Reconciliation: My Presidential Address to the Association for Mormon Letters, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011: I am writing this talk at my father’s hospital bedside.  We are in the final phase of his life, though we don’t know how much sand remains in the hourglass neck.When Dad was in the ER on Saturday, I sat at his bedside, a few feet  from my mother.  Mom gave family news, and smiled and laughed as though we were at the dining room table, not in the ER.  I kept my eyes on Dad.  I watched him curl into fetal position.  He moved his hand between the bars of the hospital bed … [Read more...]

Birthday Thoughts

On June 7, I turned sixty-one.  My two best friends, Jackie Selck Clegg and Elizabeth (Buffy) Cannon Wright, both died in their forties, Jackie of cancer and Buffy in a car crash. My aunt Carolyn also died in her forties.  A heart attack took her.  Two of my husband's sisters died at age forty-five, one of cancer and one of multiple sclerosis.  I look back over the twenty years which I got and they did not and contemplate what that time has meant.  I did write some important books, but others are … [Read more...]

On a Day When I Miss My Dad

I put a photo of an ultrasound into Dad's coffin on February 27.  The viewing before his funeral hadn't started yet, and no one was watching.   The ultrasound was of the fetus who is still becoming Olive Aisley Wagstaff, my next granddaughter, my father's fourth great granddaughter.  On February 18, the day before Dad died, I told him that Julie, my baby girl, had heard her baby's heartbeat.  Dad said a typically "Dad" thing.  "That's wonderful!" That little conversation happened just before I tu … [Read more...]

Burning Bush

I talked with my father about death quite often.  I was always with him at the end of dialysis, which was sometimes a scary time.  I would sit him up slowly, knowing that if it was too fast, he would faint.  He did faint many times, and I simply rubbed his calves and said, "Dad?  Are you with me?  Can you come back?" Eventually, he would regain consciousness.  He said sometimes that he wondered if he might die during one of those fainting episodes, and what it would be like to die.  He was aware … [Read more...]

Robert Blair Obituary, Part 4: The Story Teller’s Last Stories

Note: This post includes a photo of Robert Blair's lifeless body in the last part.  If photos of dead bodies cause you anxiety, please do not continue.I have written the previous obituary segments in third person.  This one will be in first person. In 2005, Mom and Dad were in China, where they had taught English for five years. Dad had lost most of the function in one kidney.  Now, the second kidney failed. All of us Blairs joined in prayer that we'd find a way to get him home f … [Read more...]

Death of a Latter-day Saint

Embedded in this post is a youtube link to my father's funeral.  This is something I would want everyone studying the Latter-day Saint faith to listen to as an example of what a Mormon life is or can be.My father, Robert W. Blair, was born Mormon, but was planted deep into his faith through associations with many religions and cultures.  His earliest experience of devotion happened after he viewed the Catholic film Bernadette, and, on his way home from the theater, knelt in prayer to de … [Read more...]

We Tend to Resurrect in my Family

We have frequent resurrections in my family. My brother Bobby suffered a hip-pulverizing injury in 1982 when a stadium gate fell on his pelvis. The doctors did not think he would survive, and my mother called my dad from the ER waiting room: “Bobby is dying.” Dad ran to the hospital and into the room where his semi-conscious son lay. From the ganglia of tubes and wires, Bobby reached his arms out to Dad. “Hug!” he said. That was the moment when all of us Blairs became demonstrative in our affecti … [Read more...]


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