Saturday, March 26, 2011

Ramona Wilcox Cannon: An Abundant Fruit of Mormonism

Danielle Stockton

The third woman to earn a Master’s Degree from the University of Utah, recipient of an educational certificate as a translator from the University of Berlin, fluent and taught in 5 different languages, toured much of Europe, Egypt, and later visited Palestine, a teacher and journalist, a loving and devoted wife who raised seven children – including the family living in South America, recipient of Mother of the Year Award, published some 4,000 articles after the age of 60, and, as a great believer in lifetime education, was pursuing a PhD at University of Utah, when she was called to return to her Heavenly Father at age 91.

The run on paragraph above is meant to list simply a sampling of Ramona’s vigorous pursuit of serving others and following the Lord’s callings. Yes, she lived 91 years; but Ramona, in a sense, produced fruits of Mormonism for over a dozen lives. Even with all of these accomplishments and honors, Ramona valued her faith, her marriage to her always beloved husband, Joseph Jenne Cannon, and the rearing of her 7 children, namely stepchildren Wayne, Jane, and Grant; and those born of her union with Joseph, namely Elizabeth, Adrian, Bryant, and Mark.

Ramona Wilcox was born in 1887 to Charles Frederick and Elizabeth Stevenson Wilcox. Ramona’s life was steeped in the roots of early Mormonism. Her great grandfather was a first cousin of Brigham Young and her mother was the daughter of Elder Edward Stevenson, a member of the Presidents of the Seventy, who re-baptized Book of Mormon witness Martin Harris. Her superior intellect was apparent from an early age. Ariel Silver mentions in her work, that follows this article, entitled “Ask Mary Marker: A Guide to the Seasons of Life”, based on the life story of columnist Ramona Wilcox Cannon, that her father supported Ramona’s use of her intellect in obtaining a college degree. He said, “Life can be cruel to women, and it is my firm conviction that a woman is doing herself a favor when she prepares to be self supporting and independent of men if the need arises”. This was when only about 6% of Americans were graduating from high school. Sadly enough, while Ramona’s education became part of the essence of her persona, she did, indeed, later have that need tragically arise, living the last 33 years of her life as a widow.

Ramona’s discipline in pursuing a goal was another trait clearly visible in her youth. At the tender age of nine, she first heard of the Passion Play on Jesus’ crucifixion held every ten years in Oberammergau, Germany. Ariel Silver elaborates in “Ask Mary Marker: A Guide to the Seasons of Life” that this event piqued her interest so deeply that she immediately began saving her dimes which were matched by her father. In 1910, Ramona did indeed see the performance while visiting her brother, Fred, a missionary, in Germany. This focus and ability to stay the course served her well during her long and fruitful life. Ramona stayed for the duration of her brother’s mission at the end of which he was her escort as they traveled in Europe and even went to Egypt to visit the Sphinx and antiquities there. Upon returning to Germany, along with several friends, Ramona attended the Royal University of Berlin for a year, earning a certificate of study. She became adept in five different languages: English, German, Latin, French, and Spanish. (Her husband, Joseph, was adept in 7 languages.) Given her profound faith, these years can be viewed as the sowing of the seeds that later became Ramona’s personal, life-long fruits of Mormonism.

Following her time in Europe, Ramona returned to Utah and taught while she pursued a master’s degree in English at the University of Utah. By this time, Ramona was considered practically a spinster for the day, and as Ariel Silver recounts in page five of her manuscript entitled “Ask Mary Marker: A Guide to the Seasons of Life”, Ramona’s cousin, Stephen L. Richards, teased her by saying, “Ramona, you know MA doesn’t spell ma”. But Dr. Mark Cannon points out on page 5 of his work entitled “To the Descendants of Ramona W. and Joseph J. Cannon” that the marital stage of her life was, unbeknownst to her, extremely rapidly approaching. In particular, three months later she was married with three children and another on the way. Now, Ramona was definitely a go-getter, but this warrants both elaboration and explanation!

Some months prior, after being one of the first women to receive her master’s degree, Ramona had met Joseph Jenne Cannon, son of George Q. Cannon, counselor to four Church presidents. Sadly, shortly thereafter he lost his wife, Florence Groesbeck Cannon. He became an extremely eligible widower with three children. When asked to organize the annual 24th of July parade commemorating “the arrival of pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847”, Joseph recalled an intelligent and interesting woman, of course Ramona Wilcox, and contacted her to support his efforts. In his manuscript entitled “Joseph Jenne Cannon, 1877-1945”, Dr. Mark W. Cannon highlights a time in which Ramona and Joseph spoke to discuss preliminary ideas for the festivities. As Ramona put it, they conversed with “ideas popping like firecrackers."

