Apostolic Brush

Ruby and David Haight, Paul Ross, Rose and John Byrom

Ruby and David Haight, Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom

I stumbled upon this picture the other day and thought maybe it was time to share it.  This picture has an interesting story behind it.

On the far right are John and Rosie Byrom.  Rosie is mostly in the shadow so it is difficult to make her out.  I served in the Runcord Ward from around December 1999 to around August 2000.  John served as Ward Mission Leader and Rosie as a Ward Missionary.  (The Byroms have since separated and divorced).  I served in the ward for a long time and they remained in their callings for the entire time, so we built a friendship which, I feign to believe, still exists to this day.

I returned home from my mission in December 2000.  It was not long into 2001 that I learned the Byroms were planning on visiting Utah.  Of course, I invited them to spend some time in Idaho.

During the majority of time I served in Runcorn I had a companion by the name of Brad Hales.  Also in our district was a senior sister companionship of Meriel Peterson and Patricia Kleinkopf.  We were all native Idahoans and were in close proximity of each other.  It was natural that the Byroms also wanted to visit each of them while they were in Idaho.

This particular day we drove to Oakley, Idaho to visit Sister Peterson.  We had an enjoyable breakfast and conversation.  Sister Peterson decided she wanted to give us the tour of Oakley because there were some architectural gems that she thought the Byroms would enjoy.  I grew up near Oakley so I was familiar with many of these local landmarks.

We all piled into my little Camry and away we drove.  We had not made it very far driving down some of the streets of Oakley when Sister Peterson announced, “Wait, David is home, he will want to meet you!”  She had me turn around and we pulled into a little home in Oakley.

I had no clue who David was and I was not familiar with the home we were now pulling into the driveway.  We all exited the car.  In the yard there was a man trimming his hedges with a large straw hat and a large set of sunglasses that you only see old people wear.

Since Sister Peterson indicated that David would want to meet the Byroms because they were from England, I remained at the front of my car in the driveway and leaned back against it in the hot, summer, morning sun.

I have to give a little bit of background on the month prior.  We are in the latter half of July 2001 at the point of this picture (I recollect it was the 21st, but may be wrong).  I had just spent considerable time in Hawaii with family at the beginning of the month.  During that time I picked myself up a shirt and a shell necklace among other items.  As you can see in the picture, I am wearing my red shirt (not the blatant Hawaiian design you regularly see).  For years I thought I was in a pair of board shorts too, but this picture corrects my memory on that tidbit.  But I had continuously wore my new puka shell necklace since the trip to Hawaii.

Back to the story, I am leaning on the front of my car watching the Byroms enter the back yard through the hedge and approach this old man in a large straw hat and holding an electric hedge trimmer.  The man stopped trimming and turned to greet his trespassers.  Curiously, after what was a short couple of moments, probably no more than 20 seconds of conversation, this man leaves the Byroms and Sister Peterson and headed my direction.

My first reaction was that I was doing something wrong so I looked around to see my misstep.  Alas, not seeing I had done anything wrong I approached the man and met him near his hedge.  He had set down his trimmer before arriving to me and he pulled his hand out of his glove to shake my hand.  I shook hands with him and he with his free hand reached up and took of his hat and glasses and asked me my name.

My first thought was something along these lines, “Boy, this David fellow sure looks familiar.”  He asked my name and I gave it.  He asked about my Ross name and whether or not it was Scottish.  I informed him it was my name but not the name of which my ancestors carried.  He then informed me that Ross was a common name in Scotland where he had served as a Mission President.

He then grew quiet and he sidled up closer to me and put the hand with the hat and glasses in the small of my back while still holding my other hand in a handshake.  He was now close enough that his face was in my shadow (and he was considerably shorter than me).  He then broke the handshake and with that hand reached up and touched my puka shell necklace.

“What is this?”

“My necklace?”

“I am disappointed that you have fallen from the principles of the gospel that we teach as missionaries.  We teach than men and women have separate and distinct roles and this is confusing the two.”

My first impression was, “How did you know I served a mission?”

This man then turned to walk away back to the Byroms and Sister Peterson.  As he walked away, the thought occurred, “You have just been rebuked by an Apostle.”

Then it dawned.  David was David B Haight, one of the twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  This was an individual I recognized as a Priesthood Leader and on my first meeting with him, I had been rebuked.

