To Beautiful Mama

It has been exactly a month since Julie passed away, 10 Dec 2017.  I couldn’t have imagined feeling such loss and despair, and it worsens rather than lessens.  I will forever be heartbroken.  But this blog is not about me.  It is about the woman I am in love with.

After Julie’s memorial service, a friend told me, “You did Julie justice today!”  I know we did, and that she is happy with us for it.  I know many who expressed love for Julie who couldn’t attend her funeral.  I will share parts of her funeral here, first I will post her life from high school on, then later post from birth through high school.  I will try complete two more posts this week and finish up this blog.

Also, here is a link to her obituary page at Wood Funeral Home, with her tribute video slide show

Life sketch of Julie Lavon Hobbs Hatch, from high school graduation, presented by Kendall and Jonathan Hatch:

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May 1987, Julie on right, your right, isn’t she gorgeous!  Love the Skyline blue eye shadow!

A month after graduating from Skyline High, Julie went to a young adult parking lot dance at the Iona Stake Center out on the Ririe Highway. She must have been ready to start dating more mature college boys. She saw a tall handsome boy at the dance with summer bleached hair and blue eyes and later said, “He was the only good-looking boy there.” This was Brad Hatch, an Iona farm boy, home for the summer from BYU. Brad was meandering through the crowd looking for his next target when a girl bounced right in front of him. She was 5 foot 2, dark brown permed hair, white jersey blouse with a simple laced collar, black jeans, and a naturally playful smile that reveled laughter inside. This was Julie, and boy, what a first impression. Stylish, pretty and exuberant, she just looked fun. He instantly asked her to dance. She smiled the whole time that playful smile and had an unrestrained bounce in her dance step he had never seen before. There were introductions, a few dances, and then parting. Brad wanted to ask her out for the following night, but at the end of the dance she had vanished.   Brad looked for her at all summer young adult dances for another month before he was able to find her again. They dated the rest of the summer and Brad went back to BYU and Julie to Ricks college.

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Winter fun while attending Rick’s College, 1987-1988

Julie continued to date a lot of other boys at Ricks, but kept a long distance romance going with Brad too. They went out on weekends when Brad came back to Idaho, and things got serious over Christmas break. After a New Years Eve dance and kiss, the couple went to Brad’s family farm in the wee hours of the morning, and a winter walk down the tree line lane that bordered the farm. It was a very cold, clear moon lit new years morning as the couple walked with hands clasped. Julie was bouncing again and was feeling unrestrained and proclaimed in poetic rhythm, “I like the snow, I like the trees, I like the moon, and I like you.” She would get a little embarrassed in later years when Brad reminded her of that cheesy line. But he loved it, and he loved her. Neither Julie or Brad parents seemed to mind them staying out until 3AM, they all must have approved.

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Rick’s Collage Homecoming Date, 1987

One thing that impressed Brad about Julie, was her deep desire and preparations to be a mother, and he knew she would be would be incredibly dedicated. By mid May, Brad had got up the courage to asked Julie to marry him. When he did, he got the surprise of his life. Her playful smile disappeared, eyes opened wide, and she backed away and started to cry. The answer was no. She wanted to go on a mission and experience so much more before marriage. They still had a nice weekend together, and Brad told her that he loved her, but could not promise that he was be able to wait another 3 and ½ years for her to be old enough to serve and return from a mission. Two weeks later, on memorial day in 1988, Brad proposed again and was successful.

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Married August 1988

Julie and Brad married in August and Julie enrolled in BYU and continued her studies in special education. Her favorite classes were child development, and a class about children’s literature where she was greatly influence by a book about reading out loud to children. In the years that followed, Julie began reading out loud to her babies, first picture books, then story books. She had an amazing gift to be a captivating reader. The children were always still and quiet as she read, and would nestle and lean into her as she read, often one on each side, and a third laying on the back rest of the couch above her, all three peering at the pages she read. She read countless hours to them, favorite books included Old Yeller, A Wrinkle in Time, A Cricket in Time Square, Where the Red Fern Grows, Redwall, My Side of the Mountain, Julie of the Wolves, A Banner in the Sky, Incident at Hawks Hill, Holes, The Mouse and the Motocycle, Inkheart, Ella Enchanted, Harry Potter, and many more.

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Sliding down BYU south campus stairs, Fall 1988
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Everyone listened when Julie read. Approximately 2002

Julie attended BYU for a year and a half before giving birth to her first baby, Jordan, 28 years ago this month. She had just finished her last final exam, and her water broke an hour later. When Jordan was born, Julie decided she was “done” with school. She never had even the slightest desire to return. Brad would sometimes try to encourage her to finish her degree, but she would look at him strangely and ask “why.” All she wanted to do was devote all of her time and energy into mothering and that is exactly what she did for the next 28 years.

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First baby, Jordan, so happy!

