A Special Baby, a Dream Fulfilled
One morning, early, my husband, Dennis, and I awoke to find that we had both experienced the same profoundly revealing dream.
We seemed to be together in a hospital delivery room, and I was involved in the intense stages of labor. Dennis was comforting me, and although the setting was familiar the circumstances were very different. Our previous four children had been born by cesarean section; this time we seemed to feel that the baby wasn’t going to be delivered in a surgical unit. As the dream continued, a baby girl was born to us, smaller than any of our first children.
Then the dream ended abruptly for both Dennis and me, and we awakened simultaneously. We began to discuss the new baby as naturally as if I had just truly given birth to her. I recall being concerned about her tiny size, but we both were impressed with what a pretty and sweet baby she was.
Why had this happened to us? Was this a spiritual experience to prepare us for the opportunity to share together the natural birth of an infant? Or was there more to the dream than we recognized?
We continued in the glow of the moment until some of our “little people” began to invade our space. The pace of the day picked up rather rapidly, and routine soon pushed any more thought about the dream to the back of our minds.
On a Saturday morning about nine days after the dream, I was doing my breakfast dishes when the phone rang. Dennis was in the backyard with the children, mowing the lawn and tidying the yard.
After introducing herself, the caller said, “I’m calling on behalf of the Social Services Department. I know that it’s rather unusual to bother our foster families on a weekend, but we have an emergency situation and need some help.” She spoke guardedly.
“Can you tell me more specifically what we are being asked to do?” was my only response.
“Well, we have a baby that has to be moved from a hospital nursery this morning. She’s rather ill, quite small, and as a matter of fact she’s been under observation for the last week or so. However, she’s no longer considered to be at intense risk. I should mention, though, that I’ve been informed she cries a lot and isn’t thriving. Basically, we require a home that can observe her for a week or so before we place her for adoption,” she replied.
At this point I asked, “How old is this baby?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I haven’t noticed. Let’s see. … She’s about nine days old.”
My heart leapt within me and tears swelled in my eyes. Trying to stay calm, I replied, “What time would you like to drop the baby off?” After I hung up, I ran to the back door and got Dennis’s attention. Still crying, I told him about the baby.
A young woman brought the baby to the door after lunch and reaffirmed that they’d take her off our hands in a week or so when they found the right adoptive home for her. I found myself listening to her words and playing the usual role, all the while waiting for them to hand her to me and knowing there had to be more to our future together than a few days. The baby’s name was Stacey, and she was exactly as I’d remembered her in the dream.
I could, but won’t, explain in detail how we discovered her health problems—heroin drug addiction, double hernias, a heart murmur, brain seizures, milk allergy, and even the doctor’s presentiment that she could be retarded due to the combination of her health problems. Needless to say, as time and information revealed these tidbits, her adoptability level decreased and she stayed with us longer and longer.
Attending education week at BYU a year later was a boost to our spirits, because one of the faculty members took time to bear testimony to us about his family’s special problems in adoption and how they’d been overcome. We took heed and began to move toward adopting Stacey, prayerfully overcoming every obstacle put in our way. She was about 2 1/2 years old when her final adoption papers were signed in our living room, and shortly thereafter we went to the Alberta Temple for the sealing ceremony.
She’s now six years old, and believe me, she’s not retarded. She’s bright and inquisitive and a delightful test to our patience. We always felt she was meant for our family, and our Heavenly Father blessed us abundantly in bringing our dream to fulfillment.
Prayer and the Parish Register
When I was fifteen, I received my patriarchal blessing, and it became clear to me that the responsibility for tracing our family genealogy lay mostly with me. However, it was not until I was a student and living away from home that my heart really began to turn to my forefathers. I became increasingly aware of the vast amount of research to be done, and what little effort I had made up to that time.
In particular, I began to think about my mother’s side of the family—the Carrs. Stephen Carr, my grandfather, ran away from home when he was a young man and, to my knowledge, never returned. Consequently, my mother knew very little about her grandparents, apart from the fact that they were farmers and had lived somewhere north of us in the region of Malham in Yorkshire.
Knowing very little about the method of genealogical research, I decided to write to the parish church in Malham. I had never visited Malham and didn’t know if there was a church there. But I supposed it was worth a try, because most English villages have a church of some sort.
