by Margaret Turley
The other day my mother brought by the DVD of her sister-in-law’s funeral so we could watch it together. Tante (Dutch for Aunt) Agaath died a couple of months ago after having suffered for six years locked away in a non-functional body. My cousin, her daughter Elsbeth, has never married. She stayed with her mother throughout the years to care for her. When she could no longer do it at home, Tante Agaath was admitted to a nursing home. Elsbeth continued to visit her daily and provide most of her personal care.
I’m preparing a surprise birthday party for Mom’s 75th. This week I sent out e-mail invitations (which my sister Maria created) to family and friends all over the world. During the process I found there were several family members that I didn’t have an address for. One of them was Agaath’s oldest daughter, Kitty. When I was forwarded her e-mail address I wrote her the following message:
"I watched Tante Agaath's funeral DVD with Mom a couple of days ago. That was so nice of you to send Mom a copy. I thought it was very brave of all of you girls - the way you spoke at her funeral. It was a very tasteful ceremony. I have a special place in my heart for your family as you were so kind to me when I was there. I especially remember Sinterklaas Eve in your home and New Year's Eve. They were full of fun and love, in spite of the fact it was the first year you were without your father. Tante Agaath was a remarkable woman and I enjoyed the time that Elsbeth and she visited with me and my children in Pinetop. I'll always remember her digging up the wild flowers in the forest and transplanting them to my back yard."
Kitty’s response to me ended with the following advice: Wees zuinig op je eigen moeder, je hebt er maar een. Translation = Be thrifty, economical, careful, frugal, tight, provident with your own mother, you only have one.
I’ve thought about that advice – with which I totally concur - for the past couple of days. (As an aside note - that family doesn't belong to the church, but they chose "Abide with Me" sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as the closing song for the funeral service.)
We frequently don’t take advantage of the moment – thinking “Oh I’ll do that another time,” or “I’m too busy for that now.” And then one day your loved one is not available to have the opportunity to do it with in this earthly existence.
A friend at work asked for someone to take a shift for her. I volunteered. She recently moved to Gilbert, Arizona from Seattle, Washington. Her mother and sister will be coming down to visit, unexpectedly, and she wanted some extra time to spend with them. I told her to enjoy them while she could, and pointed out that this was the perfect time of year, with excellent weather to introduce them to her new home environment. She said yes, and she will be trying to persuade them to move down here because she misses them so much. My mother is living in Mesa this year with my youngest sister while she serves a mission at the Family History Library. I’ve been trying to take advantage of every moment that I can to share time and experiences with her. My answer to my friend was: “It’s nice to have family nearby to share special and ordinary moments with.”
My daughter who is no longer a member of the church decided spontaneously this week to spend the evening at the Family History Library with my mom. Genealogy is something she has enjoyed doing in the past. Mom gave her a ride home afterwards, and she was all excited about doing genealogical research once again, and promised to make it a weekly date. My secret prayer is that the tie with her grandmother, and the positive experiences she gains while spending time with her, will rekindle a desire for a testimony. If not, at least the time is well spent in sharing love with one another.
When I read Faith’s blog entry a couple of days ago, the same theme came to mind and I asked myself what am I doing to capture those moments? Do I remember to journal those times shared? I use my pictures file as my screen saver. As pictures of my son’s family flash by I am so glad that he has shared them with me so I can feel a little closer to my granddaughters. I feel we can never do too much or ever get too close to our dear family members.
Mom also serves in the Temple on Fridays. I promised Mom I’d go with her to the temple every other Friday on my days off so I can help her do the work for all the family members she has completed temple ready cards for. It’s a sacred experience that only LDS church members can share with their families. There is no closer feeling that I have ever experienced than when I am serving in the temple with members of my family.
I hope all of you will have a wonderful conference weekend with your family members.