This interchange became almost symbolic of their entire marriage as they openly discussed all things both intellectual and domestic, but never fought. As recorded in “Selections of Letters from Ramona W. and Joseph J. Cannon”, at a quiet spot, after a brief courtship, Joseph proposed. When Ramona, who loved him, had not yet acquiesced, he said “Our thoughts, our hearts, our bodies are parts of the same whole, each crying in the wilderness to be completed. We have known each other and have longed for each other.” Ramona felt the same, and they were united for eternity in 1914.

Their love and marriage was in and of itself one of the inspirational fruits of Mormonism. For both of them, their faith was paramount and brought them great peace through both good and challenging times. They were also evenly matched in their sense of integrity and humility, which was a backdrop for their lives. In addition, both placed a high value on understanding other cultures whether from reading, lectures, recitals, or observation of customs.

Time and distance did not fray these precious ties as they were so deeply faith based. In fact, Dr. Mark W. Cannon elaborates upon such events in “Joseph Jenne Cannon, 1877-1945”. For instance, shortly after their marriage, Joseph needed to go to Columbia in South America as he was appointed Vice President and General Manager for the American Columbian Corporation, financed by Jesse Knight, a prominent and successful mining entrepreneur. Joseph went to Columbia intermittently, normally for long periods.

During the three years Ramona and Joseph generally lived in different continents, their relationship was conducted predominately through letters…letters that took weeks or longer to arrive and often crossed each other. Oh, but what wonderful letters! Yes, they carried the daily happenings, but they also contained such a sweetness and passion. They often open with such phrases as lover, Eternal love, and Dear Heart. Certain letters included in “Selections of Letters from Ramona W. and Joseph J. Cannon” are especially remarkable. One from Ramona addresses Joseph as the “Beloved King of all that I have and am”, and one of Joseph’s closes with “Kisses and hugs to the Mother Dove and Kisses and hugs to the 5 little pigeons”. These epistles of faith and love carried them through, not only these extended absences from one another but also through Joseph’s bout with malaria and Ramona’s with diphtheria!

After several years, they decided that the family should all live in Columbia despite the health risks. Ramona, with five children, ranging from Wayne at 17 years to Adrian at 18 months, lived in Columbia from January 1919 for almost two years. They settled in the historic ocean town of Mompos, from which the Spaniards once governed the region. Ramona made the most of their lives there savoring the different culture and seeing that the five children did also. They thrived on the friendly, open indigenous people. An earthquake was survived; and Christmas and schooling were improvised, as were pets, which included two beloved monkeys from whom the children could not bear to be separated! So,. they were brought to Utah to be household pets.

Rosita and Flor de Te pulled off daily pranks to make sure they were never ignored. However, one day when the family was away, they managed to enter the basement where all of Ramona’s bottled fruit from her summer labors was stored. They loved the breaking sound as they threw the bottles to the cement floor. This resulted in their banishment to a zoo in Liberty Park where the children continued to visit them and call their names which brought the monkeys running. Sometime after returning to Utah from Columbia, Ramona was asked to write a series of articles, published in 1926 and 1927, about the family’s life there for The Children’s Friend. One of the most moving was the baptism of their son Grant. Ramona captures this sentiment in her work entitled “To My Dear Children and Grandchildren” when she felt the Spirit with the thought that this was probably “the first baptism into the Church of Christ that has happened on the South American Continent within probably fifteen hundred years”.

Political factors surrounding World War I caused the family to return to Utah. Economic times were hard. However, Ramona, while maintaining a household and rearing the seven children, performed substitute teaching in English literature or one of the other languages she knew. While serving as the editor of the Deseret News for three and one half years since 1931 where he wrote all the editorials and managed the newspaper, Joseph was called to a mission in Great Britain. Ramona was elated for Joseph to be called to do God’s work but did not look forward to another long separation and had no idea how the family would manage without his income during the Great Depression when jobs were virtually nonexistent. As Ariel Silver illustrates in “Ask Mary Marker: A Guide to the Seasons of Life”, Ramona’s faith once again carried her. She remembered that the New Testament referred to Peter’s mother-in-law. So, Peter had a wife, who with the help of the Lord presumably survived while he was away as an Apostle/missionary. So, Ramona laid this burden down praying one morning, “Well, dear Lord, I’ll leave it up to you. Whatever it is to be, I’ll do the best I can.” The call to Joseph from Church President Heber J. Grant had been interrupted by an emergency. So that very next day Joseph came home with the happy news that he was to be British Mission President and there was a modest living stipend so the family was to go with him.

