Bless You, Brother Fish


During the winter of my 13th year, a young seminary teacher new to our town was called to serve as our deacons quorum adviser. His name was Rex Reeve, Jr. He was the kind of guy that boys could look up to and admire. He had a lovely young wife, two or three young children, and had been a football All-American in high school. Additionally, he was fun to be around, and we all liked him a lot.

Brother Reeve discovered that a widow who lived near the church often went all winter without any snow being shoveled from her sidewalks or driveway, except when family members came to visit from the city. In our presidency meeting we discussed this circumstance and Brother Reeve helped us to understand that we should shovel her sidewalk, porch, and driveway.

So as part of our quorum responsibilities, we went regularly to Sister Jones’s home, and armed with shovels, brooms, and scoops, we cleaned the snow and ice from her porch, sidewalk, and driveway. Brother Reeve insisted that we leave them completely free of snow and ice.

Because I thought I had better things to do (like snowball fight), I resented a little the service we had to perform for this sister. Not one time did she come outside to thank us or offer us brownies or cookies or hot chocolate. I felt it was a real waste of time. Brother Reeve held out that we were storing up blessings in heaven. I personally found that hard to believe.

Then something happened that changed my attitude. In testimony meeting during April, this sister stood up from the second or third row in the chapel, and turned around to face the majority of the congregation. With all the faith her heart could muster, she said to our ward, “I want to stand on my feet today and thank God publicly for seven special young bearers of the priesthood.” My heart stood still.

“Every Sunday morning this entire winter, they have cleaned my porch, sidewalk, and driveway of the snow and ice that has accumulated during the week, and I shall be eternally grateful for them and their leader. This is the first time since my husband died that I have had a winter of clean walkways, and that has been many years.”

She paused and wiped a tear from her wrinkled face. Then pointing at each one of us boys individually, she said, “Thank you Brother Ryan, bless you Brother Green, may God bless you Brother Roth, thank you kindly Brother Gillette, bless you Brother Fish,” and so on through all seven of us and our quorum adviser, who had taught us the principle of service for no reason except to serve.

At her funeral several years later, a family member told how much she loved the ward and spoke of “the winter the deacons had kept Mother snow-free.” I determined that day that I would try to do the same for others the rest of my life so that I could feel the same joy every week that I had felt when an elderly sister stood in testimony meeting and said to me, pointing with a crooked finger, “Bless you, Brother Fish.”

[illustration] Illustrated by Brent Christison