ancestor story

Uncle Darrell -Part X, A Mother’s Grief

One week after the joint letter was written to my Grandpa by his parents, his mother wrote her first letter.  It is heartbreaking, very real, full of details, and so tender.  Grab a tissue.


page 1 –

Dec. 4, 1947.

Dear Son Ronald,

Everyone has been so wonderful to us that it is impossible to express how we appreciate such kindness.  If you could only have been here too.  Mrs. Fox suggested we could call you and then we realized we couldn’t talk to you if we did our sorrow was so great.  Since we received a letter from President George Albert Smith stating just how the cablegram had been worded – a train collision – I have worried because I knew you’d be puzzled.  Your Dad called Murdock Saturday night.  We tho’t he’d know best how to send it.

This week, now the family are back in school and your Dad is about his work I feel like my heart will break or my mind crack.  I can think of every cross word I spoke to him.  [Ronald, do you remember when you were home if I picked on him any more than the others?]

I was just as nagging and mean with you but you have lived and I hope I am forgiven.  I worry so if in his quiet way he was unhappy.  I shouldn’t burden you with my regrets.  Forgive me.

page 2 –

Your Dad is taking it very hard and it don’t get any better.

Maybe I shouldn’t bother with details but I remember what I read of your Dad’s letter didn’t tell where Darrell had been.

He has been driving more since you left and for a while took the back streets.  One time when I was to Mother’s Janice had him go in town to get her at night.  I told her not do it again.  Conditions have come up several times when he has been asked to drive in town.  One night your Dad had him take the girls in to practice at the Tabernacle.  Each time I’d worry till he got back.  I was so afraid he’d have Marilyn Wiberg, Berrett girl and others with him and have an accident.  He drove the truck over to the church-farm several times to help clean-up.  The tractor to haul corn from Marriott.  He was a little annoyed when I insisted I go with him twice when we had to take Janice up to Weber towards evening.  He could drive better than I but I felt safer going along.  He took the car with other boys, Robert Steck seemed to be one of his

page 3 –

best pals, to the Halloween dance and they took girls.  We could get him to blush when mentioned Ann Donaldson from Burch Creek.  She is Vice-President of the school; a nice little girl and she really liked Darrell.  I worried every time he took the car went and cautioned him to be careful as he went out the door.  It seemed so unneces. to him.  He took the Pontiac over to the Coliseum where they had their steers there and it wasn’t working right either.  The low and high hear weren’t work most of the time.

He came after us down to Roy Friday night.  Marilyn, Wayne, Lowell and I went to the Bazaar and your Dad was coming later and we were going to the Judkins home.  But he was busy getting ready to leave for Idaho in the morning so he sent Darrell down.  The Chrysler had be taken to the garage earlier that night and the Pontiac failed when we stopped at Lyle’s confectionary ice cream after we came from Judkins so came home in the truck.  I had to have a car Saturday to go get my hair done and they were to bring one of the cars to me Saturday morning.  I fussed when it hadn’t come at 12:30 and called Anderson.  He had expected us to come after it I suppose.  He said they were both ready and he’d bring the Chrysler at 12:45 so I told Darrell he could bring go up back with us and bring the Pontiac back as we would need it Sunday.  It was our Ward Conference.  They got out to cross the high way so I wouldn’t get in that noon traffic.  I was upset because Anderson was late and which made me late so I just drove off without saying a word, be careful or even looking back.

Marilyn Wiberg and Marilyn most always

page 4 –

catch the 2:30 Bamberger to town on Saturday to take their piano lessons but Marilyn Wiberg wasn’t taking hers Saturday so Marilyn persuaded Lowell to go with her.  I have told she and Janice both when they can take the Bamberger not to ask Darrell to take them in.  Darrell had weighed the truck your Dad brought back and was helping there at the yards when your Dad realized it was cold told him to take the car to the house.  Marilyn and Lowell met him outside and Marilyn coaxed him to take them in.  He said no he would only take them to the Bamberger but Darrell liked to drive so he took them on in town.  He was coming back alone when it happened.  The motorman on the Bamberger said he saw Darrell wasn’t going to stop and he slowed down a little.  We shouldn’t condemn but they usually have to stop there any way so he could have stopped when he saw Darrell didn’t see the Bamberger.

He and Marilyn had had so much fun that morning.  They found some hard-tack candy Janice had hid for Xmas and were fooling around.  They were so happy and joking on the way in.  Marilyn said it was the first time she had told him goodbye when she left.

