Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Uncle Clifford

On Sunday our family lost a cherished member.  I have tried to write about the feelings I have had as our family has exercised our faith on Uncle Cliff's behalf over the past five weeks, but I feel that perhaps they are too personal and sacred to share here.  
I sure am going to miss Uncle Cliff.  I'm grateful for his example and wish I could be with the family this weekend as we remember him.

Godspeed Tio.

Clifford Leon Whetten
(February 10, 1946 - September 11, 2011) 

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Clifford Leon Whetten

Clifford Leon Whetten
Clifford Leon Whetten left this mortal existence on September 11, 2011 surrounded by his loving family. His passing was sudden yet sweet, due to complications from pancreatic cancer. At the time of his diagnosis, Clifford was serving as the MTC President for the LDS Church in Lima, Peru.
Clifford was born February 10, 1946 in Colonia Chuichupa, Chihuahua, Mexico to Glen and Ada Whetten. He was the seventh of ten children. His siblings were his best friends throughout his life.
After graduating from the Juarez Stake Academy, he served his first mission in Northern Mexico. He married Rosalyn Hatch in the Mesa, AZ temple on December 21, 1968. Together they were blessed with four children.
After earning degrees from BYU and UTEP, Clifford moved his family to College Station, TX. Upon earning his PhD from Texas A&M, he remained at the university as a professor of education administration and multi-cultural studies. They spent many happy years in Texas raising their family. During that time, he served as a branch president, bishop and as a member of the stake presidency.
Clifford retired from teaching early, at the age of 59, when he was called to serve as president of the Mexico Tuxtla Gutierrez Mission from 2005-2008. Upon completing their mission, Clifford and his wife settled in Utah to be closer to their children and grandchildren. But their love of missionary work was put into action once again when he and his wife went to serve at the MTC in Lima, Peru in January 2010. Clifford received an honorable release from his earthly missionary service on September 7, 2011, four days before his passing.
Clifford is survived by his eternal companion, Rosalyn; their children Diana Windley (Ryan), Carolyn Smith (Jacob), Renee Christensen (Gary), and David (Natalie); their grandchildren Jett, Lauren, Luke, Jenna, Tommy, Carter and Sammy; and his siblings John, Velma, Amanda, Robert, Edward, Earline, and Don.
He is preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Glen and Bert.
Funeral services will be held Friday, September 16, 2011 at 11 a.m. at the Valley View Ward, 2455 North Valley View Drive, Layton. Friends may visit family Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Lindquist’s Layton Mortuary, 1867 No. Fairfield Road and Friday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the church.
Interment, Croydon Cemetery.
The family gives appreciation to Dr. Mark Ott and the many nurses at IMC who provided our husband and dad with compassionate care during the last five weeks.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the LDS General Missionary Fund.

Monday, September 5, 2011

I love you but...

A couple of days ago my oldest son, Dr. Destructo, was tap dancing on my very last nerve.  Someone had come home from Jamba Juice a few minutes earlier and the remnants of a smoothie were being shared between the three youngest members of the family.  (I know, gross, but they didn't care so who was I to insist on hygiene? They're related anyway.)
Inevitably there was a screaming match going on between the youngest one and his two older siblings as they took to the smoothie like a school of piranhas.  I had a massive headache at the time and had watched the two older ones take sip after sip without letting the little guy get his head in there for a chance.  This, of course, set him off.

(Before we go any further you should know, if you don't already, that two-year-olds of both genders have been blessed with the most piercing high-pitched wail known to man.  If you happen to have a headache when the wail goes off it will instantly reduce you to a blubbering pile of goo on the floor.)

Tailgunner was getting his wail worked into a fine crescendo, so I stepped in before he did irreparable harm to my head.  I had just told the two older ones to back off when Dr. Destructo swept in for one more shot of smoothie, setting off Tailgunner like an air raid alarm.  I lost it.

Nailing my oldest boy to the floor with a look of death I began the roaring for which I am known (unfortunately) in my house.  As I looked at him the most interesting thing took place.  I could see from the look on his face that he was about to argue with me that it really was his turn at the smoothie. "Dad..." he began saying, but then he caught the expression on my face.  His eyes widened and then his voice got very small and said:  "Dad, I love you Dad."

His expression (undoubtedly one of self-preservation) took almost all the steam out of my boiler, but I was still too worked up to completely think through my response:

"I love you too son, but you have to be obedient."

I was irritated that he had been disobedient and because his actions were aggravating my headache.  No doubt my son needed correction, however by putting that conditional "but" in the middle of my sentence I'm afraid that I communicated a very damaging message to my son.  It no sooner came out of my mouth than I realized I had failed the test of that moment.

There are no "buts" when it comes to the love a parent has for their child.  It is not conditional on their performance, they do not have to be constantly earning it and they should never feel that they are in danger of losing that love.

Could I re-do this moment I would have said "I love you too son, and because I love you I want you to learn to be obedient."

"Dad, I love you Dad"
In my mind's eye I can see Heavenly Father saying:  "I love you Paul, and because I love you I will give you another opportunity to take this test down the road.  Be sure you don't forget the lessons you learned from failing this test."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Stereotypes Rule!

Last night our ward had its annual swim party at a local pool.  In the weeks leading up to the party several of the men commented on the cannonball contest that was held at each party and asked me whether or not I would be competing.  (I guess they were expecting something spectacular due to my rather portly figure)
I really didn't want to compete for a few reasons:

  • Heights terrify me and the contest was to be held off the high dive
  • I always worry that the diving board will snap off when I get out on the end
  • I didn't want to prove the stereotype that the fat guy ALWAYS wins the cannonball contest (it is technique, not size, that wins)

Hats (or crowns) off to the previous holders of the Salt River Ward Splash King title:

2006 - Brian O'Barr
2007 - Jay Coombs
2008 - Tim Green
2009 - Brian O'Barr
2010 - Gregor McHardy
2011 - Yours Truly