Mary Arriminta Butterworth Bailey

Mary Arriminta Butterworth

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A note on the back from Aunt Mirian to Maxine

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Mary Butterworth was born on March 7, 1892 at 20th East in the home where she spent her girlhood. Her parents were William James and Melinda North Butterworth. She was next to the youngest of six children and so tiny when she was born that no one thought she would survive. Her Grandmother North urged her parents to name her quickly before she died. She was named Mary for her Grandmother Butterworth and Arriminta for her Grandmother North. Mary Butterworth was told that she was so tiny her grandmother’s wedding ring would slip over her hand.

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Her siblings were Annie, Melinda, William, John and Effie. Aunt Mirian describes her mother as not very tall and not very pretty, a mousy little lady. Mary Butterworth was more than her looks and Aunt Mirian says she was the reason everyone went home on Sundays to visit. Mary surrounded her children with unconditional love, even when they didn’t deserve it.

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Mary was the type of mother who read bedtime stories to her children. I think she was my kind of mother. Aunt Miriam said at times her mother would nod off while reading and she’d have to nudge her awake.

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Mary is the last standing girl, her favorite sister Effie the youngest sitting next to her father.

She took excellent care of her children and was very particular about their hair being combed and faces and hands washed before they were allowed to go along to Grandma Bailey’s house. Mary was a mother who governed with strict obedience. Her favorite punishment for almost everything was “sitting on a chair” for a prescribed number of minutes. She was not averse to using a little willow on some naughty little legs, either. She would not put up with a saucy mouth and often prescribed “thimble pie” to those who disobeyed. “Thimble pie” as my own children can attest, was a quick thump on the top of the head, a quick little flick to let a child know that disobedience would not be tolerated. My mother in law Maxine prescribed to the same practice and now I can see where she got it. I’m surprised my husband doesn’t have a permanent dent on the top of his head.

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Mary holding baby Vaughn
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Baby Marian, Mary, Vaughn
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Claron, Marian, Vaughn and Baby Maxine

Aunt Mirian said her mother wasn’t a fancy cook but could remember wonderful Sunday roasts and fried chicken and tender pie crust along with her sage dressing, a recipe from her mother.

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Marian, Vaughn, Mary holding Maxine and Claron in the foreground

Mary loved Thanksgiving, and everyone helped prepare the meal. Everyone had their favorite dishes that had to be included in the tradition. Aunt Mirian’s girls helped Mary with the preparations for last Thanksgiving of her life. Mary’s diary entry read, “In the evening, Mirian’s girls and Claron’s Besty came over and crumbled bread for the dressing. Kathryn came over after mutual. She ate some crusts, too and afterward we played Chinese checkers. It was all fun.”

Mary was an excellent seamstress. She taught her daughters to sew and embroider, too. She praised the girls when their stitches were small and neat and made them pick them undone when they were not. She encouraged her girls to write and they were allowed long uninterrupted hours in the back porch room scribbling away on a story.

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Mary was a fine pianist and Aunt Mirian says Mary must have been so happy with Maxine, who was able to sit and practice piano playing for hours on end. Mary taught children piano for years and years.

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Mirian, Mary and Maxine
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Butterworth children at their mother’s funeral

Aunt Mirian says Mary was never robust and must have been rather fragile as a child. Given that she almost died, I’m not surprised. She was pampered and protected by her parents and her siblings alike.

Mary was valedictorian when she graduated the 8th grade. Aunt Mirian says she has a picture of Mary seated in the middle of her classmates with her serious little face, diploma held proudly in her hand and the picture speaks volumes of her dedication to scholarship. I have two girls who both feel the same way about their education. I am grateful for Mary’s genes!

Aunt Mirian’s opinion of her mother was that she was certain her mother never had an impure thought in her entire life and that she didn’t abide lewdness in any form. The only swear word she ever uttered was “de-amn” and always directed at herself.

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She read the Church news from cover to cover every week. She upheld the Brethren in the face of Papa’s rebel comments, but her admonitions were couched in, “now, Leonard, dear…”. I can’t say how fortunate we are to have Aunt Mirian’s words of love for her parents. We have such a first-hand accounting of Mary and Leonard.

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Mary believed a real woman never left the house without a hat, purse and gloves. Mary was generally even tempered but could be stubborn, too. Mary wore her hair, which was neither thick nor lustrous, combed back from her high forehead and twisted into a bun at the nape of her neck. Aunt Mirian always wanted her mother to cut her hair which was how all the other mothers wore their hair when the kids were in school. She refused.

Aunt Mirian only had one quarrel with her mother and it was one she regretted her whole life. Her Aunt Effie, who had lived with her Uncle John as neither had ever married, was of ill health and thus, after Uncle John had passed away, her Aunt Effie had moved into Mary and Leonard’s home. Mary was spending her days and nights caring for Effie who was suffering from diabetes and had large sores on her feet.

Aunt Mirian and her father Leonard both felt that Mary’s life was being taken over by caring for her Aunt Effie and Mary’s own health was suffering. Mary was growing visibly tired from the constant care her sister required. Mary refused to put her sister in a rest home and Leonard began railing against her continued living in their home.

Aunt Mirian felt that her mother was being unreasonable. Mirian could think of no solution and no amount of discussion would get her mother to agree. Mirian resorted to a threat. She told her mother she wouldn’t talk to her nor would she visit until her Aunt had been put into a home. Aunt Mirian hadn’t taken into account the Butterworth love and loyalty and stubbornness.

The days went by and Aunt Mirian continued to stay away. They were at a total impasse until one day Mirian’s sister in law called to let her know she had taken Mary to the doctor. There was a suspicious lump in one breast and a biopsy had been scheduled. Mirian raced to the hospital to find her mother laying on the bed, groggy but awake. Not a single word was spoken about their disagreement beyond Mary’s understanding and that she forgave Mirian completely.

The lump was malignant and she had a radical mastectomy that night. Two of Aunt Mirian’s cousins, along with Aunt Mirian, finally put her Aunt Effie in a rest home. They never spoke of it after that. It wasn’t long before the doctor said that the cancer had been in her lymph system and had spread to her lungs, that she wouldn’t have long to live. Aunt Mirian begged the doctor not to tell Mary, to let her go on thinking she would be fine.

Not too long afterward, on the morning of June 27th, 1962, on Mary and Leonard’s 45th wedding anniversary, Leonard called Mirian to say Mary wasn’t feeling well at all and she flew along the road to see her mother. Mary lay in her pink flowered nightgown, her head turning restlessly on her pillow. She looked at Mirian as if she were trying to think of who she was. Finally, Mary said, almost to herself, “Oh, dear, I didn’t want to go!”. She was quiet for a moment as if she were mulling over her last words, then said, “Please take care of Daddy.” She never spoke again. The doctor came and said she’d had a major heart attack and if it were his mother, he’d let her rest in her bed. It wouldn’t be long.

Mary lay in a coma. Her grandchildren tip-toed in to say their goodbyes and her children stayed by her side. Her boys were silent and perplexed, Maxine weeping next to Aunt Mirian while Leonard sat at one side of the bed. Mary’s breathing quieted until it simply stopped, as if she had fallen to sleep. Mary left this world surrounded by her family, wrapped forever in their cocoon of love.

Mary Butterworth Bailey died on June 27, 1962 and is buried in Wasatch Cemetery, Salt Lake City, Utah, in view of Mount Olympus.

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