Thus, Ramona was off to another adventure, namely being the wife of a mission president and caring for their three youngest children as well. She and Joseph worked closely with the missionaries under their care. At that time, the church had not developed the infrastructure and training our missionaries benefit from today. Those serving with the Cannons benefitted from the grooming, motivation and organization they, as a couple, provided. In the 1997 Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, pages 280-288, when he was Secretary of the European Mission, he observed that the mission in Great Britain under the Cannons’ tenure was an astonishingly marvelous accomplishment with the young missionaries. Many of them went on to successful and service filled careers. One interesting episode was that her son, Adrian, and Jack Bowd started preaching in Hyde Park despite hecklers and threats of being thrown into the Serpentine. Also, Mark wanted to be the first person baptized in the gorgeous, historic new chapel at Ravenslea. With his parents approval, he waited for months for completion of the conversion of the mansion into a chapel. Naturally, his father performed this especially poignant baptism. Apostle Richard R. Lyman confirmed Mark with what Ramona wrote was a remarkably positive prophetic blessing for Mark’s health and future. She observed that afterward President Lyman said “he had never had the spirit of anything of that kind to a greater degree.” During these years in Great Britain, Ramona wrote for The Millennial Star, using her talents to uplift and inspire British LDS women.

Another chapter of Ramona’s life began in 1945 with the death of her beloved Joseph. Her faith upheld her, and she gracefully carried on her life. In fact, she later urged, in her writings, that all widows must move on and continue to serve. Dr. Mark W. Cannon highlights in “To the Descendants of Ramona W. and Joseph J. Cannon” how Ramona’s path now turned even more toward her writings, which provided income but also influenced many people for the good. In particular, for 28 years she wrote the “Women’s Sphere” column for the Relief Society Magazine, providing a worldwide viewpoint for LDS women while continuing her education and even teaching at the University of Utah. Then, at the age of 60, Ramona was approached by Wendell Ashton, the then Editor-in-Chief of the Deseret News, to begin an advice column. Ramona took this challenge and anonymously, as Mary Marker, wrote the “Confidentially Yours” column. Realizing that performing this function entailed a great responsibility on her part, Ramona humbly prayed constantly for discernment. Moreover, in “To the Descendants of Ramona W. and Joseph J. Cannon”, Dr. Mark W. Cannon also states that Ramona also continuously took classes at the University of Utah to obtain the best research and analysis on solutions to various human problems. For example, she took a courtship and marriage course and chuckled from time to time wondering if other students wondered why a woman of her age was taking this class! As a result, Ramona’s Mary Marker role positively affected countless women and men for over 25 years.

Also during these years, Ramona received numerous awards among which was the Utah’s Press Woman of Achievement Award. She was also part of the delegation sent to the 1975 Woman Writers of the World Conference in Palestine. However, Ramona said that the greatest acknowledgement she ever received was the Honor Mother of the Year in 1978. Ariel Silver in her work “Ramona Wilcox Cannon as Woman and Writer” emphasizes the importance this type of recognition was to Ramona. Ramona, for all her other talents, believed that the love and care of her children was her greatest accomplishment and felt that “her greatest and most rewarding intellectual challenge was raising seven children”. Ramona was one of those rare people whom virtually everyone who knew her liked her.

Ramona Wilcox Cannon would likely have described the fruits of Mormonism as a deep and personal relationship with our savior Jesus Christ and bringing of this blessing into every part of her life. This Ramona did through her marriage to her soul mate Joseph Jenne Cannon, the joyful devotion to her step-children and the children of her union with the beloved Joseph, even though they were “as active as mice in a basket”; through her educational pursuits, her writing, and in fact virtually everyone she came into contact with during her long and eventful life. As Ariel Silver saliently points out in “Ask Mary Marker: A Guide to the Seasons of Life”, Ramona’s 91 years of life spanned enormous growth in the LDS church as well as a myriad of events and trends worldwide. Ramona’s unshakeable faith and superior intellect paved her way to consistently surmount obstacles, savor widening horizons and serve others. Her life remarkably still reflects the opportunities and challenges LDS women encounter today. Ultimately, Ramona’s example still holds pertinence and inspiration today, which may be the greatest of her fruits of Mormonism.

