In a family, smile your way to success

“Keep your sunny side up, up.
Hide the side that gets blue.
If you have nine sons in a row,
Baseball teams make money you know…

I’ve hummed and strummed that cheery old song for decades. We were blessed to have enough sons for a team plus a pinch hitter, and daughters for a squad of five cheerleaders. Of course, on a family team everybody plays and everybody cheers. But we never made any big or little money out of baseball. We do have a rich mother load of memories, and a pep club of grand children. Not a bad score for starting out as a two player team just learning to pitch and catch.

Some experts say that siblings in a family fill roles sort of like players on a sports team. The oldest child is more often serious and responsible. The last child is the darling, and the middle children have to negotiate between their younger and older peers.

Christy Haggard was the fourth of five children. According to the research, this would make her a negotiator and peace maker. According to her older sister Christy filled her role with gusto, maybe more. “Christy is the most violent peacemaker I’ve ever known,” her sister said.

Sitting across the table from Sharon and me last night, Christy didn’t look violent, nor did she look Haggard. In fact she was beaming smiles at us, and everyone who stopped to talk to her, but especially at her brand new husband Matt Haggard next to her, and he was returning the beams. I thought, “Those smiles will be more important than money in this great marriage adventure you are beginning.”

A few years ago I was asked to interview LeGrand Richards and script a television program on his life. Elder Richards was a member of the Counsel of Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Father of ten, grand, and great grandfather, he was well into his nineties when I talked with him. Still he warmed our conversation with his keen wit, good humor, love of life and his fellow humans.

One of his great contributions to his heavy duties in the Church was the insight he brought from decades of living. No matter what crisis came up, he had seen the world survive something worse.

He was an optimist who not only saw the glass as half full not half empty, but worked to fill up the empty half. One of his favorite poems was. “For Every worry under the sun there is a remedy or there is none; if there is a remedy, hurry and find it; if there is none, never mind it.”

Good advice whether we are starting out like Matt and Christy winding it up like Elder Richards, or anywhere in between.

LeGrand Richards was unsinkable to the last. A while after I talked with him his circulation slowed down so much they had to amputate one of his feet. His many friends often asked him, “ Elder Richards, how are you doing?”

His reply, “I’m just glad the doctors started on that end.”

“Stand upon your legs.
Be like two fried eggs
Keep your sunny side up.”