The Bishop’s Daughter

Cross-posted from

Back in 1969, my grandfather was the Bishop in the Monument Park Stake on the very exclusive, very Mormon, east bench of Salt Lake City, Utah. This was at a time where there were only, believe it or not, eight stakes in the Salt Lake valley. In other words, everybody knew the family. They were high-profile and well-respected. To this day, I often meet people whom I’ve never met who know my grandfather and refer to him as “Bishop”.

My mother was 19 at the time. My father, just a bit older. Of course, they weren’t my mom and dad then. They were just two crazy kids in love… in love with sex. As a result, late in 1969, my older brother was conceived. There was just one thing missing… the ring.

Yep, my brother is a bastard. Well, except that in February 1970, my parents were rushed into an ill-fated marriage in order to save face for my mother’s family among their friends, ward members, and colleagues. To this day, when my dad hears the word shotgun, he ducks.

I had no idea about any of this until, in the fifth grade, I was writing a report on my family for a school assignment.

“Mom, when is your wedding anniversary?”

“Feb. 5, 1970”

“1970? That’s not right… Erik was born in August of 1970. That’s only… 6 months.”

-long, awkward pause-

“Yeah. We were married in 1970.”

I was a math prodigy and this equation wasn’t that difficult. Suddenly, so much of the life around me made sense. No wonder my dad felt trapped in our family. He was. No wonder my mother acted as if she were married to a man she didn’t love. She was.

This memory came flooding back a few nights ago when I was quizzing Megan about her MSN Messenger buddy list.

“Who’s on your list?”

“A bunch of friends.”

“Did you meet them all in real life before you knew them online?”

“Yes, dad. They are all my friends.”

“I don’t know punkyprincess96. Who is she?”

“Dad, she’s fine. She’s the Bishop’s daughter. It’s not like she’s going to get into any trouble.”

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7 Responses

  1. Would rather not Say says:

    Y’know, call me cynical. Call me kooky. I’m both of those things. I’m also pretty certain that one reason for the Church’s push on genealogy/family history is to “keep people honest”–to do what they do best–shame people into marrying before having sex.

    Where else in the world, and in what other context is it permissible, even normal, to look up, share, memorize and ritually use your family members’ (and even strangers’) private information in that manner?

    In your case, of course, it was easier to deduce. This beautifully written story only serves to remind me of the practice of family history and the ways the Church (maybe even innocently and unintentionally) allows family members and Church leaders to police each other, judge, and cast blame.

  2. Hellmut says:

    O my goodness! What a great anecdote! As if our status revealed our essence.

  3. CWC says:

    This one’s even better the second time around. Great story, Pete.

  4. I’m reminded of the many times I’d tell people that I had been married ten years, and then they’d ask how old my son was, and I’d say, “He’s ten years old.”

    “Oh, but you said you’d only been married for ten years.”

    I would simply smile and raise my eyebrows at them as I enjoyed their uncomfortable squirming while they digested this alarming bit of news from someone they thought they knew.

    Great writing, Pete!

  5. Zim says:

    My wife and I did a very similar thing. When we found out she was pregnant, I wanted to marry right away (we were engaged anyway), but she wanted to make sure she was marrying for the right reasons. Anyway, she was about three months pregnant when we finally made it legal. Her parents freaked, of course.

    The funny part is that years later, her dad had asked for some genealogy stuff I had done because his brother (my wife’s uncle) wanted it. I sent him a GEDCOM file of everything I had. A few weeks later, my wife’s uncle called and said the file I sent didn’t contain the wedding date of my wife and I. I knew that the file I sent had the date in it, so my FIL must have gone in and deleted it because he was ashamed.

  6. Nice to meet you dear. It’s my first impression to meet the Bishops Daughter. I really inspired to know about your grandpa. Thanks for your conventional posting!

  7. Nathan Smith says:

    What a cool story. I enjoyed it pretty much. I’ll come again to read more. Thanks

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