Friday, March 26, 2010


She worked at Ruby’s Drive-Thru Cleaners, and also at the hotel in Whitehall on Route 51 that I can picture in my mind but can’t remember the name of. She was a housekeeper there, though to my 8-year-old thinking that sounded odd because that place didn’t look at all like a house and why would they give it to her to keep? All I really understood was that when she came home at night I was asleep in the bed, pushed up into the corner of the room on Old Clairton Road, and when she came in at night I could hear the coins clink on the top of the dresser when she emptied her apron of the tips she had received. That was the signal to scootch over to the wall. I slept deeper and calmer when Sue was home.

What almost-grown-up girl wants her little twerp of a sister in her private space? I wouldn’t know, because Sue was always kind and gentle and loving toward me. I don’t remember her bossing me around. I just remember thinking how tired she must be. When did she ever get to pretend, I thought? It’s true, my two oldest sisters had a different childhood than I. They grew up in the household before our mother was liberated. When they were not working they were tending us little ones while Mom worked. My father was not their father, and he did not treat them well. He really didn’t treat anyone well then. But that’s another story for another song. This is a love song.

Sue had a happy spirit. She had a laugh that jiggled in the back of her throat and I could never resist joining her. She was that much older than me that she appeared magical. I think that glow around her began the day she taught me how to blow bubble gum bubbles. It is one of the few memories I have of our house in Shelley, ID, and I must have been maybe 4 years old at the time. I remember sitting on the brown couch, both of us chewing a wad of pink gum.

“Now smash it with your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Yup, like that. Now put that flat piece on the very tip of your tongue…Good…now close your teeth…Good…and slowly push the tongue through the teeth…the gum will stretch…Yes, good job Cori! OK now, hold your mouth very still and take your tongue out so the gum stays there…make a circle out of your lips…Good! Now BLOW!”

By Golly, there was a bubble right there in front of my nose! I think it must have been such a shock to me that I remember it rather vividly. I think it was a tender mercy because it taught me early-on that if I followed the directions of someone I trusted I was likely to succeed. I trusted Sue. I still do.

Sue’s magical life took her to BYU way out in Utah. She danced with the dance team. She knew all the fun games to play, since her major was something like Recreation. One day, after we were all grown, Sue was visiting us here in Utah. My kids were probably between the ages of 6 and 12 and we still lived in the old house on Kensington. We decided on a whim to have a dance lesson, so we pushed the furniture aside on the wooden floor of the family room and turned up the stereo. She took John’s hands and moved her feet, talking as she moved, encouraging him to move his the same way. John was a natural dancer. We all took each other’s hands and followed her lead. I think the laughter of all of us is still reverberating between the walls of that house, though someone else has lived there for 16 years now.

Sue worked with computers when computers took up large buildings to store what you can put in a cell phone these days. I still call her when I have a computer question. She moved out to CA and lived with Sherry for a while, then they both got their own places. Their magic made California mystical in my eyes.

When Sue was way grown up, meaning she was older than the typical would-be-bride in her early 20’s, she fell in love with her friend Steve. I think maybe they were even in their late 30’s or 40’s. I remember it was a joyful shock to me, partly because I lived so far away I didn’t see it coming. So when she called and said she was getting married I was pretty excited for her. And I worried that whomever this Steve was he’d better be nice to her. We did not have the best track record in our family of men being nice to their wives. This of course is a gross generalization. But I do remember distinctly praying that kindness would prevail in their marriage. Sue was hard enough on herself, she didn’t need someone adding to it.

We travelled to the Bay Area for the wedding, set in a beautiful old church. It was a lovely, clear day, and both Sue and Steve looked wonderful. Nervous, excited, radiant…they were such a beautiful pair and I was so happy for her. Sue had asked me to sing for the wedding, and though I have sung at many-a wedding and know many-a love song, I felt compelled to create one.

This is that song:

Love Abides

Here in the morning light Love Abides
And we are warmed in its embrace
I hold your hand in mine and search your eyes
And make this promise face to face
Here in the company of angels
My soul is whispering your name
I hear you offer me your heart, Love
And I am offering the same

CHORUS: So blow ye ocean winds
My love is at my side
Mother Earth may quake
But cannot shake where Love abides
In spite of all the world
The spirit will survive
And through it all, I know
That Love Abides

Like rivers flow down from the mountains
And find their way out to the sea
We come together at this moment
When I am you and you are me
Through the years that lie before us
There will be changes in the tides
But love is patient, Dear
Love is kind
And through the changes Love Abides


Actually, I believe I originally wrote: “Here in the firelight” because the old chapel where they were married had a fireplace that could flicker light against their faces as they made their promises.

When I recorded this song though, it was for my daughter Sarah’s wedding. There was no fireplace in the place where she was married, though there was love-glow. I made a small 5 song CD for Sarah’s wedding. Just a simple guitar-vocal of love songs that meant something to Sarah. We gave the disc to guests that came to the wedding, though the replicator was late getting them to us and we had to mail them to everyone. I entitled the EP Love Abides, and the painting on the front of it is a watercolor of the Salt Lake Temple that Sarah painted as a wedding gift for her husband, Dave.

It’s been many years since I wrote this song, and many since I recorded it. Sue and Steve are still husband and wife. So are Sarah and Dave. These days that in itself is unusual. I am more conscious, especially since Dave has been a judge, how fragile relationships can be. How fragile people can be, and how fragile love. And yet love is also strong as steel. While it may not always be sweetly romantic and all heart-throbby, it is still dependably bonding if we let it be. When I wrote the song there had been an earthquake somewhere, a pretty devastating one, and likely a wave-thrust reaction like the recent tsunami’s. I remember being shaken by it, being worried about our situation as human beings in an unsure world. But I remembered, also, the firm grip of the man I love when I knelt across from him at our own wedding. I was sure of his strong hand; sure of what he meant; and sure I loved him. Those feeling ebb and flow for all married people. But Love abides all of it, if we let it, if we expect it to. And if we keep the grip, and ride the wave, eventually we come back to where we were on the day we made those promises.


  1. Thank you, Cori, for our song. Each time I hear it I remember our wedding day, the beautiful Swedenborgen Church, and having my family with me to share our day. It always amazes me to read the things you remember. I feel so blessed to have you for my sister. We had some good times, didn't we?

  2. it was a good day. it is a good song.

  3. Beautifully written. When you write, I can picture myself right next to you feeling, smelling and touching everything, experiencing everything. It is the most magical gift you give others. Thanks for sharing.