What kind of woman marries 15 children? (16 including me some times)

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*, Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

When I first called Sharon to ask her to go out with me, I hung up the phone thinking, among other things, “Sharon is a returned missionary, a former student stake Relief Society president, director of the area singles organization, a totally dedicated saint. She has never been married, and she has a little boy. Interesting. Well, we all make mistakes. Far be it from me to throw the first stone. Not only is that condemned by Jesus, it might scare her off.”

I soon learned again, “Don’t jump to conclusions, and more important, don’t stumble over them.” Sharon’s little boy turned out to be a foster child who needed special care, so she would bring him to her home on weekends, teach him so he could keep up in school, and enjoy one on one companionship with his teacher.

This is quintessential Sharon; the same woman who volunteered to be the guide for a member of their college choir who was blind, in a performance tour of Europe. The same who launders the clothes and helps care for Lynette, the sister of my first wife Diane, in a nursing home, who takes meals to the sick in our neighborhood, who can’t bear to see a grandchild leave the house without a treat in his or her hands, who didn’t sleep easy if she suspected the wigglers in our little worm farm might be missing a meal.

In the Bible Ruth’s husband dies. His mother decides to return to her homeland in Israel. Ruth pledges to her mother in law, “Whither thou goest, I will go. Wherever thou lodgest I will lodge. Thy people shall be my people, and thy god, my God.”

Sharon and I shared the same God, but she also committed to herself to be one of our people. She said to herself, “If this is going to work, I will have to become a Hiatt.” By that she meant becoming a Robertson so the children would not lose touch with Diane’s family. At times she has done this at the expense of connecting with her own Johnson family. Diane, our children and grandchildren, and I have been blessed by her willingness to do this.

Sharon is a woman of strong faith and effective prayers. I have no idea how many lost articles we have found, car wrecks we have avoided, sicknesses we have dodged or been cured of, or miscellaneous blessings we have accumulated by way of her prayers. I do remember walking down a street in Santa Domingo, the capitol of The Dominican Republic. Somewhere between somewhere and our car, the keys fell out of her purse. I mean no disrespect to the wonderful folks in The Dominican Republic, but theirs is a hard life. Some people there are prone to not hurry off to lost and found with a treasure they pick up, especially on a public sidewalk. My concern was not only someone would keep the key, but that he would find a slot it worked in and keep the car. We searched the sidewalk and gutter for a few blocks; nothing..

“Sharon that key is history. The only way we would ever get it back is if were found by the national minister on honesty and ethics if there is such a person.”

Sharon walked ahead a few steps, stopped. and bowed her head. I paused on the sidewalk straining my brain on how I could get into the car, hot wire the ignition, and not get arrested by the passing “policia”.

Across the street came a smiling dignified gentleman who greeted us in English, “I saw you walking up and down the sidewalk, and wondered if you were looking for these.”  He held out our keys. When I caught my breath, and thanked him profusely. He replied, “De nada. I was on my way to my office over there when I saw them on the sidewalk.”

I asked, “What business are you in?”

He replied, “I am head of the national government ministry of honesty and ethics,” or words similar to that.

I thought, “Of course. Why did I have to ask?”

Instant answers to prayer are not uncommon to Sharon, but she also possesses the ability to as the Bible puts it, “wait upon the Lord.” As a young woman she was promised in her patriarchal blessing that she would have a family. That fit with her plans. Her mother had eleven children so as a girl Sharon planned to “one up” that and have twelve. Then she heard of a mother of 14, so raised her goal to 17 to be safely ahead of the pack.

“I had no idea what that would entail. I just had to one up everybody,” she explained to me.

Her life didn’t unfold like a storybook romance. She dated a lot, and had lots of friends, but nothing quite clicked. Meanwhile her mother tried to improve Sharon’s cooking skills. Her father counseled her on her hair styles, and wardrobe, except when she asked him for a blessing. He, like his daughter, was a man of faith. In his blessings he only spoke what the Lord inspired him to say, which didn’t include dresses and hairdo’s.

Once in her young adult frustration she told her mother, “I’m going to marry the right man even if I have to wait until I’m forty.” They were both a little shocked to hear her put a number on it.

But for Sharon waiting didn’t mean sitting around for the Lord to usher in her knight in shining armor. It meant developing her abilities and talents, expanding her friendships, getting her college degree, and teaching credentials. She sang in choirs, taught piano, special needs children in elementary school, and severely handicapped children in the state training school. She served a mission and learned Spanish in the process. She worked her way into the hearts of her nieces and nephews who adored her. I know this list of accomplishments pretty well because when I served as a bishop in a young adult ward I used her example to counsel and encourage other young women. “Be ready for whenever in the Lord’s timetable Mr. Right appears,” I encouraged them.

Sharon also has the courage to walk to the edge of the light and then take a step into the darkness. On the wall of her home I saw a little picture of a boat with the inscription, “A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.” Her prayer as we were dating was, “Heavenly Father, if you don’t stop me, I’m going to marry this man.”

Sharon and I agree that in her case our Heavenly Father had a wonderful plan for her, and for us. He didn’t make her wait until she was forty years old. She was two weeks short of that date. And contrary to her young woman expectations, he dumped the whole family in her lap in one fell swoop. She was ready and prepared.

The only complication was that she had made so many friends in the process that our wedding packed the church and exhausted both of us by the last hug and handshake.

Your next installment is: Good walls make good families

Everybody I know is busy, including me. Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?

The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.