Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sunday in Kerala: Memories of Mom/Grandma

It is Sunday Morning on the Malabar Coast in the State of Kerala in the country of India about 45 km south of Kochi at the Abad Turtle Beach Resort.  When in port, most students and faculty head off ship for most, if not all, of the six days we have in each country. This often involves expensive journeys, for example, from Shanghai to the Beijing and the Great Wall, Saigon to Ankor Wat, Cochin to the Taj Mahal etc. Before coming we decided that our one big off ship adventure would be to spend three nights at Etosha National Park in Namibia to see the wild animals. However, at mid-voyage we found us all longing to be off the ship for a night or two so last week I started hunting on-line for a place not too far or not too expensive where we could go while in Kochi. I found a modest beach resort that fit the bill so yesterday we caught a cab (a bit cramped for the four in the back seat) and headed south past Kerala’s many Christian Churches (no LDS branch yet here, the closest one is in Coimbatore over four hours away) and many communist party signs and images. We all then enjoyed bobbing in the Indian Ocean on a white sand beach lined with palm trees—very idyllic. 

Today for our “worship service” we took some time to remember our mom and Grandma. We also enjoyed a little more beach time—mom would have approved. 

Here are some of our memories:

Sarah’s first memories: Grandma came to visit and gave me a quarter. I took my first doll (a gift from Santa) to Logan for our Christmas gathering. I showed grandma the doll and the subject of a name came up. Grandma said, name her Penelope and so I did.

One of Joel’s first memories: The road trip to Vernal with Grandma and Grandpa (that last of several road trips that included cohorts of all of the grandkids) He remembers petroglyphs, a picnic lunch, and visiting the dinosaur museum. 

Sarah remembers the gift bags grandma prepared for the Vernal road trip which included Sarah’s first journal. 

The kids all remember the fruit snack drawer. Grandma always let them eat more fruit snacks than their parents.

Will remembers playing fun things at grandma’s like bongo board, pool, swinging, soccer, and playing games (including pistol shooting coins into the coin bank).

One of Will’s first memories was an Emmett family trip to North Beach at Bear Lake. 

We all remember delicious breakfasts of aebleskivers or English Muffins with homemade jams (raspberry is a favorite).

Marie remembers Norda’s planning and preparation for all of the family gatherings—including preparing the curry long before hand and making lists and schedules when everything would happen. Norda was the hub of all of the family gatherings. 

We still use over twenty quilts mom made for us over the years. When we were first expecting Sarah, grandma arrived with five baby quilts for us to use. These quilts have been used to cradle babies, to sleep under, to cuddle in, to picnic on, to build forts with, to back yard sit on, and to camp with.
Sarah: I remember grandma telling me that she didn’t go to any dances in high school so it is OK if I don’t go to a dance. 

Chad remembers his moms’ care when he had the measles at age 5 at Christmas time, when he broke his leg and arm his sophomore year and every other time he was sick enough (you had to have a fever or be throwing up) to stay home from school. 

Christmas gatherings will always be a favorite: every bed room full, aebelskiver breakfasts, nativity and family singing, wonderful decorations, ski boots lined up in the back hall, making ham and cheese sandwiches for our lunch at Beaver Mt. visiting and playing with cousins, playing the player piano.

She had a green thumb. She took care of her raspberry patch so she would have enough jam to last through the years. 

Bottled salsa, chokecherry jelly, freezer raspberry, strawberry and peach jam. Homemade bread after school with honey and butter. Banana bread and cheese. Snickerdoodles.

Chad remembers Sunday dinners of pot roast, new potatoes, and fresh from the garden vegetables—beans, tomatoes, swiss chard, zucchini.

Her love of BLTs—she and dad enjoyed on average one a day during tomato season. 

Hard worker, always on the go, not good at just sitting. 

She always sent thank you notes. Sarah remembers when Grandma didn’t think she would feel up to attending Sarah’s performance in Oklahoma she sent a letter apologizing for not being able to go (in the end she did go).

