Janet’s Hope

Janet lay in a hollow on the sand dune and watched the surfers swimming off the beach below her. There were only a dozen or so swimmers this afternoon. The gusty Australian winds whipped the stinging sand around bare legs and into eyes. Most people waited to go swimming until evening when the wind died down. Tonight the beach would be crowded with people trying to cool off from the hot day.

Janet snapped a ti-tree twig from a bush close by and swiped at the small bush flies clustering around her legs. It isn’t fair, she thought. Other people are able to go to New Zealand. I wish we could.

Her father was the branch president, but his family didn’t have enough money to go to the New Zealand Temple with those who were going there next month to be sealed as families.

“When baby Richard was born, we used the money we had saved for the trip to pay the doctor and hospital,” her mother had explained. “So we won’t be able to go with the group this year.”

Janet slammed the screen door and rushed out to the sand dunes, her favorite place to think.

There is just no place we could get the money for the trip, she decided. She knew Grandfather Turner had money, but he wouldn’t help. He had never forgiven Mother for joining the Church and marrying Daddy.

Janet loved her grandfather, even though she seldom saw him. Maybe I should visit him, she thought, as she wiped her eyes. Maybe he is just a lonely person.

Thinking about him now, Janet decided she would like to see him.

After school the next day, she walked slowly up the hill toward Grandfather Turner’s house. She was anxious to see him but she was also a little nervous.

A few minutes later, she stood on the wide veranda knocking on the front door of the big house. No one came. But Bluey, Grandfather’s cattle dog, barked furiously. Janet looked around the side of the house and saw the dog tied up in the shade of the peppercorn tree. Perhaps Grandfather was in the back yard.

Janet walked around the side of the house. “What’s wrong Bluey?” she asked. “Don’t you remember me? I haven’t seen you for a long time. Where’s Grandfather?”

Just then Janet noticed that the dog was panting by his empty water bowl. “You’re thirsty, Bluey! Grandfather must be ill, for he’d never forget to give you water on a hot day like this.” She ran back to the house.

“Help!” A voice sounded very faint. From far away it came again, “Help!”

Across the yard, through the vegetable garden, and under the jacaranda tree Janet raced. And there, sprawled in the doorway of the chicken house, lay Grandfather.

“I tripped over the jacaranda root,” Grandfather moaned. “I meant to chop it out long ago. I think I broke my hip, and I’ve been lying here since early this morning when I came to feed the chickens. I thought help would never come.”

“Oh, Grandfather, I’m so sorry,” Janet comforted, “but I’ll go for help.” She ran into the house, found the telephone, and dialed the district hospital. Speaking quickly but carefully, Janet told them to send an ambulance to Mr. Turner’s house on the top of the hill on Murray Road.

A few days later when Grandfather was feeling much better, a small family gathered around his hospital bed. Grandfather held Janet’s hand. “I never was so glad to see anyone as I was to see you, young lady. But how did you happen to come just when I needed you?”

“I was lonesome to see you and thought I’d ask you to be friends with us,” Janet replied.

“For a long time I’ve been sorry that I’ve been so stubborn,” Grandfather admitted. “But I was too proud to say so. What happened the other day showed me that I need my family.”

“A church shouldn’t divide a family,” Grandfather continued, “so when I’m all better I’ll visit your church with you.”

“That would be great,” Janet said as she squeezed Grandfather’s hand.

“Our church unites families,” Daddy explained. “We’d like to tell you all about it. We had hoped to go to the New Zealand Temple next month, where we could be sealed to each other as a family, but we aren’t able to do so. Maybe if we wait another year, we’ll have another important member of our family going with us.” Daddy smiled at them. “That will certainly be worth waiting for!”

And Janet felt a warm glow of promise.