“The Sun on My Face,” Ensign, Oct. 1995, 68–69
When she was twenty-nine, Thurza Ann McKean, who goes by the nickname Bobbie, discovered she had multiple sclerosis. At the time, her five daughters—Kimberlie, Laurie, Jennifer, Julie, and Heidi—ranged in age from six months to nine years.
Over the years, the symptoms of Sister McKean’s disease came and went, with periods of partial recovery interrupted by increasingly worse relapses. She experienced lack of coordination, tremors, numbness and tingling, double and blurred vision, temporary blindness in one eye, lack of taste, slurring of her speech, loss of equilibrium, and partial and complete paralysis.
“It was hard,” she admits. “I cried when I couldn’t hold a book or read or steady my hand enough to draw. Art is my love.”
As her daughters grew older, Sister McKean organized them and delegated responsibilities so that the family could remain independent and self-reliant. Together they enjoyed refinishing antique furniture, baking, and making Christmas cards. At one point Sister McKean entered a national wheelchair-decorating contest and won a trip to Washington, D.C.
Eventually, however, she could no longer help with household tasks or participate in most projects. One day Laurie heard her mother say, “I’m useless!”
“Mom,” Laurie replied, “if you do nothing but listen to us, you’re the best mother ever. You guide us with your suggestions. Because of you we will be wonderful wives and mothers.”
Almost sixty now, Sister McKean cheers, encourages, and uplifts other patients at the Bennion Care Center in Taylorsville, Utah. “My disease has helped me appreciate the simple things of life,” she says. “I love warm showers, stars in the sky, the sun on my face, and my family. If I ever start to feel that life doesn’t count, I think of my thirteen grandchildren and smile.”—Pam Taylor, Salt Lake City, Utah