She and grandpa gave each of the kids a set of scriptures for their baptism. 

Joel remembers answering the phone and having grandma carry on long conversations with him with her doing most of the talking. 

On occasion moms advice to me as a father of willful children was to just “hug and kiss” them. 

Thirty five years of coordinating the Emmett family quarterly newsletter, which were always appreciated especially when living abroad. 

Sarah: I remember going to Lagoon with grandma. She brought Capri Sun to drink—which I always liked.

Sarah picked wild flowers while hiking at the family reunion at Grand Targhee. Grandma gave Sarah and Camilla an award at the end of the reunion for being such happy hikers. Little did grandma know that Sarah’s dad had told her it was illegal to pick wildflowers, which then made Sarah cry, which meant she wasn’t as happy of a hiker as grandma had noticed. 

Sarah: She had a multitude of sweaters. 

Gifts of Christmas decorations, family history photos and books, Norda’s t-shirts and sweatshirts.

Traveling for a month in the motor home, spending a week at Lake Powell on a house boat, spending a day at Beaver Mountain and always having plenty of good food to eat.

Encouraging her children to learn to play the piano, to learn to play either the clarinet, trombone, cornet or violin, to learn to swim, to learn to ski (she was our Little Beaver companion when first learning), to learn to ice skate (she made our own back yard skating rink), to learn to type, to read good books. These learnings have been passed on to the next generations.

Her love of travel with dad and with the family. 

Having faith in us and praying for us. We always knew things would work out for the best if we were at the top of mom’s prayer roll.

Her love and devotion to her parents, Bill and Veara. Her love of the “whole famdamily”

Her untiring efforts to hold Family Home Evening (loved the taffy pull), family prayer (intercom announcement at 7:25: Family Prayer five minutes!) and family scripture study.  Her love of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “Keep the commandments”

Sick Joel surrounded by four of Norda's quilts.

I purchased the pieced batik fabric in Indonesia as a missionary and then Norda and her mother Veara quilted it for me.

Vernal Temple with the youngest set of grandkids.

North Beach Bear Lake

Hogel Zoo for Joel's birthday

Family reunion at Targhee

A few years ago mom gave us this dill pickle ornament. Finding it hiding in the Christmas tree is now a fun family tradition.

Christmas dinner.

Wearing our Norda sweatshirts and shirts--Christmas gifts over many years.

A gift to every family. It includes the story of Norda's grandmother Agnes and great-grandmother Margaret who crossed the plains in the Willie handcart compnay.

Joels' baptism day.

Such a fun basement.

Such a fun backyard.

 Beautiful garden

Sarah at a Christmas family vacation stay at Beaver Creek Lodge. Part of Dad and mom's spend the inheritance plan.

Baby Will

Like mom, we now bottle our own salsa, grape juice, and chokecherry jelly.

Vacation to Dinosaur National Monument in Vernal.

Four corners


Granddaughters Sarah, Katie and McKinley who love to ski like their grandma.

Recipe for a back yard ice skating rink. Wait for it to snow. Then put on your skis and walk all over the back yard tramping down the snow. Spay the matted snow with water from the garden hose. Let freeze over night. Repeat four times. Watch the kids learn to skate. (chad is in blue)

Mom was not a big fan of funerals. For years she told us she did not want a funeral, or if we did have one, it should be short and sweet. Before I left I told her that if I was asked to give a short talk at her funeral this is the story I would tell:

At 5 foot 2, I was the shortest boy in my sophomore class at Logan High. I don’t remember being overly concerned about being short, but I do remember wondering how I would fit in to a society that seemed to value athletic prowess—of which I was limited in both desire and build. Luckily I had an inspired mother who came to my aid.  I’m not sure how she did it, but in the midst of raising six kids, mom decided to enroll in an evening institute class. The course of study that year was the Old Testament. One evening in class they talked about Samuel’s calling of a young David to be the next king of Israel. I don’t know what her thought or inspiration process was that night, but something compelled mom to come home and share a particular scripture with her short sophomore. I remember to this day her reading to me 1 Samuel 16:7: “But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature: because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” I don’t think mom added any commentary or tried to liken the scripture to me but nonetheless, pow! it hit me. It was OK that I was 5’ 2". It was OK that I wasn’t a big football lineman or a tall basketball player. It was OK to be short and freckled and wearing glasses. The Lord looked on my heart, not my height, not my freckles. That night I realized that God loved me no matter what. I also realized that my mom loved me and that she was watching out for me. It was perfect timing. I was able to put aside pressure to try and measure up to the expectations and interests of others and focus on doing what brought me joy and fulfillment.  Thanks mom.

My one contribution (from afar) to mom’s short funeral was to modify the lyrics to “Oh There’s no Place Like Home for the Holidays.” My niece Emily (I believe) came up with the idea to have the grandchildren sing this song. I agreed and so one morning on ship while my world geography students were taking a mid term exam I figured out some lyrics. It was hard to do without humming or singing our loud. Years ago (perhaps over 30 years) mom came up with an idea to modify the lyrics of holiday comings and goings (Tennessee, Pennsylvania etc.) in the song to fit our family members as they went and came on missions. I somehow inherited the annual job of modifying the lyrics. What first started out as a list of cities where the five sons and one son-in-law served missions (…Whether Logan, Nauvoo, Gifu, Bandung, Elkton, Taijong, London, Oh There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays…). Once generation three started to serve missions it became too hard to keep the list of mission cities updated so then I started to focus on new additions to the family. Every Christmas Eve, and then Christmas Night and now a few days after Christmas we would all gather (50 plus in recent years) in the front room of mom and dad’s house to re-enact the nativity (with costumes mom helped gather on her two trips to the Holy Land to visit me) and then to sing such favorites as “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, I’ll be Home for Christmas, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, etc. 

Here are the lyrics from our Christmas sing along the last two Decembers:

Home for the Holidays 2013

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays
'Cause no matter how far away you roam
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze
For the holidays you can't beat home, sweet home

We gather each year at the twin pine ranch
To eat some aebelskivers
Sing some songs and do some skiing at the Beav.
We welcome Greyson, Maggie, Jacob and Jay Emmett to the clan
From the mid west, west coast, Wasatch Front
We gather all together.

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays
'Cause no matter how far away you roam
If you want to be happy in a million ways
For the holidays you can't beat home, sweet home

Home for the Holidays 2014

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays
'Cause no matter how far away you roam
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze
For the holidays you can't beat home, sweet home

We gather each year as a family
To eat and sing and ski
And we welcome new folks to the family
There’s Stefan, Timmy, Emmy, Lydia, Olivia and Smith
From the mid west, west coast, Wasatch Front
We gather all together.

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays
'Cause no matter how far away you roam
If you want to be happy in a million ways
For the holidays you can't beat home, sweet home

Here are the lyrics for Mom’s funeral:
Home for the Holidays—Norda’s Funeral
Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays
'Cause no matter how far away you roam
When you pine for the sunshine of a friendly gaze
For the holidays you can't beat home, sweet home

Grandma Emmett always welcomed us into her lovely home
There we’d visit, play and feast with those we love.
In love we gather now to send her off to her mansion up above
 “Save a place for us, we’ll join you there and gather all together.”

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays
'Cause no matter how far away you roam
If you want to be happy in a million ways
For the holidays you can't beat home, sweet home

Thanks for the wonderful memories mom. We will always love you and will always miss you.


  1. I loved this post! I think all of the grand and great grand kids will remember the treat drawer! The picture of her tending to her flowers will be how I will always remember her. She was always working hard on her yard. I will miss her and her beautiful home!

  2. Chad, I loved the story of your mother sharing the story of Samuel with you. It really touched me. Thanks.