This article is designed to introduce you not only to Ramona Cannon, but also to Ariel Clark Silver, whose rich life combining family and intellectual achievement is itself an example of the Fruits of Mormonism. Her booklet “Ask Mary Marker: A Guide to the Seasons of Life” is presented below.

What readers have said about ASK MARY MARKER: A Guide to the Seasons of Life

(Backgrounds of commentators include past and/or current positions.)

“What an exceedingly interesting woman she was (and no doubt still is.) We truly admire the fact that she had extensive dreams and found astonishing ways to pursue and achieve those aspirations. What fun it would have been to be her friend. She created interest and enthusiasm for all around her."
Elaine and Senator Orrin G. Hatch. Was Chairman of U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, slated to be ranking Republican on Senate Finance Committee. Sponsors of annual Utah conference on Women, parents of six.

“In name only was “Mary Marker” fictitious - her life was full of spirit, study, adventure, lifelong romance, travel, hardships, triumphs, teaching, and devoted motherhood. Ancause Ramona Wilcox Cannon put in writing the wisdom gleaned from her expansive life, it now contributes significantly to Mormon and women’s literature and is applicable today.”
Barbara B. Smith, former General President of Relief Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, former National President of American Mothers, Inc.

“What a wonderful story - and what a wonderful life.... Those quotes from her writings are vivid markers of her intelligence and personality. She is a vibrant and inspiring subject.”
Jerilyn S. McIntyre, former Vice President for Academic Affairs and Acting President, University of Utah.

“In the summer of 1947, a hobo arrived on Ramona’s doorstep. He was me. After dropping out of Deep Springs College where Mark had been my roommate, I had been seeing America from freight trains. Although Ramona’s house was already filled with three sons and money was scarce, she took me into her family and nurtured me. As I watched Ramona overcome her writer’s fears to begin the Mary Marker column, I was inspired to overcome mine. You will love the woman you meet in this book. I am eternally grateful for her motherly mentoring and in constant awe of her angelic soul. The world needs a movie about her life.”
Bruce Shelly, head writer of five network TV series including “Eight is Enough”. Wrote hundreds of scripts for “The Waltons”, “Matlock”, “Happy Days”, “Here’s Lucy”, “Love Boat”, “Hotel”, “M*A*S*H”, “Dallas”. Created five children’s series and wrote three movies.

"This is a page turner. I did not realize that Ramona wrote so much about her life. She is a gifted writer. I am deeply into the compelling life of this unique woman. Each anecdote tells something about her, her life and her society.”
Carol Cornwall Madsen, Professor of History and Research Professor, Smith Institute of LDS History at Brigham Young University

“A testament that truth, intellect and courage are timeless. When I put down this book, I wanted more.”
Richard G. Wilkins, Managing Director, Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development, Qatar Foundation; Managing Director, The World Family Policy Center and Professor, J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU. Was Assistant U.S. Solicitor General.

“And to think those of us who grew up with Mary Marker never knew “the rest of the story”. Ariel Silver’s book vibrantly presents the life of Ramona Cannon, its peaks and valleys, its foreign adventures and domestic challenges. Her commitment to faith, family and education (which saved her more than once!) present a timeless role model to women of every generation.”
Paula Hawkins, former U.S. Senator from Florida – first woman ever elected to U.S. Senate who was neither the wife nor the daughter of a politician.

“I have fallen in love with Ramona. Her spectacular lifelong search for answers to the great questions of life’s purposes and how to be ‘good’ was itself the answer.”
Geraldine Edwards, mother of 12 and author of 10 books.

“Ramona deserved to have been featured in the Readers Digest “My Most Unforgettable Character” series."
Dale Van Atta, Contributing Editor, Readers Digest

“Ramona was a remarkable woman. Her myriad accomplishments as wife, mother, teacher and writer are truly inspirational. This uplifting account of the seasons of her life has something to teach all women.”
Shelly Kaufhold, 1999 recipient of the Ramona W. Cannon Award for Teaching Excellence in the Humanities, University of Utah.

"In this captivating book, Ramona Cannon reports the discovery that 'deep inside me was something precious, something beyond the prosaic and pragmatic, something of the inner self that said one can trust one's dreams.' As we read of her life, Ramona's discovery becomes our own. To read of Ramona's life is to enter it and to be improved by it."
Duane Boyce, Managing Director, The Arbinger Institute

“A fascinating and thoroughly engaging “read” and well worth the attention.”
Lynn D. Wardle, President, International Society of Family Law

“This is a powerful story of a woman who lived life on her own terms. Holding fast to the iron rod, Ramona emerged from dark shadows of the Victorian Age with the light of a modern woman and the strength of a pioneer. Any woman who wonders how to “have it all” should read this book and learn from the lessons of Mary Marker.”
Jane Wilson, author of Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide to Family History and Genealogy, companion to PBS TV series Ancestors, with record-breaking station carriage. Wrote Dead Sea Scrolls: Voices in the Desert for Discovery Channel.

