I Can’t Even Get a Job at McDonald’s

November 1, 2016 admin 11 comments

For 50 years, our sister-in-law, Kaye Terry Hanson, was at the top of Joyce’s and my best-friend-list, and for the last nearly a year, the three of us had daily morning scripture reading via telephone. Admittedly, our morning get-together was often mostly conversation mingled with scripture.

Joyce’s oldest sister, Shirley, had been terminally ill a long time, and Thursday, September 22, 2016, she passed away in American Fork, Utah. The next morning, when Kaye called for our daily session, Joyce was on her cellphone with her surviving sisters planning Shirley’s funeral, so Kaye and I just talked. My feelings were tender as I talked about Shirley and the extraordinary blessing Joyce’s never-married sister had been to our family. Then I told Kaye, a divorced single mother, how much I loved her and how grateful I was for the uncounted gifts of time and counsel and just plain love she had so consistently and graciously given me. A tearful conversation.

That evening, Kaye sat in her chair reading a book, The Chosen by Shlomo Kalo, when her mortal stay abruptly and unexpectedly ended. She closed her eyes and peacefully slipped away.

We attended two funerals in Utah that next week. Shirley’s was on Monday and was befitting a woman whose life had been filled with service and whose focus was on her family. Her cousin, Elder D. Todd Christofferson, spoke, and another cousin, Linda Margetts, organist for the Tabernacle Choir, provided the music. A mini-general conference.

Kaye’s funeral was on Friday. The stake center was filled almost to the stage when Virginia (Ginny) Pearce, daughter of President Hinkley, gave the eulogy. She spoke about Kaye’s chronic bout with rheumatic fever as a child, her mother dying from a freak accident when Kaye was on her mission, and Kaye’s divorce and raising her two children as a single mother. She reminded the congregation of Kaye’s struggle with breast cancer and double mastectomy, and of her latest health challenges with neuropathy, blood clots, and heart irregularities. Then she told us just a few things that Kaye had done—all since her divorce. She was a professor at BYU, her PhD in Theater History. She taught religion classes and communications in the MBA department and was associate director of that world-renowned program. She served as associate director of the BYU Jerusalem Center and was on the Young Women’s General Board for the LDS Church. She traveled all over the world giving seminars on communications to leaders of businesses and organizations and spoke at BYU’s Education Week and at a BYU Devotional. She led tours to Israel and served as a full time senior missionary in Europe where she worked with young adults throughout the continent and the British Isles. She was an author, a Relief Society president, a Sunday School teacher. And most important, she was an exceptional mother and grandmother and friend.

Kaye Terry Hanson — 1942-2016

As Ginny reviewed the accomplishments and challenges of this singular woman, my thoughts went back to a day Ginny didn’t know about. One morning, some 40 years ago, Kaye came to our house in southern California. The day before, we had been to her home for Thanksgiving dinner. What she told us was life-shattering. After everyone had gone Thanksgiving evening, her husband gathered together some of his clothes, told her he no longer loved her, and left.

Joyce and I sat stunned. “What am I going to do?” Kaye cried, thinking about her two little children and her own just thrown-under-a-bus circumstance. “I can’t even get a job at McDonald’s!”

There was nothing in my limited understanding I could draw on to even begin to console her, but the Spirit put words into my mouth: “I don’t know how, but I promise you if you keep your covenants and focus on the Savior, this will redound to your blessing.”

The impossible promise happened.

At the funeral, after Ginny spoke, Kaye’s grandchildren paid tributes to their grandmother and her two children spoke eloquently and powerfully. Then we all had one of the experiences of a lifetime. Nine of the great women of the LDS Church, all who had served with Kaye when she was on the Young Women’s general board, stood in a line across the stand, and one-by-one came to the microphone and told how Kaye had blessed her life. That group included former General Young Women Presidents, Margaret Nadauld and Elaine Dalton; former General Relief Society President, Julie Beck; and, former temple matrons, and counselors in general auxiliary presidencies. Their presence and what they said was electrifying.

