Ever since I could pick up crayons, I have wanted to write. My early efforts were documented in dime-store “scrapbooks” accompanied by illustrations. My favorite heroine was Sandy O’Hara who had a Scotty dog and whose best friends were twins. She had many adventures, most of them mysteries.
As a young adult, English was my favorite subject, shortly followed by history. I consumed all of Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, Anya Seaton, Victoria Holt, and Mary Stewart. It seems that I was hungry for a life of adventure. I also feasted on the great classics, particularly Tolstoy, who had such an uncanny ability to read the minds and motives of a never-ending panoply of characters.
Reading was my world. If I wasn’t reading, I was making up stories in my head, or writing the never–ending papers of literary criticism that are a student’s lot. Since a life-altering stay in England between my junior and senior year in High School, I had determined to major in International Relations, however, not in English. But when I was a Freshman English student at Stanford University, I was sorely tempted to pursue writing as a career. That temptation was abruptly snuffed out, however, by my English professor. He called me into his office and told me that I had the potential for real talent in writing and that he was recommending me for a creative writing seminar. However, he said, “You’ll have to give up your religion if you want to go anywhere as a writer. It is definitely holding you back.” I took the seminar, and remembering his words, tried to write material that would not touch on my innermost beliefs. All that was left inside me were pointless fairy tales. I was embarrassed to show them to anyone, for I knew they weren’t real. The heart of my writing had been razored out by the words of my English professor. I dropped the class, and didn’t write anymore for years.
Upon graduation, I enjoyed a brief stint as a writer for the Hoover Institution at Stanford, authoring articles for the International Yearbook of Communist Affairs. However, due to upheaval in my personal life, I decided to move to Boston where I went into, of all things, finance! I was assistant to the Treasurer of Harvard, helping to invest all that wonderful trust money, then worked for Fidelity Mutual Funds. My personal life underwent another upheaval, and I moved to Washington, D.C., to pursue my master’s degree in International Relations.
Around this time the man who was to be my husband entered my life through the back door. I had met him at a wedding in Chicago (my freshman roommate’s) and had been corresponding with him for about six months. I never considered him as a potential husband, for he was not of my religious faith, but he became my best friend. By the time I moved to Washington, we were writing daily. Soon came the era of enormous phone bills (this was way before anything like free minutes), and flying visits by one or the other of us. It was like being sucked under by a tidal wave. He was the most caring, compassionate, and intellectually stimulating man I had ever dated. In an era when women were just coming into their own, he encouraged all my intellectual pursuits, following my studies closely. Finally, we struck a deal. When I finished my class work, I would move to Chicago to write my master’s thesis if he would take the missionary discussions from the elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He agreed. All, fortunately went well, and I was not compelled to relinquish my soulmate. He was baptized, I submitted my master’s thesis, and we were married.
I put him through law school at Pepperdine University while working as a loan officer for Continental Bank, servicing their Asian accounts. At this time, I survived my incompatible job only by extensive escape into reading on the one and a half hour bus trips into Los Angeles. When he graduated, I taught economics at Golden West College until my first child was born.
Then came the serious business of being a stay-at-home mom, and the rebirth of my first love, writing. I wrote for years, during my three children’s naps. When they began school, I divided my time between writing and my new hobby, genealogy. Both were consuming. We lived in the Missouri Ozarks and I had to find something to stimulate my mind. The library was tiny and the nearest bookstore was an hour away from our little farming community. Most of what I have written has had its genesis during our sixteen years in the Ozarks—my first book, Voices in Your Blood: Discovering Identity Through Family History, Cankered Roots, Of Deadly Descent, and the drafts and outlines of three more books, waiting in the wings.
From the time my daughter was born, I have suffered from genetic major depression. By the time we moved to Dayton, Ohio, it became too severe for me to write any longer. Four years later, we moved to Provo and my illness became more acute than ever. I survived only by reading. I read approximately one novel per day, thinking that if I could just manage to survive until the natural end of my life, I would have done all that I could. Then, just when I was at my very lowest point, I received a miraculous healing (see essay—”In the Due Time of the Lord”). The very first thing that happened was that I began discovering old manuscripts, written in Missouri, on my computer. My writing career was reborn, tempered by my journey through the valley of the shadow of death.
My children are grown now and we have a precious grandson. Somehow we have all made it through what was a very harrowing time. My husband has remained true, faithful, and ever supportive. He has his own business in Utah Valley. Our oldest son, Morgan, a graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, has worked for several years as a wealth management advisor in Philadelphia. (He inherited the love of finance in utero, as I was teaching economics during my pregnancy!) He recently began his own business, and now lives in Provo. He served as a Spanish-speaking missionary in Anaheim, California. Our daughter, Elizabeth (Buffy) Bailey, a graduate of Brigham Young University in Political Science. She and her husband Allan live in Porterville, California where Allan practices law. They are the parents of our grandson, Jack, the balm of my soul. Our youngest son Gregory, is a student at Brigham Young University, having completed his mission in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a brilliant writer, computer genius, history enthusiast, and is at a complete loss as to which path in life he should pursue.
I wouldn’t give up my trial with depression if I could, because it brought me to my Savior, Jesus Christ, and taught me the most important things about life. I am still learning and hope I always will. And I pray that all that I write will testify of His power in my life. Indeed, all good things come through the atonement of Jesus Christ.