Borghild Bergstedt Paulsen
To Mor, With Love November 9, 1987
Margie Paulsen Larson
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Christmas Eve on Hollywood Avenue. The warm temperature of Mor's front room, with the smell of boiling lutefisk stands in stark contrast to the bitter cold darkness beyond the walls of her little white home. Actually, Mor's home is not all that small, but it was not originally designed for the formal entertaining of seventy-five to a hundred dinner guests. The lights are turned off and one candle is lit in anticipation of Santas' arrival. As we reflect back on many such Christmas Eves at Mors, how many hundreds of hours did Mor spend over the years baking cookies, luting fish, peeling potatoes and carrots and making rice cream and flat bread. How many of Mors posterity have perjured themselves by telling Mor how much they loved lutefisk!
Christmas Eve at Mors was more than a tradition in our lives. It was an association which created a desire in each of us to be worthy of its continuation. Perhaps those Christmas Eves at Mor's with the family offered a glimpse of what heavenly associations will be like. Our sense of loss at Mor's passing will perhaps be felt most this Christmas as we each make plans for Christmas Eve.
My assignment today is at once both a great honor and a difficult task. I am honored and humbled to have been asked to represent Mor's grandchildren in paying this tribute, but when I agreed to speak, I had no idea how difficult it would be to distill a wealth of memories and experiences into a short talk. I have heard of speakers who have struggled over what to say at the funeral of someone whose life was less than exemplary, but Mor's life has been such an inspiration, I have had to struggle over what to leave out.
Mor, as your grandchildren, our lives have been eternally affected by your life. Your experiences are more than stories to us, they have become our precious roots and our sacred heritage.
I have made a most curious discovery while preparing for this talk. You know, I had always secretly thought that I was your favorite grandchild, but many of the cousins have told me that they thought they were your "favorite". Therein lies one of your most endearing qualities. You have always made all of us feel special.
Oh, how we remember those sleepovers on Friday nights at your home---the cozy warm electric blanket on the cold sleeping porch, the never empty tin of Norwegian cookies, hot scones, piles of Norwegian pancakes, and hot chocolate with a dallup of whipped cream. A treat under our pillow taken off the "mythical sucker tree" in the yard. The stories you would tell us by the hour. "Soup on a Nail", "Joseph and His Coat of Many Colors", "The Little Red Hen"; but the most famous of all, your account of being chased by the bull in Norway. In fact, we all remember the day you told that story to Matt 13 times. When he asked for it just one more time you said, "No, 13 times in one day is plenty." We remember the walks in Sugarhouse Park and trying to keep up with you by chanting "En, to, en, to, en stovel og, en sko". And how could we ever forget the sweaters, caps, and gloves you lovingly knit for us, and your expertise at mending, sewing without a pattern, and altering anything at a moments notice.
The "Mor School of Medicine" may have been unorthodox but the bread and milk plasters and "spit salve" seemed to do wonders for our battle wounds.
Thanks, Mor, for your wonderfully optimistic attitude. You were always grateful for what you had and didn't worry about what you didn't have. You certainly showed us by your example how to look on the bright side. More than once, as you slipped into an ice cold mountain lake for a swim, you had us convinced that the water temperature was just fine. In 1985 when you visited Norway with Carl and Carol and you were in intense pain with a blood clot in your foot, your comment was... "I can be glad both feet are not sore like this one--or it would hurt a lot more".
Just over a week ago while visiting with a granddaughter, you commented, "Isn't it a wonderful life".
Your mottos reflect eternal optimism:
I've got nothing to kick about
It's as good as new
Things always work out for the best
That would be swell
Good Land of Liberty
You're not as dumb as you look, and that's a blessing'.
We all enjoyed your sense of humor. Until we reached a certain age, you used to take out your teeth and talk to us. We would laugh until our sides were ready to split. You enjoyed a good funny story and always seemed to have one to tell.
Yes Mor, you had an exceptional ability to make each of us feel as though we were the most special person around, and you blessed our lives with your special brand of optimism and humor, but most importantly you were true to your testimony just as you were true to your promise to your older sister, Ingeborg, so many years ago in Norway. She had joined the church before you and after several attempts, finally extracted a promise from you to attend church with her one Sunday. As that Sunday arrived several of your friends persuaded you to go skiing before the church meeting. The snow was good and the skiing fun, but as the time for the meeting grew close, you chose to keep your promise to your sister. As your friends proceeded up the fork in the mountain road to new ski slopes, you skied the road home to your appointment. As Robert Frost put it, you chose the road less traveled and that has made all the difference.
Your decision that day resulted in your conversion to the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in December of 1986 you were thoughtful enough to write down the testimony that sustained you for so many years. You wrote:
[Margie read Morís testimony]
Mor, it will be hard to drive past your little white house on Hollywood Avenue and not see the light on. We will miss seeing you peeking out the door window and waving good-bye. But we know your light shines brightly in another sphere, and that Far, and your diney gookin Finn and many loved ones are celebrating a sweet reunion. May we all live so that one day we too can join in that eternal celebration. We love you, Mor!!
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Copyright (c) 2005 by Margie Paulsen Larson