Thursday, January 16, 2014


Whoever survives a test, whatever it may be, must tell the story.  That is his duty.
                                                                                                                   --Elie Wiesel

Today, nearly 30 years ago, I had a phone call from my parents.  My father wasn't usually the one who made the call, and he spoke somberly, saying they had some bad news from the little town where my grandmother lived.  I assumed it was that she had died, since she was elderly and suffering with dementia.  Instead, he told me that my mother's sister and her husband had been killed in a terrible car accident.  I was in shock and burst into tears, and then spoke to my mother, who was also crying.  They had been traveling back from the hospital where my uncle had had surgery, skidded on an icy road and were hit by a huge truck.

I was pregnant with my fourth daughter at the time, and my husband was out of town on business. I managed to call him and gave him the news, but I remember feeling very alone and isolated, half a continent away from the rest of the family.  On the day of the funeral, the only other cousin who wasn't able to go, called me from Colorado, and we shared our love for our aunt and uncle over the phone.

In general, when I was growing up, we went to see my relatives, and they seldom came to visit us.  All had big families, and most were farmers, and it was hard for them to leave. But once, just after my husband and I had moved to Northern California, before we even had a phone, I was walking past a front window in our home, trying to unpack, and I looked out and saw my aunt and uncle coming up the sidewalk.  They had come out for a family funeral not far from where we lived, but hadn't been able to call, so just arrived.  We had a wonderful evening together, in the midst of the chaos of just having moved in, with boxes and toys everywhere.  I managed to find my spaghetti pot and made a big batch of spaghetti, and we laughed and reminisced over dinner.  But the greatest blessing I received from that evening was when my aunt told me that when I would visit them, I was constantly complaining to her that "those boys" (her sons) were always doing things to me, taking away my games, and in general not letting me torment them by following them around wanting to do what they were doing.  She said she thought I had been spoiled and wondered how I would turn out.  But she told me that seeing me now made her realize that I had turned out all right!  It is something that I return to often when I am doubting myself.  

At the time they died, their oldest son had been out of the Church, and he remained so for over 30 years.  I'm sure they prayed for him indefatigably from heaven, and eventually he returned to the Church, he and his wife made a Worldwide Marriage Encounter Weekend, and then he applied to the diaconate program.  When he was ordained, my husband and I flew to Reno for his ordination and spent a wonderful weekend there with his family, including many of "those boys" whom I had seen as my childhood tormentors! He is now filled with zeal for the many ministries he has undertaken in the Church as a Deacon, and I am in awe at the crooked paths the Lord continues to make straight.

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