I stood there reeling from what had just happened.  It stung.  David went to the back door of his house and summoned his wife Ruby.  Ruby appeared and they all stood 25 feet away from me chit chatting about England, Scotland, and whatever else they were talking about.

What seemed like an eternity was likely only a minute or so, if that.  I remember reaching up and taking the puka shell necklace off and holding it in my hand.  I dwelt on what was really an unintended and probably unwanted visit that was a bother to me and this old man.  Sister Peterson just commented he was home and a few lines of dialogue just ended up potentially effected my eternities.  According to him I was already on the path, so I guess it did not matter what he said except to correct my backsliding ways.

Next thing I knew, the distant conversation between the Haights and Byroms had stopped and this Apostle was returning to me.  He again held out his hand as if to invite another handshake. I held out my hand with the necklace in it and he cupped his hand to receive whatever I was offering.  I dropped the necklace into his hand and once he realized what it was he let it drop to the ground.

He held out his hand again inviting mine in a handshake and I clasped his.  He sidled up close to me again, put his other hand in the small of my back, and was close enough to be in my shadow and that I could smell the salt in his old man sweat, and he continued…

“Where did you serve your mission?”  (I remember thinking that was an ironic question since the Byroms were from England, Sister Peterson served in England, and he asked where the fourth member of the party served his mission?)

“England Manchester Mission”

“How long have you been home?”

(After a quick mental tally) “Nine months”

“Elder, you hold the Priesthood.  You have a duty to uphold that Priesthood.  You should have been married by now.”

He released my hand, pulled his hand from the small of my back, turned, and walked away.  Maybe 4 steps later he turned around and said, “When it happens, I want to know about it.”

He returned to a conversation with Ruby, Sister Peterson, and the Byroms.

I stood there while they chatted for a few more minutes.  I do not recall hearing anything of the conversation between them, even if I was close enough to have heard.

Rosie had a picture taken of the occasion.  Sister Peterson sacrificed herself in the moment to take the photo that now memorializes this occasion.

I shook hands again with Elder David Haight and Sister Ruby Haight and we headed on down the road to see some other homes.  I ended up driving many more hours that day to Boise, Idaho City, Stanley, and elsewhere chauffeuring the Byroms through some of the sights of Idaho.  Rosie Byrom teased me about the moment the rest of the time I was with them.  After all, it is not every day that you get rebuked by an Apostle.  I cannot recall if they overheard the conversation or if I told them about it.  I cannot imagine that they overheard the conversation due to the close proximity in which David and I spoke that day.

Oddly enough, it weighed on me for a long time.  It became the butt of jokes as time went on, especially as David continued to age.  He was already over 95 at the time of my meeting him.  Roommates and friends would indicate that I better hurry or else I would not fulfill the rest of my duty to let David know when it happened.  I will not lie, it became a great story to tell people.  People loved to hear about my rebuke by an Apostle.

I regularly tell the story to individuals I am close to and that wear a necklace.  Missionaries I worked with I regularly told the story, especially if they wore a necklace.  I admit, I never wore a necklace or bracelet of any type since that date.  I know a number of missionaries who have “fallen from the principles we teach as missionaries” and forsaken their evil ways.  Honestly, I do not know that the story is one that should be heeded by others.  But for the deep effect it had upon me at the time and the power in which he spoke to me, I recognize it was for me.  Others should be careful about applying revelation of others to themselves.  But I do believe there is a principle here that we can learn, I just don’t know that I can very clearly articulate it.  I know the principle clearly for me, but don’t know how narrow or general to make it in application to others.

I remember Rosie reminding me that if I properly repent, I would be married within another 9 months.  Boy if that did not apply a little pressure!

As a side, I did pick up my little puka shell necklace and ended up giving it to a friend when I returned to Missouri later in August.  I don’t believe she has any clue what that little necklace meant to me.

There is more to the story.

On the following Monday, I believe 23 July 2001, I was in Salt Lake City with the Byroms.  After an endowment session, Rosie announced we were to go to the Church Administration Building.  She did not tell us why and I thought she just wanted to see the sights from the Church Office Building.  We walked in the Church Office Building and after Rosie talked to the man at the desk, she said we were in the wrong building and we needed to go to the Church Administration Building.  I informed her that the Church Administration Building was not really open to the public.  Rosie announced that we had an appointment.

In light of my experience a few days before, I was not really thrilled about our appointment in the Church Administration Building.  We walked around to the front door of the Church Administration Building and walked in.  As we approached the man at the security desk he asked,

“Are you the Byroms?”

