Thursday, June 6, 2013


This post is dedicated to my beloved mother in law who passed away Tuesday night.
  Audrey Fern Phelps was born August 29, 1926 in Christopher, Illinois.  She was the fourth of thirteen children.  She learned to work hard at an early age as she was expected to help with many chores and take care of her younger brothers and sisters.  In 1946 she married Lawrence Robin Phelps and throughout the next 18 years had ten children of her own.  She was a dedicated mother being the sole breadwinner after her divorce in 1972.  She was a saleswoman and during her working years sold many different products.  A few of the ones I know of are Watkins Products, Avon, Jewelry (she especially loved selling turquoise), and at times even carp (yes there's a story behind that one......and according to her kids NOT a pleasant story:)  She was always happy to say that she never had any welfare assitance from the church but that she was able to care for her family by her hard work.  She was a woman of faith and loved her Savior.  She relied on the power of prayer much in her life.  Even in her last days I would peek in her room after I had helped her into bed and I could see her lips moving in prayer.  This was a common occurance. 
She loved Heavenly Father and he in turn loved and took care of her. 
I remember the first time I met her.  I had been out on two dates with Rick and was really starting to like him.  He had to leave just after our second date (on a Tuesday) for a funeral service in Arizona and then I had to return to St. George that weekend for a banquet dinner from the school that I had recently graduated from.  On Sunday, I pulled into our aptartment complex (we both lived in Stonehege Apts and were in the same ward) and as I was pulling in I saw his truck leaving the complex.  I noticed a red headed female in his truck and my heart sank thinking he was on a date with another girl.  To my relief and happiness as I was parking my car he pulled around the corner and came right over to me.  He wanted to introduce me to HIS MOTHER who he was spending some time with!!  She was very cordial to me and the rest is history:)
Being the baby of the family Rick has been very close to his mother.  I think she had a very hard time after he left on his mission because he was the last of the nine to leave home.  From what I have witnessed he has only ever treated her with love and kindness.  He told me that when he was a young boy she always let him know that she believed he was an honest boy.  Because of this trust he never wanted to let her down and always wanted to be truthful.  She built him up and shaped him into the man he is today.  I will ever be grateful for that.  He truly is a man of honor and I know that I owe much of my happy life to this wonderful woman who raised such an amazing son!
A four generation picture in November, 2012
For the last nine years it has been my privilege of helping to care for this dear woman.  Every three to four months she would come and live with our family for a month at a time.  I will be the first to say that this was not an easy thing to do.  Not because she was any trouble or difficult but for my own selfish reasons of losing freedom.  She did not like to be alone so when she was was I.  Not really though because with the help of my kids and my nieces I was able to leave some of the time to get out of the house.  They were so very helpful.  While I love to be home I also love to get out of the house as well:)  Fern always was so kind to me as she was in my home!  She always told me that I was like one of her own daughters.  I truly believed that she loved me as her own.  Always kind, always pleasant, and always patient with me....and my children.  I always felt that she was happy when she was here.  I know for a fact that she loved Rick, or Ricky, as she always called him so very much.  Her eyes would light up when he walked through the door after work and she loved for him to just sit and talk:)  Having her here in our home has been a great blessing for me.  In caring for her I have grown to love her more than I ever could have in any other way. 
Service is just like that. 
Fern with Ruth's mother Vanola taken in March 
Since Tuesday night I have, at the oddest times, found myself crying.  Sometimes it will just hit me that she will not be coming back to my kitchen table to spend her days.  Just yesterday I was out watering my flowers and the missionaries came home right as I was in the midddle of a cryfest! Embarrasing!
While she will be missed by many I know that we are all happy and relieved that her spirit is free from the body that has limited her so much these last years.   She is free from pain and I know that she is with many of her loved ones who have gone on before her. Fern, I am so thankful to have known you.  It is a great priviledge to be a part of your wonderful family. 
I love you!!  
PS.... I forgot to mention ice cream!! I will always remember her love of ice cream.  It was her favorite treat and sometimes she would have up to three small bowls a day:)  (Sugar free, of course!) 


  1. Janell,
    This is such a beautiful and very fitting tribute. I've always admired you for the way you took care of her. Your family has been in my thoughts and in my prayers.....
    Love, Kari

  2. Janell, what a beautiful tribute you have written for dear Fern. She was a special lady, and I loved to see your tender care for her. Thank you for sharing this, I loved to read it. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. I love you, dear friend!

  3. This truly is a marvelous Tribute, Janell. You have been such an essential part of our mom's life, and I've been able to see that you truly DO love her so sincerely. You've been such a gracious, kind, thoughtful care-giver, and I know it's been really hard on you. (not that you SAY that, or anything--it just had to be extremely hard!) I hadn't read this write-up of yours until just today--AFTER the funeral. That table you assembled of memorabilia was SO beautiful and SO meaningful!! Kara posted pictures of that table and I'm glad to be able to inspect it more thoroughly. No words can say how grateful I am, and how much I appreciate you, but please know I really DO! Love Karen OH--and it was so very nice of your folks to come, wasn't it!!