Sunday Morning Dress

Ready for church, 7 Nov 2019, Aliza, Hiram, Lillian, and James Ross

I didn’t take this photo, but these are my kids in my house!  On Sunday I often find myself at church meetings so I miss the Sunday morning church preparation routine.

But I saw this photo after the fact and thought it represents our beautiful children in so many ways.  Also caught my eye is the pedigree chart in the background, our family portrait from just a few years ago, and Hiram’s tie that my Uncle Doug wore at Hiram’s age in the 1960’s.

Sharp, beautiful children.  They look good here, there is plenty of emotion and drama in the background.  They sure do clean up nice.  They are good children too.

20 years of passing

Colleen and her grandson, Paul Ross.

This year on 14 November 2019 marked the 20 year passing of my Grandmother, Colleen Andra Jonas.

I thought about that experience repeatedly on Thursday.  She would have turned 91 earlier this year.  She was falling apart then, so 91 probably would not have treated her well.  She passed away from a botched back surgery that had taken place several days before.  14 November 1999 was a Sunday.

Her passing is important for me for several reasons.  She was probably the person I most loved in my whole universe.  In many ways she had helped raise me and I always felt a very keen affinity and close relationship with her.  We knew each others thoughts, feelings, and how to connect.  I attribute many of my characteristics, humor, ability to communicate and get along with others, and much more to her.  She was a remarkable woman.  She had her faults, we all do, but that innate goodness outshines everything to me.  Her passing I can safely say completely rocked my world.

On the other side of the coin though, her passing marked my first spiritual experience inside of a Temple.  I was serving as missionary in the England Manchester Mission (EMM).  I was then serving in the Eccles Ward, living in Patricroft.  Our preparation day was on Mondays.  On 15 November 1999, I went with a family and our missionary district to the Preston England Temple.  We did a number of baptisms that day.  We intended to take at least one name through baptism, confirmation, initiatory, and endowment.

Somehow I found myself sitting alone outside initiatory.  I have no clue where the other missionaries were, it must have been a shift change or the workers had to go to the veil.  I sat on a padded bench outside initiatory, I suppose the other elders were sitting waiting in the initiatory booths.

Colleen Elliott tending to Paul Ross sitting on her kitchen counter

As I sat there, the smell of Hai Karate came to me.  That was a distinct smell of my grandmother, she wore that.  I knew she had surgery the previous week so I thought of her and prayed for her well-being.  Knowing she had a pretty major surgery coming up, we visited on the telephone the week before.  We talked about our love for each other.  We spent several minutes discussing Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s talk just the month before at General Conference, “An High Priest of Good Things to Come.”  We were both very moved by that talk and felt it directly related to both of us in our circumstances, especially in light of my mother’s actions the year before.  There was very much to look forward to and be positive about.  We closed that phone call expressing our love, looking forward to reuniting, and knowing Christ as our “High Priest of Good Things to Come.”

It was then in my mind’s eye I was transported to her surgery in Sun Valley, Idaho.  I saw the surgery, the actions of the surgeon, the extent of the invasive nature of the work.  It was during this that I saw the mistake that occurred and that was left.  Then I saw her coalescing in the hospital and the problem being created by the nicked bowel.  I saw the nurses get her up on Sunday morning, I saw the dislodging of the clot that occurred, I saw and felt the panic in her and the nurses.  I saw her slump to the floor in unconsciousness.  I knew she had passed at that moment.

I then saw my Mom, my Uncle, my Sister, my Aunt, and Bud (her husband) and their finding out the news.  My Mom didn’t know yet, but she would find out.  I saw the sadness, desperation, and frustration that came with it.

It was then I came back to myself in Preston, England.  I had just experienced the past week of my grandmother and immediate family in what seemed to me to be a couple of hours, but must have been less than 10 minutes in the Preston England Temple.  I saw there in a sort of out-of-body experience looking at myself sitting there in the 1999 initiatory clothing sitting on a bench outside an initiatory booth.

Then at that moment, in my mind’s eye, my grandmother was there.  I could smell her.  She talked to me, I could hear and feel her talking into my ear as I watched myself sitting there on the bench.  I couldn’t see her.  She told me that she had passed away.  She told me a number of other things I don’t feel to share here.  I am telling you, I was standing there, out of my body, listening to her.  She then went to leave, and the person of me standing there looking at me sitting there, started to cry.  She told me not to.  She hugged me.  Then she departed.

Side profile with grandson Paul Ross, 1979.

Suddenly, I was back sitting on the bench.  I could still smell her.  I didn’t want it to leave.  I looked up wondering what had happened.  In typical mortal fashion, I just thought to myself I had fallen asleep and dreamed it.  It was a dream to me.  I was overwhelmed by the experience but I didn’t believe it.

