My Autobiography, Part 2: My Parents and the Best Day of Their Lives
I should probably start by briefly mentioning my parents, without whom I wouldn’t be here, nor would I have had the opportunities and the privileges I’ve had in my life. While I’m getting ahead of myself, I would like to say that I am so grateful for my parents. While no family is perfect, my family was about as perfect as I could reasonably ask for.
My mom, Rosanna Lee Pepperdine, was born in California in 1965. She grew up in California, but also partially in Saudi Arabia while her father worked there. She was the youngest of eight children, so I had many aunts, uncles, and cousins coming from that side of the family. Many of my cousins were much older than me, but some were close to the same age. Also, yes, we are related to the Pepperdines who founded Pepperdine University.
My dad, Calvin John Hamilton, was born in Cedar City, Utah in 1959. He was the third of four children, and grew up in a more rural environment than what I am personally used to. We still make frequent trips to Cedar City to visit my grandmother (my dad’s mother), Vyonne Hamilton, who still lives in the house my dad grew up in. My dad would eventually leave Utah for an LDS mission in the Geneva, Switzerland mission (though he would spend most of that time in the France portion of that mission).
My parents eventually met at Brigham Young University. My mom was a brand new student, having arrived at BYU at the early age of 17. My dad had returned from his LDS mission not too much earlier. Dad was studying Electrical Engineering, and Mom eventually got her Bachelor’s degree in History. I’ll admit to not knowing much about their courtship. I know they dated for a short while. One of the random facts I know about this time is that one of the movies they saw on a date was Ladyhawke, which is now one of my favorite films from that era. Eventually my dad proposed by hiding her engagement ring in a piece of ice, which my mother eventually found in her drink. I honestly know little more than that. My mother was still seventeen at the time, and many around her advised against getting married that young. So she decided to break up with my dad for a while. Shortly afterward he got sick, and my mom brought him some soup. One thing led to another and the engagement was back on. I like to think that my pre-mortal self might have had something to do with getting my dad sick. I needed my parents to get back together.
Calvin and Rosa were eventually married in the Logan, Utah Temple in 1983. My mom was 18, my dad was 23, and I would join them five years later.
Five years after my parents were married, I was born, and (I mean this in the most humble way) it was a big deal. I don’t know exactly how long my mother was in labor, but I understand it was more than 24 hours. I eventually came into this world at 12:50 AM, April 18th, 1988. A humorous side-effect of my timing was the fact that my dad missed some finals that week because of me. He was finishing up his masters degree at BYU. Thankfully his teachers allowed him to adjust the schedule. This bad timing would eventually come back to bite me, however, when I attended BYU and my birthday was always during finals week so I never had much time to celebrate.
Not long after my birth, my mother was visited by her parents. I know this because we have it documented on video. In the video, my grandpa George Pepperdine looks at me and says, “Now that is contentment,” referring to the emotion on my face. This statement would become strangely prophetic, as contentment is one of the attributes I prize highest. At this point I think it’s relevant to bring up a special blessing I received when I was 16, called a Patriarchal blessing, which also referred to the subject of contentment. I will not include the full text of the blessing in the public version of this autobiography, but will reference it occasionally. For those not familiar with the blessing, it is a blessing given by a special patriarch in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that gives counsel and prophecy concerning one’s life. I got mine when I was 16, and it has been a special gift and direction throughout my life. The blessing states that I will be blessed with the gift of contentment as I follow the gospel of Christ, and I have found that to be true.
Patriarchal blessings are not the only blessings one receives in the LDS church. Babies are often given blessings by their fathers and/or other worthy priesthood holders of the church. On June 5th, 1988 my father gave me a baby blessing during church on Sunday. He was accompanied by friends Doug Elsmore, Jason Lee (coincidental namesake), Lonnie James (married to my aunt at the time), and Richard Oveson. The blessing said the following:
“Our Father in Heaven, by the power and authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood which we hold we take this infant in our arms to give him a name and a blessing. And the name which we give him with which he shall be known upon/on the records of the church is Jason Lee Hamilton. And Jason at this time we wish to give you a blessing. Jason you have been a valiant son of Heavenly Father. You have been reserved to come to this earth at this time to perform your callings which you have been foreordained to. And Jason we bless you that you’ll have a healthy and a strong body. We bless you that you will be a peacemaker among your fellow friends and among your family and of those whom you come in contact. And Jason we bless you at this time that you may grow strong in the gospel and that you will have a love and a desire to seek out the truths of righteousness. We bless you that you will be able to fulfill a mission and serve your Heavenly Father and that you will be able to go forth and teach those who do not have it and with whom you will gain a close friendship and have it mean a lot throughout your life. And Jason we also bless you that you will enjoy the blessings of the Holy Priesthood which you have been foreordained to receive. That you will be able to serve in the Priesthood and in particularly to be able to go through the temple and to have a wife when the time comes with whom you can enjoy the blessings of the fullness of the priesthood. And these blessings at this time we seal upon you and do so in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
As of this writing, every aspect of this blessing (except the marriage part) has come true.
Shortly after my birth, my dad finished up his studies at BYU, and began job hunting. Most of the jobs he applied for were nearby, but he also applied to a government job. Throughout the job search, my parents both felt that the government job was right, even though neither had expected to move so far away from the west United States. But despite their early expectations, and nine months after I was born, they moved to the state that I would eventually call home. Maryland.