Tuesday, March 13, 2012

What Anger Do You Carry? A Family History Question?

My grandmother
Nancy Athena Porter

I am writing my grandmother's, Nancy Athena Porter, life story. I hope to have it completed by the end of the month.

At times it has been an emotional experience. That might seem strange as she died at age 44, 11 years before I was born. I never knew her. My mother rarely spoke of her and little is written about her.

She was born and raised in a town founded by her grandparents and named after the family: Porterville, Utah.

I have decided to call her the Princess of Porterville for numerous reasons: her name, the fact her father was prominent including being the local Bishop for 20 years, and that she was a leader in many ways being some of them.

But my Princess fell from the grace of her community. She bore my mother out of wedlock. This resulted in scorne and rejection from the good Porterville folks. Her father had died years earlier and now her Uncle Arche (Arther Rich) was Bishop. Rather than counsel and comfort her Uncle Arche provided condemnation and rejection. I wonder if she didn't die young from the grief, and sadness her life endured as a result of her mistake.

But grandmother Nancy moved and moved on. She moved to Burley, Idaho where an Aunt was caring and kind to her. She married a kind man who was crazy about her, Thomas Salinas. Her new church surroundings led her to know she was forgiven by her Father In Heaven. She and Thomas were married in the Logan Temple. She held important church callings in Burley.

In what little is know about my grandmother it seems that she dealt with her challenges without bitterness toward anyone. There are many facets of her story where anger could have easily been embraced by her.

I feel as though I have had to write this story for her. In doing so it seems she has a message. Over and over, daily even I am driven by this theme of not holding anger.

Now I shift gears a bit. Don't we all have people to forgive? Or are we even there yet, considering such a need?

I have been reminded to think back to the time I feel I was most offended. It was a pretty serious event in my life. The offender has died now, I got over it, but I now wonder if I have forgiven him. Perhaps it's only a start that I can say at least I am not angry any more.

Writing the book on my grandmother, knowing who might read it, understanding the trauma that can come from certain family relationships, and sensing the message my grandmothers story will deliver makes me wish we could all get over it so to speak.

Grandmother Nancy refused to give up things of great value to her, despite her problems. Can we all say that? I have one relative that told me she would love to have her Mormon heritage back, but won't because of harm placed upon her by her father.

I am aware how permanently anger can sever a relationship. If it is with a relative, the schism can last for generations. I don't have to look far in my family history to see that fact.

Sometimes just one thing we spout out can have an everlasting effect. The story below taken from an LDS conference talk by Boyd K Packer is an example. I went to this talk today because the second story in it has been most influencial in my undestanding of the importance to me of letting go of anger. It has been a guide that has helped me a lot.

Please read the entire article by clicking here, your healing one relationship might bless generations.

From Boyd K Packer:

I read somewhere of a young couple who settled in the wilderness. While the man cleared the land, his wife tended things about the homestead. Occasionally, the cow would get into the garden, and the husband would complain.

One day, as he left to get supplies, he said in a sarcastic way, “Do you think you’ll be able to keep the cow in while I am gone?” She thought she could; she would try.
That night a terrible storm arose. Frightened by thunder, the cow escaped into the woods.

Several days later the husband returned to an empty cabin and an apologetic note: “A storm came up, and the cow got out. I am so sorry, but I think I can find her.”
He searched; neither had survived.

Previously I wrote an article about Simeon Cragun which is another example of families severed for generations.

Simeons only living son, Howard seems unwilling to say much about the problem except there was a lot of anger amongst his brothers and half brothers. For that story,click here.


  1. I remember mother, the child born out of wedlock, growing up in that same Porterville community, talking about the men coming from the sugar pea fields on a load of peas. They tossed peas in the pod to the other children and not her. how hurt she must have been. Scorned, but not understanding why.