Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Modern Miracle

Melissa Chandler

Conference Sunday, I was wrestling Luke for the best seat in the family room to watch General Conference.  He eventually let me have it (with some encouragement from James) (He had already had it for two hours in the morning, and I was getting sleepy and wanted to lay down for the 2nd session.)  :)  The next day on Monday afternoon I noticed that I was feeling a lot of soreness on my side and back and thought I must have a huge bruise on my back - maybe Luke elbowed me during our "rough-housing."  Later that night, it was so sore that I tried to find the bruise on my side in the mirror.  I couldn't find anything, but saw about a 2 inch diameter rash on my back, towards the side.  I called to James to look at it, and I immediately had the impression, "It's shingles."  Shingles?  What in the world is shingles?  I really had no clue.  I thought it was some kind of skin disease of the legs, but that it also made you shake all over.  ???  I had James take a picture of it with my phone so I could see it more clearly.  Then I "googled" shingles and pictures of shingles to see if my picture was comparable.  There were many pictures that were way more severe than my picture, but I did find a few that looked similar to mine.  I read all about it and found out about the treatment.  All the sites said that early treatment was key.  I discovered that one of the medicines that treated shingles, was some medicine I had on hand to treat cold sores.  I thought "What's it going to hurt?"  So I took some medicine that night and then in the morning.  Later that morning, I was feeling slightly guilty that I had self-diagnosed myself with shingles and started the treatment when I wasn't for sure that was what I had.  So, I made an appointment with my doctor who I haven't seen in years.  When I went to the appointment, she looked at the rash and wasn't convinced it was shingles.  She asked me if I had bed bugs....(I certainly hope not!).  After I showed her the picture from my camera of what it looked like the night before, she immediately said, "Yes.  That's shingles."  She gave me more medicine and confirmed what I had read online - that with medicine the rash would likely go away in a week, but the soreness and pain could be around for months and she said even years!  Ug.

I woke up the first morning and thought that it was a tender mercy where it was on my body.  It was not on the side I sleep on so I slept through the night and ended up sleeping through every night this week.  The biggest deal for me was the headaches I had every day, but enough ibuprofen eventually took care of those.

What a tender mercy from God to have that impression come to my mind when I really had no idea what shingles was.  It is so painful in some that they miss months of church and work, and it really didn't cramp my style this week at all.  I have had an itchy, sore back that has moved to my frontside (not the rash, just the soreness and itchiness), but it is manageable.  I did not have to miss any work because the rash was covered by clothes and I caught it so early that the blisters/sores never opened.  I was never contagious.  I am thankful that He spared me the intense pain this could have caused me and the effect it would have had on me caring for my family.  God lives and He is aware of each of His children.  I am thankful for the modern miracle in my life this week!

The Miracle of the Fanbelt

The Miracle of the Fanbelt

During Spring break in 2013, as the Scoutmaster for my ward, my assistant Scoutmaster, Garth Dunford, and myself, planned a biking trip to Moab and Arches in Southern Utah with six of our scouts. We looked forward to using another family’s 15 passenger van. However, just before leaving, the use of that van fell through because the transmission went out. I was very concerned about using my truck to pull the trailer of bicycles and camping equipment. With 270,000 miles on it, the engine was making new, random noises. Garth also heard the noises and expressed concern about making it to Moab. I made an “off the cuff” remark, “Don’t worry; we’ll just pray it down there.”  As the father of one of the scouts going, our Bishop was asked to offer the prayer before we left. Off we went, me driving the truck and Garth driving his van with all the scouts.

We arrived safely to Moab. We had a great time playing in a giant sand hill just out of Arches, jumping off a cliff into a pool of water in Moab and riding our bikes on the trails at Dead Horse Point.
Waking up at 5:30 am on Saturday to drive home in time to listen to General Conference, we were concerned that the truck was still making those random noises. In the dark of the morning, with hats off, the scouts listened as I pleaded to heaven that I would arrive safely home in my truck. Garth and the boys followed me only to Green River. Because I was so nervous about my truck, I was driving at only 55 mph. I insisted that Garth and the boys drive ahead to get home in time for Conference. For the last three hours of my drive, I listened to Conference on the radio and prayed. Once I got over Soldier Summit, I felt pretty good that I might actually make it home.

