Primary Care

    “Primary Care,” Ensign, Apr. 1989, 62–63

    Primary Care

    As I started down the street, one hand pulling my two children in a wagon and the other balancing a plate of cookies, I wondered why I was even trying to make this visit. I already had my hands full with the seven squirming four-year-olds who came to my Primary class each week. Soliciting one more seemed unnecessary.

    However, the Primary president had said that this particular little boy had never been to Primary and needed it perhaps more than any other child on the roll. Kevin had been afflicted with leukemia since the age of two. He was the only child of a less-active couple in the ward.

    An attractive young woman in her late twenties answered my knock. I smiled and said, “Hi, Jill. I’m Kevin’s new Primary teacher. I live down the street and thought I’d come and get acquainted with you and Kevin.”

    “Won’t you come in?” she asked warmly as she opened the screen door. “What cute children you have!” she exclaimed as she lifted my baby from the wagon and entered the house.

    I took three-year-old Randy’s hand and followed her. Jill was so friendly that I felt completely at ease. From the beginning we talked away like old friends.

    “Aren’t you lucky to have a baby,” she said. “John and I want another one, but so far, no luck.”

    Just then, Kevin, a plump, healthy-looking, four-year-old with curly red hair, rushed in. I introduced myself and gave him the cookies I had almost forgotten that I had.

    He shared one with Randy, and they both went outside to play while Jill and I talked.

    “I remember going to Primary as a child,” Jill said. “I really enjoyed going, and I especially remember singing. As a child I called it ’singing church.’”

    I noticed a piano in the corner of the room and asked, “Do you play?”

    “A little,” she said. “I’m not very good, but I enjoy trying. I even have an old Primary songbook.”

    I started to offer to come over regularly to give Kevin the Primary lesson, but Jill stopped me.

    “Oh no,” she said. “The doctor says Kevin should go out more and be around children so he will be ready for school next year.”

    I then asked, “May I come and pick Kevin up for Primary?”

    Jill replied, “I would rather come and stay with him for the first time, if that’s okay.”

    I nodded, and we headed for the backyard.

    “See you at Primary, Kevin,” I called.

    But several weeks passed with no sign of Kevin. I called his home several times; there was no answer. I walked by the house often, but no one was ever there. Then one day I learned that Kevin was in the hospital and that Jill was keeping a constant vigil at his bedside.

    I went to the hospital that night and found Jill sitting beside Kevin. I could tell she was glad to see me.

    “I just heard about Kevin. Is there anything I can do?” I asked, as I glanced down at Kevin’s now-frail little body. A feeling of love and compassion enveloped me, and I wanted to take him into my arms and hold him.

    This was the third time Kevin had been so seriously ill. I didn’t know how his parents had been able to deal with such torment. Jill’s strength and endurance seemed to sustain the whole family. She never left Kevin alone and tried to make every moment pleasant for him. They had learned to live one day at a time.

    One day, when Kevin was improving, I took a hand puppet I had used in a Primary lesson to the hospital with me. Kevin enjoyed the story and the puppet so much that I asked Jill if I could come every week before Primary to give him the lesson.

    “Would you really?” Jill exclaimed. “I’m sure Kevin would enjoy that.”

    I soon came to love Kevin. His smile when he saw me and his eagerness for the gospel touched me deeply. He listened intently to the stories, and he liked to hear me sing “Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam” and “Give, Said the Little Stream.”

    The last time I went to the hospital to teach Kevin, the lesson was on prayer. Kevin seemed to understand this lesson better than I did. I realized that he had taught me that God knows our needs and answers our prayers in wisdom if we put our trust in him. Within a week, Kevin slipped into a coma and died.

    I also learned from Jill’s strength as she faced the loss of her son. I admired her attitude and courage. She and John found comfort among Church members and in Church activities, and it wasn’t long before they realized the blessings that come from full activity in the Church.

    Jill accepted a call to be the Primary organist, and we became even closer friends as we served together. One morning I went over to pick her up to go to a meeting. I knocked, then waited for several minutes. Finally she answered, still wearing her housecoat, her hair tousled and her face looking very pale. I had never seen her looking this way before.

    “Jill, what’s the matter?” I asked. “Are you sick?”

    “Yes,” she said, smiling broadly. “I have morning sickness. Isn’t it wonderful?”

    Illustrated by Jeff Martin