Alice S. Reddon
I dreamed my Father called me home
Across the great divide,
I was very much bewildered,
I thought surely I had died.
St. Peter met me at the gate,
He said, "Come follow me,
There's something I must show to you,
Something you must see."
Then I saw rows of people
Standing in a line,
When I looked them over
They were relatives of mine.
Some among that massive crowd
I remember well,
Some had lived long years before
I came on earth to dwell.
There were my great grandparents,
Whom I was pleased to see,
But when I walked toward them,
They turned away from me.
Then I saw my cousins,
My Uncles and my Aunts,
They said to me accusingly,
"We didn't have a chance
To do the work that must be done
To start us on the way,
To gain for us eternal life
So here we have to stay."
My father and my mother, too,
Were standing far apart,
They looked so disappointed
It made the teardrops start.
I turned and saw my Savior,
On His face there was a frown,
"I died upon the cross for them,
And you have let them down.
Behold your noble ancestors
Waiting for the day
When you should open up the gates
To help them on their way."
My heart was very heavy
As I looked those people o'er,
The blinding tears ran down my face,
I turned to Him once more.
"Please, Blessed Savior, send me back,
I'll make another try,
I'll do the work for all my kin,
I'm not prepared to die.
I will not miss a single one,
I'm so ashamed, dear Lord,
I'll try to do each ordinance
According to thy word."
Then I awoke, the dream was gone,
I had not passed away,
But I made a resolution
To start that very day.
Baptisms, Endowments and Sealings,
I found were not a few,
The more I searched and searched,
The more I found to do.
But I will keep on hunting,
And searching all the while,
Next time I meet my ancestors,
I'll meet them with a smile.
By Alice S. Reddon
When I awoke this morning, I lay there thinking about my mother, Jennie May Woodbury Lee, daughter of Patriarch Charles Robert Goddard Woodbury, and remembered so many times her saying, "I can't stand the thought of dying, and meeting my ancestors all lined up, with frowns upon their faces because I didn't do their work for them in the Temple as the Lord, through the Prophet, instructed us to do. I have to do more."
And as I lay there pondering her words, I decided to get up out of bed and come to my office where I have many of her genealogy sheets and stories which she spent over 60 years collecting, many of which we did together as a family in the Temple, and others which she and dad did through the years.
As I was searching through her file cabinet, I found the above poem, and as I read it, I knew why she said those stirring words so many times, and believed it with all her heart and soul. Sometimes she would even start crying as she said them, even as I am crying now.
As I sit here at my computer, I can see a chart which my wife and I helped her to prepare, containing 60 years of research, with names and dates and places, representing, as she said at the bottom of the chart, "These are a few of what I have collected." I also have an 8 X 10 picture of my mom and dad, taken on their 50th anniversary celebration, and a large 16 X 20 picture of President Harold B. Lee, who was the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from 1972 to 1973, when he passed away. According to mother's research, he was dad's second cousin, and she made up a genealogy chart showing their relationship tracing back to Francis Lee who was born in June of 1911, in Greenville, South Carolina. This picture of President Lee I got several years ago, and decided to put it up on my wall, to remind me of what I need to be doing with my life. In the picture, his eyes are looking right at me.
I remember President Lee attending a family reunion in Toelle, Utah when he was the President of the Church, where some 500 Lee descendents attended, and there were only 5 people whom I knew there. President Lee spoke to us, and said that the Lee clan had a great responsibility, not only to our ancestors, but the Lord as well, and it is our responsiblity to do all we can to help the work of the Lord go forth, both in genealogy and temple work, and in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. He also said that the Lees have been blessed with many talents, including music, and that we need to share our talents with others as Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want us to do, as that is why we are given the talents we have, and commanded to magnify those talents, even as the Savior taught in the parable of the ten talents. If we don't, we will lose them.
In 1979, I attended a Priesthood class where the teacher taught us about talents, and why we need to magnify them or we will lose them. He said that talents were given us to bless the lives of others, not just ourselves, and as I sat there pondering the talents I had been given, I thought about the ability to sing, and the years I worked on sharing that talent with others, along with my sweet wife, and I also thought about the many poems I had written since 1956 when I was sent to Korea while in the Army, and spent 14 months there, writing letters every day to my wife and sweetheart, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others there, and beginning to write poems sharing my love with her from far across the sea.
When I returned home, I continued to write poems for her, and also gospel poems, and then one day, a man I worked for at a tutoring center, made the comment, "Why do you write such negative poems? I had shared one at our training seminar with all the staff, and I told him I just write them as they come to me. And for some time I stopped writing poetry. But with the instructions from our Priesthood leader about talents, I reconsidered my situation and feelings about the poems I had written in the past, and asked my sweetheart how I could change them. She said, just end them in a positive vein.
