Shades of The Godfather

“A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.” — Don Corleone

When I first joined Tiffany’s family 26 years ago, I had the opportunity to have grandparents again.  Mine had long since died. Both her grandmothers were wonderful women; I loved them like my own almost immediately. Each was unique but in one respect they were very much alike: they were both full-fledged members of the D-A-R and the D-U-P (I wish I could spell with a Utah accent).  I remember them talking about the DAR and the DUP all the time. Initially I had no inkling of what they were talking about (I was fresh off the boat from Canada). It was self-evident that they were fiercely loyal to the organizations and considered their membership in them to be a great honor.
With time I came to know that the DAR was The Daughters of the American Revolutionand the DUP was The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. I remember one of them telling Tiffany that because her grandmother was a DAR and DUP, she was a DAR and DUP. Many could claim one or the other. She was both. The moment had me feeling like a silent and unseen observer in a scene from The Godfather. This was serious family business—but in a good way.

Although neither Blanche or Geneva were Cache Valley equivalents of Don Corleone, these women were forces to be reckoned with, and have always been great examples to me. They knew where they came from.  They were totally committed to the family.  They had remembered the struggles of their fathers and mothers and it helped define who they were. They had taught their daughters and granddaughters (and grandsons-in-law) these things.

Reading Alma’s discourse to the church in Zarahemla (Alma 5) brought this memory flooding back to me.  It’s enormously random, but I suspect there is something valuable in it.

And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, you that belong to this church, have you sufficiently retained in remembrance the captivity of your fathers? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell? (Alma 5:6)

I am not a descendent of slaves, but I am a descendant of women and men that have done great things, and overcome enormous obstacles. Most notable is the foundation they have laid in teaching me how to access ‘the mercy and power of God‘ that delivers us from bondage of sin. Though Alma was referring to the physical captivity of the prior generation of Nephites, the ideas he was talking about were more figurative as he tried to inspire his people to greatness by reminding them of the courage, grit and faithfulness of their forefathers. In doing so, Alma also reminds me of the same attributes in my forefathers–who weren’t even Italian, let alone Sicilian. In them, I see a dedication to the family that Vito Corleone could never come close to matching. It is one thing to talk about the family, it is quite another to live for the family.

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