I spoke, and I asked all in the congregation who had been taught or tutored or mentored by Kaye to stand. Nearly all 700+ who were there rose to their feet. An overwhelming witness of the influence this woman had on the lives of countless.

A few nights before the funeral, Joyce and I went to dinner with Julie Beck and her husband Ramon. The conversation centered around Kaye. With great emotion, and in detail, Julie told us how Kaye had taught and trained her. Then she said, “If it hadn’t been for Kaye Hanson, I would never have been qualified to serve as General President of the Relief Society.”

All this from a woman who couldn’t get a job at McDonald’s and would never have occurred but for a crushing Thanksgiving event nearly 40 years ago. 

Steve Dunn Hanson


11 Comments on “I Can’t Even Get a Job at McDonald’s

  1. President Hanson, Kaye’s early life story about her husband suddenly leaving her and two small children mirrors mine While I have likely never taught those who have become, or will become, LDS church leaders, I hope that I have been an example of the Savior’s love to someone who desperately needed it.
    Sending love to, and prayers for, you and Joyce. Thank you for sharing.

    Lois Debenham

  2. We so appreciate your tender memories of this fine sister. How blessed you were to have her in your circle. Her story surely strengthens our faith in the Lord’s love for His children. The Lord truly blesses us through friends and family and our choosing the better way. Kaye’s example will bless and strengthen generations! Yours’ has strengthened ours.

  3. Hello, Mr. Hanson,
    I read and thoroughly enjoyed SEALED UP; cannot wait for the next installment to be available!
    Having signed on for your newsletter, I look forward, too, for the next sharing of your craft and words of encouragement.
    I’m a widowed mother to a 22 year old special needs son who, God bless him, is the light of my life. I used to wonder why the Lord saw fit to bless me with a child who needed such care. When my husband died in Iraq nine months into the conflict and I was laying him to rest one week prior to what would have been our thirteenth wedding anniversary it came to me…our son, Grant, was going to need my undivided attention and care just the same way as he always did and keeping his life as uninterrupted and “even keeled” as ever was going to prevent me from drowning in my grief and sorrow. I would not be able to perseverate upon my loss indefinitely; Grant needed his mother to be there for him and keep his (and our) life going forward. And there was such a great deal yet to do!! Tony died when Grant was almost 8 years old. I still needed to get his education completed which was not easy, maintain his medical/hospital needs with surgeries as yet undertaken, and in recent years there was the need to find Grant employment after he graduated life skills high school at 21. I thank God that He saw fit to enable me to make these preparations for Grant and that he put good, caring people in our path to assist us with these endeavors. My family is one of those rare ones that is exceptionally close and supportive. They may not always understand all of the sign language we use or the meanings of some of the things Grant does, but they’re willing to do the best they can for him.

    I thank God, too, for His help in finding a new companion for me and male role model for Grant. David has been a great help to Grant and me in the past eight years. He undertook to learn all of Grant’s sign language needs, assist him with “man chores and hygiene” and to “guy things” with him that up until that time Grant did not have anyone with whom to experience such things. As for me, David has been a source of strength, encouragement and support. He’s my cheering section when I am able to achieve things for Grant’s education and employment and, especially as of three years ago, my source of comfort as I undertake to treat my diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. All of us have roads we must follow whether they are smooth or pitted with potholes. Keeping the Faith and trusting that God will help you through is a mighty source of hope, strength encouragement and LOVE. He provides all of these things along with “angels on Earth” to administer them at the right time. We may not recognize them at first, but eventually we can appreciate them for the blessings they are.

    Thank you, Mr. Hanson, for sending such lovely words of hope. May God bless and help ease your sorrow at Kaye’s passing.

    Lisa Ann Sherman

  4. I, too, knew a love Kaye. Myrlene, Jan and I were able to attend her funeral and had visited with her several times since our time in Garden Grove. We are all blessed by knowing such valiant women. She continues to inspire us just by memories.

