From time to time, especially at important junctures or trials in our family, individualized miraculous packets of inspiration have cheered and encouraged us.
Various clues seem to indicate that my father, Howard Freestone Millett, who died when I was sixteen years old, is involved in most of these tree-of-life-level sweet kinds of tender mercies. 1
This example of a wonderful tender mercy is one that I can’t think about without a happy smile—even twenty four years later.
Two Energetic, Enthusiastic Entrepreneurs and December 17th
In my family, living the gospel, enjoying work and being self-employed, developing talents and testimony, being a missionary and giving service was just how life should be.
My father, who struggled for many years with poor health, died when I was sixteen. My father and my mother, Mildred Ethington Millett, both died on the modern calendar date December 17, Dad fifty years ago in 1968 and Mom twelve years ago in 2006.
Their love and care of our family have continued as they now live on the other side of the veil. We feel especially their wonderful optimism, love of the restored gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and great love of their family.
Compounding Challenges in 1994
When I was laid off from WordPerfect in 1994, our family had been experiencing the challenges for four years of the serious long term illness of my daughter Barbie.
A rare form of viral encephalitis had put her in the hospital intensive care unit on April 11, 1990 just before her fifth birthday. She survived initially by being on a respirator and she experienced many hundreds of gran-mal seizures over ten days.
Barbie then had to have a tracheotomy operation and she suffered long term brain-stem damage so that she could hardly sleep at all for over a year. She also gradually had more and more brain damage because the seizures could not be controlled.
There had been some miraculous improvements due to priesthood blessings and both conventional and unconventional treatments enabling her to breathe again without a trach and to even sleep again.
This was our family situation when WordPerfect laid off over 1,000 employees, including me, before its merger with Novell in 1994.2
Bridal Veil Falls: Inspiration and Beauty
I have always loved the beauty and feeling of inspiration at Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon and have visited there often for many years. I enjoy watching birds and one of my favorites is the Robin-size American Dipper that bobs underwater seeking insects and then jumps back onto rocks in the icy cold Provo River.3
A pair of Dippers usually nest on the riverbank just under the highway underpass that goes from the canyon trail to the falls. They are alert birds and the closest I had ever approached one of them was about forty feet.
As I visited the falls after being laid off, I encountered an American Dipper where the water from the falls was being channeled into the Provo River in a small stream. The bird was just about five feet away from me. To my amazement it began to sing to me for a couple of minutes. Simultaneously, in my mind in stereo at full volume, the hymn “Where Can I Turn for Peace?” played as it is sung by the Tabernacle Choir.4
Individualized Gift of Comfort and Peace
The important thing is that I knew I was receiving an inspired message. I have learned that I am not alone in recognizing that sometimes rare events involving nature, weather, family, friends, beloved animals, or even this little gray American Dipper who cheerfully sang his song of inspired support for me, are gifts of personalized tender mercies. They are given to dispel discouragement and despair and help us bear our overload in our hope to overcome and not be overtaken by catastrophe.
I was rehired at WordPerfect shortly after that day and I continued to be the architect of my Quickfinder search team.5
And Barbie, who many doctors thought would not have lived to age six, is now age 33, living cheerfully at home with us.
She especially loves to hold and look at pictures of our family, a copy of the Book of Mormon, or a picture of Jesus. She has a beautiful smile, wordlessly saying “I love you!, Dad and Mom.” She has experienced and overcome many other trials along the way.
Caption: Barbie (Barbara Colleen Millett) attended Dan Peterson School in American Fork, Utah from kindergarten (1991) until her graduation in 2008 at age 23. It is where students zoom around in wheelchairs instead of bicycles. Barbie, in spite of her illness, could run very fast and many times even get away from us in those early years at school. Later on, her most favorite class was Seminary.
1 “Be Happy Sings the Little Bird,” Children’s Songbook #265, lds.org.
“Be happy sings the little bird,” hymnary.org. [https://hymnary.org/hymn/CS1951a/d8]
2 “WordPerfect announces layoffs,” Computerworld, January 31, 1994, page 8. “WordPerfect announce layoffs: WordPerfect Corp this week disclosed a larger than expected layoff program that will encompass 17% of its work force. Expected to affect about 1,011 of its 5,950 employees, the program could save the company $40 million annually.”
3 “Bridal Veil Falls,”ExploreUtahValley.com. Retrieved 12/12/2018. [https://www.utahvalley.com/listing/bridal-veil-falls/41/]
“American Dipper,” birdsofutah.com, retrieved 12/12/2018. [https://birdsofutah.com/species/american-dipper]
“Bobbing up and down on a rock jutting from the middle of a fast-moving mountain river, the AMDI blends in with its surroundings. Charcoal-gray, with pink legs, the only contrast a flash of white as it blinks showing its pale eyelids, it continues bobbing until it jumps into the swift moving water and disappears out of sight. The Water Ouzel as it was once known as is an anomaly amongst songbirds, spending a great deal of time swimming under the surface of the water, using its second eyelid, called a nictitating membrane, it can see underwater in search of food. The AMDI is an indicator species, meaning that when it’s present, that is a good sign that the water is healthy. Amusing to watch, they also have a beautiful song that emanates along streams during the spring and summer. Truly a hardy bird and one that is synonymous with the Utah mountains.”
“American Dopper,” allaboutbirds.org, retrieved 12/12/2018. [https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Dipper/id]
“American Dipper in stream,” staticflickr.com, retrieved 12/12/2018. [https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4605/25500638167_82dd1c0bdf_b.jpg] “American Dipper,” wildaboututah.org.retrieved 12/12/2018. [https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4605/25500638167_82dd1c0bdf_b.jpg]
4 “Where can I turn for peace,” lds.org hymns, #129. [https://www.lds.org/music/text/hymns/where-can-i-turn-for-peace?lang=eng&_r=1]
Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?
Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.
He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.
“Where can I turn for peace?” Tabernacle Choir, youtube.com, retrieved 12/12/2018.
“Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square,” thetabernaclechoir.org, retrieved 12/12/2018. [https://www.mormontabernaclechoir.org/about/newsroom/photo-library.html]
5 “In with the New!” Infoworld, Feb 15, 1993, page 19.
“WordPerfect 5.2 for Windows is the newest version of the hottest word processing package around. Powerful new features like OLE support, Adobe type Manager fonts, Main enabling, the Grammatik 5 grammar checker, and QuickFinder make WordPerfect 5.2 even easier to use.”