We were in my bedroom, Marilyn, Darrell and I that morning and he said “I didn’t think I’d ever have to stoop to look in this mirror.”  He had to sit down for me to part his hair.

Your Dad’s prayer with Janice and Wayne gave me strength to bear the shock I know.  I had the oddest feeling on the way home as I came in the door.  Everything was so quiet.  I felt rather numb.

page 5 –

I passed Parley in the truck up about by Naylor’s but didn’t see your Dad with him or that they followed me home.  I learned after your Dad dashed in the front door and came in the kitchen just as I came in.  He said there had been a serious accident but I didn’t think of Darrell.  Then I wanted to know if he was in the hospital.  “They have taken him away”.  I was stunned and couldn’t believe it was true but one of the first things I tho’t of “I knew it would happen he shouldn’t have been driving” and I felt so condemned I couldn’t throw it off.  I am so thankful no one else was with him or the friends that usually ride with him.  Allen and Vera went and brought Marilyn home.  She had just reached Miss Whittier’s for her lesson.  When your Dad called and said Allen would pick her up but didn’t tell told Miss Whittier not to tell her.  Allen had that hard task of course she blamed herself for asking him to take her in.

Avon and David drove in the yards and told your Dad.  He rode back with them and hadn’t sensed it was too late to do anything so he jumped out and run towards the car.  He fell on the track and has had a bad knee.  It is still bothering him.  He should have had hot packs on but wouldn’t let me.

That Bamberger blows it’s whistle so long it pierce’s through me every time.  Even the men and especially the Mexicans notice it.  They felt so badly they just cried when they came to the house.  They were to the services too.  They liked Darrell so much.  Darrell was a careful driver, more so than your Dad.

We picked a beautiful brown metal casket with a beige tan velvet lining.  He and your Dad had bought him a new suit about two months (ago) we buried him in that.

page 6 –

Near the same color as his other suit but a prettier tweed.  Clyde Lindquist was so kind he bought his shirt and house slippers etc.  We were grateful he looked as good as he did or that he could be viewed.  He was hit on the left side of his head and it didn’t look like him.  I tried to fix his hair after they had combed it, it did help some but Lindquist said don’t touch below the hair-line and don’t touch his face till I was so unnerved I didn’t do much with it.  He was so particular about his hair too.  (Up the left column of this paragraph are the words “was fixed nice”.)

I intended to take Darrell to Dr. Olsen for a complete check on his heart and would report to you then but I don’t think his heart condition was any better because he has grown so much.  Your Dad reported I believe that Dr. Brown said he would never have been well and would possibly have been an invalid later in life.  That is some consolation because he did like sports.  He was showing us the other night how he could throw the ball in the basket with one hand from way back.

He hadn’t received his check for his half on the steers because it had been missent to Route 4 and he had been to the mail box that day, Janice said he was so excited about getting a big check.  One 32¢, 33¢, 29¢.  $928.76.

I have intended to tell you in each letter.  Darrell bought your baseball cap for you.  I knew he’d know more about them and he was thrilled to do it.

Janice takes a fine attitude toward Darrell’s passing.  She says it was to be and if I’d just look at it that way I’d feel better.  She went to Earl’s for Thanksgiving.  Did I tell you he don’t leave ’till the first of May and goes to the Eastern States?

page 7 –

Your Dad said this morning that Marilyn is old for her age.  She lectures to me and it does help a lot.

Wayne and Lowell don’t sense it very much but one of the first things Wayne asked, “Do thy have Christmas in heaven.”  Lowell says Darrell wasn’t mean to him and they do feel badly.

Clyde Lindquist was wonderful and when we were there on Sunday he said told how much told yo Bro. Peterson there isn’t a man living that I think more of than I do you.

So many have spoken of their love for your Dad.  Lynne Johnston wrote from Las Animas Colo. mentioning what a wonderful influence your Dad had on his life and other boys as well.  He said, “I sincerely hope and know that Ronald is enjoying his work and doing a good job.  He really has ability that is exceptional.  He sent a copy of a wonderful poem.  I’ll try and send a copy.

Bishop LeGrande Richards praised him very highly for his work with boys before quite a group after an important meeting at the Fourth Ward last night where President David O. McKay spoke.

We have had so many wonderful letters.  One from President George Albert Smith, Bishop LeGrande Richards, telegram from President McKay, phone call from Bishop Wirthlin.  Letter from Dilworth Young.

This morning your Dad mentioned cutting down his business, the show at Los Angeles wasn’t so good, (Louis Allen and Parley went down.) and devoting more time to church work.  Something I hoped and prayed he’d do for a long time.

