This will be my last post for the year 2017. My goal for 2017 was to complete 26 blog posts. This is my 26th post. Now, I had to write 10 of them over the last two weeks, but mission accomplished. I hope to accomplish 26 more posts next year. Hopefully, I won’t have to do 10 in two weeks again.
I hope everyone has enjoyed what I’ve written. My posts mean a lot to me, each and every post. I love learning about people and telling their stories. My goal is for everyone to remember their stories, for them to be retold and learned.
One of the movies I watched this year was the Pixar movie, “Coco”. It was such a great movie. I had someone say to me, “but it’s a cartoon.” It isn’t. It is a heartwarming story of a young man who is trying to connect to a dead ancestor. I encourage you all to see it. It is a story that warms my heart.
This last post is dedicated to Aunt Mirian Bailey Wadsworth.
I met Aunt Mirian several times and truthfully, she was a kick in the ass. She was so warm, outgoing and engaging. I can’t thank her enough. She was my inspiration to start writing this blog. The last time I saw Aunt Mirian, her daughters had brought her and her husband, Uncle Milton, to Sacramento from Salt Lake to have dinner. She wanted to see her sister Maxine. Maxine’s mental health was already suffering but my sister in law called me to ask if we’d like to join them. Paul and I took our kids. I wanted them to have a chance to meet Aunt Mirian. This was about 2012, and she was probably 90 or so and Maxine 85. They sat next to each other and watched my girls sitting next to each other holding hands. I saw Aunt Mirian nudge Maxine and whisper about Taylor and Hailey. “Sisters.” Her meaning was clear. The girls reminded her of herself and Maxine.
It would be the last time those sisters were together. So, Aunt Mirian, here’s to you. May you and Maxine be reunited now.
Now, this last post is the story of two ancestors of my mother-in-law Maxine. They were her aunt and uncle and their stories are important.
First up, a gentleman by the name of John Butterworth. Mary Butterworth Bailey was one of six children raised by William and Melinda Butterworth. William was a large gentleman from England. Aunt Mirian says he was not particularly close to his grandchildren although she did remember sitting on his lap and smelling pleasant shaving soap. He’s swing them up and say, “upsy daisy” as he lifted them.
Grandpa Butterworth was born on September 1, 1852. He came to America with his parents at 18, after joining the Mormon church. In 1886 Grandpa and Grandma Butterworth bought fifteen acres of sandy soil on 20th East and farmed the land. They grew apples, corn and alfalfa along with the best tasting watermelons Aunt Mirian had known.
When their children were married, they were given a generous portion of the original acres to build a home. The old farm was divided into six parcels of land.
The oldest was Uncle Will. He and his wife had 12 children, including three sets of twins. Goodness, I really can’t imagine three sets of twins.
Next was Aunt Annie Butterworth Christensen. She had five children.
Next was Uncle John Butterworth. Uncle John lived all his days and died in the old home on 20th East. He was slender, genteel and immaculate. Aunt Mirian remembered he smelled wonderfully of shaving soap and after shave and his hair, iron grey and sparse, was close cropped and neatly combed. He never married, to Mary’s sorrow, because, she said, he was one of the kindest, dearest men in the world and would have made a special loving husband and father. Uncle John taught Mathematics at Granite Junior High School for many years, having most of his nieces and nephews in some classes at one time or another.
Aunt Mirian had him in 8th grade math and he was patience personified. At Christmas time, he had a huge box of chocolates on his desk and each student was allowed one as they left class.
He and his sister Effie went to Mary and Leonard’s house every Thanksgiving and sometimes on Christmas, too.
Aunt Mirian remembered one summer day, as he lay dying in his bed, that she stood by his bedside, so angry that a man who lived so fastidiously and spotlessly clean could be reduced to such a “fragile and incoherent caricature” of his former self.”
Aunt Mirian told her cousin Lee Butterworth, to put his teeth in his mouth. Shortly after, Uncle John gave a small sigh, and gently died.
