Friday, May 6, 2011

William Durell Blodgett, 1909-1995

William and Ona Blodgett Sr. and children, 1919

His Story of Faith and Healing

My Dad was a man of faith. He would always say, “The Lord is the Great Physician – He rules in the Heavens, and is Master of the Universe – He knows each of his children intimately – He knows our needs and blesses us continually – Not a hair falls from our head without his knowledge – We have but to ask and he will grant us our desires in righteousness – He loves us and knows what is best for us – He has a great plan for each of us – The earth is His and all things are given to us for our learning, our edification, and to help us through this challenging existence - Earth life is the great laboratory of our souls – Nothing can hold us back if we rely in faith and trust the Lord in all our doings.”

He was celebrated as a “healer” when he visited relatives in Montana. Because of their faith he healed a little nephew who had been crippled from birth. When this child was 5 he could crawl, but not walk or talk, and was nearly blind. After Dad blessed him, he was healed, and he became the terror of the neighborhood. His mother regretted some days that he had been made whole. Dad was the eldest of five brothers. He lamented that they wouldn’t follow his example. They all were inactive in the Church, except his youngest brother Jack. They smoked and drank, divorced their wives, and had sad lives.

When Dad was 16, the starter crank to his Father’s new truck kicked back and injured him. He was strong and worked with his Dad delivering tons of coal it to customers in the Salt Lake Valley. He could shovel a whole truck load in two hours. All that summer he recovered from a sore back and broken right arm. He learned to write with his left hand, and pitched horseshoes left handed, and was ambidextrous in many other things after that.

At 18 Dad reported to the draft board. There a medical exam showed that there was something wrong with his back. He had recovered nicely from his injury, and felt as strong as ever. The Doctor offered to fix the problem for free, paid for by the army. He went along with the plan, which turned out to be a grave mistake, as he would find out. It fostered a distrust of the medical community my dad carried throughout his life. He went to doctors and listened to what they said, but reserved judgment in favor of the “master physician who dwells in the heavens.”

The military doctors performed surgery on his back by breaking some of the vertebrae which they said had fused crookedly on their own. The operation didn’t work, and the vertebrae slipped often to the previously healed position. One of the things the doctors failed to consider, was the ability of a young body to adapt and heal itself rapidly, but with a mature body, repairs are more difficult and less effective. The continual slipping damaged nerves, and he developed a stomach ulcer. He could no longer lift anything heavy and had to quit the coal business. He learned the grocery business working in his brother-in-law Ralph Gygi’s grocery store. Later he bought his own store in Cottonwood, which he named Cottonwood Food Center. He always cautioned us – his sons - to take care of our backs, and we did the heavy lifting for him. He went to a chiropractor each week to get his back into position. He could go a week between visits, but sometimes had to go more often.

We knew Dad was faithful and worthy, and we wondered if he would have to live with this affliction all his life.

From 1927 to 1963, a period of 36 years, Dad suffered from a bad back. He had a good attitude about life and was faithful in his Church callings, to his wife and family. He paid his tithing, obeyed the Word of Wisdom, and lived and taught his family the principles of the gospel.

He regretted that he, like President Monson, had not served a full time mission when he was a young man. In part, it was due to his back problems, but he admitted that it was also his lack of faith in knowing how to finance it, and his stubborn insistence that mission calls ought to come directly from the Lord. He figured if the call came from the Lord, then the bishop would call him in. It didn’t happen. Later, under a new bishop he was asked as a young man of 23 to organize the ward teaching program in the ward. He visited every member, assigned teachers, obtained reports, and saw that every member was visited each month for two years. Later the bishop said that the work he had done was the equivalent of a full time mission.

We three sons heard these stories and regrets, and each of us resolved to serve a mission faithfully when the time came. Mo older brother Terry was the first to serve and received his call in December, 1962. As he was serving in the mission field, he realized he was fulfilling Dad’s dream, to have his sons serve missions. He wrote about it in a letter home, and began to pray fervently about it to the Lord. Terry argued that Dad had lived faithfully all these years, as evidenced by his family, and the service of his oldest son in the mission field.

Dad had lived through an age of “miracle cures”. Everyone was promoting the latest great advances in science, medicine, and health, abandoning to a degree, the tried and proven methods of the past. He knew that true miracles were from the Lord, and any knowledge gained by man was in compliance with truths from on high. He had learned that some doctors promote their own skills, and was wary of offers that are made without due thought and confirmation from the Spirit.

“That night,” Dad related later, “he and Mom had retired to bed.” [Their room was in the hall next to ours in our new home on Fairbrook Lane in Holladay next to the cemetery where Grandpa Blodgett was buried. It was built to our specifications by uncle Alma Gygi, Mom’s brother. We boys had our own large room at the end of the hall. Mom and Dad had a master bedroom in the rear corner of the home, but they had vacated it so Grandma Gygi could have her own space, somewhat detached from the rest of us, and the room was large enough for her to keep a few of her things. Their room was intended for Joan, but she was at BYU, and would be married that summer. Grandma would pass away that fall, and with Terry on his mission, Richard and I were “alone” in our big bedroom.]

“As I was resting,” Dad continued, “I awoke as if in a dream, and realized I was floating in the air about three feet above the bed. Although I remained in a reclined position, I was aware that Mother was still sleeping in the bed below. I felt a presence in the room. It was peaceful and my mind was opened and aware of many things. I was filled with light. Then I felt the hand of the Lord pass along the length of my spine. I realized what was happening and lay there musing on the singularity of the moment until morning when I got up and went about my regular duties.”

He didn’t say anything to anyone about it all day, but that evening when he returned home from work, broached the subject to Mom and told her he had been healed. Of course, she wanted to know the whole story. She pestered him to go to the doctor to confirm what had happened. Dad said, “No. Why should I go to a doctor to have him tell me what I already know.” He said he also wouldn’t need to go to the chiropractor any more.

We boys found out a few days later as Mom dropped details to us. Dad told us more of the story over the next few weeks. They wrote a letter to Terry who then related his end of the experience. Later that summer, Mom finally persuaded Dad to go to the doctor for a checkup. The doctor who read the x-ray could not believe there was ever anything out of the ordinary with Dad’s back. “It was perfect, as if nothing had ever happened.”

So we all knew that we had experienced a great blessing. We were asked not to talk about it carelessly. We learned that the Lord really can do anything. We learned that the Lord has his own time table, dependent on our faith and preparation. We learned that doctors don’t know everything, and that we can have access to the blessings of the Great Physician. He does know us personally, and all of our wants and needs. We learned that we must be faithful, and that untold blessings are in store for the faithful, and not necessarily those we anticipated.

After that great experience we were to undergo other setbacks, but we knew that we would come out all right. Trials happen because we can get through them, and are a blessing. An evil designing man and his wife managed to swindle Mom and Dad out of their store and adjoining property that they had worked many years to acquire. They lost their store and livelihood, but still had their home. So, putting their trust in the Lord, decided to serve a mission. They sold their home to pay for it. At the conclusion of their mission they learned that the Supreme Court of the State of Utah had restored their property to them, and they used to money to purchase new home in Sandy. Then they served two more missions. We are grateful for the example of Dad and Mom and remember them proudly. - Steven Blodgett

William and Florence, Missionaries, 1986

William and Florence and Family, 1984

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