Way out from the land of California comes word that Kirk and Daena Westover will soon be leaving for the Georgia Atlanta Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a period of two years. That will be an experience for them that no doubt will add to their family history in a significant way.

As is the custom they spoke in Church before their local ward in advance of their departure. Kirk, one of our great family historians, shared a memorable message of testimony that included a fair bit of Westover family history.

In blending these tales of family experience with the words of scripture backed by testimony Kirk is doing a great service to family near and far. He is showing how relevant the past lives of our ancestors are in our present day. He acknowledges their influence and applies the lessons of their successes and challenges. This is one of the real blessings of knowing our family from as far back as we can learn about them.

I especially appreciated Kirk’s comments about his father and my grandfather — brothers who like Kirk served as missionaries while both young men and later in life with their spouses. Both of these great men are gone now and I knew them both well and love them tremendously. But Kirk’s shared insight provides yet even one more delicious bit of detail that I never had before and I greatly appreciate that.

Instead of copying his talk word for word I am merely including his notes that showcase his stories of family history as well as quotes and scriptures he used in his address. Click here to download and read.

We will miss Kirk and Daena while they serve. Kirk is a steady source of great family history and we’ll miss that for the next couple of years as he makes new family history. We wish them the best.

(By the way, for those who can see the photo at the top — that’s a photo of Kirk and his brothers — each of them missionaries at one time — taken from another period of service from their parents in New Zealand when they were boys)

Our-five-Sons-New-Zealand-1

Editor’s Note: I did ask a few of my children to try to contribute some memories on audio for Mother’s Day knowing full well they had some great stories to tell. Every family does.

While that didn’t exactly happen they did go to social media today to publicly express their feelings about their Mom. And funny how what they ended up doing was what I was hoping for in the first place. So, being the sneaky Dad that I am I lifted what they posted and archive those comments here. Some day they may prove to be valuable insight not only by providing a glimpse of their mother but also a bit of themselves through a couple of snapshots in time: those moments they recall, and the time now they have taken to record them. Here they are, unedited:

sew2Enoch: “My favorite memory of my mom had to be back when I was in high school playing baseball. She was my personal coach. She did research on how I could be stronger and feel better with my current diet at the time. (If I’m being honest it was not very good. But she made it work) She played catch with me on occasion. She’d take me to my early morning work outs without complaining. While driving to those work outs she’d give me a motivational speech every time out. Which really lit a spark for me personally. I wasn’t very confident in myself cause I was some random home schooled kid no one expected to make an impression and ultimately make the team. She helped me in making my protein shakes every time before and after work outs. It finally came time for the coaches to post results for who made the team. And I’ll be honest. I couldn’t sleep. I wanted to play, bad. My mom was up with me that night and some time around 2 or 3 in the morning, again without complaining she took me to the school where the final rosters were posted outside the door. I remember the drive there like it was yesterday. Shaking like hell. My mom jamming out to Colbie Calet or however the hell you spell it. And when we finally got there (after 5 minutes) I saw that I made the team. We celebtated the whole car ride home and even days after that. As much as I would like to brag and say I did that all myself, I can’t. My mom is probably 90% responsible for me making that team. Even after games started she treated me like a king. Went to every game. Continued to motivate me. Supported me in everything. Helped me keep a level head and a somewhat healthy diet. Though I do remember getting a baconator at Wendy’s after almost every game… Yes she’s been my coach my entire life. She’s been my best friend. And that’s something that I’ll never forget and something I’ll treasure till the day I die.”

sew6Maggie: “Hi mom, thanks for birthing me and saying funny things that I don’t understand and for supporting me through so much and so many mess ups and for often tolerating my humor. You’re totally hip. I love you so much.”

Allie: “I’ve never seen eye to eye with my mom on everything, but never have I known a person who loves and encourages as unconditionally as she does. She crazy, she tells weird jokes, doesn’t make sense 98% of the time, doesn’t understand any of the jokes we tell, but above all who really needs her to do any of those things when she’s who she is? My mom makes me laugh hysterically because she’s a goofball and she doesn’t realize it. It’s who she is.

One of my favorite memories is when I was younger. I wanna say 10 or 11. I was homeschooled at the time and my mom set some rules, if you don’t finish your homework, you can’t go out and play with your friends. Simple as that. My mom taught me everything I know in terms of academics. Math, English, reading, writing, proper use of their, there, and they’re. The works. How she managed to do it with 7 kids is beyond me. Anyway, one day my mom gave me this pretty intense (intense at the time and for my age) math exercise. I remember it really well…it was 3 full pages, 16 problems on each page, long division on all 3 of those pages. I hated them with a passion then, and I still dislike them to this day. The only difference is I actually know what I’m doing now. All thanks to momma.

sew3I remember her giving me the assignment and explaining to me the step-by-step rules of long division. For the life of me I couldn’t figure it out, I would skip a step and not know which one. I loved doing the single digit problems because I felt like the smartest kid on the block, but when those numbers doubled up I considered myself doomed. I became angry and frustrated because I wanted to go play and be done with math, but I didnt know what I was doing. So I asked my mom for help, I pointed out the problem I couldn’t solve and she walked me through it again, she told me to take another swing at it and then she would watch me and see what step I was missing. “Allie you keep forgetting to bring that number down. If you don’t do that you wont find your answer.” So I did it again, skipped the same stupid step. My mom being the patient woman she is, wrote out PEMDAS at the top of the page and said “follow these steps and you will find your answer.”. Tried. Failed. Again. But my mom STILL sat there until I got it right. Back then it took about 10 minutes a problem because my mom was very thorough in her explanations. So I finished that problem and expected her to help with the rest, but she didn’t. ” Nope, I want you to do EXACTLY what we did with this one, and do it to the rest of them. If you get stuck again, let me know. But I want you to know how to do this.”. I was tired, I was fed up, the kids were outside livin’it up having a blast with their water guns out on the front lawn, and here I was stuck inside doing long division. Worst mom ever.

sew4Not. Looking back I realize if my mom didn’t push me to learn that stuff, I wouldn’t be confident in those things like I am today. I didn’t see the importance of knowing how to do math when I was 10 year-old. But now I do. Because whenever I do anything math related, my mind immediately reverts back to what my mom taught me when I was a kid. She was loving but firm in teaching us things. It’s helped all of is grow into useful and educated kids. Because of the things our mom taught us before we went to school, we have been successful in our academics and in our jobs. My freshman year was my first year of school…ever. I made the honor roll every single trimester throughout that year. And I have my mom to thank for that. Most kids are able to be successful at the freshman age because they went to preschool, kindergarten, and elementary school. I had none of that, and I don’t regret it because I had the best teacher. To homeschool 7 of your kids…is just about as patient as a person can get. I applaud my mom for her efforts in helping each of us learn. Granted there were times I wanted to be in school for other things, my mom taught us the basics. I’ve been successful in my education lately because of things I learned being in school, and also because of the things my mom taught me as a kid. Things keep going uphill and I will be forever grateful to her for taking the time to love and teach me.
Thanks for everything, momma”

Abby: ”One of my favorite memories of my mom was when she got sick of talking to us so she pretended she lost her voice for a whole day. She’s the greatest.”

“Ooh I almost forgot about this one. My mom on one of her sleep deprived Benadryl trips. I know you hate this, Mom, but we hold these moments dear.”

Madelyn: “The happiest of mothers days to my dearest mom Sandy Gillen Westover

sew5She is the walking definition of “age is just a number” and she’s my hero. Mom, you really have no idea how much you mean to me. I know I’m not the best daughter and I don’t deserve a mom as perfect as you. But I love you so so much and I’m so lucky I have you in my life not only as a mother, but also a supporter, and mentor, and a best friend. I love you so so much.
I have a ton of favorite mom memories ranging from frozen yogurt dates to doing the dishes together. But here’s one that’s one of my personal favorites.
On Christmas Eve a last year, me and my sisters made the mistake of watching the mid season finale of season four of the walking dead. (Spoiler someone beloved to me died in this episode) after this episode I was a complete mess. A pathetic human cucumber drowning in the tears over grief from the death of a person that never actually existed. But honestly I cried for hours. And it was Christmas Eve. Me being me, I went to go find my mother in search of comfort because I believed she’d make it all better. She did. I walked into my parents room with a blanket wrapped around me and a tissue shoved up my nose and I plopped my sad excuse of a self on their bed. My mom saw me in distress and frantically asked me what happened. I explained to her the situation and she hugged me and rubbed my back and told me everything was going to be ok. She even threw in a sympathetic “awh honey” in there. I looked up with tears in my eyes while my mom held me. I looked over at my dad and he gave me the most FED UP LOOK OF HIS LIFE. He looked me dead in the face and said “are you kidding me? That’s what you’re crying about? GET A LIFE.” This made me laugh because Its true. This was the life I was leading, but aye it’s a very emotionally involved show. This made my mom feel even more sympathetic for me. So, it being Christmas Eve, she grabbed a half eaten chocolate bar and got a Christmas bow from her closet and carefully put the bow on the chocolate to give to me. This is just one example of the extent of my mothers love. How ridiculous was this situation? Probably broke the scale of pathetic but my mother didn’t care because she loves everything and everyone so much. Happy Mother’s Day to my hero. (Sorry for the sad pathetic story. Thanks for loving me anyways mom) “

Editor’s note: Aunt Evie created a bit of a stir this week by sharing her memories of her mother. It seems to have set off a flood of memories of Evie…and I could listen to these stories all day. As these thoughts were sent to me I thought it would be great to compile them in one random post, which is what we’ve done below. The funny thing is that when I received these things I had the distinct feeling I get when I sit in Evie and Darrell’s family room just chatting with folks who have gathered there forever…it’s a feeling of being at home. My profound thanks to all for contributing these thoughts. — JSW

Young'uns of Evie and Darrell

Young’uns of Evie and Darrell

Kirk: “I tend to only remember moments, not stories. I remember Mom woke us up for seminary by smothering our faces with kisses. I remember her singing in the kitchen. I remember her laugh. I remember that my brothers picked her up and passed her about from one to another just because they could. I remember her getting frustrated once and loudly hollering, ” Great gooey gobs of gopher guts.” stuff like that.”