Julie was careful with money, something she learned from her parents. She managed the family finances and kept the family out of debt. She encouraged Brad to be frugal. The couple did not have a working TV for the first years of their marriage, and they spent about $50 a month on food until Jordan was born. Two nights of their honeymoon were spent in a tent to save money.

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Young and happy, second baby, Kendall

Brad applied to medical school and soon graduated from BYU. Brad wanted to stay as close to Idaho as possible for medical school, but Julie wanted to get away from Idaho and Utah culture and experience something new. She had no desire to hang around here, and like George Baily in It’s a Wonderful Life, she wanted to go places. So the couple joined the Air Force and moved to Washington DC.

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Washington DC

Julie loved being a military wife. She loved seeing Brad in uniform. She loved living on the Air Force base and meeting other military families. While living in Washington DC, Julie had two more children, Kendall and Jonathan.   After medical school in Washington DC, the couple moved to Texas and then Alaska. Julie thrived in new experiences, loving that each place so vastly different from the other. Julie loved the Texas Hill country, the live-oak trees, the bluebonnets, and the old limestone buildings.

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Baby three, a Texas beach, 1995

While in Texas, Brad was gone most of the time, and Julie became very involved in her church callings as a Primary Chorister and then Primary President. She loved to sing primary songs and read gospel stories to the kids. She began a tradition then, that persists today. Every morning, before the kids went to school, she would have a devotional. This devotional was short and simple, according to the attention span of the children, and the hurry to get them to school. Devotionals consisted of a short story from The Friend Magazine, a few verses from the Children’s Scripture Reader, a primary song, and a prayer.

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Texas Hill Country

Being away from Idaho, Julie began to experience new foods, she liked Thai and Indian food and the Tex-Mex fajitas. Friends introduced her to Sushi for the first time in Texas. She was not impressed at first, but later it became her favorite food, and her preferred dining experience. Every date night Brad knew where to take her, but she would let him choose first, knowing that he wasn’t in the mood for sushi every week. So about every other week was a sushi night, and they became known as regulars at the Blue Hashi, until about a year ago when Julie lost her appetite for sushi. They also were regulars at the Gangplank where Julie loved to eat fried cod and the fried whole-wheat scones and honey butter. The family had a tradition of going to the Gangplank for Julie’s birthday every year.

Birthday 42, fried cod and scones with Heidi, Apr 2011

Getting back on the timeline, Alaska was a dream for Julie. She had two more children there, Heidi and Nathaniel. The couple explored the state with their children. Brad would fish and Julie and the kids would read by the fire on the gravel bar, and the kids would shoot rocks with sling shots at the gulls. These were idyllic times for Julie, who loved hiking with the kids in the arctic brush, and cross country skiing in the long cold winters, sometimes skiing at 25 below. She would sometimes ski by herself on the trails at Eielson AFB, until one day she came around a corner and standing on the trail right in front of her was a big moose. She was able to turn around and retreat the other way without the moose charging, but she came home sobbing and never went out alone again. A favorite place was Homer Alaska, fishing, digging clams and making clam chowder on the Homer Spit. Another favorite place was Valdez, where the family spent their 10-year anniversary together, catching 20 silver salmon and going on a glacial cruise and seeing orca whales and sea otters.

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Silver salmon, Valdez AK, 1998, expecting Heidi

Julie loved being outside, and moving back to Idaho, while not the dream she hoped for, was acceptable. The couple lived in Mountain Home for three years, finishing Brad’s military pay-back. They then moved to Idaho Falls, on Coronado Street, right by the hospital. Julie loved this location, right across the street from the church. Here they added two more children to the family, Christopher and Noah. Noah was born as Jordan graduated from high school. Julie looking still quite young was sometimes mistaken as Jordan’s girlfriend. Julie proudly watched 4 children graduate from Idaho Falls High School, two from BYU Provo, one start medical school, two get married. She was proud of her three batches of kids, and for a while had children in college, high school, junior high school, grade school, and still toddlers at home. It was a busy time, but she stayed involved in all their lives. Julie made two trips to Disney World with each of the two oldest boys for their high school band trips. She had the time of her life, and begged Brad to take her back with the rest of the family.

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Kendall and Julie, Epcot 2010

Julie was an avid flower gardener, and green houses were some of Julie’s favorite places to go. Her mother taught her all about flowers and she had worked in a nursery part time in her youth while going to school. When it came to flowers, she knew what she liked best, and exactly what she wanted, and would search all the nurseries in Idaho Falls until she got it.

Flower nursery, a happy place, May 2016

Julie loved to bake, especially pies. There were never simple cakes at birthday parties, but usually apple pies, pecan pies, huckleberry cheesecakes, molten cakes, dense chocolate caramel tarts, upside down cakes, and spice cakes with gooey coconut and walnut toppings. She was meticulous about her pie crusts, which always were guaranteed to be extremely tender and flaky. She was actually very snobby about deserts. Everything had to be done by scratch. The only desert she enjoyed from the store was ice-cream, especially nutty coconut from Baskin Robins. She baked wonderful all whole wheat bread, and knew that magic secret to make it light and fluffy, a secret which may be lost from the world now.

