Thursday, January 22, 2009


In today's mail, I got one of my New Year's letters back. I had sent out New Year's letters in lieu of Christmas cards and letters since December was a little too hectic with our move to Ireland. The person's letter that I got back today, was my friend, Yvonne. On the front of the envelope was a sticker that said, "RETURN TO SENDER DECEASED". Last year when I got Yvonne's Christmas letter, she said that she had had a stroke but was trying to recover. As I addressed her envelope this year, I wondered how she was, or if she was even still alive. I'd like to tell you about my friend:
I met Yvonne when she moved into my ward and joined our ward choir, of which I was the choir director. Yvonne had a great soprano voice - an operatic voice, although she could also sing alto and tenor (she had a great range). She told me one time that she used to perform on stage, but I can't remember anymore about it. I played for her one time, although I can't remember what she sang. For some reason I think it might have been "Jerusalem", which is an old song to which you might need an operatic voice to sing it. She was one of only 2 people in this world that I have met that I would agree to play for when they did not use a microphone when they sang. Anyone else who refused to use a microphone, I told them to get another pianist.
I'm not sure how old Yvonne was, but I figured she was at least as old as my parents. One time my parents came to visit me and went to church with me. Yvonne sat in front of us. The next week she told me how much she loved singing in church that day with my dad's great booming bass voice singing behind her.
My husband was assigned as Yvonne's home teacher. In our church everyone has a home teacher, who visits you and your family each month to see how you're doing and helps you with anything you need. Each home teacher has a partner, and for a while my husband didn't have a partner. Later on one of my son's was assigned to him when he got old enough (you have to be 12). Several times though, I would go with my husband to visit Yvonne. I remember one particular time I went at Christmastime. She had a big tree and had decorated it lavishly, which was her style. I thought it was beautiful and very unique. One thing I commented on that I thought was particular interesting and uniquely beautiful, was that she had fake white doves on her Christmas tree. She talked to me about how the dove plays several parts in religious history. Once when Noah sends the dove out to see if there is land and the dove comes back with an olive leaf. Another time when Jesus Christ is baptized and the Holy Ghost comes to Him in the form of a dove. There may be other times, but that is all I can remember right now. The next year for Christmas, Yvonne gave me 4 doves for my Christmas tree.
Yvonne usually walked with a cane. She had arthritis very bad, was diabetic and other problems which I can't remember. When I was Relief Society president, she moved to another ward, in order to move to a cheaper apartment. The Relief Society president from that ward called me to talk about Yvonne. She told me she thought Yvonne was either mean, mad or crazy because she was screaming at the people in her ward and hitting them with her cane. I asked her what the people were doing when Yvonne screamed at them. She replied that they were trying to shake hands with her and one person tried to give her a hug. I told her that I knew Yvonne personally and I knew she was not a mean person, but I also knew that she did not shake hands with anyone because it hurt her too bad, and she also did not hug anyone except me, and my daughter, Amber (who was also in choir), and then when she did hug us, we just stood there and did not hug her back, because of her pain. I asked her if there was anyway that she could have the bishop call Yvonne out of the beginning of Relief Society and then she could get up and explain this to the sisters and then things would be fine. When this RS president first called me, she was all upset and complaining. By the time I finished talking to her and telling her about Yvonne, I think she was quite humbled and a little embarrassed.
I have to admit that Yvonne did have her bad times. She was not faithful in watching her diabeties, and sometimes when her sugar level was high, you might think she was crazy. And maybe she was, at least at that time. One time we had a ward social in January. It was supposed to be a "Beat the winter doldrums" social. You were supposed to wear shorts and flipflops and t-shirts and come play volleyball. They had a volleyball net up and had Beach Boys music playing. Well, Yvonne's sugar level must have been pretty high that night, because when she walked into the cultural hall and heard the Beach Boys music she started screaming "Devil music!" and went screaming and crying to her car. The bishop followed her and he sat and talked to her until she got calmed down again.
One year, Yvonne decided she wanted to move to Oregon to live near her sister. She and her sister had never had a good relationship, so she wanted to try again to create one. On her way to Oregon, she stayed overnight with us one night in New Mexico. I had given her instructions on how to get to our house, but I guess she got lost. At one point, she just got out of her car and went up to a house and handed them my letter and asked them if they could tell her where she was and how to get to my house. Miraculously, it just happened to be the house of a good friend of mine. Her daughter, got in her car and went with her to my house, which was just around the corner and down the street. Yvonne lived in Oregon several years and then moved to Las Vegas - actually Henderson - which is where she died.
One time, Yvonne decided that she wanted to take tap-dancing lessons. I know she had to have been at least in her 70's at this time. She went to a dancing school and asked them if they taught adults. They said no, but she persuaded them to take her on as a student, because it was close to her house. She invited me to one of her performances, which happened to be at the mall. The dancing school was performing in the mall, and Yvonne danced right along with them!
I loved Yvonne. A lot of people were scared of her. A lot of people thought she was crazy or demented. She used to call me every single Christmas. We would talk for about 15 or 20 minutes and then hang up. I used to tell myself, "Why don't you call her?" But I never did. One time I sent her a phone card for Christmas, which then she called me and told me that now we could talk longer. :0)
I'm glad she is not in pain anymore. Everytime someone close to me dies, I think of how happy I will be when I see them again in the next life.


Amber said...

this made me really sad mom :`( I really loved Yvonne, she was such a cool lady! i wish we could have been at her funeral

Inside Stories said...

This is sweet post, but sad. At least she is at peace now, but sorry about your friend.

Bullet for Babs said...

I'm sorry Mom...sometimes I think the more difficult people to deal with in our lives are the ones that impress us the most...