Kim: “Some of my favorite memories of Mom are things that happened around the Holidays. The looks between Mom and Dad, either with no words at all, or with just one word, “Darrell”. That usually signified the violation of “don’t get anything for me” instructions. There were presents with special messages from Santa about sharing with brothers and sister in handwriting that looked familiar. There’s one memory that is particularly close to my heart. I can still close my eyes and see what I thought was the most beautiful birthday cake I had ever seen. I may have transformed it in my mind over the years, but I see it as big and white and beautiful with candles burning. It had to be the best birthday cake ever, because it was to celebrate the birthday of Jesus. I don’t know how old I was at the time–maybe 5 or 6? That would make that event almost sixty years in the past, yet there hasn’t been a single holiday since that I haven’t recalled the impression. Whatever the actual details of the event, I knew in my heart that this was the birthday of Jesus and that it was the most wonderful birthday ever, because my Mommy told me.”

Kirk (to Paul): A special memory to me is the feeling that I got whenever Mom and Dad came home from the temple in New Zealand. I truly looked forward to it without really understanding why. It suggests that I was able to feel the spirit at a time when I may not have fully recognized what it was. At this time it was acceptable for parents of children to serve as ordinance workers and it was at this time that Dad and Mom were getting their initial training in the temple. Did you experience this?

Paul: “When counseling parents who come in for recommends I often share with them that if they will go to the temple regularly they will create in the hearts of their children the desire to go to the temple… and that I knew when I was 5-6 years old that I wanted to go… because of the love and joy that I felt when my Mom and Dad would come home from the temple in NZ. I knew that it was a place that I wanted to go because I wanted to feel what they were feeling…I wanted to partake of the fruit of that tree. Yes, I absolutely experienced that… and it made waiting to turn 12 seem like forever!”

Editor’s note #2: The picture that appears at the top of this post has a story behind it. I know several know the story. It’s appropriate for Mother’s Day, for sure. But I think the story of the picture is better told by someone other than me and I think all those with a connection to someone in that small not-so-perfect picture needs to know it…any volunteers?

Play Ball!! My favorite and everlasting memory of Nana naturally focuses on baseball. Nana loved baseball and especially her beloved Yankees.

On the west coast in the early 60’s, the only team in the Bay Area was the Giants so we spent many a summer day listening to Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons over the radio provide the play by play of the Giants. Mays, McCovey, Cepeda, Davenport, Hart, the Alou brothers, Marichal…man, what a team!!

Nana would add her own stories of her days at Yankee Stadium and her love of the Bronx Bombers. She tolerated the Giants since she was a loyal AL fan but Bumpa loved the Giants and we’d team up against Nana while we were all out in the garage listening to the games while Bumpa loaded his shotgun shells. To this day, listening to a game on radio brings back special memories of those earliest days of my childhood.

Yes, like grandparents often do, they both went out of their way to spoil me and feed my love for the game. We would go to Safeway on Monument Blvd to shop and instead of just buying a pack of baseball cards, they would by me the whole box!! We would go home, open them and sort them by team and by all star! As a 5 yr old, that was real treasure!

Yes, I am a proud nana’s boy!! The love of the game came from my beloved Nana. My passion in following baseball to this day came from the love and devotion of my 4ft 10in spitfire of a Nana.

The game today connects me to those moments in my very young childhood. Thanks Nana!

I am convinced that my daughter Amy’s love of the Yankees came from precious moments spent with my nana in heaven before she came to us. And, the love of the Yankees continues to this day not only with Amy, but her children as well.

Mary and daughter Amy in pinstripes.

Mary and daughter Amy in pinstripes.

Great-Great Grands Corbin and Peyton also rock Yankee pinstripes.

Great-Great Grands Corbin and Peyton also rock Yankee pinstripes.

We didn’t have Nana long during our childhood years. But what years we had together we made memories with. As this pictures show, she was an engaged grandparent:

Someone once said, “Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting!” This story is a great example of that.

Paul and Katee

Paul and Katee

In this “Memories of Mom” installment Paul Westover, son of Kim and Pam and a grandson to Darrell and Evie, shares a reunion memory that centers on his Grandma Evie.

Now, this covers a little ground we’ve shared already a little this week when Evie shared a giggling memory of her mother. And all that Paul independently verifies is that the laughter has never stopped.

We’ve asked dozens of people if they had time to share a memory of Mom this week. But we didn’t coordinate or direct a thing with these stories. (And we’re pretty sure Paul and Evie didn’t coordinate things either.) It is a delightful reminder of how spontaneously consist the love of family can be.

Paul, in his wisdom, added a little musical element to his story — and for that we’re grateful, too. Enjoy: