by Anna Arnett
For my birthday, my middle daughter gave me a copy of Jane Clayson Johnson's book, "I Am a Mother." What a delight it is, and for a mother, it's a tremendous ego builder. As I read, I discovered more and more what a great life I've led. Yet, the most important goals I've reached just seemed to happen, with no regard to my planning. I remember thinking I would graduate from college in about 1946, get hired under a county agricultural agent to help farm women and work with 4-H clubs. Eventually I would marry and have a few children, but I didn't worry about that much. I hadn't met anybody that I thought I would like to live with forever.
World War II erupted during my senior year in high school, and I got caught up in the patriotic spirit of working for the government. I became a Civil Service stenographer, and went eastward to do my duty (and get paid the enormous sum of one hundred twenty dollars every single month). And it just happened that this Idaho farm girl met an Arizona farm boy at Sunday School in the big city of Indianapolis, Indiana. I soon discovered he had more integrity than any boy I'd dated, and decided that if he ever asked me, I'd marry him.
Well, his proposal was the first (and only) I ever received, which came after he got home from the war and a prisoner of war camp. We married ten days after he proposed. It's been a great life, but the big decisions seemed to me to be made elsewhere. To me, there was almost always no conscious choice. I just did what seemed natural. I remember Charles asking me once how it felt to know I could move with my seven children to any place in the whole United States, and I answered that I didn't know, because Mesa, Arizona was the only place that came to mind.
I've lived at least a month in fourteen different states, the District of Columbia, Japan, and Australia. We moved everything we possessed twenty-six times during the first twenty-one years we were married, even averaging in three years on base at Yokota AFB, Japan. Charles has also lived, as an Air Force officer, in England (woops, don't count that, he was only there a couple of weeks) Germany (on the wrong side of a guarded fence), Iceland and Vietnam. He was single in England and Germany, became the father of five while in Iceland, and missed a whole year of living with five teenagers and two younger ones while he kept track of communications in Vietnam.
When he returned to the States to finish his last year in the Air Force at Luke AFB, AZ, our seventh child (the one made in Japan) started first grade, and Charles suggested I might go back to college. Wow. I loved it. This time I majored in secondary education, and in 1970 earned my BA, and in '72 an MA in Education, with an English teaching major and a history minor.
Nobody seemed to want to hire me, which was probably a lucky thing since I am among the world's worst disciplinarians, and might not have lasted. I hadn't applied again, but about mid-semester in spring, Dr. Lloyd offered me a job as a homebound teacher in the Mesa Public Schools. The next October, he told me to find a place to rent and we'd open, under the blanket of special ed, a school for pregnant girls. For the next sixteen years, I was the 'pregnant teacher'. I loved that job. How blessed can I be? If I counted right, I worked with 1,111 different students--each a good girl who either made a poor decision, or was caught in a situation she could not control. But they all elected to stay in school.
When I retired in 1987, we served a temple mission in Australia, and another mission at the Family History Center in Mesa. The last fourteen years we've been ordinance workers in the Mesa Temple. Charles was a sealer both there and in Sydney. Now we're slowing down, especially on our feet, but seem busier than ever. And every day we pour out our thanks for each of our wonderful blessings. We have twenty-nine grandchildren, and so far 36 great grandchildren. We're an easy going family, but we like each other tremendously.
So what am I? First a daughter, then a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, traveler, bookworm, quilter, crafter, especially in knitting, crocheting, needlework, and beadwork. I love to take classes, to volunteer where I can, and to shop--not just windowshop, but to buy. My favorite calling right now is singing fifteen minutes every Sunday with the children in the nursery. They're fantastic.
So what makes me think I'm a writer? I often ask myself that. It's just that there's so much I'd like to say. You can tell that easily by the length of my blogs. So I'll keep plugging along. The most wonderful part about trying to write, is that it brought me to join ANWA. That's a real joy, thanks to all of you.
And now it's past my bedtime. Goodnight.