“Enduring Angel”: Woman Serves Even While Fighting Leukemia
Contributed By Margaret Leigh, Church News contributor
- Mary Ann Smith developed leukemia but asked not to be released from her calling as Relief Society compassionate service leader.
- Even while being treated for cancer, she managed to help Margaret Leigh’s husband by providing meals.
- On the day Mary Ann died, Margaret had put together a paper grocery bag of dishes to return to Mary from all the meals she made for Margaret’s husband.
“[Mary Ann] seemed to know when people needed help and could come up with homemade chicken soup so quickly that I often wondered what was in her freezer that allowed her to do so.” —Margaret Leigh
The world has lost, and heaven has gained, an angel—an extraordinary woman with the ordinary name of Mary Ann Smith. Mary Ann was the Relief Society compassionate service leader in our Cotton Acres Ward in St. George, Utah. When she developed leukemia she begged the bishopric not to release her. It was a calling she loved—and a calling for which she had a special gift.
She seemed to know when people needed help and could come up with homemade chicken soup so quickly that I often wondered what was in her freezer that allowed her to do so. As an example of her intuition—or of her ability to be in tune with spiritual promptings—she called before my husband had even gowned up for his second hospitalization in as many weeks. Mary Ann said that she had driven by our house, saw that the car wasn’t there, and immediately knew to call the hospital. That’s just how in tune she was.
Toward the end, I know her family helped her with the food that she provided, but I’m sure it was Mary Ann’s direction all the way: one of the last meals she sent as I sat by my husband in the hospital was a divided plate with a complete fish dinner, including a sandwich bag with lemon wedges and another with tartar sauce.
On the day she died, I had in my living room a large paper grocery bag of dishes to return to her from the food she had sent over during my husband’s recent back-to-back hospitalizations. It was the second such bag in two weeks.
The last time I saw Mary Ann alive was in the door to my husband’s hospital room on the day he was discharged. She was there—in a wheelchair with her oxygen tank, being pushed by family members—to see what we needed.
The last time I visited her home to play her favorite game of Dizios and to see the progress of her kitchen remodeling project, she turned it into an impromptu luncheon.
No one in the world would go hungry if there were more Mary Anns. She was the very epitome of “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
I hope I get to live in Mary Ann’s neighborhood in heaven too.
Margaret Leigh is a member of the Cotton Acres Ward, St. George Utah Pine View Stake.