Family History Moment: Mother, Tell Your Story

Contributed By Kathryn H. Ipson, Church News contributor

  • 28 November 2017

By just writing small stories, one at a time, we soon had a great history of Mother’s life.

As my mother was getting older (she was 70, and I thought that was old, as I was 37), I realized that she had never written her history, so one day I said to her, “Mother, why don’t you write your history?” My father had died years earlier, so I thought this would be a great project for her and a blessing for our family.

She answered, “I don’t think I can. I don’t know where to begin.”

I knew she had always read the Relief Society Magazine—cover to cover—when it was in print, and now she enjoyed reading The Good Old Days, Homemaker, Beehive History, and other magazines, so I decided I’d first ask her to write about what life was like at age 70.

That got her started. She wrote about her hobbies: making double wedding ring quilts, baby booties, Raggedy Ann dolls, and homemade candy, gathering and polishing rocks, etc. I found what she wrote about “Life at Seventy” was so interesting, that I typed it on my computer, mailed it back to her to proofread, and then I got her permission to mail it to The Homemaker. They wrote back and said they wanted to publish it, but they wanted some pictures. Pictures were taken, and they published it. Now we had a part of her history written down.

Next she wrote what she remembered about the Indians in the early days in Panguitch when she was a child and then the great times she had at Old Saltair. She had many pictures in her photo album, so they made the stories even more interesting. Her “Love of Poetry” made another great story, as did “Early Days in Pleasant Grove, Utah,” where her grandparents lived as early pioneers. “The Day I Wore Mother’s Corset” was a big hit with everyone. Later, when she wrote about “False Teeth Stories” and then her “Memories of Home,” we printed them in small booklets for her to give to her grandchildren at Christmastime. What treasures!

By just writing small stories, one at a time, we soon had a great history of Mother’s life.

The older I get, the more I appreciate these stories written by my mother. Even though I was busy teaching school, I decided if President Boyd K. Packer could get up at 5 a.m. to work on family history, I could too. During that early hour I was able to type Mother’s stories and later fill a book with stories I collected about each of my ancestors.

Mother enjoyed doing this, and our whole family and others have appreciated her stories. She often said, “A task begun is a task half done,” and that was so true for us.

—Kathryn H. Ipson is a member of the Cedar 16th Ward, Cedar City Utah Cross Hollow Stake.