As I passed each town on the way home, I said another prayer of gratitude. As I got closer to home, the thought went through my mind that maybe I was making a bigger deal out of this then I needed to. The truck seemed to be just fine. But the Lord needed to teach me a lesson.

As I pulled up to my house, to back the trailer into my driveway, I heard a very loud BANG, and a squeak. I turned off the truck, got out, and opened the hood to see what caused that noise. The pulley had broken, and the fan belt was shredded. Could there have been a more obvious and blatant answer to prayer than that? I had arrived safely home. I believe in miracles. I also believe that the Lord is aware of us and our needs. I would be extremely ungrateful if I didn’t recognize his Hand in my life. He listens to our prayers; he is involved in our lives. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

For the Love of a Father

For the Love of a Father
My first visit to the Bradley home on Second Avenue was in 1969 when I was dating Bob, the oldest of the fourteen Bradley children. As we entered the home, we were invited into the kitchen. It was packed with people of all ages who were sitting and standing around eating avocado sandwiches served on Mom Bradley's delicious homemade wheat bread. Bob introduced me, and I was immediately offered a bite of someone's huge avocado sandwich. I love avocados. I grew up in California with an avocado tree, so the bite was hard to resist, but I couldn't see myself chomping into some stranger's sandwich.

What I would come to learn about the Bradley family was that everyone shared everything and in abundance. I was introduced to the huge, metal milk machine. When I pulled the handle, my glass instantly filled with ice cold, refreshing milk. When we gathered around the dining table, a delicious meal of roast, carrots, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad, and rolls was passed around until we were full. Having come from a home with only three children, and where both parents worked, we ate a lot of TV dinners, so eating with the Bradleys was truly a feast.

In the kitchen, I watched the two littlest sisters, Barbara and Lisa, bake what seemed like a hundred chocolate chip cookies for all to enjoy. Leftovers were frozen to pack in school lunches. I watched David lie down on the couch with his head in an older sister's lap and watched her play with his hair. I heard Betsy yell to her siblings, "Who wants to make a 7-Eleven stop?" and they jumped in the car and were off. When I visited Dad's home furnishings store, I saw a few handsome young men and women, who had been taught by their father how to be gracious and professional as they engaged with customers. It was the Bradley way.

In the evening when dad walked into the house, I watched him put his arms around each child, give a kiss on the lips, and say, "I love you."  Dad had been known to come home and awaken a baby just to kiss him good night. Having grown up in a home without this kind of loving attention, as I experienced all this, I knew in my heart, beyond any doubt, that this was the family that I wanted to be connected with forever--such an abundance of everything I ever wanted in my life.

A year later, Bob and I decided to get married, which brought yet another abundant experience into my life, as mom sewed my wedding dress, dad and the kids re-landscaped the backyard, and the entire family catered the most fabulous wedding feast for our reception.

What I was to learn as time went on was that dad came from a family with nothing. He watched his father walk out and drive away when he was seven years old. His mother went to work at a department store to provide for her children, and they moved into the unfinished basement of his Aunt Nelly's house. Dad found jobs at a young age delivering newspapers, stocking shelves, and working in sales. He worked hard his entire life. He served in his church and paid his tithing--once even mortgaging his home to pay it.

Dad's greatest love was his family, and he wanted his children to have a happy home. They all loved to laugh. Over the years, the Lord blessed him financially. Later in life, he invested in wonderful places for his extended family to gather for family reunions to help them stay connected. He bought a large home in Park City, Utah and later in St. George, Utah as gathering places. He provided funds for family reunions held at the beach, mountain chateaus, water parks, and roller rinks. He prepaid for events that would continue on into the future as well as booked cruises for his children and their spouses to enjoy together for years to come.

But even more importantly, Dad was personally in touch with the lives of each of his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He wanted all of our families to be successful, so he compiled books for us. As he became acquainted with the Internet, he began sending us weekly email messages of love and hope and advice. Whenever I responded to him, he always got back to me with a loving message in a day or two. He loved me as one of his own. Dad had the gift of drawing many people into his life.
The remarkable thing about Dad was that he was diabetic and blind. This could have made his world very small and protected, but his desire to reach out and to love only grew.