“We can’t do everything all at once, but Ramona Cannon shows us that given a “seasons of life” perspective it is possible to do an incredible number of things over the course of a lifetime. This engaging book will make you smile, cry, laugh, and think, but will never make you sleep. I heartily recommend it to anyone who thinks that life is just too short to do all they want.”
E. Jeffrey Hill, Associate Professor, Marriage, Family and Human Development, BYU

“Engaging and unique blending of the first and third persons. A memoir woven of generous portions of the subject’s delightful musings, stitched together beautifully by the author.”
Lee and Yvonne Maddox Roderick. Lee was President of the National Press Club, news director for KSL Television and became Assistant to the President of Utah State University. Yvonne was a Hollywood casting director and White House appointee, now a full-time mother of six.

“Every mother should give this book to her daughter to help her understand how family, career, and adventure can be combined – like Ramona did – for a wonderful glorious life.”
Betty Southard Murphy, only woman to serve as Chairman of the National Labor Relations Board, and now partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP.

“In this distillation, the words of Mary Marker, which filled the minds and warmed the hearts of prior generations of Wasatch front readers, are destined to inspire efforts and buoy spirits afresh.”
Thomas W. Draper, Professor of Marriage, Family and Human Development, Brigham Young University

“It becomes exciting and gripping. Ramona is a fascinating lady who is quite remarkable for anyone's time, but is especially remarkable for her day."
Kay Atkinson King, Ph.D. in Linguistics UCLA. On research staff at MIT and Harvard. After children substantially grown, became Chief of Staff to Congressman Richard Swett (D-NH), then Senior Policy Advisor to the Democratic Staff of House International Relations Committee. Gospel Doctrine teacher.

“Every daughter should give this book to her Mother so she can see how dreams can be realized regardless of age. Frankly, every sister should also give this book to her brother.”
Ann Southard Murphy, former staff lawyer, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, daughter of Betty Southard Murphy.

“In any age, Ramona Wilcox Cannon’s life would be considered remarkable, but this woman managed to ‘have it all’ during a time when women general didn’t – and when most of society thought they shouldn’t. She serves as a role model for women and men alike.”
James P. Bell, author In the Strength of the Lord; The Life and Teachings of James E. Faust.

“Ramona’s vision of personal destiny allowed her to transform the silent movie set of her day into a brilliant and classic Technicolor adventure, featuring a heroine who trades her tears for toil in the face of relentless obstacles.”
Margie Johnson, Chairman of the Board of Mothers at Home.

“I knew she was a remarkable lady. I just did not realize how remarkable she was. What an amazing life! Having read several hundred personal histories over the years, this is one of the most captivating stories that I have read.”
Mary B. Pearson, Cannon Family Genealogist for 30 years.

“Reading the life of Ramon Wilcox Cannon is a stimulating experience for one who knew her three younger children well enough to be dazzled by their unique talents and personalities. I’m in awe of Ramona’s resilience in the face of overwhelming difficulty, and grateful for her advice, “Nothing learned in life’s battle is lost. All is preparation.”
Nonie N. Sorensen, Writer/composer/producer of Nauvoo Adventure and other historical musicals.

“Within a few short pages, I felt hooked. I related to ‘the character’ almost immediately - a kind of tugging at the heart occurred - and I heard within myself a quiet yet strong rooting begin (Go Ramona!) as if for myself!”
Erin Hoelscher, lay minister in a nondenominational Church, former math teacher, Illinois.

"Ramona Wilcox Cannon's extraordinary life demonstrates it is possible for a woman to "have it all," but in different seasons of her life. She achieved greatness as a wife, mother, scholar and journalist through spiritual strength, intelligence, compassion and perseverance. Her inspirational footsteps will guide the way for any woman seeking to balance personal, professional and eternal goals."
Melinda Barth, broadcast journalist who learned about the LDS Church while a student at Wellesley College and subsequently was baptized while in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Ramona Cannon’s blend of an active life of the mind with devotion to her family has universal appeal and will inspire millions of women around the world.”
Jenny Zhan, Manager, PricewaterhouseCoopers; M.B.A. Carnegie Mellon; B.S. University of International Business and Economics, Beijing.

