Percy hand selected the flowers. They had to be just right.
Flowers representing beauty. An expression of love … for Ellen.
He turned and looked up the hill. Pulled his pocket watch out to check the time, then put one foot in front of the other. A five-mile walk from home to the cemetery. Never missing a day.
A broken heart. He had ultimately fought the fight … alone.
They had sacrificed everything. Percy, Ellen and five children boarded a ship in 1888 from England to New York and then head west to be with the Saints. Finally arriving in Salt Lake City.
“All is well,” they said.
And then Ellen died. Just one short year later.
Percy lost himself in alcohol. Despair overtook the best of him. Others would have to care for the children. For years he could not cope. It was too much.
Then a tender mercy from God.
In the deepest, darkest moment of his life Percy stood and looked upward. His heart soft. A moment which caused him to ponder a better life. A life to honor his deceased wife and raise his children. His faith rose above his crippling grief and slowly he began to turn his life around.
They were a symbol of faith. Percy was a gardener by trade. It was his way of communicating to her that he had found his way back. That he had found hope.
And he walked the five-mile distance to tell her. Every single day.
Yesterday we celebrated Pioneer Day in Utah. A day to remember the sacrifice and honor of those who settled this valley before us. It was more than backyard barbeques and fireworks. It was a tribute of respect and honor for early pioneers - pioneers like my great, great, great Grandpa Percy.
Percy paved the way for my family. We are here in the United States because he gathered up his family and left for a better life with the Saints. One which he believed in. A life filled with freedom and opportunity. A place to worship his Lord.
He walked every step across the plains for me.
And so we honor him. Percy Edward Austin Chamberlain. I even named my son after him. Austin Chamberlain Tucker. Strength and a fighting, strong spirit that I wanted in his name.
A heritage to be proud of.
That pocket watch – each name engraved as it has been passed down three generations. It represents grit, conviction, and heart. A treasured token now in the hands of Austin.
Just one more thing.
As a family, we haven’t forgotten Percy and everything he stood for. We continue the tradition in a Salt Lake City cemetery.
Flowers representing a beautiful love story. Flowers representing courage, faith and hope. Flowers to remember a sacrifice.
An expression of love … for Ellen.
And for Percy.