So I obtained a spiral notebook and a pen and carried them around with me wherever I went, and whenever I was sitting waiting for an appointment, or riding on a bus, I would open my spiral notebook, and write down the feelings of my heart, always trying to end my poems in a positive vein. The first spiral notebook took me three months to fill. The next spiral notebook took me two months to fill. The next spiral notebook took me one month to fill. The next month I filled two spiral notebooks with poems, and for a while I was wroting two to three poems a day. I now have 109 spiral notebooks containing the feelings of my heart concerning the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and God's world, and have continued writing to this day, sharing the messages of my heart with you, in hopes that you will share them with your friends and family, and those you love as well.
In my Patriarchal Blessing given to me by Patriarch Charles R. Woodbury when I was 14 years of age, one of the things he told me in the blessing was, "Fail not to study the scriptures with a prayerful heart, your mind will be enlightened, your understanding quickened, and thousands of people will listen to you explain the gospel in its plainness, and the Lord will bring to your remembrance the things He desires you to say."
I never really understood how that could possibly be, until one day I was out sharing my little books of poetry with the Seminary leaders here in the valley, and one of those leaders said to me, "That is exactly what you are doing as you share the messages of your heart. You are fulfilling the promise given to you as a youth, as you share your heart thoughts which are simple and easy to understand, with those you meet. By then I was crying, even as I am at this moment, as I ponder the great responsibility which Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have placed upon my shoulders, and ponder the many times I have received messages from someone on the other side of the veil without even giving that message a thought beforehand.
My great-grandfather, William Green Bickley, father of Agnes Isadore Bickley Woodbury, my mother's mother, and Patriarch Charles R. Woodbury's wife and eternal sweetheart, was also a poet, and could write songs, which he did, and could play any instrument, used to be the choir director in his Ward, and would write songs for his choir to sing in church. One of the songs he wrote many years ago, was put in the old hymnbook, a song which I remember singing many times, but which is not in the current hymnbooks. Perhaps you might remember singing it yourself. It was "Haste To The Sunday School," by William Green Bickley.
I was visiting with my mother one day, and remarked that I often wondered if Grandpa Bickley was carrying on his work through me, as many of the messages I have recorded, were given to me from someone on the other side of the veil, and she said, "No way! He has more important things to do with his time." And I told her, "Well, maybe so, but if you could only go with me one day, as I go around sharing the messages of my heart with others, you wouldn't say that. Many times I had shared a poem with someone, only to have them say to me, "How did you know I needed that very message at this time in my life to go on." And by then we were both crying.
The first time that happened to me, I had been sitting at the kitchen table, writing a poem, and when it was finished, I sat there pondering it, and suddenly it came to me to call my Sunday School Secretary, Margene, and share the poem with her. I was surprised, but decided to call her, and share the poem with her right then and there. When I called her, I asked her how she was doing, and she said, "I'm doing fine, Brother Lee. How are you?" I told her I was doing fine also, and said, "I just finished writing a poem in my spiral notebook, and suddenly felt I needed to call you and share it with you." She said, "I love your poems, Jim, and would love to hear it." So I shared it with her, and before I was finished, I could hear her crying, and when I finished the poem, I asked her what was the matter, and she said, "Brother Lee, how did you know that I needed that very message in my life today to go on?" And I told her, "I didn't know, but He who gave me the message knew, and He it was who inspired me to share it with you." By then we were both crying.
My mother was never one to do anything halfway, it was all or nothing. She dedicated her life to raising her 11 children, and serving the Lord with all her heart, might, mind and strength, and doing genealogy and temple work, along with all the other things she did. And several of her children, including me, have that same talent, it's either all or nothing.
My oldest brother, Blaine, was an Eagle Scout when he was young, and played the accordian and loved the Lord with all his heart, might, mind and strength, and loved his dear wife and sweetheart and his three dear children, with the 4th one one the way, when he was killed in an accident in 1948, having been called home to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with his ancestors, according to Grandpa Woodbury, and my own father, whose mother had come for Blaine while he and dad lay in the hospital. Blaine loved the gospel, and spent many hours teaching the principles of the gospel to those men in the service, over whom he had command.
My sister, Farol, loved the gospel, too, and lived for the blessings it contained, and was an artist, who spent her life sharing her talents, and beautifying this world with her paintings, and her daughters are also artists and have many talents which they have shared and continue to share with the world.
My sister, Irene, also loves the Lord, and loves to sing, and has spent her life serving others, and teaching her children the way to find true happiness. She is always upbeat, even though she has had many trials to face in life. She always tells me how much she loves my poems, and loves to share them with her Ward. She could yodel beautifully, and loves to sing.
My sister, Ruby, raised a family of 13 children, with two more dying as a baby, and literally wore her life out teaching her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren to love and appreciate music. Several of her children have written songs, and love to perform for anyone who would listen. Ruby always made dresses alike for all her girls, and it is so fun to hear them sing, and play the guitar, and share their talents, too. One of her daughters and her husband have spent many years doing genealogy and temple work, and sort of took over where mom left off. They keep us in names to do at the temple, and are such a blessing to our family, as are all the others.
