History and Heritage

My Grandpa's copy of
Brigham Young: American Moses
In February of 2004, my Grandfather on my Dad’s side passed away. I was a junior in high school at the time, and had never had a family member die before. I still remember where I was when I found out. It was after school. My friend had come over and we were going to burn some music onto a couple CDs (I know, so old-fashioned!). My parents had left a note on the counter that they went to visit my grandpa in the hospital. Nothing in the note sounded urgent, so I thought nothing of it. My friend and I went down stairs and I got on the computer to start burning CDs. Shortly thereafter the phone rang. I answered it. It was my sister Noelle. She asked if mom and dad were there. I responded, “Noelle? Why are you calling?” She and my brother Devin were in the MTC at the time, and they are not supposed to call family (or anyone, really). So, it was a valid question. She responded, “The MTC president said we could call because Grandpa died.” Me: “GRANDPA DIED!?!?” She didn’t know that I didn’t know. Not exactly the best way to find out. As you might imagine, I had some words for my parents when they got home. “Why didn’t you tell me grandpa had died?!”

Anyway, that was 10 years ago. My sweet Grandmother has been muddling along ever since, and although she has a lot posterity around and we try to take good care of her, you can tell that she very much misses my Grandfather. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose my wonderful wife, McKall, but I imagine it would be even harder after being married more than 10 times as long as we have. So, my Grandma is hanging in there, but lately her health has been declining. She recently moved out of her home and into the basement of my aunt and uncle in Eagle Mountain. With the move, we are preparing to sell the home, and so all my Grandparents stuff has to be moved. With that, basically all of their possessions have become up for grabs.
My Dad has been grabbing things here and there, and this last weekend he and Devin came down to get an old book case he had been wanting, and I went with them to help move it. While looking around at my Grandparents’ house, I noticed a copy of Leonard J. Arrington’s biography of Brigham Young. Forgive me for being worldly, but it seemed like a good opportunity to pick up an interesting book for free. So, I did exactly that: I picked it up. I then turned over the front cover to find this surprise:

"To Foster Rappleye
With manifold memories
Leonard Arrington"


The book was personally signed to my Grandfather, with “manifold memories,” from Arrington. I was shocked, and asked my Dad about it. He said Arrington and my Grandfather had grown up together in Idaho. I had no idea! This sealed the deal: I was taking that book home! Suddenly, it was about more than just getting a free book.  It became a family momento. Part of what made it meaningful is because it connected my personal interests (Mormon history) with my family heritage (my Grandfather, and his friendship with a renowned Mormon historian). As such, in some ways, that book literally became a symbol for who I am. While for many of my siblings and cousins (and certainly to my readers), this book may not seem like that big of deal, it is something I am going to hang on to, and cherish, and hopefully pass on to my own children someday when McKall and I are old and gray. 

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