Five-year-old Jodi loved to sing, especially Primary songs. She and her older sister, Mickell, were often asked to sing for programs and for other special occasions in their ward and community.
One afternoon Mom received a phone call from Sister Crofts. As she hung up the phone, Mom said, “Sister Crofts has invited our family and a few other families from our ward to go to the care center where her father lives to hold a special family home evening.”
“What is a care center?” Jodi wanted to know.
“A care center is a place where people live who need nurses and other trained people to help care for them. Sister Crofts would like us to do some musical numbers there. She also said that maybe our families could go to the public indoor swimming pool after the program.”
Jodi’s eyes lit up with excitement. “That sounds like fun! Can we go? Please?”
“We’ll have to ask the rest of the family what they think, but I feel sure that everyone will agree.”
The rest of the week, Mom helped Jodi and Mickell prepare two of their favorite Primary songs for the program. Soon the special day arrived.
Jodi felt nervous as she walked into the large room at the care center. She thought that most of the people looked very old because they had gray hair and many of them sat in wheelchairs. Some of them glanced up and smiled at her, but some of them looked sad.
Jodi’s family quietly found a place to sit until their turn to sing. Jodi soon realized that the girl sitting next to her wasn’t very old. But she looked different from anyone Jodi had seen before. She wore a helmet on her head and a large towel was tied around her neck. Jodi noticed that the girl could only use one side of her body. She could not talk, either, but she did make some happy-sounding noises when she heard the music.
A nurse explained that the girl and her mother had been in a car accident a few years before. The mother had been killed, and the girl had suffered severe brain damage. She had to wear the helmet to protect her head, and she had to keep a towel around her neck because she did not have very much control over her body and often drooled. The nurse told them that the girl enjoyed listening to music, and she loved having children come to visit.
Jodi felt sad to think that the girl had lost her mother and that she had been hurt so badly in the accident.
Jodi and Mickell sang their very best, and they were happy that nearly everyone in the room looked up and smiled at them as they sang, and clapped loudly as they finished. One lady even shouted, “Beautiful! Beautiful!”
Jodi felt very warm inside and was happy that her family had come that night.
Sister Crofts thanked Jodi’s family for helping with family home evening. She said that her father and the others had enjoyed the program and were glad that they had come.
After leaving the care center, the group ate a picnic and then enjoyed a few hours of swimming at the indoor pool. It had been a great family home evening!
That night as Mom was helping her get ready for bed, Jodi said, “I had fun singing for those people at the care center, but I felt bad for some of them.”
Mother smiled as she put her arm around Jodi. “It was wonderful that we could sing for them, but we probably should have taken the time to give each one of them a hug. There are some people who don’t have anyone to give them hugs.”
“I like hugs.”
“Everyone needs hugs.” Mom gave Jodi a hug that only mothers can give. Then, noticing the look of concern that crossed Jodi’s face, she asked, “What’s wrong, honey?”
“Mom,” Jodi said in a hesitant voice. “I don’t think I could have hugged that girl I sat by.”
Mom smiled at Jodi’s honesty. “Jodi, do you think Jesus would hug that girl?”
Jodi thought for a moment. “I know that Jesus would hug her. He loves everyone.”
Mom smiled and asked Jodi to follow her to the piano in the family room. She opened Children’s Songbook to pages 140–41, one of Jodi’s favorite songs. As her mom played, Jodi sang:
“If you don’t walk as most people do,
Some people walk away from you,
But I won’t! I won’t!
If you don’t talk as most people do,
Some people talk and laugh at you,
But I won’t! I won’t!
I’ll walk with you. I’ll talk with you.
That’s how I’ll show my love for you.
Jesus walked away from none.
He gave his love to ev’ryone.
So I will! I will!”
That gave Jodi something to think about. “Thanks, Mom,” Jodi said as she gave her mother a hug and a kiss. Then she went to say her prayers before climbing into bed.
The next morning, Jodi jumped up with excitement and ran to find Mom. “I had the best dream last night! It was a very happy one about that girl I sat by. And in my dream, I gave her a hug! May we please go to the care center again soon?”
“I think that’s a great idea!” Mom said with a smile.
“How [Jesus Christ] lived His life is the example we should follow. His way should be our way. ‘Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.’ (3 Ne. 27:27.) He showed us that we must go about doing good.”
Elder Robert J. Whetten of the Seventy
From an April 1999 general conference address