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Osmond family fireside remembers Mother Osmond

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MALAD, Idaho — Osmondmania is alive and well.The crowd gathered on Sunday, May 2, about an hour before the doors opened. They came to the Mormon stake center in Malad, Idaho to hear Olive May Davis Osmond's famous sons speak in a fireside about the importance of family. The family was in town because of the recently reconstructed log cabin birthplace of Olive that was scheduled to be dedicated Monday morning in nearby Samaria. The modern stake center was packed back to the stage. Overflow crowds were watching the video in another ward building in town. The first brothers to speak were the two oldest, Virl and Tom. Both had been born with hearing impairment and so were not as much in the public eye as their singing brothers and sister. Virl Osmond, the oldest son, told about how he looked out the window as he flew to Malad in Donny's airplane. "I saw this beautiful valley," Virl said. "And I thought to myself, 'Truly we are the remnant of the House of Israel on the tops of the mountains.'" __IMAGE1__Virl focused his remarks on the value of family history and encouraged people to read the journals of their ancestors. "Look at the faith-promoting experiences these people had — and hold them to your heart." "My brothers won't like this," Virl said, "but I've always been my mother's favorite." Tom Osmond told of how his mother sang to him and encouraged him to imitate the sound, helping him improve his hearing and speaking skills."I love her so much," he said. "I think I'm her favorite son." It was then Alan Osmond's turn. Alan talked about how his parents were warned that if they had any more children they might also have hearing difficulties like Virl and Tom. Alan said he has a recollection from when he was a baby of his mother and father standing in front of him. His father snapped his finger right next to his ear. "I winced and jerked and he started to cry," Alan said. "I'm so grateful, because they told my parents not to have me." People said the Osmonds could never make it in show business. "We were too goody-goody," Alan said. "We were too clean-cut. But with our parents guiding, the Gospel and seeking higher things, we held to the road and tried to live the way we should." On the plaque that is displayed at the log cabin are the words, "Olive eternally." Alan said it seemed to capture who she was. "She taught us truth and light. She told us the way to live," Alan said. Recently, he looked at the plaque differently, reading it like this: "Oh live eternally." Merrill Osmond, with his full white beard, introduced himself: "I'm Kenny Rogers." After the laughter died down, he spoke about his feelings for his mother. "She was my hero. My mother was my hero. My mother and I were very spiritually connected. We had some of the most deep conversations ... she just knew her gospel. And when we talked, we talked in great depth." __IMAGE2__Merrill spoke of the faith his parents had to continue having children after they were told by the doctors to stop. He said his mother formed the "Children's Miracle Network" which has raised more than $3.4 billion for children around the world. "She wasn't afraid of anybody," Merrill said. Olive loved to tell people about the gospel. One time, Merrill remembers answering the phone when a deep voice asked, "Hello, is your mother there?" "Who's this?" "Elvis Presley." "Sure." Merrill said to his mother, "Hey Mother, Elvis Presley's on the phone." She responded, "Tell him to hold on a second, I'll be right there." Merrill said she spoke often to him and other people from fans to even the Queen of England — to whom she gave a copy of the Book of Mormon. Jay Osmond said that with all the smiles and teeth in the congregation the fireside seemed like a family reunion. "It's wonderful to be here to celebrate my mother's heritage," Jay said. "She's also raised some members of my family who are my heroes as well — they are my brothers Virl and Tom. I don't think I've ever told them personally this: That they were my inspiration to get into show business. Because they taught us to tap dance. They taught us to play saxophones. And I said, 'If they can do it, I can do it.' And I've used that all my life." "She used to put little sayings all over our walls and rooms," Jay said. Jay recounted many of his mother's sayings:Life is tough, but it's worth it.Scars are just tattoos with better stories.The glass is half full, not half empty.If there is no solution, there is no problem.You can't change people, but you can change your reactions to them.If you prepare yourself the opportunities will come.This too shall pass.It takes two to tango. "It takes two to tango. Donny took that a little too far," Jay said. Donny won the mirror ball trophy on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" last season. __IMAGE3__Donny Osmond spoke about his mother's humor."She just kept us laughing." He spoke about the tradition of him and his parents having their own coded way of answering the phone. Instead of "hello," they would say something that sounded like a grunty "ooouuahh." This was amusing until the day a radio host asked Donny to call up his parents on the phone. Donny complied, and when he announced himself to his mother, she grunted "ooouuahh" to him and then his father got on the line with another grunted "ooouuahh." Donny quickly told them they were live on the radio. His parents quickly hung up with a loud "click." He spoke about his mother Olive's death six years ago on Mother's Day. He came into the room only 10 minutes after her passing. "I saw the most peaceful look on the most beautiful woman laying in that bed," Donny said. "I thought of the scripture in John, 'Peace I leave with you.'" "It is sad to lose a parent, especially both parents. But the fact that she brought us so much joy ... and her legacy continues," he said. "I have a testimony that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true," Donny said, "and the reason I know that is because of my mom." Marie Osmond was unable to attend the fireside because of another family commitment. Jimmy Osmond concluded the fireside. "I'm the caboose," he said. "I'm all out of stories. My brothers told everything that I've written down. "My mom was so great, taking time to make each one of us think that we were her favorite," Jimmy said. "I thought I was." Jimmy remembered once that during a visit to Munich, Germany, the family was posed for a picture in a place famous for its 101 beers. Olive insisted they held apple juice instead of beer. "And the headlines the next day in the paper were 'The Osmonds prefer apple juice to Munich beer,'" Jimmy said. "My mother was never afraid to do the right thing. "I've got to tell you that as exciting as the light has been, there is nothing more real, and there is nothing more valuable, than sharing the love of the gospel with people like you," Jimmy said. After the fireside, the brothers spent about an hour mingling with the people who came for the fireside. They signed autographs, posed for photographs and shook hands. And then they were gone, leaving behind, like their mother, a legacy and lots of smiles.

E-mail: mdegroote@desnews.com