Rosie responded, “Yes.”

“We have been waiting for you.”  (Never a very heartwarming phrase, whether the morgue, jail, CIA, bank, or Church Administration Building)

The man then responded, “You will need to leave your bags here, take the elevator to the fourth floor, take a right, and it is the last door on the left.  I will let them know you are coming up.”

We entered the elevator and headed to the fourth floor.  Rosie then turned and commented to me, “John helped provide security and drive for Elder Ballard while he (Elder Ballard) was in England for the Preston Temple Dedication.  He told us that if we were ever in Utah to stop and pay him a visit.”

Suddenly the realization came to me that I was going to visit with my second Apostle in less than a week.  I am a fairly laid back guy but felt some apprehension after the experience just days before.  We turned the corner and there stood M Russell Ballard in the doorway.  He invited us in to his office, introduced us to his secretary, and then ushered us into his office.  Across from his desk, I think, there were two nice wing-backed chairs.  Another chair was already there for me, or we pulled up a chair.  Elder Ballard left the office for a moment and then reappeared pushing a little chair toward me.  We were already all seated and he asked,

“Where is your wife?”

“I am not married.”

“Oh, that is something you will have to fix.”

He turned to push the little chair back out the door.  I heard Rosie chuckle and comment, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses…”

Elder Ballard returned and took his seat and we had a nice conversation that probably did not take more than 15 minutes.  Once again, Rosie had a picture taken.

Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom, Elder Ballard

Paul Ross, Rosie and John Byrom, M Russell Ballard

That was the extent of the interaction and I felt some sting from the second witness of my duty to uphold the Priesthood.  But it was a pleasant experience.  Rosie reminded me often after that, “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Well, time passed and eventually Elder David B Haight did pass from this veil of tears at the end of July 2004, three years after our encounter.  Fortunately, Elder Haight and I did have an opportunity to talk again regarding our first interaction that lessened the blow of the occasion.  Nevertheless, roommates and many friends called after Elder Haight’s passing to let me know how dire my situation was now that the revelator had passed and I had not fulfilled my duty.

Rosie commented to me that I could fulfill my duty by reporting my marriage to Elder Ballard when the time came.

Well, forward a few more years and I became enamored with a little red-headed girl from Kaysville, Utah.  She came to enjoy her time with me and after a while we would end our walks with a little dancing on the porch of the Alumni House at Utah State University.  It became a regular thing to end our walks and evenings out with a dance and closing conversation on the porch of the Alumni House.  I dare say we danced on the porch of that building more than 60 times.  It was on the porch of this little Alumni House that I made an unofficial proposal to Ms. Hemsley.  It just seemed like the right place.

Months later, Amanda and I returned to Logan under the guise of visiting some friends.  While on the campus I took her to that little porch of the Alumni House and there after midnight, now on 4 July 2005, I fell to my knee and proposed to her.  Of course she said yes and we danced and kissed there on the porch of the Alumni House.  Interestingly, before we left that night, I caught sight of a huge portrait hanging inside the doors that open to the porch that had become an important part of our courtship.  As I looked closer, I could see the familiar sight of a man whose face I knew.  As I got a little closer to see in the dark the portrait lit only by fire escape signs it dawned on me it was a portrait of David B Haight.

If that was not a little coincidental, and perhaps a little creepy, I do not know what is.  Elder Haight’s portrait had actually witnessed some of the most personal moments of my courtship.  The building I had only known as the Alumni House is properly named the David B Haight Alumni Center.  Somehow it seemed the whole experience had just came full circle.

We sent a wedding invitation to Elder M Russell Ballard with a short note explaining that due to Elder Haight’s passing I was sending the note and invitation to him to fulfill my duty.  He responded with a card thanking me for my note and invitation and suggested I consider my duty fulfilled.  He also apologized for not being able to attend our reception (which I am glad about, surely some further duty might have been laid upon me if he had!)

There is my story for the above photo with the Haights and Byroms.  Maybe some day I can tell my story about Elder Hales (the Apostle, not my missionary companion)…

Shout from Idaho

I am writing from sunny and green Idaho.  The amazing thing is another rain-storm is pondering the roll through right now.  The reservoirs are all full and life seems to be looking pretty good here.  The locals say it has been a bit humid for the past few days, but I can handle 20 or 30% humidity with little issue.  Especially after 100+ Oklahoma with a heat index into the cent teens.  I thought I would share a couple of thoughts of our little trip.

