An Echo of My Words

Being confined to bed with a painful illness for a long time, I was discouraged and depressed. A friend telephoned to cheer me, and during our conversation she said that she was proud of me. When I asked “Why?” she replied that she had seen a poem of mine that had just been published. Then she said, “Let me read it to you.”

As the familiar words resounded in my ears, tears came to my eyes. Here was a gentle reminder from a friend who cared. I had not realized, when I composed it, that some day my own words would touch me so profoundly.

The tears washed away my despair, and my courage returned as I listened to the message of the last stanza.

… Thus can we
Afford to do
Less than our best
In the performance
Of our earthly
Test, however
Challenging
Our role may be,
In life’s
Dress rehearsal
For eternity?

Carolyn Joyner Freebairn, Salt Lake City, Utah

Listening to My Two-Year-Old

It had become a turbulent day—a day of whining from my three-year-old, of agonized teething cries from the baby, and of imaginative antics from my two-year-old as she colored the walls, spit-waded my scrapbook, and pickled the linoleum.

I was seething with frustration. Then I discovered another “crime,” and I boiled over. I whirled to berate the culprit.

But before the words could be uttered, I saw in a flash, not my mischievous two-year-old, but a young troubled teen wearing the same “please-listen-and-understand-me-Mom” expression. It was an experience to rend my heart with remorse. In that instant I fully recognized the seeds I was sowing for our future relationship. To continue to fuss, fume, and yell would only result in her recoiling from me and from our family to seek love, security, and understanding elsewhere. No! I cried. I must not let that happen. I must gather her in my arms and somehow let her know that I love her in spite of her mischief.

The moment passed, and once more it was my two-year-old who stood before me. My heart told me she was entrusted to my care for safekeeping, for nurturing, for returning to God someday. Marilyn A. Bullock, Mesa, Arizona

“Will You Run Away with Me?”

Being a single parent is not the easiest thing in the world, especially when you have to keep a home running smoothly as well. Try as I might, I just couldn’t seem to find enough time in any day or week to give each of my children the one-on-one time they needed.

One day when my youngest became peeved at me for some infraction of mine, he pronounced, “I’m running away.” He packed his little bag, complete with two pieces of chicken and his stuffed rabbit, and proceeded to the front door. I looked at him with all the sadness I could muster and said, “Can I run away too?” He looked at me in disbelief and stuttered, “D-d-d-do mommies run away?”

Now when one of my children comes up to me and asks if we can run away, I know something is really bothering him and he needs just the two of us to talk things out.

One day my eleven-year-old daughter was having some difficulty trying to learn the thirteen Articles of Faith, so we ran away to study. Afterward, as we were getting ready for bed, my fourteen-year-old son, now a teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood, came up to me and whispered “Mom, how come you and I don’t ever run away anymore?” I felt like I had just been cut in two. I could tell by his actions and the sound of his voice that he was really upset. He felt left out.

We sat down and talked about it, and I guess we hadn’t run away together for almost two years. He had become a deacon, then deacons’ quorum president, had gotten involved in Boy Scouts, and was now a teacher. I had been afraid to ask, because he might think he was too big to go off with just Mom. He and I had become involved in our separate activities that we had failed to communicate with each other.

We made a commitment that night that no matter how old we became, we would never be too old to “run away” with Mom. Vicki J. Hayslip, Portsmouth, Ohio

[photo] Photography by Eldon K. Linschoten