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Fresh peach pie

Julie tried her best to have family evening dinners. She told Brad early in their marriage that he needed to always say the Sunday family dinner prayer, because that is what her Dad did. Sunday dinner prayer was Dad’s prayer. Brad loved it, and usually prayed long, so the kids didn’t love it. After the Sunday dinner prayer, Brad started lifting his glass and having a weekly family toast. The kids would chime in with what they wanted to toast to. It evolved into always ending the toast with drinking “to beautiful Mama!” Whenever we couldn’t think of anything else to drink to, someone would say, “and to beautiful Mama” and everyone would repeat in unison, “to beautiful Mama!”

Moments before a toast “To Beautiful Mama”, Nov 2014

But it was here in Idaho Falls, that much sadness came into the lives of this couple. Brad noted that Julie was making a transformation, from a cute, bouncy and pretty young mother, to a serenely beautiful woman, but still young! As Julie was carrying her last pregnancy to 20 weeks, Julie began to have resurgence of an old pain, that had been evaluated 5 years prior and diagnosed as hiatal hernia and reflux. This time the pain was worse, severe, and not alleviated with her reflux medication. She was diagnosed with Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumor 10 years ago. It was removed after Noah was born, but five years later had metastasized extensively. For the past five years Julie has been struggling with the pain, fatigue and sickness that this disease and treatments have brought. She fought to stay involved in the lives of her children. She worried about the Children at home the most. She continued to read to them on warm summer days outside, or cold winter days snuggled up on the couch. She continued morning devotionals.

Nate just happy to be with Mom, Mothers Day 2009, a year after diagnosis
Candle light dinner with her youngest, “the little boys”

Julie fought to stay active and became very involved in yoga, loved to go on long walks and could keep a 14-minute mile walking pace. She continued hiking in Moab and loved to hike to Table Mountain. Brad realized that time was getting shorter for Julie, and three years ago surprised Julie and took the family to Disney World. That same year he took Julie on two trips to Hawaii which she fell in love with and would have moved there if possible. Even though she had a phobia of getting her face wet, she braved the snorkeling experience and laughed and giggled about all the variety of marine life she was able to see.   Julie loves beaches, and has been to beaches in Oregon, California, Texas, Florida, Maryland and New England. But the beaches in Hawaii were by far her favorite.

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Warrior in the rain, Maui 2014

Eventually the caner in her bones put and end to long walks and yoga, and she cried grievously about that. She still enjoyed trips to Yellowstone, The Tetons, and Moab Utah. She liked hiking to delicate arch and even made that hike just last March to the astonishment of her oncologist and her husband. Brad thought they would just walk a hundred yards down the trail. She limped along in pain, but would just keep going. The kids went on ahead to the top, and were just on their way back down, when to their surprise, Mom was just finishing the last assent, so they turned around and went back up to the top with her. It was a triumph for Julie, and she really felt like she had beat cancer that day.

Delicate arch, beating cancer, March 2017

Many people would comment over the years of Julie’s her kindness to them. People were at ease with Julie, she was not judgmental, and she did not offend. She just liked people for who they were, and people could feel that. Brad recalls standing in lines with her, and how she would strike up conversations with strangers. Julie did not mind long lines at Disney parks, cause she would just talk to people. She talked to people everywhere. Several times Brad would run into people Julie knew, and ask Julie how she knew them, and Julie would say, “Oh she is my friend from Yoga.”

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Friendly Greetings

Julie wanted most of out life to be a mother. She was an amazing mother through it all, to the very end. There were so many important things she taught. She taught us about facing fears, enduring, working, and loving. Mostly, by her example, she taught us how to be a friend, a spouse, and a parent. Julie wanted to be remembered how she was before becoming so ill. She has asked us not to forget her, she has pleaded with us to teach our children and grandchildren about her. This we will do for the best mom ever. To our beautiful mama!

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Just over a year ago, November 2016, dancing with Jordan



6 thoughts on “To Beautiful Mama

  1. Such a beautiful tribute to an amazing soul. I think of her daily. I think of you as well Brad.
    I’ve just passed my 11 year mark of my son’s passing. The pain is still as harsh as it was then.
    One day you’ll be able to smile and laugh without the guilt. She isn’t too far from you. Talk of her often…..we’re all here to listen, share and remember her with you.


  2. Brad…it was an incredible experience reading this story. Thank you for sharing your personal family moments. My life will not ever be the same after reading this. I hope it has helped your family and yourself….somewhat – as much as it will alter my views about my own life.
    You and your dear children, all of them, will be in our prayers Brad. You are incredible people that I am grateful to have known.
    Thank you for sharing. Thank you for living the gospel, truly living the gospel. Thank you for showing what Christ can do in one’s life…even today and especially in the hardest of times.
    Much love,
    Marcia Hurst. (formally “Deleon” from San Antonio)


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