My first seminary teacher (the one who inadvertently persuaded me I shouldn’t be taking seminary) loved urban legends. He told about patriarchs placing their hands on a young person’s head and saying, “I’m sorry. Nothing’s coming. I have no blessing for you.” Of course, the next day, the kid dies in a car crash. So after that class, it was a little scary to get a patriarchal blessing.
My grandfather gave me mine. My first concern was, would there be a blessing at all? Might he say, “Margaret, I feel that you’re quite a sinner, even at this young age, and the Lord doesn’t have anything to say to you until you are worthy.” Or the “Bad news. No blessing at all. You’re pretty young, but have you made out a will?”
Fortunately, the blessing began. I listened for the various things any twelve-year-old Mormon girl listens for: Will I get married? (Check.) Will I have children? (Check.) Will I have a long life??? NOT THERE. No mention whatsoever of a long life. What else could it mean but “Have fun while you can, kid; your time is short.” My goal, then, was to get to fifty, which seemed a pretty ripe age. And I wanted to raise my children. That was it. Let me reach fifty, and let me raise my kids.
I’ll be fifty-four on June 7th. (Please plan to send me something.) In truth, I have already outlived both of my best friends–my friend from elementary school, who died of cancer, and my very best friend, whose death from a car accident still hits me at odd moments.
What is it with the fear factor thing in Mormonism? Why should fear have been even slightly present as my own grandfather placed his hands on my head? Is it any wonder that my favorite scripture is: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” ? That’s what I want shouted from the rooftops. People’s sins? None of my business. I want angels to sing praise and joy and comfort. I wouldn’t mind being one of the angels. After all, I’ve already outlived my life expectancy.