Along time ago I wrote, “Marilyn walked the other day, and her whole world rejoiced”.
Today I write that Marilyn died the other day, and her whole world shed tears of sorrowful acceptance. And, not using the familiar trite words of, “You will be missed “, I use words, which to me are the correct ones: “Marilyn, you are missed..”
The day she took her first steps was later than with most children, because she had been born with physical problems, and it was a long time, filled with many operations, before the doctors had time, and Marilyn the stamina, to put their attention upon her twisted feet.
Marilyn was born to Wayne and Bernice Ohlin Ursenbach, a family of active people, and she fit perfectly into that category, except for having a body unable to support the inner dreams and talents that came with the package.
She was born a twin, and, the bonding between Marilyn and twin, Maurine, was classic, entirely over-riding any physical differences. The doctors had carefully explained to Marilyn’s parents that there is ‘no mercy in the womb,’ and if the position of one embryo is ‘better’, it never lets go of that advantage.
And so, there had been no mercy in the womb, and upon birth the doctors did not expect Marilyn to ever leave the hospital. But those doctors just didn’t know the Spirit that was Marilyn’s, and she fooled everyone. Everyone, that is, except her parents, and the day finally came when they chose to take her home to live, not to die, as the doctors expected.
Then, within a day or so, I stepped into their home where Wayne was holding Marilyn and as I called out my greeting, that little tyke, immediately swung around in his arms, to find the new voice. And in that instant, I knew that no matter what her physical problems might be, all else was sharp as a tack. She had had only a few days to get acquainted with the ‘family’ voices, but she knew immediately that this one was different. Not bad at all for a child the doctors had no hope for.
The years passed and when she came home from different operations, my sister saw that the twins had established a routine of their own. As soon as possible they would begin talking and Marilyn would, in detail, tell her sister what she had experienced, and Maurine, in turn, would give a similar report on what had been going on at home. Nice bonding.
And on one of those early days, Bernice, their mother, heard loud screams coming from her back yard and dashed out to see what was wrong, but all was well, for there were the twins, on the play area where she had placed them, and they were laughing as they were trying to see who could scream and make the most and loudest noises. That, too, was good.
Now it so happened that Marilyn had been born with five fingers on each hand, and lest you shrug as if to say, “So?” go back and read my words again. She was born with five fingers, not as most of us are, with four fingers and one thumb.
But for her it was normal and she got along well, but when she reached 8 or 9 years of age, a doctor called and told the parents that there had been an operation devised, to make that one finger into a thumb. Did they want Marilyn’s hands changed?
Knowing Marilyn’s strong mind, they asked her if she would like to have that operation, and after a few days thinking, she said, “Yes, I think so, but I want it on my Left hand, and then, if it doesn’t work, it will leave my Right hand, the one I rely upon, unchanged.”. Yeah, Marilyn had her problems, but she also had a keen, mature mind.
She came home from that operation, returned to school, and with no word of prodding from her parents, one day she told her parents she was ready to have the other hand done. No mind??? Her mind was far beyond many her age, and the results were good.
Marilyn’s life was also filled with joy and triumph. A graduate of Cottonwood High, and then from Brigham Young University, when the twins decided it was the right time for them to begin their adult, separate lives. It was also when Marilyn served an LDS mission, and again the changes were good for both.
The years passed, her siblings married, and with varied careers, their pathways branched out and soon made homes in all corners of the world. At the same time, however, some of Marilyn’s physical problems grew in scope, leaving her dreams undeveloped, and ultimately it was clear that it was best for her to live again with her parents. Even so, she was employed by Zions Bank until the day when she stepped out of her body and entered the next of God’s Rooms.
It was sometime in those years that Marilyn found me as a telephone friend, quite different from the older generation Aunt she had known all her life, and certainly not as a contemporary and, again, it was good. But in all our talks, as we exchanged “what we were thinking, or doing” never was there a word of regret, anger, jealousy of her siblings or anyone else. She was filling whatever ‘mission’ she had come here to fill, and doing it with acceptance and love. The two words of ‘if only’ were never a part of her vocabulary.
I learned the true meaning of courage, from Marilyn, like fortitude, laughter in the face of hardship and love for life. She became a great, silent teacher and I say “Thank you, Marilyn, for sharing many of your thoughts with me”.
And then, only a month or two before she left us, she found she had breast cancer, had a double mastectomy, and was getting ready for the second round of Chemo . . . when she silently said her Good bys and was, for the first time in her life . . . free from the burdens of a body that placed limitations upon her.
And so, Marilyn, at last you are free. Free from all physical restrictions and I see you, not walking, but running, dancing, laughing, traveling, climbing, all actions that, for so long, were for others and only dreams for you.
At long last you are free to go and come as you wish, Or to step out boldly alone, no longer dependent upon others for support. Free, and Thank you God Almighty, Marilyn is truly, finally and forever, free.
Godspeed you along your way, Marilyn, and know that a river of respect, acceptance, admiration and love, follows you every step of your way.