On Friday, December 30, over 500 people flocked to Dad's funeral. Amazing to me were the many grandchildren who traveled from all over the country (New York, Oregon, Arizona, Idaho, Connecticut, Colorado, Vermont, California, Ohio, Chicago, Kansas City, Boston, Virginia, and Alaska) to pay their last respects to their grandfather.

Dad requested that the funeral service be kept to one hour, and then the feast--oh the feast! He had reserved two ballrooms at the Little America Hotel, and requested a beautifully catered banquet to feed his entire family--14 children, 86 grandchildren, 231 great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.

"Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to a feast.
And they'd feast! And they'd feast!
--Dr. Seuss

He just wanted us to have a great, old time on the day of his funeral! Such love and abundance! This is what I learned from Dad, our dear and beloved Father. Because of him, like a giant redwood tree, our roots grow wide, so that we connect with hundreds of others, so that we hold each other up, so that together, we weather the storms of life. It takes the talents of all of us, as Dad well knew, as he drew on his children's strengths for support in making all of his dreams come true to the end.

I feel blessed and grateful to be connected to the Bradley family. Dad taught us to stand strong, to be courageous and resilient, and to stay together forever. Dad's last gift was a beautiful minted coin given at his funeral to each person in the family. His family motto, "No Empty Chairs," is imprinted on this coin and will be forever stamped in our hearts.
We will all be together again, Dad. Thank you . . . for everything.
With great love and appreciation,


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Ralph Otis Bradley Obituary

Ralph O. Bradley

On December 22, Ralph O. Bradley passed away surrounded by his loving children.  His capacity for love was limitless, and he will be deeply missed by family, friends, those he served through his leadership, and the many others he touched on his journey through life. 

He left this life as he lived it, nobly.  Truly of Ralph, it can be said, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”  As a family, we have the certain knowledge that death is not the end and this period of separation is only temporary.

Ralph was born February 24, 1920, on a kitchen table in Moroni, Utah, the first of two children of William Otis and Nida Susannah Hales Bradley.  He married Mildred Harris on May 14, 1941, in the Salt Lake Temple.  He was in business for himself most of his life, at Bradley Badger, Town & Country Home Furnishings and Bradley’s Sleep Center.  He wanted to work for himself so his children could work with him.

Ralph loved children.  He is survived by 13 children, S. Robert (Lonnie), Susan (Leslie) Dorrough, Judith Parry, Craig (Joy), Betsy (Dalton) Cannon, Richard, James (Shauna), Maryjane (Bradford) Melis, Peggy Waltman, John (Ann), David (Catherine), Barbara (Michael) Creer and Lisa (Ned) Stephenson.  He was preceded in death by his wife of 68 years, Mildred Bradley, and daughter, Kathleen (Ron) Offret.  At the time of his passing, Ralph and Mildred were blessed with 86 grandchildren, 231 great grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.  Ralph is also survived by his brother-in-law, Robert Sorbonne.

Ralph was a loving husband and devoted father, grandfather and great grandfather.  His greatest joy was his family.  His family was very important to him. He sponsored fun-filled family reunions and brought his children together on cruises.  But, with Ralph it wasn’t just the big events.  He was in touch with the lives of each of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren on a very personal and individual basis.  He had the amazing ability to know what everyone was up to, their struggles and challenges, and their successes.  He was always there to offer a listening ear and advice.

As a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ralph was always blessed with a strong and valiant testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and showed that testimony through continuous service.  Ralph spent nearly his entire adult life serving in the church.  He willingly devoted his time to callings such as Bishop, Stake President, Mission President of the North Carolina Charlotte Mission, Executive Secretary to the Southeast Area President, Regional Representative of the Twelve, Director of Temple Square, President of the Washington D.C. Temple and Sealer in the Salt Lake Temple.  He was also a committed and caring home teacher.

Funeral services will be held Friday, December 30th, at 11:00 am at Garden Heights Ward, 2220 E. Fisher Lane (2950 South).  A viewing will be held at Larkin Sunset Lawn, 2350 East 1300 South in Salt Lake City on Thursday, December 29th, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm and also Friday December 30th from 9:00 to 10:30 am at the church prior to the funeral services.  Interment will be at the Salt Lake City Cemetery.  In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the General Missionary Fund, Humanitarian Fund or Perpetual Education Fund of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.