March 4, 2018         

 

Last week Salt Lake City was the location for the biggest annual conference on Family History or Genealogy in the world. People from all over the world attended. It was sort of the Academy Awards for ancestors. Lots of vendors, sessions, and break-out classes. Gary went in his power wheelchair, especially interested in the DNA classes that show how to locate DNA matches.

 

Gary is especially interested in this subject because he was adopted in what was termed a “transfer of custodianship” from the mother to his parents. Never was a child more welcome. Bill and Meda had been devastated when their nine year old son Blair died. Bill discreetly advertised among his medical acquaintances for a child. A doctor and his nurse became parents of an illegitimate child which seventy-eight years ago was something to be hidden. So the mother gave up her three day old son to the thrilled Allens.

 

Meda told me that previous to obtaining this child, she couldn’t sleep, heartbroken and unable to cope. She said, “After we got Gary, I could have slept on a clothesline!” They were happy until rumor came to them that the mother and the now-divorced father had married and were wanting the boy back. There was a time limit for getting a child back, and the Allens couldn’t lose another child.

 

So they moved to Cincinnati. They sold their home and left the state. Kind of reminds me of Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt to save a son named Jesus. They stayed for eighteen months beyond the time-limit for retrieval, so they felt safe in returning to Salt Lake City. Very shortly after, they adopted Gary’s red-headed sister Susan.

 

Why they went away had been a mystery until this year when a next-door neighbor recalled that after the Allens had left, a couple came to the house asking for them. We don’t know for sure that the story above was why they left for Cincinnati, but it seems to be just the link we needed.

 

Another way to look at it is, of course, that the poor mother who gave up her child and the man who made her an “honest woman” by marrying her didn’t get their child back. I can’t imagine them alive still, but they surely wondered about the boy until they died.

 

Gary has wondered who his birth mother and father are or were. He feels no particular ties to them, but adopted children often find that urge very strong. It’s as if they had a part missing that needs a prosthetic. He especially wants to know about his genetic health expectations. In these aging years, we don’t know what his average life expectancy is, what diseases and traits are likely, what he may have passed down to our children, so he’s looking for information.

 

Off he went to the Salt Palace each day, unloaded his wheelchair and had a stimulating and inspiring time. Each day, I stayed home because I don’t walk as well as I need to and don’t have a wheelchair. Each day we carefully checked the weather forecasts. A monster snowstorm was looming, and Roots Tech was scheduled from Wednesday to Saturday evening, ending with a huge musical production at the Conference Center. Attendees would walk a little less than a half mile from the Salt Palace to the Conference Center through cleared streets lined with vendors and entertainers.

 

It was a well-planned and marvelous event, but the storm was going to blow it off the calendar. Snow was supposed to begin Wednesday night. Nothing but wind. Then they were sure it would bury us by Thursday night. It turned back! It lurked there as if God’s hand held it from our area. It threatened and stalled like that until Saturday evening when everybody was safely home. Then it snowed and snowed, at our house about ten inches, and much, much more in the mountains.

 

Thousands of exhibitors, speakers, food vendors, ushers and attendees were safe because the storm held off. We Mormons think family history, family ties and events, honoring our ancestors and keeping them in our hearts are duties of the highest and most satisfying kind. Worth a miracle. PMA

 

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