Saturday, September 18, 2010

Jo Anne

The fall of 1963 I was just beginning my senior year at BYU. The first Sunday of the fall semester I attended our student ward, the BYU 32nd Ward. As I sat down in the back of the room with my three roommates we all noticed a beautiful red haired girl sitting up toward the front. None of us had seen her before and all expressed a desire to remedy that situation.
Jo Anne doesn't believe this, but from that moment I just knew that she was meant to be my wife. As the semester progressed we became better acquainted with each other in an informal way. I was the Elder's Quorum president and Jo Anne was the magazine Rep. in our ward. Hers was the responsibility of making sure that all the members of our ward had subscriptions to the Church magazines. Weekly she would call in her report to my roommate who was the ward clerk, and who was not home most of the time. I would therefore take her report and we would visit and joke around while talking on the telephone.
Not only was I taken with her beauty, vivacious and fun personality, and obvious goodness, but I was also impressed with her because of her work ethic and independent nature. I sensed a great strength in her. Without any real support from any source she was really at BYU on her own. She would borrow the money she needed for tuition at the beginning of each semester and then working at Olson's Bakery near campus she would pay off her loan before the semester was over as well as supporting herself with the necessities of life. She would then borrow her tuition for the next semester and repeat the process. She drove the bakery truck, and was able to take home all of the day old pies and other pastries which made her the most popular girl with all of the boys in the 32nd Ward.
The truth is that I was much more interested in her than she in me. From the very beginning it was a delight for me to be with her. Then and now, I would rather be with Jo Anne than any other person I have ever known. It's just good to be with her. We used to regularly be ejected from the BYU library because we would start laughing and then get the uncontrollable giggles. I must admit I got very little studying done when we were together. I have always felt that Jo Anne is one of the friendliest people I have ever known. She is very open and will talk to anybody.
She is a good person. I have never known anyone with a more finely tuned sense of what is right and wrong than she. She has never made any compromise with evil. Her children know that. It is not in her nature to do evil. I'm not saying that she is perfect and I am sure that she will take me to task for writing this observation, but I have never met a better person. She has always had incredible integrity. She has been blessed with a high energy level. She has waged a war against dirt in its many forms all of her life -- moral dirt and physical dirt. She cannot tolerate disorganization and a lack of cleanliness in her home. She can work harder and longer than almost anyone I have ever known.
While serving as Bishop or stake president and also working full-time as well, I always knew in my heart that Jo Anne was doing as much or more in keeping the family and home together. She gave me the freedom to work and to serve with complete peace of mind knowing that all was well at home. I believe that
love is based upon respect and I have always had complete respect for her.
Over the 39 years we have been acquainted I have seen her grow spiritually. She has a great love for the Scriptures. Some of the best insights I have received into the Scriptures have come from Jo Anne. Her approach is always so fresh and insightful. Seldom does a day go by without her studying the Scriptures. Last year she read every word of the Old Testament. I
love to hear her pray - it's always right from the heart. She has great faith. Never will I forget fasting with her for several days while our two year old son John's life hung in the balance. She would not eat or drink until the crisis was passed. Though I gave the priesthood blessings it was Jo Anne's faith, manifested through her fasting and prayer that I will always believe was the catalyst in John's recovery. What is more powerful than a mother's love? More times than I could ever mention has she prompted me to fast and pray with her for the children or some other acquaintance in need. She has faith. She believes.

She has been blessed with a tender heart and the gift and quality of charity. Nobody knows that more than me. Nobody but me is totally aware of the tender and loving care I have received these many years since my accident. Nobody is more aware than I of the constant care that someone in my condition needs. Every doctor that ever sees me is so impressed at how good I look. That is because of Jo Anne. Her love literally has sustained me over the years. In many ways
her role in life has been more difficult than had she been a widow. She has become a one woman army - caregiver, financial planner, housekeeper, cook, advocate in fighting insurance companies, gardener, chauffeur and automobile mechanic, mother and grandmother. In all of this never once have I felt that she has felt that life has been a burden. She has true grit and determination. To me she is an Elect Lady in every sense of the word.
Well, I didn't want this to turn into a eulogy. Obviously there are so many more things that could be said about Jo Anne. I just wanted to make these few observations about her before I pass on into the happy hunting ground and have left unsaid what should have been said about Jo Anne.


mindypnoll said...

Just ordered your DVD! Can't wait to watch and share your story with others! I feel blessed to have walked in the book store and found your book, "It's Good to Be Alive!"

You are such an inspiration and your wife Jo Anne sounds so wonderful! Glad you have had her by your side!


ionamin-W8FW8 said...

I enjoyed reading about how you conquered your new computer. My daughter just got the new version of Dragon, too, and she loves it. As my late grandfather frequently said, "Keep a-goin'" And we know that the Lord will never fail us nor forsake us. It's comforting to know we don't have to go it alone.
Diane Johnson in Missouri