A man in our community died Friday. Rather suddenly and basically unexpectedly. When we first moved here to Paradise, Don and Carol Beedle were active in church but within what seems the shortest of months, they stopped, never to return. I've been assigned her VT several times. Robert as their HT several times and is currently. Sometimes we were invited in, mostly not. But Don was a good man, very generous. He's the one who came over to 809 to help Robert put plumbing in the basement for the 2 bedrooms and he helped with framing those as well. He would always tell us he was 'coming back'. We hoped it would happen but instead he has now 'gone home' and hopefully will see things differently, maybe even clearer.
We waited our turn in line to greet a sitting Carol tonight at the viewing/service at the funeral home. When I got to her, I sat in the chair next to her. She took my hand so warmly (which was unusual) and didn't let go (I think that was grief and the need to cling or root herself to someone steady). She looked at me and then at Robert and said, "Oh Susan, you two are my favorite of all people (pause) in the church." That made me chuckle inside but I had to ask aloud, "Really?? She said, Of course. The two of you are always there. You are always there when we need you. So I told her we weren't going anywhere, ever. I think I meant that as much for the gospel as for our own bodies. It meant the same in any case. She said, "I'm so glad."
By the end of the evening we had greeted Charlie (youngest) and Johnny (oldest). Johnny took one look at me and said, 'You're Susan, right?" That blew me away. Johnny was the wild one, the one who got in a lot of trouble. A LOT OF TROUBLE. But he was such a looker as a teen. Now he's straightened out his life, has a wonderful wife and 3 daughters, steady joy, etc. It was good to see. I walked up to Lynette (the middle, the one who has been active but is going through a very nasty divorce) and she said, "I remember you so well. You gave me piano lessons." I smiled, wondering when I did that and for how long, but told her to take care of herself as well as her mom.
Carol had asked Robert to give the closing prayer and it was the only mention of the Lord, Heavenly Father, The Plan, Faith, Belief and a few other comments throughout the whole night. Rather sad. But it made me grateful that I have knowledge of these things in my life and grateful Carol asked Robert to pray.
But there was this other incident I really want to record. A woman came up to me as I sat in the seats and asked if I remembered her. Naturally, I had no idea who she was. Robert and I didn't know anyone at this gathering other than the family. But I looked at her for some sort of memory prod. None came. So she said she was Beth Murray and that in 1981 she was a recent convert and we were VT companions. She was living at the OVI (turns out she is Carol's niece). She wanted to tell me that in all these years she vividly remembers me teaching her about VT. That we make our visits to all the sisters whether we want to or not, whether they want us to or not. That we learn to care for and about the sisters on our lists. And that I also taught her how to budget. She remembered that Robert was only paid once a month and that I had learned how to make that one paycheck last through all the bills and the food requirements. I marveled at that. I have no recollection of doing this but I do remember those years very vividly. She has 4 daughters and each one was taught about VT and especially about budgeting the same way I taught her. 3 of these girls are active and married in the temple. One is currently not active. But she was grateful for the footing I gave her in the gospel so many years ago and I am now grateful that she and her husband are both still very active in the Gospel and in their Medina ward. Her husband, Randy, came and sat down by us later and told Robert that Robert had taken him HT several times in those same years. Robert was as baffled as I was. We kept looking at these people, trying to find in them some 'young' look that would remind us of those days.
Sunday I had this chat with Br. Hill after SS and he was commenting about how sad he is that he didn't keep a notebook of all the people who had crossed his path through the years, how he remembers so few of them. And now I really had an experience that taught me what he was feeling. I guess it's never too late, is it? To remember by a note in a book many people who influenced my life and my thinking.
It also was a great reminder that what seems the most natural thing to do (VT, HT, budgeting) and to teach another can have incredible affect/effect on people. Too often we short change what we say and do. Or we don't even realize the impact we have on people. Oh, if only all my impacts were positive ones. I cringe at the negatives ones which I may or may not know about it. My resolve is strengthened to have more of the +s and less of the -s.