I must have been pretty somber throughout the rest of the day.  I didn’t really talk after the temple, at dinner that night, I was overwhelmed by the vision/dream.

Tuesday dawned and we went to work.  The day went along but the experience would not leave me.  We got home that night to 24 Lewis Street, Patricroft, England and were getting ready for the night.  It was then a knock came to the door.

I opened the door and there stood President Philip Wightman.  He said he was there to visit with me and I immediately knew why.  That dream/vision I had experienced and did not believe was now true.  I completely broke down sobbing.  He came in and we visited, I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe.  He just held and hugged me.  Finally sitting facing each other on folding chairs I told him of my experience.  Initially he said something like, “Knowing you and your history and that your Grandmother had passed, I came to visit you personally.”  After I shared with him my insight, his comment was along the lines of, “Glad I could confirm what you already knew.  I guess I didn’t need to come personally visit.”  I was very glad he did.  It was funny, a year later he indicated, “That was the night the lights came on in Elder Ross.”  I guess I wasn’t wholly in the work just yet, or along for the ride.  Not sure, I wasn’t a bad missionary, but the gospel became that much more real for me through this experience.

Colleen Jonas Portrait, 1991.

While writing this at this time, I can only think of two other experience I have had with my sweet grandmother since her passing.  One was while I lived in Branson, Missouri and she came bearing an answer to a prayer.  I was actually sleeping at that time and after her departure I awoke.  In the middle of the night I then went to see if my good friend Terry McCombs, who was staying at the same home, was awake.  Sure enough he was.  I shared the experience, the one in the Preston England Temple, and some others I have had.  He shared with me many of his own.  We talked for hours in the middle of the night and the spirit burned in my heart.  I love and miss Terry.  The other experience actually happened during a Priesthood Blessing that was being given to me in Logan, Utah by Dustin McClellan.  I recognized my grandmother’s presence come into the room.  He then announced he was acting voice for her in which he blessed me as if he were her.  Wow, if one wanted to hear a voice from the dead, that is the way to do it!  Even though Dustin spoke, I heard her voice in my ears.

This week marked the 20 year anniversary of one of the most emotional weeks I have ever had in my life.  Both on the emotional from a death, but on the spiritual of an everlasting burning of a memory on my soul.  Even recounting it in writing tonight I felt myself reliving some of it.

It is experiences like this that come to mind when people tell me that nobody can know for sure that God exists, or that his Son did anything for us.  It is moments like this when the spirit world is very real and I view people’s arguments against God as rationalization to make themselves feel better for not knowing.  Those arguments are a whistling in the dark.  For I have no doubt from the experiences recounted above and numerous others that the spirit world is not far away.  These are experiences with my grandmother, but there are others.

14 Sep 1998, Paul Ross, Colleen Lloyd, Paul, Idaho

I know God lives, just as surely as my grandmother still lives spiritually.  I am not aware of her being resurrected at this time, but it will come if it hasn’t already.  Death is not the end, that is my personal experience.  I don’t care for aging and death much, but neither are the end.  We have a work to do and not much time to do it in.

Oh how I miss my grandmother.  I haven’t had an experience with her directly since 2005, 6 years after her death, at least that I can recall now.  How I look forward to seeing her again.  It will be a blessed day.  20 years seems so long, yet so short in how vivid the love and tenderness is.  Years have caused me to forget some of her mannerisms and characteristics, but the connection is as strong as it was ever at any point.  It extends through time and space between us.  But this anniversary shocked me at how long it has been, and yet how fresh it still seems.

Here is a picture of the last day I saw her physically.  The day I met with the Stake President again and to finally go into the Missionary Training Center after many weeks of delay due to my mother’s actions.

The morning to go to the MTC with Milo Ross, Colleen Lloyd, and Jackie Melycher

Building a Fort!

Living Room fort 12 October 2019

We have a family routine that every Saturday we vacuum all the floors in the house.  Once and a while I get a while hair and decided to move furniture and vacuum beneath them as well.  I have learned with our new hardwood floors and poorly secured carpets, it is better to just tip the couches into the center of the room than it is to try and scoot, drag, push, or pull them around.  Plus it dumps out the couches and also let’s me vacuum the bottom.  The kids were goofing off with the pillows and building a fort so I thought I would help them out.  Thus, you see the couch fort.  I never got something this cool when I was a kid!

Inside the Living Room Fort 12 October 2019

Logan Temple, June 2019

Aliza and Hiram Ross, Logan Temple

In June this year, we had an appointment to meet up with Ross, Dale, and Larry Andra in Preston.  The evening went much longer than anticipated and we still had to drive to Kaysville for the evening.