It was touching to know those students of the ninth grade and others stood during that long service and barely moved the entire time.

Darrell was loved by every one.  They dedicated an assembly to him and their school paper.  The teacher sent flowers besides a spray from the school and one from his friends, Jim Lloyd, Robert Steck, Ernest De Bore.

page 8 –

Received your wonderful letter today and you’d never know how much it was appreciated tho’ it brought sobs and tears from those of us that have read it.  I am truly grateful to Our Father in Heaven for the attitude you have taken and I know he has and will bless you.  I do pray that my letter won’t upset you and I realize I have taken too much space and not condensed happenings enough and some were unnecessary.

Your Dad didn’t want me to send a picture of the car but I know I would want all the story and when you know he wasn’t injured too badly just that blow on his head that we are thankful for because he didn’t know what happened.

We feel badly that we didn’t have a good picture.  He had had one taken at school we hope is good and then that one in the Tribune we will have enlarged and can send you one.

I asked you Dad today and he said Darrell was still sitting at the wheel when he saw him.

God bless you and Comfort You

My Prayers and Love are with you.



to be continued…


17 thoughts on “Uncle Darrell -Part X, A Mother’s Grief”

  1. Whew, the letters are so sad. At the same time, it is nice that the letters have survived over the years. They enable use to virtually share these terrible times with some very special people.

  2. continued? Oh my goodness, such sadness. But what a testimony to the family and their faith. You are absolutely right to share Darrell’s story. Even tho he didn’t marry or have kids, he’s still an essential part of the family ancestors. He was loved, and he was grieved deeply. Descendants need to know.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. That is exactly how I feel about it. In fact on Monday evening we have a Family Night and this past Monday we talked about Darrell. I shared much of what I have been posting – the original items of course. It was a sweet moment. I was surprised at how enthralled my teenagers were. I was sitting on the floor surrounded by photos and such. As I was sharing different things they would all hop off the couches to look closely, hold items and ask a simple question or two and then back up on the couches to listen as I shared the next part. (Of course the 4 year old was not nearly so interested but that’s to be expected.) Many times I noticed my big boys struggling to hold back tears. It was a tender moment and I think it helped them to feel a connection to our past generations. One thing that was particularly of interest to my oldest was the items about my Grandpa – the telegram and letters and missionary photo of him. My oldest is named after my Grandpa and is currently working on his paperwork to be a missionary. I gave him an original missionary photo of my Grandpa and told him I would order a frame for it. Super cool family moment. I think the most important for me was to share with them that we all face trials, some are incredibly sad like this one but we are all strong enough to get through it if we rely on the Lord. I hope they will remember that when they struggle in the future. The faith of our family members and their ability to work through a trial. Sorry I’m rambling… And yes, continued. 🙂

      1. You are not rambling. You are sharing a special family moment. And doing what a family history collector does: talk or write about it – with blog readers, with friends, and especially with family. And it turned into a teaching moment. Very cool. Blessings on your son as he takes his first step towards his mission journey.

        1. Thank you! You are so kind. My kiddo is nearly done with his mission paperwork. We take a photo today, upload a few documents and the papers are off! He put his availability date as July 20th. It’s weird to think my everyday part of motherhood with him is nearly done. Where does the time go?

          1. Gracious sakes, so he’ll be off to the MTC in less than 6 months?? Your comments remind me of that song MoTab sings, “Turn around and you’re two, Turn around and you’re four, Turn around and you’re a young man going out of my door.” I’m sure wherever he goes, he’ll make you very proud.

  3. That really hurts to read. Is there anything worse than losing a child? I don’t think so. How your family kept their faith is remarkable to me, being somewhat of an agnostic about God myself. And poor Marilyn (a sister, I assume?)—did she carry guilt forever for having him take her into town?

    I can relate to your great-grandmother’s fears about Darrell driving. I admit that I also held my breath every time one of my daughters took the car out. And I am thankful now that they both live in big cities and don’t drive. But then again—no one is assured safety in this world, are they?

    1. Yes, Marilyn is Darrell’s sister. I have heard mention that she did carry some guilt. She was a wonderful, happy woman though so I imagine she found peace.

      I relate to the worry also. I have one driver so far. It was stressful to let him go for the longest time. It’s a bit easier now. No, safety is never assured. Life is one big leap of faith.

      1. Yes, you’re right. If we let our fears get the better of us, none of us would ever get out of bed, let alone have children.

Leave a Reply