This is a picture of my great grandma, Mary. Mary was born in New York in 1904. After her mother, Catherine passed away from influenza, 14 year old Mary was left to raise her two little sisters, Catherine Veronica and Lillian. Their mother had immigrated from Ireland as a young woman and their father was the son of Irish parents, and they raised their little girls as Catholics. Before Catherine's death, the girls attended a Catholic school. Mary had graduated elementary school the year her mother died and had registered for Flushing High School, but instead of waiting for the fall semester, she began going to K. I. Smith Business Institute, where she completed a course, including stenography and typing. (I learned about this a while back, but it didn't occur to me till typing this post that Mary and I have similar interests. I have thought about going into stenography and typing as part of a freelance court reporting job when I get older, and have even called several colleges for information.) She took care of her little sisters, and eventually became a Wall Street private secretary.
One summer, she and a friend took a vacation to upstate New York, where they were learning to ride horses. The man taking care of the horses and teaching Mary to ride was named James Carl Morrison. One day Mary and Carl were on their horses, and Carl warned Mary not to tell her horse to run because it could trip and she would fall off. Well, Mary had inherited some Irish temper, and told Mr. Morrison that she didn't need him to teach her to ride! She then told her horse to run and took off! Carl ran after her and stopped her horse. It obeyed so abruptly that Mary was thrown up in the air and on the horse's neck! After regaining her "seat," they began to go back. Upon dismounting, Mary told Mr. Morrison that he was a very arrogant, obnoxious man. As she haughtily walked away, Mr. Morrison turned to one of his friends working with him and said, "One day I'm going to marry that girl."
Mary and Carl married on February 10, 1934, in Katonah, Westchester, New York.
Mary and Carl lived in New York for several years. While there, they had two little girls. During World War II, Carl worked making planes for the war effort. However, when the war ended, Carl felt there was something better for his family. He took a trip by himself out west, where he fell in love with Mesa, Arizona. He told Mary they where going to move. Mary had never been there before, but she got the family ready. They left many of their belongings behind. Each little girl got to bring one doll to bring to their new home.
The little family was poor, and Carl didn't have a job waiting for him in Mesa. He worked at odd jobs, such as an ice man. For they first several years they lived in a small trailer. However, Mary was loyal to her husband and the decision he hadmade for their family.
Although Mary had been raised a Catholic, as she got older she didn't go to mass often. Carl didn't go to any church; he said he went to the dogs. However, after living in Mesa for about five years, there was a knock on the door. Two Mormon missionaries stood there. Even after being turned away, they kept coming back to see the Morrison family. One day Carl relented and let them in. To make a long story short, he took the discussions, tested the doctrine and found it to be true, and was baptized. After his baptism, he told his wife and daughters that he wanted them to hear the lessons from the missionaries. They didn't have to join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints if they didn't want to, but he wanted them to just listen.
They did, and the rest of the family joined the Church. Mary had a hard time with the Word of Wisdom. It was hard for her to give up tea and coffee. When Carl learned about this doctrine he immediately stopped smoking and drinking. It took longer for Mary. However, she trusted God and broke her habits. The whole family remained faithful to the gospel, and now Mary's great-grandchildren are being raised in the ways of God. Several have served or are serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
I am so grateful for the example of my great-grandma, Mary Cecelia Bowen Morrison. As I have learned of her courage and faith, I have grown to love her. Although she died in 1965, many years before I was born, I know I knew her before I came to earth. She battled the loss of her mother, a distancing from her father, poverty in married life, and cancer as a mature woman, and yet she remained faithful. I have felt her influence in my life as I go through trials, and in my family history work. I know she is guiding me from the other side of the veil.