This morning found us at the bright and beautiful Twin Falls Temple.  I will have to post some pictures later, but it was a full session.  It was a clear morning and we could not have asked for more.  We ran into my cousin on the session and it was fun to catch up with her.  We took some pictures after we got out as Dad and Jan were going in.  Amanda needed some R&R so we came back and crashed for this afternoon.  We did have lunch with Ms. Felicia Poteet and her cutest daughter, Evie.  I am glad I have friends, that I get to hang out with them, and learn from their life experiences.  Where would we be without family and friends?

The week was busy getting Derek off into the MTC (Missionary Training Center) in Provo.  All went off, pretty much without a hitch, on Wednesday.  His farewell went well, he spoke well, and the family congregated to the Hemsley home in Kaysville.  All enjoyed the food, spent some good quality time with family, and plenty of stories.  I was exhausted after the whole thing and I didn’t even have a role to play in the open house.  There must have been 50-70 people who came through the home during the open house.  We helped Derek pack, finish shopping, fulfill a few last requests, and enter the MTC.  We also had a meeting or two with friends of Amanda’s from high school to catch up on old times.  We stopped to visit Amanda’s Grandpa in Springville, Utah as well.

We drove up to Idaho yesterday but took our time doing it.  We took the old highway from Snowville up through Strevell, Bridge, City of Rocks, Oakley, and home.  Everything was so green from all the rain and it looked good.  We enjoyed the drive.  We took some pictures of the old homes in Elba, Idaho.  Someday we want to design our own home with a design that is both unique but that has some classic designs, one of which is found in the early pioneer homes.

Tonight we head off to a melodrama at the restored Wilson Theatre in Rupert.  Tomorrow morning we have the Scout Breakfast at the Rupert Square and then we will watch the parade.  Tomorrow is also Dad’s birthday.  Jan’s was last week.  We treated them to dinner last night and the show tonight.  I am certainly looking forward to the parade.  Then we drive back down to Kaysville to watch fireworks at fly out Sunday Morning.

Tuesday Derek and I went hiking up Adams Canyon near Kaysville, Fruit Heights, Layton.  We hiked it very quickly and then pretty much jogged all the way down.  I sure did hurt the next day.  I thought I was getting old but Derek felt the same way the next day so it wasn’t just me!  We also got some pictures at the waterfall which I will have to share as well.  Anyhow, no nuggets of truth in this entry.  I don’t do them as often as I used to.  Someday I will be smart and have something to offer…

July Letter from Mom

This is the latest letter.  I edited quite a bit out of it to keep it from being offensive.

Paul,

I just wrote Jill back and sent Alyssa a card in thanks for the picture she drew me of Rojo.

So I take it you are all moved and settled in your place in Richmond. So you got another house?  Or an apartment?

Aint Karma a bitch!  I tried and tried to get that prick Carlson off my case but the bias gutless bastard was not man enough to take himself off my case.  So my 2 good friends Mother Nature and Father Time took care of my problem for me.  Those obits you sent me was a joke.  That is one reason why I will not have one.  What a crock of shit.

Anyhow, I called Dunlap the 9th and he was taking off for somewhere but said he was taking my file with him.  He said he found something else in my paperwork and was investigating it.  He wants everything over and done with by the end of this month so hopefully in a couple of weeks I will leave on transport to Jerome.  Another judge has not been appt yet.  SO I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything turns out for me OK.  Then I can get out of this screwed up state and start over again.  Hopefully I can get Sis to go with me.

I did not think Milo had the guts to answer my note.  I told you he was a gutless wonder.  I sent Doug a card for his birthday and asked him to please put the plot next to Dads in my name.  I said you would probably help if needed.  Will you?

Beings you are working in a bank now are you going to forget about law, lawyering, politics and all the corruption that goes along with it.  I hope so.  The system is broken and too far damaged to ever fix.  Besides DOC is one of the biggest money makers in the country.  Then you have all the parasites that suck the incarcerated for everything with commissary, phones, ect.  I would prefer you stay away from it.  Stick to banking.  That is where the money is.  Pun intended.  You can find out for me how to get off shore accts.