On the way through, we stopped and took pictures with the Logan Temple, Brigham City Temple, and Ogden Temple.  It was late, they closed the gates right behind us after they shooed us out after this photo.

Beautiful picture of the temple, Hiram has his shoulders back in a bold statement, Aliza is cold.  Beautiful, accomplished children.

40 Years Old

Gladys, Judy, Caroline, and Milo Ross in 1961

I was reviewing these photographs recently and noticed the August 1961 printing date on the photos.  You never know how long before development the photos were taken, but I presume these are the same year.  It dawned on me, both Grandpa and Grandma were born in 1921, which means Grandpa turned 40 in February 1961, Grandma would turn 40 in September 1961.

I turn 40 this month.  My Grandpa and Grandma Ross both turned 40 once!

I look at the photo below of Grandpa and Grandpa and see the reflection of their backs in the window behind.

Looking back, what do I see.

Were my grandparents really 40 at one point?  All now deceased?  Were my parents really 40?  My father was 36 when I was born, my mother 25.  I remember my Mom turning 40, it was a crazy year in 1994.

I started looking through other photographs of both sets of grandparents, but most photos are undated so trying to peg at exactly 40 is hard to do.

Gladys and Milo Ross in Aug 1961

Here is a picture of Dad in 1982, or 39 years old with our family.

Sandy, Milo, Andra, and Paul Ross in Paul, Idaho

Here is a picture of Mom in about 1994, probably a few months after she turned 40.

Paul, Milo, Sandy, Andra Ross

I don’t really have a photo for my Grandpa and Grandma Jonas than I can pin down to 1964.  The 1960s are almost a lost decade in the photos for my Jonas grandparents.  Jackie seems to jump from 2 years old to 14 in photos, or at least where Grandpa and Grandma are in them.

I have photos for Great Grandparents, but they are usually more distant photos or I don’t know the exact year to get close to 40.

Anyhow, 40 is here.  Since men live to the average age of 72, I am well over half dead.  What will my remaining 32 years possess and what story will be told, lived?

Smith and Morehouse Reservoir

For Labor Day weekend this year, 2019, we went with the Hemsley clan for a Reunion at Smith and Morehouse Campground, in the mountains from Oakley, Summit County, Utah.  I pulled two photos from the bunch to share.

Hiram Ross sitting on the shore of Smith and Morehouse Reservoir with Zach and Alyssa Smart in the background

Yearly Hemsley Reunion with Amanda and her immediate family.  Kids had loads of fun at Smith and Morehouse.

The departing armada of paddelboats and kayaks at Smith and Morehouse Reservoir

Kindergarten, Kiddie Kollege, Paul, Idaho

Back row (l-r): Sandra Berg, Danny Wright, Jim Cueva, Jared Fairchild, Bobie Jones, Erin Zemke, Jodie Larson, Hazel Patterson, Keri Jo King, Judy Moller; Middle row: Marshall Neilson, Deanne Williams, Bayden Neilson, Brandon Rogers, Logan Schenk, Desirae Paoli, Charlyn Maughan, Charlyn Robertson, Robyn Olson; Front row: Jacob Timmons, Benjamin Wilcher, Jesse Jensen, Michael Jurgensmeier, Paul Ross, Jedediah Lewis.

 

I mentioned this before, Bobie (Jones) Story let me scan some of our common school pictures.  All mine were lost in a flood of our basement. I am happy to have copies again.  (I am still missing Ms. Suhr for 3rd grade and Mr. Mendenhall for 6th grade.  If you have a copy, please let me scan!)

This is our Kindergarten class picture from the Kiddie Kollege, Paul, Idaho.  This was the 1984 – 1985 school year.

The Kiddie Kollege building is still there, northwest corner of N Main Street and W Idaho Street in Paul.  It was converted to a laundromat for quite a few years, now being repurposed into some other building.

Normally I organize photos with married names and dates.  Since all are still alive (as far as I know), I will forgo any of the dates.  I have added the married last name for the ones I know.  If you have corrections, please let me know.

Mrs. Sandra Berg

Mrs. Judy Moller

Jim Cueva

Jared Fairchild

Jesse Jensen

Bobie Jones married Story

Michael Jurgensmeier

Keri Jo King

Jodie Larson married Brunson

Jedediah Lewis

Charlyn Maughan (not on the class list but I am pretty sure I recognize her in the photo, an extra girl, missing a boy)

Bayden Neilson

Marshall Neilson

Robyn Olson married Powell

Hazel Patterson

Desirae Paoli

Charlyn Robertson married Darrington

Brandon Rogers

Paul Ross

Logan Schenk

Scott Spaulding (apparently in the picture, but I don’t have an unnamed boy)

Jacob Timmons

Benjamin Wilcher

Deanne Williams married Kennett

Danny Wright

Erin Zemke married McKindree