I really didn’t expect a reply to my letter, and as I became caught up in my studies again I almost forgot about it. Then one morning an envelope in unfamiliar handwriting and postmarked “Yorkshire” came through my letter box. I was excited as I opened it and scanned the pages.
It contained good news and bad. First, the letter came from a church in Rylstone, the parish church for Malham; the vicar had people by the name of Carr living within his parish so he thought I might find what I was looking for. That was the good news. The bad news was that I would have to pay a fee for each year of records that I searched. Living as I was on a student grant, this was going to be difficult. It would be costly enough to make the journey to Rylstone; and I had hoped to search at random through the records, having no idea when my great-grandparents died. That was now out of the question, and I had to try to find out when they died before I made the journey.
I made phone calls home asking for help and even wrote to my great aunt living across the Atlantic in Canada with whom I had never corresponded before. Although this contact revealed some interesting details about my great-grandparents, it didn’t bring the information I was looking for. My great-aunt was in her nineties and couldn’t remember dates.
Finally I decided to make a calculated guess and reckoned that at least one of my great-grandparents had died between 1898 and 1900. Having come to this rather unsatisfactory conclusion, I decided to make the arrangements for my trip. After all, I did have one more avenue of help open to me.
I had read in Church magazines and heard in talks of the miraculous help some people had as they did genealogical research, so I knelt to ask God if he would help me. I knew that he could somehow make it known to me. I felt justified in asking for such specific information because I had made every effort to find out myself and failed. I told him when I thought they had died and asked him to tell me which year to search.
Thereafter followed one of the most spiritual experiences I have ever had. I didn’t see any writing on the wall; no heavenly messenger presented me with a piece of paper, nor did I hear a voice. But the Lord told me convincingly which year to search. It was as if a voice in my head repeated over and over, “1903.” I was surprised at the power and immediacy of the answer; in fact, I really wondered if it was only a figment of my imagination. So I decided to search the three years I had calculated as well as 1903 just to see.
The next day I traveled to Rylstone, set in the picturesque countryside of the Yorkshire Dales. It was a beautiful day, and I spent a little time looking at the lichen-covered gravestones before I made my way to the rectory to find Reverend Fairhurst. He turned out to be a very amiable gentleman, most interested in my search. He had the books all ready for me to look at.
They were large, leather-covered volumes, and I asked first to see the 1903 records. My heart was pounding as I opened the pages, and there staring up at me was the name of Eliza Horner, my great-grandmother. Not only had Heavenly Father given me vital information to help me with my genealogy, but he had strengthened my testimony that he lives and will answer prayers.
I went on to find information about both my great- grandparents, their marriage date, some of their children, and also my great-great-grandparents. It was a wonderful day!
I look forward to the time when I can meet all these people who are now just names in books to me, but who have all contributed in some way to the person I am today.
He was only sixty-eight, but he looked much older. His emaciated body lay strapped to a narrow hospital bed. His breathing was shallow; his vital signs were failing. This was Charlie, one of twenty patients in the medical-surgical ward at State Hospital (a mental institution).
“How’s he doing, doctor?” I asked the resident physician who was struggling to find a vein in the man’s flaccid arms.
He shook his head. “Charlie’s dying. It can’t be long.”
“Do you think he’ll go tonight?”
He shrugged. “It could be a couple of hours—or a couple of days. It’s hard to say.”
I nodded. I understood, but I didn’t like it. As the night nurse, I’d have to decide whether or not to call his family.
In a normal situation at a general hospital, I wouldn’t have hesitated to call the family, but here at State things were different. Charlie, like most of the patients, had been hospitalized for a number of years. Families had learned to live and function without them. Many had given up caring. I liked to believe that most of the families would want to be present at the time of death. But calling them in the middle of the night without being certain that death was imminent was against hospital policy.
And I didn’t know when Charlie would die. Neither did the doctor nor the evening shift nurses. Medically, it was impossible to determine how soon death would come—only that it was en route.
I stood at Charlie’s bedside, pondering. I tried to imagine him differently—no longer aged beyond his years and bereft of physical health and mental faculties including memory, but younger, a husband with a happy wife and laughing children. I had the feeling that if I were one of them, I would want to be present at the time of his death to somehow let him know that I still cared, that I still loved him.
I was filled with compassion for Charlie and his wife. They still loved each other, I was sure. They would want to be together at the time of his passing—but I stood between them because I didn’t know when that would be.
