“That which does not kill you
will make you stronger.”
We left off in Part 13 where my “future Ma and Pa” lay … or sat … on a makeshift bed of blankets in the back of “future Papa’s” pickup truck. The blankets padded their backs and butts as they bounced and bumped along on a rough ‘n’ rickety ride over 1940s rutted roads in their 1940s vehicle that soon left Mesa, Arizona far behind, as they bounded for the Mexican border making lickety-split time!
Like bandits, they had to get out of Dodge to “dodge” the law that would like to put Pa in jail for practicing polygamy — thanks to his first wife, Eva, for turning him in! But can you blame her? The law is the law!
My uncles Ben and Alma participated in the excitement and the anticipation as they sat in the truck’s cab taking turns at the wheel while conversing excitedly about their soon-to-be brother-in-law’s recent conversion to Plural Marriage and “the fullness of the gospel;” i.e., Mormon fundamentalism.
They were proud of themselves and their ability to preach the gospel; i.e., their ability to be good missionaries … felt they had done “a good day’s work” by bringing another soul into “The Work” — That is, “The work of God, in God’s only true Church upon the face of the earth.”
This “accomplishment” heightened their sense of self-esteem and self-worth — Puffed them up a bit as they continued making a beeline for their hometown — the Mexican Mormon colony, Colonia Juarez … so their sister, Esther, could get their papa’s permission to wed — ASAP!
But they had another important reason for going there: There was a certain so-‘n’-so (Was his name is Nathan Clark?* His name was kept secret so he wouldn’t get in trouble with the church or law) — a priesthood member in high standing in the LDS church who lived in that colony. He held the keys to “temple sealings/ celestial marriage.”
Though a member in good standing in the LDS church, he continued to perform Plural Marriages (in secret) — even though, ever since The Manifesto of 1890, Plural Marriage had been condemned and outlawed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!
To make a longer story shorter, my future parents, Esther and Floyd, easily obtained permission from Mother’s father to marry, though her parents weren’t particularly happy she was marrying a man over twice her age — who already had “one foot in the grave” … as my maternal grandma liked to put it.
Nevertheless, “future Mama’s” Mormon fundamentalist parents were relieved their middle child/ youngest living daughter, Esther LeBaron de McDonald, had finally “come to her senses” … Had, in the end, chosen to marry into polygamy.
I confess, they had been very worried about her salvation and her entering the highest degree of glory, once in heaven, because, for some years there, Esther had professed (to their dismay) not to believe in nor want to live Plural Marriage:
“Part of what changed my mind and convinced me to accept ‘the holy and righteous Principle of Plural Marriage,’ Mama said, ” was that I had a marvelously inspired revelation — a dream that showed me plural marriage was right — It even outlined exactly how it should be lived … And how glorious it could be … if participated in correctly.”
Daddy, likewise, believed he had done the right thing to take a plural wife. But sometimes I wonder if he wondered if he’d chosen wrongly.
For, not long after he’d married Mom, to his dismay, his hair suddenly turned from Salt-‘n’-Pepper gray to pure white … And thinned … as he turned “blue” and thinner under the unexpected stresses, losses, devastation, and sorrows that followed his new Mormon fundamentalist faith and lifestyle.
Especially devastating to him was losing his eleven beautiful children — not to mention his beloved wife, Eva. Then, on top of all this … and for all his sacrifices and attempts to live “The Holy Principle of Matrimony — Plural Marriage,” he was soon, again, a monogamist, anyway!!
And remained that way till the day he died — was never able to take on another plural wife, so as to live “The fullness of the gospel.” (“Future Ma” was too jealous to let him take another wife!)
Ah, what travesties and travails life doth present us … And how much of our pain and sorrow do we bringeth upon ourselves because, though we may think we are doing what is right, we are, in reality, touching/ keeping our fingers on a hot stove; i.e., We’re doing what is wrong.
However, not realizing this, Daddy concluded: “I couldn’t allow Eva to wear the pants in the family, pussy whip me, and carry me down to hell with her ‘cause she wouldn’t abide by the higher laws of God.
“She was too weak to follow me, her husband and priesthood head — too rebellious to live the fullness of the gospel. So, instead of doing what was right, by following God’s command to live plural marriage, she chose to do wrong — to get revenge … causing me no end of trouble with the law and the Mormon church. Even kept me from ever seeing my kids again!*
Nonetheless, I had to put God’s Commandments first … That is, to give my life for God and the truth. I knew I could not let her stop me from doing what I believed was right; I had to continue to follow the Prophet Joseph Smith’s commandment to live ‘The Holy Principle of Plural Marriage’ … or die trying … or I’d be damned.” (And he’d be damned if he’d be damned!)
(Continued in: “My Memoir: Esther LeBaron McDonald de Spencer — Part 15.”)
*Was his name is Nathan Clark? Or was it a different person who sealed my parents in marriage? To anyone reading my blog who knows the answer to this, I would really appreciate it if you would let me know … in my “Comments” box.
- Bear in mind that I’m trying to present Daddy’s point of view. To be sure, it didn’t include such things as his violence – his physical and mental abuse towards Eva.
I suspect this was sufficient reason to provoke betrayed Eva to obtain a Restraining Order against him to keep him away from her and her kids … and off her property.
He was of the old-country thinking: Thought it his position and right, as man of the house, to beat his wife into submission; i.e., to control her by “whipping her into shape.”
Mama was of this mindset, also! (She bent to her husband’s/ her priesthood head’s will, as good Mormon fundamentalist wives do … so she wouldn’t “deserve” his wrath.)
And, of course, when it comes to his first wife, Eva, Daddy didn’t admit to his betrayal of her, nor the hurt he caused her and her/his family when he took on another wife and family.
Unfortunately, Mormon fundamentalists follow their early founders to the hilt – leaders who told them living plural marriage was God’s highest and most holy law.
Being stoics, they believed they had to put aside their own feelings and needs … as well as the feelings and needs of all others involved … in order to live polygamy! Ridiculous? And how! But that’s how they believed.