our going to Africa. I assured her that we were going to safe countries and that there was no need to worry. I also told her that I loved her.

Word of her passing came via e-mail in the middle of the Indian Ocean half way between Yangon Myanmar and Cochin India. India is about as far away from Utah as you can get. Travel distance and time, plus teaching duties, mean that I won't be able to make it home for her funeral. I will miss joining in the celebration of her wonderful life.

Last Sunday as we were getting ready to sail from Yangon, I got an e-mail from Mary saying mom had taken a turn for the worst. I then quickly replied with the following letter for Mary to read to mom.

Dear Mom,

We just got back from our Sunday morning service abroad ship. We had to set sail from Yangon earlier than planned so we all had to be on the ship last night instead of today at noon. That means that we now have had one Sunday on ship that was unscheduled. This means that I don't have to be teaching classes and the kids don’t have to be doing home schooling. It also means that we were able to hold our little church service at 9:00 am in the peace and quiet of a classroom. Usually we meet at 6:15 pm after classes and before evening lectures when the boat is more chaotic. All seven of us have given talks so today I decided we would watch a conference talk. On the day before we left I dropped by Deseret Book and bought the dvds of the October 2011 general conference for just such occasions. Last night I looked at to skim the talks to see which talk would fit our little group best. I chose Elder Cook's talk about "songs we cannot sing." (In hind-sight that talk was very appropriate for our current situation.) He talks about life and how things happen that never seem fair or right, but when viewed from the eternal perspective it always works out ok. He then told the story of Alma Sonne (from Logan) and five other missionaries who gave up their tickets on the Titanic so that all six could sail home together. One of the elders was delayed a day and Elder Sonne felt that since they all arrived together they should all go home together. Then he told of a young mother from Provo who had gone to London to be trained as a mid- wife. She chose to sail on the Titanic thinking the traveling missionaries would add a measure of protection for the journey. She was one of the few women who died, and it is thought she was tending to those injured in the iceberg crash. She left young children at home and many songs unsung. Elder Cook noted how it seems sad when someone leaves life before being able to sing all of the songs they should have been able to sing.

Mom, I think you have sung many wonderful songs throughout your life. You have raised six amazing kids. You supported dad in his schooling and work responsibilities and in all of his church callings--which meant sitting alone for many years at church. You served valiantly in many church callings and as a missionary. You taught school children how to read. You created a happy, loving, beautiful, clean home and a lovely, flowered, edged, raked yard. You planned and prepared countless meals and family gatherings which have resulted in a close knit family that really does enjoy being together. You taught us our first songs, encouraged us to play the piano, showed us the joy of reading, baked homemade bread, made raspberry jam, traveled the world with us and to visit us, wrote to us every week of our missions, made quilts for everyone in the family and for many others too, published years of family letters, established family traditions that are now being passed down through the generations, and you encouraged us to follow our dreams. Your life has been a life of love and service.

I love you and I love all of the beautiful songs you have sung.

Wishing I could be there to visit with you, to sit with you, to give you a hug.



  1. This is perfect. Thank you for sharing the photos. You and your family have been missed this week and will be missed at the funeral. Travel safe.

  2. Yes, perfect. Those pictures stirred up a lot of great memories of mom. Thanks for sharing and being the white sheep of the brothers. You guys will be missed but not forgotten. You're always in our prayers.

  3. Dear Chad, Marie and kids,
    We are so sorry for your loss and for the frustration you must feel at being far from home at this tender time. Ehab fondly remembers your parents taking the two of you to a Japanese restaurant and inviting you to order whatever you wanted. He also remembers your mom bringing many puzzles with her on a visit to Israel to give as gifts. She was so thoughtful and kind. We hope you will continue to enjoy your wonderful trip. All our love, Kim and Ehab