Time Is On Our Side

August 13, 2004 | 4 comments
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I’ve posted a version of this over at my new blog; I thought it might be appropriate here too. Enjoy.

Melissa and I have been married for eleven years today. We were married on a Friday the 13th, back in 1993, in the Salt Lake City Temple, on a beautiful (though windy) day at the height of the summer marriage season. There were, during that whole day, there in the busiest temple in the whole church, exactly four weddings. Come 2:30pm, we had the place completely to ourselves. Never doubt that nervous Mormon brides and grooms aren’t every bit as suspicious as the rest of the population.

The fact that this year August 13 is a Friday makes this anniversary all the more fun. I have no idea what we’re going to do–Jonesboro isn’t exactly jumping with entertainment options, and Alison is too small and needy to allow us a serious anniversary journey. So our babysitter will come over this evening after Alison is in bed and the other girls are getting ready, and in all likelihood all we’ll do hit a local coffeeshop, maybe do some shopping (shopping without children–why, it’s been years!), and talk.

Eleven years isn’t that long, of course, but it’s getting there. Melissa’s mom says that it was when she realized that she’d been married longer than she’d been single that the passage of time really hit her. We’ll need another eleven years before that’s the case for Melissa; a little longer for me. But I can see it coming. Our oldest girl, Megan, turned eight this week, and will be baptized next week. Caitlyn is four. It’s been three years since I earned my Ph.D. And so forth, and so on.

Megan received a touching birthday card from my mother’s mother this week; in her shaky handwriting (which included the sad line, “I’m sorry; my eyes are getting so weak”), she told Megan how proud she was of her great-granddaughter (one of many), and wrote a little about her baptism so long ago, in an old font at the west end of the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. We saw Grandma Jolley last year, and it might be the last time we see her or Grandpa Jolley alive; both are declining fast. They’ve had a long life and are surrounded by family: three of their sons and their families are there in Vernal, a little town in northeastern Utah, near the Uintah Mountains, and extended family are nearby as well. And they have children buried there too. Neither are very ill, but time is taking its toll, and will probably overwhelm them soon. Then I won’t have any grandparents left, my father’s parents having passed away after many years together as well. Grandma Fox outlived her husband by a few years, but she was never the same after he died; her mind focused more and more on her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, until she couldn’t care for herself any longer. Uncle Chuck, my father’s little brother, moved his family into Grandma’s old house, and tended her full-time almost until the end. She would write us letters and birthday cards, as Grandma Jolley does today, and they became sweetly incoherent: sentence fragments, repeated questions, lines from hymns she’d learned in Sunday School eighty years earlier. I’m sure, somewhere in her mind, she missed Grandpa Fox until the end, and hoped that time would overcome her soon as well.

It’ll do the same to Melissa and I too, sooner or later. But that doesn’t worry me. Partly it’s Mormon doctrines about marriage which prevent me from feeling much concern about Melissa’s and my fate, but mostly it’s a broader conviction that tomorrow isn’t really my concern. We’re in the midst of ordinary things here: baptisms and birthdays and anniversaries among them. That’s sufficient to make the time worthwhile, and worth being grateful for.

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4 Responses to Time Is On Our Side

  1. Rusty on August 13, 2004 at 4:05 pm

    Russell, very sweet post.

    Having known your grandparents and most of your family makes it all the more touching. You have one of the greatest families I have ever known. Even if you are the “rebel” of the family I enjoy reading your thoughts.

  2. Nate Oman on August 13, 2004 at 4:40 pm

    I was baptized in the same font as your grandmother.

  3. Russell Arben Fox on August 13, 2004 at 5:46 pm

    Thanks Rusty; that’s a very kind thing for you to say. I still miss my father’s parents, though I suppose in some ways it’s a good thing that he passed away without ever knowing about my tendency to vote for Democrats.

    Nate, what and where is that font? Can anyone use it, or even see it, or is it tucked away in an unused room? I assumed she was describing something that wasn’t there anymore. I didn’t know there was (still) a font in the Tabernacle.

  4. Nate Oman on August 13, 2004 at 5:59 pm

    The font is in the basement of the tabranacle on the west side underneath the stand. If you enter Temple Square through the west gate there are doors into the Tabranacle immediately accross from the gate. Those doors, however, do not lead into the main hall. Rather, they lead to the basement, which is where the font is. It is still there. When I was eight years old, our family lived in the Salt Lake Liberty Stake, which in those days did not have a stake center or a chapel with a font. As a result, our stake used the font in the Tabrancle, which was only about 12 blocks away. The font still exists and gets used by inner-city units in Salt Lake. Last time I was at Temple Square, the missionaries had it open and were preparing for a service. They let me nip inside and look at it again. It was much smaller than I remember.