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“Edith,” Ensign, Oct. 1980, 51


As a college student, I spent some time working in the Mutual program at the state training school for the mentally retarded in American Fork, Utah. I quickly learned to accept and love the “kids.” They were remarkable people whose depth of spirit transcended mental and physical disabilities.

Except for Edith—the victim of severe cerebral palsy. I found it very difficult to work with, or around, her—my reaction to her was so intense. She had to be strapped, hands and feet, to a metal frame to keep her from injuring herself. People told me she had a good mind, but it had taken the state workers nearly forty years to discover the depth of her mind at all, it was trapped in such a cruelly crippled body. The workers had finally taught her to speak, though I still could not understand her. I wondered why she was left here for such a long time, lingering in misery.

One day I happened to attend a fast and testimony meeting at the school. At the very end of the meeting, Edith asked to speak. I wondered why they allowed her to take up time when no one could understand what she said. Then Edith spoke, clearly enough so that even I could understand her. She said, “I love life!”

As I caught my breath, I heard her say, “And I love my Heavenly Father!” I bowed my head and wept.

When Edith finished her testimony, the “kids” sang the song that had fast become their favorite, “I am a child of God, and he has sent me here. …” Each time I have heard it since, I have remembered Edith and the beautiful lesson she taught me. Susan H. Aylworth, Chico, California.