When they were cleaning out the house, she asked her Uncle Will why Uncle John had never married. It seemed Uncle John had a severe case of mumps when he was a teenager, and he overheard his Grandmother North telling his mother that she was certain the disease would leave him unable to have children. Uncle Will told her that Uncle John took several young ladies out at different times in his younger years, but that he probably felt he couldn’t marry and inflict childlessness on any woman.
The next aunt was Aunt Linnie. Melinda Butterworth Pike was a soft spoken, kindest person Aunt Mirian knew. Aunt Linnie had eight children. One daughter, Minerva, died of spinal meningitis when she was twelve. Aunt Linnie told her mother that there were times after her death when she felt she simply had to go to the cemetery and dig up her grave, just to see her once more. Aunt Mirian never forgot that.
Lastly, Aunt Effie Geneva Butterworth. Aunt Mirian said her Aunt Effie had a very large bosom and was quite short. Her sister Mary theorized that these unfortunate conditions contributed to Aunt Effie never finding a mate and marrying. Aunt Effie wore her hair (Aunt Mirian says it was so thin, you could see her scalp in certain light) in little puffs and curls. She wore lipstick, powder and rouge. She subscribed to the “Pictorial Review” a popular magazine. Aunt Effie saved everything, always with the notion that she would do something with it someday, as soon as she found the time. This was a practice Maxine ascribed to, as well.
Effie worked as a legal secretary in Salt Lake. Aunt Mirian suspected that Effie was more than a little in love with her boss. But he was married. Effie would never have left that job but Mirian suspected she’d been fired. At any rate, she spent the rest of her working years at the offices of the L.D.S church. Mirian says Effie promptly fell in love with several of the brethren, one sided, of course.
She had dozens of cats and named each and loved every single one of them. Aunt Mirian remembered one that Aunt Effie called “Foot-foot” and would recount the details of this cat’s activities in the greatest detail.
She would mourn each cat’s passing with such intensity that even tender-hearted Mary found ridiculous, if not pitiful.
Effie would show up at the Bailey house once in a while to “spend the night.” After supper, she and Mary would sit at the dining room table, sewing and regaling Mary with every detail of her working day. Mary loved this lonely little sister and years later, when Effie was suffering from great running ulcers on her feet from diabetes, Mary brought her to the house to take care of her.
After the Butterworth’s parents passed away, Effie lived with her brother John in their parent’s home. In 1960, when John passed away, Mary brought Effie home to the Bailey house. Caring for Effie became so taxing on Mary’s health, that her family fought to have Effie put in a rest home. Mary dug her heels in and continued to care for Effie. Once Mary’s health had deteriorated, Mirian, along with her cousins Dorothy and Alta found a rest home for Effie, which she detested. There were no other options, her medical care too great for anyone to undertake. Nothing would console her. She missed her kittens, flowers and stacks of unread magazines. After Effie’s death, they found a cedar chest filled with lovely lingerie, slips, robes and lacy nighties, truly a “hope” chest and exquisite baby clothes, frilly bonnets and sweaters for the baby she’d hoped to have one day.
Because she felt her nieces had betrayed her, Effie became bitter and angry toward them. Mirian was grateful Mary didn’t live to see her sister turn into a wild-eyed, raging, impossible tyrant. She had to be moved from the rest home to a hospital. Her nieces went to see her. When they walked in, Effie flung back the covers of her bed, screaming invectives at them and shaking with fury. All at once, she sat up, her face contorted with rage then gasping for breath, she collapsed in a pitiful heap. The emergency crew arrived within a few seconds but there was no use. Effie, filled with helplessness and hate, ravaged by her old enemy, diabetes, died as she lived – alone.
This brings us back to the movie Coco. In the movie, ancestor’s souls are in jeopardy of disintegrating into nothing if there is no one to remember them. The movie takes place on “Dia De Los Muertos.” I, for one, wouldn’t want poor Effie or John’s memory to be forgotten, nothing but puff of smoke into the ether. So, my blog is my tower of ancestors, my posts their photographs. Here’s to you, John and Effie. May your souls forever enjoy your heaven.