  5. I truly enjoyed reading your story. I know the Lord knows us and knows how and when to bless us. I have always relied on His timing.
    I had a similar experience with my first husband of 18 years leaving me when I was 7 months pregnant with my 8th child. I came home from work one day and found my husband packing his clothes. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was leaving me and that he never loved me and never would. I thought we had a very good marriage and was shocked. I cannot not even begin to tell how much pain and trials both I and my children went through. We had to find a place to move and rent three different times in three years. We had to live on very little since my husband wouldn’t comply with the court ordered child support. I knew that I would never marry again, after all, who would marry a woman with 8 children? A year after my last child was born, I enrolled in junior college at night so that I could get education for a better job than what I had had. Six months after that, when she was 18 months old, I started day classes. On completing my associates degree I had applied for scholarships and grants to further my education. In the meantime, I delivered newspapers at night from 12 am to about 3 am every day. It was the only thing I could do because I could not afford child care for her.

    The Lord truly blessed me, not only in doing well in college but I got enough scholarships and grant money to pay for my B.A. program. I enrolled at University of Phoenix and my couselor was a alumni editor. She asked me to bring my children so that she could take a picture of us for an article on applying for grants. Little did I expect but two months later the university called me to say that there was someone who said he had gone to high school and wanted to talk to me.
    They gave me his name but I didn’t recognize it from school. It took three calls to him before I made contact with him. When I did talk to him, I recognized his voice but not his name. His family had changed their surname back to what it would have been had his dad not been adopted by his dad’s cousin when his mother died at childbirth.
    We had been best friends in 8th through 10th grade. We lost touch when my family moved 30 miles away in the middle of 10th grade. He had seen the article in the alumni magazine and wanted to take me to dinner. We dated for 6 months, he took the missionary lessons and was baptized and we got married.

    The Lord truly does grant miracles! We have now been married 27 amazing years and we both are so very happy. We have served 4 missions together. He fell in love with my children and they love him too. He had never had children himself and had been married and divorced and had been single for three years when he found the story in the magazine. We both thank the Lord every day for what we see as a miracle.

  6. My heart still hurts and is almost too tender to share my thoughts but feel I need to. Kaye and I had friendship forged in love that only comes with trial and the teaching of the spirit that comes at those times. Through all these years I have not had a significant event that Kaye has not been a friend and a support that brought me through These times might have been a devastating event but she helped me negotiate the trial with an understanding of the Savior and his love for me. After years of daily or weekly contact, she wet to Jerusalem. she came home for a week or two in the middle and came to Denver for a few days. She had just flown in when I got a phone call from a Denver hospital telling me that my son-in-law had been in an accident. She was with me for the next few days at the hospital while we wondered if he would live. I remember being on the edge of despair when Kaye asked me what I was afraid of. The question was truly a spiritual teaching moment as I went through every possible outcome in my head and knew that the Lord would be with us. When my Grandaughter passed away, we were at Kaye’ s house. It was such a gift to have her kindness and comfort that only a close friend can give at those times. As many others, my husband and I were able to share Jerusalem with her. As I sat on the steps leading up to the Temple Mount with Kaye a testimony of the Savior standing on the steps above me, healing and teaching was very clear. Again, Kaye sat next to me as the spirit filled my soul. My children have loving childhood memories of Kaye and her children. I like to think I was there for her during her difficult times. We lifted each other when we were down and pushed each other to higher heights when we were good. Just a few weeks ago I talked to Kaye about our friends who were dying and facing this time of life. She reminded me that it was going to be really beautiful and a great experience to look forward to. I am so grateful that she was able to go home so gracefully. Her goodness and sweet spirit, her service, and dedication.her kindness and devotion to the Lord, surely opened the door gently as she was called home. I love her and miss her terribly.

Leave a Reply