My sister, Jennie, just older than me, spent many years raising her family, and loves to sing. She has a beautiful voice, and wanted to be in Opera, but dad convinced her that raising a family was more important. So she sings and plays the piano, a talent which she has developed, and has written 80 songs using my poems, which are beautiful, and then started writing her own poems and music, which she loves to sing for the Relief Society, and others, and has served many times in various positions in the Ward, as have many others in our family. She and I have worked together for many years, she having spent a number of those years, typing my poems into the computer so that they wouldn't be lost to the world, or get burned up in a fire. Her talents are many, too. Her younger son could sit and play the organ without music, and do a marvelous job playing bach or other classical music, just like he had practiced for years. And others of her children have many talents, too.
Then there's my brother, Ralph, who loved to sing, and loved the Lord also, and spent many years serving others, including his dear wife and sweetheart, who, in the last couple of years of her life, had Lew Gehrig's disease (I guess that's how you spell it,) and cared for her very lovingly and tenderly, until her passing away. And then he met and fell in love with a lady from Germany, and married her, and they have spent the last three years working in Belgium doing microfilming of records there, sending them to the Family History Center so that those who desire to know of their ancestors can go there or access the information online, and do research on their family lines. They just finished their mission in Belgium, and are now living in Germany, where his wife, Wally is doing more genealogy research among her family and friends where she grew up.
Then there's my sister, Helen, who also loved to sing, and has many talents, too, and loves to share my poems with others as well. She also has a large family, and loves the gospel, too. She has been through many trials and problems, but has kept her faith strong through her trials and tears.
Then Raymon, my younger brother, worked for IBM for many years, and is very talented, too, doing whatever needs being done, just as each of us is able to do, thanks to mom and dad, and he loves to fish, and has his own little boat which he and his wife use to go out and fish in together.
Then Sharon, my little sister, loves her children and grandchildren, and enjoys helping others, and also loves my poems. She is one who calls me every so often, just to chat, and I like that.
Then Rex, the youngest of 11, was a jack of all trades, and served a mission in Korea, and was always liked by everyone, and loved helping kids fix their bikes and trikes, etc., just like Grandpa Woodbury always did. Oftentimes the kids would come to their door, and ask his wife, "Can Rex play?"
He loved fixing cars, and helping all the neighborhood keep their cars going. He and his wife raised 7 children, and have been caregivers for two handicapped women for many years, and he spent the past several years helping to promote the Multiple Sclerosis foundation, and raising funds during their fund raising events, as one of his sweet daughters has MS. It was the very thing he was training for recently, while riding his bicycle to prepare for the marathon in Pocatello, where he had raised $1,000 personally to help with research on finding a cure for MS, when he was struck by a drunk driver and killed at 5:00 AM just a day before the marathon, in Pocatello, Idaho, leaving behind many people whose lives he had touched, including our own family. His sweet wife told us he has been preparing spiritually as well as physically for this event, having spent three hours every morning for the past 4 years either riding his bike 60 miles or using his exercise equipment to stay in shape during bad weather days. And that he was ready to go.
As we attended his funeral, his sweet darling family kept coming up to me and giving me hugs and kisses, and telling me how much I look like their dad, and how much they missed him. He loved them so very much, and taught them, along with his sweet wife, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and lived it every day as he served his friends and neighbors, and made everyone happy to know him. That was about the largest funeral I remember attending for a long time. There were still people waiting in line at the viewing when they had to close the doors for the family to bid their husband and father a last goodbye before closing the casket, and the room was filled with people who loved him very much, whose lives had truly been touched by our little brother, Rex Milton Lee. We believe he was called home to help Blaine and dad and mom share the gospel with our ancestors, because he was ready, willing and able to do that.
What a legacy our dad, James Horald Lee, and Jennie May Woodbury Lee left for us to carry on as their descendents, and as descendents of noble pioneers who sacrificed so much so we could have the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives today. And what a responsibility we have as members of the Lee clan, over which President Harold B. Lee presided during his service as an Apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and then as President of the 12 Apostles, and finally as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
And yet, there is more that I should be doing to help further Heavenly Father's plan, which is "to bring to pass the immortality and the eternal life of man," just as the Lord shared with Moses as He and Moses communed up on God's Mountain, when he went there to be taught.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, for helping me to fulfill the very special blessing which Grandpa Woodbury shared with me in my Patriarchal Blessing so long ago, and thank you for being willing to share my heart thoughts with your friends and family as well. There's no way I could fulfill it without your help. May God bless you with His spirit as you receive and share the messages of my heart with others, and especially with your friends and family. And thank you for the things that you do to help His work go forward as you research your ancestry, and then go to the temple to receive those temple blessings which they could not receive, but which they need in order to continue their progress in the eternities. Have a wonderful day, and know that you are loved. Your friend and brother. Jim