In the past when I have been confronted with problems I could not resolve, I turned to a constant source of help: prayer. I turned once again to that source, bowing my head and praying aloud that I might know if I should call his wife or not.
Words came forcefully to my mind and heart: I should contact her right away; he would be called home before daybreak. I no longer wondered what to do. I knew that Charlie had less than six hours to live and that it would take his wife an hour to get here.
Immediately I phoned her, explained that Charlie’s condition had worsened, and suggested that she come in. To my surprise, she was reluctant.
“I have a workshop to attend tomorrow,” she explained, “and I need to sleep.”
“But his condition is worsening,” I emphasized. “It might be a good idea if you were here.”
“What good would it do?” she agonized. “He hasn’t recognized me in months. It’s hard to see him this way.” She sighed heavily. “All right,” she said, softening, “I’ll come in. I’ll be there between 7:00 and 8:00 in the morning.”
But that would be too late! Frantically, I searched for words. “I think you should come in sooner than that!” I said, “—like right away!”
“Why?” she asked.
I wanted to tell her what I’d heard in answer to prayer, but could not. “Ma’am,” I began slowly, “your husband is dying, and I think it would be a good idea for you to come in soon.” I paused. “But that decision is up to you.”
“Then I’ll come in first thing in the morning,” she replied, and hung up.
I was disappointed in her decision, but I knew that it was hers to make. I tried not to think about it as I checked the other patients, but silently I prayed that she’d change her mind. Fifteen minutes later she called back.
“Do you really think he’s dying?” she asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Do you think he’ll die before morning?”
I paused briefly before answering. “Medically speaking, I can’t say for sure. But my feeling is that he will die before morning.”
“Then I’ll come in,” she said. “I’ll be there in an hour.”
I was elated about her change of mind, but as I thought about it, I became concerned. How sad it was that her dying husband wouldn’t be able to recognize her or realize the effort she was making to be with him.
I went about my duties pondering the situation. At 1:00 A.M. I distributed medications, and as I walked down the silent corridor I again felt the need to pray. So, going to a linen closet where I could be alone, I once again asked our Father in Heaven for help—that Charlie would at least be able to recognize his wife, that this one last time there might be love between them—if not in words, at least in tenderness and shared feelings.
It was 3:00 A.M. when she arrived. I was surprised at her youthful appearance. Her salt-and-pepper hair was neatly styled; she was slim and petite. She looked a youthful fifty, while Charlie looked an ancient eighty. She introduced me to a lovely young woman who had come with her—her daughter.
I walked with them to Charlie’s room—partially to make them comfortable and check on Charlie, but mostly to see if my prayer had ascended above the top shelf of the linen closet. As they went to his bedside, a light seemed to pass through Charlie’s vacant blue eyes. His clenched fists relaxed and he tried to speak. His wife sat in the chair beside him, gently stroking his arm. Then Charlie smiled.
“I think he recognizes me!” she cried. There were tears in her eyes. And in Charlie’s. And in mine.
“I know he does,” I answered, and quietly left the room.
Periodically I checked Charlie’s vital signs. They were slowly worsening, but Charlie continued to be calm and gentle—contrary to his usual erratic behavior. He was receptive to his wife’s touch and soft-spoken words of love. He did not speak, but they communicated; love flowed between them.
At 5:00 A.M. Charlie was still maintaining. Sunrise was less than forty-five minutes away; I began to worry about Charlie’s death—not if he would die, but how. He and his wife had spent such a beautiful, special time together! I hoped the memory would not be spoiled by a difficult struggle with death.
Quickly I returned to the linen closet for the third time that night and prayed that when the time came, his life might end quietly. As I knelt there, a feeling of calmness enveloped me, and I felt certain that everything would be all right.
As I was checking my other patients, the attendant with whom I was working came to find me.
“It’s Charlie,” he said. “I don’t know if he’s gone or not.” I reached for a stethoscope from the nurses’ station as we walked by.
Charlie was lying still on the bed. His eyes were closed; a look of serene peace graced his countenance.
“He closed his eyes as I spoke to him,” his wife said. “Is he asleep?”
I placed the stethoscope on his still chest; I knew I wouldn’t hear anything. I turned to them and said, “Charlie has gone home.”
They wept quietly. Later I walked them to the door, letting my arms around them convey what words could not.
“Thanks for calling me,” Charlie’s wife whispered, squeezing my arm. “I wouldn’t have missed these few hours for the world!”