I do not remember you telling me about Ross.  Hope you have fund showing Donald around.  Thanks for the info on the Jonas’.  Does not the death certificate tell the cause of death.  What or why the person died.  Like Grandpa Jonas died of electrocution.  Did you find out anything about autopsy reports.  Are not they public record?  If so then you can get them.  Autopsy reports are used in court which is public.  I know at one time I had the autopsy report of the one who got herself dead in my hands but it made me sick reading what little I did read so that means probably both the attys had a copy.  Check it out or if you run across a lawyer ask and see.  I think Colleen had Dads.  Whatever, if you come up with anything let me know.

I still caint figure out why you want a timeline of my life.  You sure are not going to get it from anybody else.  1st accident happened about 4 days after I graduated from high school.  May 26, ’72 I think.  Doug Taylor and I were up in the mountains above Oakley.  I think we were up where we used to get wood.  We had spent the night up there in his Blazer without the top on.  Doug had been screwing around trying to be cute and found a gog and stuck the Blazer in it.  It took us most of the morning trying to find big rock to put under the tires to get out.  We stopped in Oakley at a little store and got a couple cans of soup and a big can of tomato juice.  Doug did not have a drivers license so we stayed off the main high by taking the road east that ran parallel to the highway.  Doug had one of those small sport steering wheels and the juice can got stuck under the steering wheel and the seat.  Before he could get it out the Blazer drifted to the left and hit a culvert and that had big chunks of cement thrown in it where the force of the water had washed away the dirt.  Doug bounced out 1st thing and only got a scrape on his shoulder.  I rode with the Blazer being thrown back and forth like a rag doll.  The Blazer came to a stop where it hit an uprise where the ground had been cut away.  I was thrown out and the barb wire broke my fall.  I slid along the wire a little ways and ended up upside down hanging by my leg.  When I lifted my head to try and figure out whatever, it was like someone threw a bucket of blood on my arm.  I kicked down and was wedged between the Blazer and the uprise ground.  The wreck crunched the front quarter fender passenger side.  I think there was front end damage.  I busted the back of the seat so it layed flat, took out the dash with my ribs and the windshield and frame with my head.  Then I spent time at U of U Medical Center trying to make my face look like my face again.  Before I got my last operation on my face I got my hand hurt at Del Monte.

Aug 17, 73 I went to Mt. Home Air Force Base to pick up Doug (brother).  When I got back and went to work I was late.  It was break time so I was giving the other workers their breaks.  I was by the buff line squatting down picking up stuff up off the floor.  I started to lose my balance and reached back to steady myself and grabbed the chain right in front of the sprocket which pulled my hand in.  I spent the next 4 years getting my hand rebuilt.  I lived on comp for the first 2 years.  That was when I moved back to Richmond and then Logan.  After they cut me off comp in between operations I worked odd jobs.  I worked as an automotive electrical mechanic in Mt. Home (76), canning kitchen in Rupert (76).  I went to Voc Rehab at CSI (77), was the 2nd to leave and get a job which was at Motor Parts in Burley (77).  I enlisted in the Army in the DEP (delayed entry program) in Dec 77, left in Mar 78 for boot camp at Ft. McClellan Alabama, then to Ft Knox Kentucky for AIT as 63C which is track vehicle mechanic.  Was ½ through my 13 wk training in 2 ½ wks when I said fuck it cause a faggot kept getting me in trouble cause I would not play her game.  I went to my DI (drill instructor), CO (commanding officer), JAG (lawyers), IG (Inspector General) for help and no one would help me so I got out on a medical discharge.  Came back to Colleen’s in Paul and started working for Circle A.

New Years Eve ’79-’80 I put my arm through the window at the shop, cutting my arm in half and almost bled to death.  DO not know if in 79 or after midnight in 80 when it happened.  Feb 10, ’80 wrecked my jeep out by Max beet dump.  Flipped jeep 7 times end over end and side ways.  My dog is buried at Max.  Everyone standing around said I was dead.  But I am too damn ornery to die.  The picture by the little red car is when I got in the wreck with Doug in ’72.

Does that fill in some of your spaces.  I been bunged up pretty good.  Some still bother me.  In the little house when I was first living in it I walked out the front door and ** Sunday punched me and kicked me in the back right where spind and hip bones come together and ruptured the spinal column.  Between the hematoma and spinal fluid that leaked out I had a lump the size of a soft ball cut in half.  Took about a year for my body to dissolve and absorb it.  One of the war wounds that will bother me til the day I die.

Love,

Mom