“With rare wit, high adventure, and hard-won wisdom Ramona Cannon, heroine to the last century, ably provides women of the 21st Century a timeless exemplar of how to succeed as they personify lives of keen intellect, dauntless faith and impressive vision.”
Blythe Darlyn Thatcher, Ed.S., editor/author of Heroines of the Restoration, A Singular Life, Mother Love.

“It is endearing and it gripped me. It describes Ramona's life and mind as a child and helps me understand my five children better. Knowing how much she did in her latter years gives me hope for what I can do after my children have grown up."
Lynne Ensign Johnston, Former White House staff member. Full time mother of 5.

“Very poetic, very romantic. It touches me.”
Julia Leigh, Medical graduate of Seoul National University, Korea.

“I loved reading it, especially since it was largely in Ramona Cannon's words. She describes things so beautifully, you feel that you can see them. Some themes are dramatic and could be in a movie. Emma Thompson, who acted in Sense and Sensibility could play Ramona. This is timely. We have had the women's movement, but there are real problems of a tricky balance. Many women are looking for role models. She is a great role model applicable to the new millennium.”
Susan Antolin, graduate of University of California at Santa Barbara in English Literature and in Law from University of San Francisco. Methodist.

Foreward to ASK MARY MARKER: A Guide to the Seasons of Life by Ariel C. Silver

Foreward written by Richard and Linda Eyre

This manuscript arrived amidst a major household remodeling project. Our lives were filled with paint and tile, doorknobs and hinges and wondering how we were going to survive another day without the conveniences we had learned to take for granted. Picking up this book was like a delightfully jarring journey from the harried world of thinking about "things" to the stimulating and exciting world of an inspiring life and exhilarating ideas. We were transposed from the domain of people who couldn't seem to get anything done to the realm of a remarkable woman who couldn’t see why anything couldn't be done.

Ramona Wilcox Cannon was truly a woman for all seasons. Over a seven year period, Ariel C. Silver, has combed through 100,000 pages of Ramona's writing and has cleverly woven Ramona's exact words with her own findings to make a beautiful tapestry portraying the spring, summer, autumn and winter of this remarkable woman's life. The result is a beautiful and fascinating picture.

In her youth Ramona discovered that she could be both good and interesting. In an era when only six to seven percent of Americans graduated from high school, she not only graduated with honors but also decided against the advice of the neighborhood girls who warned her that she would never get married if she went to college. In the end she was the third woman to receive a Master's Degree from the University of Utah and also taught there and in secondary schools in five languages.

Her most important career ... that of raising her seven children was enhanced and enlightened rather than weighed down or encumbered by the richness of her ever-hungry intellect. Her intellectually and emotionally intelligent mind helped her to see the joy in life that comes with the struggle of raising children and training their minds. She was superb at teaching her children responsibility and the value of a life filled with integrity and a devoted love of God. As we can now chart the lives of her children and grandchildren we see the remarkable imprint of a refined, well-educated and faithful mother on the generations that follow.

In our work with families over the past twenty five years, we have often said to young mothers, "You can have it all, but you can't have it all at once!" For years we have pleaded with mothers in the thick of raising children to make those children their first priority. We have promised that life is long and has its seasons. Ramona Wilcox• Cannon is a perfect example of this principle. After her children were raised and "on their way", she gave advice and help to literally thousands of people who read her daily column in The Deseret News. With wit and wisdom, she published some 4,000 articles after she was sixty years old.

At age 88, after recording some of her memories, her son Bryant asked what she would still like to accomplish. Without hesitation, she began, "Well, I’d like to finish a biography of my family. I'd like to finish a novel that Dad and I started some years ago. I'd like to finish writing a television script on the life of Socrates that I’m rather in love with. I’d like to finish the South American novel that I’ve got about half written." And on and on about the things that she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Her son Mark wrote that she accomplished what she did "largely by emphasizing different roles during different periods of her life."

Young or old, man or woman, rich or poor, you will love the time you spend reading this engaging story of a woman whose life is likely to captivate you, whose intellect is sure to stimulate you and whose faith in God is guaranteed to inspire you.

Richard and Linda Eyre

ASK MARY MARKER: A Guide to the Seasons of Life, by Ariel C. Silver

A superb example of the fruits of Mormonism, the entire text of Ariel C. Silver's wonderful story of Ramona Wilcox Cannon can be found at the link below: