Friday, April 23, 2010

Its all about the Name

23 years ago today, I walked into the Hallway on the 6th floor of the LDS hospital and screamed, “It’s a BOY”. It was loud, and I was told by Shar’s doctor that I woke up all the patients in the ICU wing. The ICU wing was two floors away, so I took that as a compliment. I was excited to have a healthy baby but the yell was to tell Rob Young that I was having a boy. He was in the adjacent room with his wife only minutes away from them finding out they were having another girl. It would be a surprise to them….but it wasn’t. It would be their 4th daughter. (They were happy, but Rob had told me that he was hoping for a boy just an hour earlier) Rob and I grew up in the same neighborhood. He is the same age as my brother Jeff. I would have been happy with another girl. But we new it was going to be a boy, so I was just rubbing it in a little. Maybe a lot. I look back and think I was a little silly. I guess I still am.

Within 15 minutes of delivery, my parents, Shar’s parents and our three daughters, Jami, Jessica and Chelsea arrived at the hospital. Jami was 8. Chelsea was 4 and Jess was right in between. Chelsea swore that day, in front of the whole family, that she would never have children and that she thought dogs would be better. She was in the room when the Doctor was finishing his work and of course Chelsea saw a little bit more than we would have wanted. 23 years later Chelsea has a dog, and NO children.
NOTE: Sometimes parents should turn off the TV.

Shar and I had debated about the name that we would call our first son. Nils was a family name and I thought Nils Nelson was a little bit too old and a lot of bit, to Swedish. Shar thought it was perfect and so it is. Nils Stephen (name of Shar's younger brother) Nelson.

In the mid 1800’s another Nils was born. This baby boy came to this earth under much different circumstances. Within a few days of his first breath, my great grandfather was left on the porch of an orphanage in Ostersund Sweden. He never got to know his parents. He never got to know their names. He lived his first 8 years of his life in that orphanage where somebody who worked there gave him the name of Nils.

At the age of 8 he ran away from home. It is hard to know the exact reason why he made his choice, but as a Nelson, he would have been counseled to get out if he was being miss-treated. What courage, or would it be stupidity, to move out on your own at the age of 8. He lived on the streets for the next 7 years of his life, working odd jobs and stealing for the right to eat his next meal. He lived in the cold and had little clothing and personal belongings. A small cloth bag held everything he owned and most of what he owned came from someone’s garbage or was stolen.

He hated living on the streets but years later he told his son Nils that it was much better than the treatment he was given at the orphanage. It was a tough life for a young boy.

During the winter of Nils’s 15th year he was bedding down in the town cemetery. He would stay up and keep moving to keep the blood moving in his young weathered body. He would do this until exhausted and then collapse and try to sleep.

A few weeks before Christmas, he was walking too the cemetery to start another long night of freezing cold in hopes that he could find a bite to eat along the way. This night would change his life, even though at the time he had no idea of what was ahead. He was just looking to be warm and for something to eat. He heard some music. Singing… Christmas Carols. He followed the sound to an open Hall in the town square close to the cemetery. There he met a group of Mormons who were taking food to people in need. Fredric Nelson was the branch president for the small group of LDS church members and found conversation with young Nils on that bitter night. Nils was invited to go and spend the night, out of the cold, and have a warm meal at the home of my adopted great, great grandfather. Within a weeks time he was staying in the Nelson home full time and within a year he was baptized into the LDS faith and adopted into his new family. On the records of the church he was given the name of Nils Fredric Nelson.

A year later they left Sweden and traveled to America and on to Utah to join the latter day saints in Salt Lake City. 16 years later my Grandfather was born. Fredric Nils Nelson. There is a lot in a name. Some of us just don’t know the story.

Happy Birthday Nils. We give thanks for him and his younger brother and our three beautiful daughters and people like Fredric Nelson who have given to our family in such abundance.


  1. WOW! I have tears in my eyes and am so touched! I never knew the WHOLE story. What an amazing one it is, and what an amazing and inspiring person the 'original Nils' was. Thanks so much for sharing, Dad.
    And Happy Birthday to Nilso!! Love the Nils'!

  2. Thanks for sharing that story, I wondered about the origin of "Nils". Guess what...he is born on the same day as my first (and only) son, James (Jamie). What a great day! Tell him Happy Birthday from me!

  3. Wow! Seems just like yesterday...can't believe it has actually been 23 years. I don't think I ever heard all the life stories of the first Nils Nelson. Very touching.
    Love, Lori

  4. What a great story!!!!! Life was very hard for some of the people we love. We think often of you!!! Our prayers are with you both. We want to come and see you if that would be OK. Love to you both!!!!
    Jeff & Kimm