The terminus of life is busy and filed with emotion.
Sisters, I’m finding it increasingly frustrating (not hugely, but the irritation is there) hearing from so many quarters about what ‘people’ think we as LDS Women do not have. Should have. Want. Or ought to want. And the limitations and discrimination they perceive this as giving us.
Perhaps we are not there – the perceived destination of everythingness – but may I say, and I’m backed here by Sheri Dew in this clip, that righteous women in the church generally focus on what we do have. Not what we don’t.
That has been my experience. I am not saying every sister,….but generally speaking.
We are busy doing all that Sister Dew listed, and then some. We are focused and dedicated. You know your life, it’s busy.
We are not sitting around crying over what isn’t. Regardless of whether it’s isn’t yet. Or isn’t ever going to be. Why do we need more?
The question is ‘Women of the church: What do we get?’
Sheri Dew responds…
Elder David A Bednar was recently in Australia. We do not see Apostles here every day, and rarer still is a Prophet’s visit. Though I have listened in person to Spencer W Kimball, Howard W Hunter, Neal A Maxwell, L Tom Perry and Gordon B Hinckley twice: as Apostle and as Prophet. Plus, now Elder Bednar, though not actually in person. But hey, he was here on the same continent as me. So to me that counts.
The Devotional was in the form of a Q and A session. Members were encouraged to ask serious relevant questions.
The questions ranged from how to change a teenager’s heart to how to balance work home and family? How do we align our will with that of Heavenly Father, to what can we do to receive the gift of charity? How can we deal with indiscretion in marriage? How can we forgive, through to a single sister seeking guidance for her life circumstances? (that’s me paraphrasing)
Elder Bednar requested that beyond any notes that might be made of the questions and responses he would give, that those listening write down what the Holy Ghost prompted us to do….he encouraged the congregation to seek our own answers to our own specific questions as we listened to the stories and examples he shared.
We are of course, familiar with the lessons contained in the parables that Jesus shared with those seeking enlightenment from him.
For myself I came to understand more about the atonement that I had ever before. A few serious conversations over the next days. A quickening of the mind occurred, the spirit led me to understand the enabling power of the atonement. I had not grasped that before. As I reflected back through various experiences in the years since my baptism, I began to see over and over, a something far beyond my abilities, that truly enabled me to reach and stretch way beyond my natural ability. Smiling with recognition, a certain peaceful joy spread through me. I felt – feel a deep, soul-deep gratitude. I feel loved. I feel trusted. I feel a desire to be trusted even more. To be more worth.
Then into my life came an undesired irritating frustration. I expressed in simple terms how I felt. I received back way more than I expected or thought was deserved or needed. But now something happened. Something different. In the past I would have responded at length and in specific detail where I was at; however when you have learned something, really learned, you need to live by it, apply it. You need to be different. To act differently. Thus I said nothing. Nothing outward. I turned instead to prayer. I felt a concern and love for what had been shared. I felt able to pray for the other person more than for me. I felt a peace. I realised the atonement had again enabled me to step away from a habit of behaviour and be, in that moment, a better version of myself.
I am sure that I will not be 100% successful at this 100% of the time. However it is encouraging when one is in a sweeping learning curve, to be able to apply the lessons being taught.
Elder Bednar urged all those present to honour our ordinances and covenants.
Wondering what all this is about? Visit Mormon.org.
Did you attend? What did you learn? What have you learned about the atonement?
Want to read more about life in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Visit Mormon Women Stand.…
I’d flown in for her second last Christmas. Mum had told her friends she wanted Christmas Day just with me and they had helped her arrange things so it could be that way. I was deeply moved. I arrived prepared for a long hot day but the weather played its tricks and it was to be a cold gusty wet day. Regardless, it was a special day.
I flew home a few days later, before New Year’s Eve.
A month later on a strong prompting I flew back.
That was to be the end.
Let me tell you about the beginning.
Mum and I had had a difficult life together. She wanted to keep me safe, while I fought her control.
I wanted to be free to roam to do, she held the secrets that breed her fears.
We battled through the decades. Always a loving truce when I was sick.
After my father died I was living clear across the country. I rang to see how she was and heard myself saying “would you like me to come and live with you, for a few weeks?”
On the flight East I found myself pondering what might happen if I treated my mother like I treated all the older ladies in Relief Society?
After the flight I caught the bus to the city then the train for a hour ride south. I was quite tired.
Mum met me at the station and I greeted her with a cautious weary hug.
From that moment I thought first of her and her needs. That was the Thursday. I rested Friday but made her breakfast, lunch and we went out for dinner.
Saturday I drove her into the local Village as she called it. I carried her shopping. Helped with all I could. I did the washing, hung it out, bought it in, folded it according to her instructions. I dusted, and piled the newspapers neatly. I put her feet up while we discussed what we would be doing on ‘Mothers Day’.
We planned a relaxed day with a special lunch of her favourite foods. I planned and organised myself for her to have breakfast in bed.
