Sunday, January 23, 2011

An Inspiring Life

Utah Dad found out on Thursday that his friend and mentor, Brother Rust, from New Jersey had died and the funeral would be held in St. George on Saturday. Utah Dad insisted that he had to attend the funeral and we set about figuring out the best way for him to do that.

Neal's 5th grade class was doing a patriotic presentation Friday night that we did not want to miss. There is something amazing and even spiritual about watching thirty-some fifth graders recite from memory sections of the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution. The teacher has done a fabulous job of inspiring another patriotic generation. But I digress . . .

Once Utah Dad decided to leave home at four am on Saturday morning and drive to St. George to be there for the viewing and funeral by nine am, I insisted on going along to help keep him awake. We invited Neal to come with us and hired one of our favorite baby sitters to stay with the other four kids. Hey, I like a road trip--especially one without little kids and I could get in some reading.

I didn't actually get to read. It was, of course, dark all the way to St. George. Utah Dad took advantage of the 80 mph test areas on I-15, the traffic was very light and we got to St. George in slightly less than four hours.

We stopped at the St. George temple first. We haven't been to St. George since Neal was a toddler. We walked around the grounds of the temple. The temple is so beautiful and stark white against the red landscape.

We joined Utah Dad's brother at the viewing and funeral. Utah Dad's family knew the Rust family when they lived in New Jersey during Utah Dad's six elementary school years. The families developed a deep and enduring friendship. It was renewed when they moved back to New Jersey again for a year and a half while Utah Dad was in high school. Brother and Sister Rust frequently cared for and fed Utah Dad when he was ironically called back to New Jersey to serve his mission.

Brother and Sister Rust raised ten children, several of them were Utah Dad's good friends. I've only met two of the ten children previously, but I've heard so many stories about the goodness and kindness of this family, that I was delighted to finally meet them all yesterday.

The funeral was a beautiful tribute to an amazing man. I never met him but after spending a few hours with his family yesterday, I feel as if I knew him. His ten children are a tribute to the greatness of their parents. They are all well educated and were instilled early with the strong value of learning and knowledge. The parents also had a strong set of moral values and rules for their children. They definitely weren't push-over parents. Their children are active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Seven served missions for the church. They have their own lovely families and gave their parents 31 grandchildren. They are unassuming. They are kind and generous. They are cheerful and warm and gracious. They love music and are very talented. They are not arrogant nor do they lack sincerity. Clearly, Brother Rust lived a long (he was 85) and successful life.

I was so grateful that I was able to join Utah Dad and meet his friends while they celebrated the mortal life of their father. I was truly inspired by the love this family has for each other.

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