Apr 9, 2008

I'm still learning

by Anna Arnett

Today completes the fourth week of my newest status in life. I suppose eventually I’ll be able to think of myself as a widow but for now I still feel just as married as ever. My husband is merely on duty beyond the veil, which was once as far away as overseas. I managed then, so I expect I will now. Copies of Charles’ death certificate finally arrived Monday, and added words to my vocabulary. It said the cause of death was “atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease.” If it could take me as quickly and easily as it did Charles, I won’t worry about hardening of the arteries or high blood pressure. However, if it brings on something like dementia, then I’m wary. Maybe I’ll even try to get in shape.

Last night, at our ANWA chapter meeting, I made more new discoveries. I talked quite a lot, but knew that if I brought up the subject of Charles’ death, the expectation of sympathy would momentarily tear me up, (Woops, since you can’t hear my pronunciation, please know I meant 'cry tears’, instead of ‘rip me apart’.) Now, I don’t mean tears of sadness, but the kind of tears we shed at the pulpit on Fast Sunday. Well, I didn’t bring up the subject, so neither did anybody else. At first that was great. But eventually the idea crossed my mind that nobody knew, or they didn’t care. Of course, once the ice was broken, I got lots of love and support. I suppose my dear sisters were also waiting and wondering what they should or shouldn’t do or say. I’ll ponder about that, and see if I can come up with a great solution, if there is such a thing.

About thirty or forty years ago, while playing around with short, rhyming words and clichés, I wrote the following ditty, that I still find satisfactory, in that it expressed not only what I’ve been taught, but actually feel (well, most of the time). I know, it hardly fits in right here, but I’m sleepy, as usual, and don’t feel like writing a neat transition. But you’re writers. Make up your own. Here’s the rhyme.


Experience has given me
Insight to gradually
Spin a philosophy
Which I'll explain.
Since I come from Deity,
Father has love for me,
Angels watch over me,
Growth to sustain.
Then all things that come to me,
Sickness -- vitality,
Failure -- prosperity,
Pleasure or pain,
Come either deservedly,
Through toil, or laxity,
Else they are good for me,
So why complain?

In this world of sin and woe,
It seems where e're we go,
Troubled winds always blow,
Hedging our way.
If that's what we're looking for,
Tragedies by the score,
Crowding forevermore,
Darken our day.
But if we are earnestly
Seeking the praiseworthy,
Speaking up cheerfully,
Sorrows will wane.
If we keep our attitude
Reflecting gratitude,
We'll reach new altitude,
And peace obtain.

Let's like what we have to do,
Gladly, our work pursue,
Pausing oft to review
Strengths in our course;
Converting each stumbling block
Into foundation rock,
With courage meet each knock
Whate'er the source.
Just learning from negative,
Feasting on positive
Is a prerogative
We can employ.
If we use tenacity,
We'll gain capacity,
And the audacity
To embrace joy!


  1. I am reminded of how difficult it was for my mom when she lost the love of life just over a year ago. Yes, as loved ones, we don't often know what to say. I would/still let her take the lead. But I have found that her greatest comfort was in knowing that I was there to talk too as we are here for you.

  2. What a lovely poem. As I read it the tune for God Bless our Prohpet Dear, Hymn #24 came to mind and fits well with the lyrics in case you are interested in setting it to music. The same meter is found in hymn 67, Gory to God on High, #341, God Save the King & 339 My Country 'tis of Thee.
    When I want to come up with something on the spur of the moment it frequently helps me to think of a familiar melody. I focus on the topic I want to write about, while huming the music in my head and start jotting down words that come to mind. Before you know it the new song, poem appears.
    Your sentiments about your husband beyond the veil echo my mother's. She finds she the place she feels nearest to him is in the temple.

  3. Anna, thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I am so glad you added the poem I think you recited it at one of our retreats and I have always thought about it. Now I have all the words! Hurrah! May I share them in my lesson in a couple of weeks? Anna, you are my hero!

  4. Thanks, Margaret. I have an original tune for it, but I don't know that I've put it on paper yet.

    Of course, Kari, you may use my poem. Anyone else can, also, if they just give me credit. Isn't it amazing how many great poems get passed around credit-less, until they're attributed to that fantast ic poet called anonymous. Maybe if I sign that way, I'll get all that credit.

  5. Anna, I'm so glad I didn't send my article for you to post instead! I would have missed out on your beautiful poem--a message I needed more than my own. My father passed away in December and I remember the first ANWA meeting after that...wondering if I should mention it. My sympathies and prayers are with you. Thank you for your always positive outlook that gives me strength. --Tami Call

  6. Thank you, Anna, for sharing your wisdom and your keen ability to make your tender, intimate thoughts feel universal to us all. You are my rock!

  7. Hi Anna,

    I met you in March at the ANWA Conference. First, let me say I'm saddened by your loss, but am touched by the sincere faith you are exhibiting at this time of loss. I greatly enjoyed your ditty.

    Secondly, remember I bought your little books for my children? In the bustle of getting unpacked, putting the house back to rights after I got home, and all that, I didn't give them out right away. On Friday afternoon, I sat the kids down with some crayons and they had the absolute best time ever. They would each like to write you a letter. Would you contact me at tristi at tristipinkston.com and tell me where they might be able to reach you? They were very inspired by you and would like to "meet" you.

    Take care of yourself, you sweet lady.


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