Mid morning of Mothers Day I was in the kitchen and my mother walked in. She came close and put her arms around me. Shorter than me, she rested her head in my shoulder. I thought she was never letting go. Figuratively speaking she never did.
She then produced a package. A surprise from my daughter.
In the parcel was a cross stitch panel for me. This would eventually become a cute cushion. There was also a small complete and filled cushion for my mother.
She hugged it tight as her crinkled eyes glistened with tears. I was surprised. But said nothing.
Settled at an outdoor table we rang my daughter. I listened to my mother say she couldn’t love the gift more if it was a diamond ring. OK, now I was amazed.
Over the next days and weeks there was much more to be amazed about.
It seems that when I changed, as per my thoughts on the plane, mum changed too.
For 5 years we basked in that special relationship. In true mother daughter closeness. I flew up and down amassing quite the collection of frequent flyer points. I rang 3 times a day when at home. We talked through everything. Agreeing to lay no blame, we found what had caused the problem. After she shared the secrets which pertained to my childhood and now life-long health issues, we discovered we had been wrenched apart by a hospital system that excluded parents. Mothers were kept from being anywhere near their sick babies, toddlers and children. Apparently I could see her, but she could not come to me.
Five years later: The last five weeks.
With an unspoken agreement that this was the last visit we proceeded to do all the last things mum wanted to do. She was now permanently attached to an oxygen machine which I named Darth Vader. (Honestly it sounded just like the movie character. When my son had visited he asked me if the machine affected my breathing. Both of us found we breathed along with the rasping in-out pattern of the machine. A strangely funny circumstance.)
A day out then a day home. On the day home while she physically rested mum would teach me what-so-ever she thought I might need in the future. ‘Get your note book’ she would call before quickly replacing her mask. I wrote down recipes and instructions. Some things I wondered at but I wrote diligently.
When she napped I would get online and catch up with friends, especially in a writers group. Later when she woke I would read the messages to her from these women she had never met. They were most supportive of us through this time.
We did the last shopping trip. The next time supermarket supplies were needed I went alone. I had a thorough list with preferred brands and instructions. As the apartment door clicked closed behind me and I started to walk towards the lift, I suddenly thought ‘what if she dies while I’m out?’
I turned back and let myself back in. She looked up from her newspaper. I went to her side and kissed her cheek. ‘I love you’ I said. Squeezed her hand and set off again.
We did the last haircut. Went out for the last lunch with her girlfriends – women she had known for years, from work from her political life and painting class. We had figured out the portable gas cylinder and a little trolley to pull it on. As she struggled for breath I distracted the friends with cheery news of what we had been up to.
Easter Friday was her final day at home. She was noticeably slow in getting going. Mid morning she asked me to assist her to have a shower. But first she directed me to which clothes she would wear. Aqua pants and a matching t-shirt. And crisp white shirt open over the top. The coordinated earrings and soft white sox since we would be at home.
I got the shower running then left her to it – call me if you need, I said as I went to the kitchen.
Fairly soon she did indeed call. Wrapped in a towel she sat breathless on the shower stool. I gently dried her off. She was trying to speak but struggling for air. Quickly I grabbed the mask attached to Darth Vader and she breathed easier. I waited.
‘Dry between my toes’ she whispered. Hmm, I thought….now feet are not my favourite things. What to do?
Then in my mind a quiet voice. A voice of love. ‘Jesus washed the feet…It was good enough for Him’
I knelt beside my small frail fragile mother and gently dried between her toes.
That night she went in an ambulance to hospital. I knew she would not come back. She requested no visitors. No-one was to come. Not even me. Dad had chosen to die alone and she wanted it that way too.
However at her request I did visit on Saturday afternoon. She was in a Palliative Care Unit. It was a few weeks before I understood why she had asked the nurse to ring me to come in.
She looked even smaller and even more fragile. Her bed was set at angle allowing her to see through the French doors out to a small pretty courtyard. I realise as I write that, that she would have requested the bed to be moved. I’m smiling. I held her hand and whispered to her. Her large brown eyes looked anxious. Talking was so hard now. Too hard. I indicated the doors. Leaning in close I said Mum, remember what I told you? It will be like walking through those doors. The need to breathe, the pain, the struggle will drop away as you step through them. She squeezed my hand. Her eyes sparkled.
On the other side of the door, I continued, will be dad, your parents, and other people you love. They will embrace you. You will not look back. I will be ok. You’ve taught me well. I love you.
Somehow my mother reached her tiny frail arms up around me as she gently hugged me. For the last time. Here on earth.
By 2:00AM Sunday she had stepped through those beautiful doors.
I later realised that my mother had requested me to visit her so that I could leave her, rather than her leaving me. This had been a tender issue since my baby-days in hospital. This is what we had figured out.
She has never left me. I feel her close. I feel her influence. I hear her voice. I read her guidance.
Happy Mothers Day mum, I look forward to our next embrace.