“Rosie’s Windows,” Ensign, June 1996, 20
My friend Rosie is always there when you need her. Whether I need help cleaning a house, decorating for a social, or performing any other kind of service, she always seems to be available. She never mentions having any prior commitments or plans that would keep her from giving assistance. In fact, sometimes Rosie calls me just to see if she can help with my latest endeavor, whatever it might be.
Not only is Rosie a blessing to me, but she is a blessing to our little branch. She is constantly giving people rides to church and participating in welfare projects, and she has been known to fix leaky plumbing and weatherproof homes for widows. Once, when a sister remarked that she wished the home she was moving into had a shower, Rosie made arrangements to install one. Just the other day, when she learned I was planning to make the 150-mile round-trip to the city and back on a Church-related errand, she offered to go instead. Rosie is the kind of person who always happens to be going your way.
So, when Rosie called and asked if I would help her wash some windows, I agreed even though washing windows is among my least favorite household chores. Rosie had been helping the Lee family fix up an older home next to theirs so that Sister Lee’s sister, who had recently been diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, could live near the family.
At first, as Rosie washed on the outside and I washed on the inside, I didn’t think the task was too bad. With each window, however, I got more tired of trying to maneuver the screens and storm windows up and down without pinching our fingers. Anytime I left a smudge, Rosie called my attention to it and we would wash the window again until it was clean and shiny inside and out. I found this concern strange because usually Rosie isn’t particular about details. As we moved to each window, I would think, Should we really be spending all our time washing these windows when other details in this old home could use our attention more? I thought about my own windows at home, wishing they were half as clean as these windows.
The morning soon passed away. As we worked on one of the last windows, Rosie said, “You know, I’ve heard it said that people who know they are about to die can see more than we do.” This remark made me think of the character Emily in the final act of Thornton Wilder’s play Our Town, who wanted to take just one more look to drink in the beauties of the earth before departing it. As we finished, instead of being distracted by thoughts of my own dirty windows at home, I thought about Sister Lee’s sister.
As we slid the last window into place, everything else seemed to fall into place as well. Rosie had taught me a lesson. While I had often rendered service only if it fit my busy schedule and with little thought about the receiver, Rosie performed her compassionate acts to meet the real need of the receiver. She felt a deep Christlike empathy for others.
Before I hurried on my way, Rosie said, “One more thing. Would you just help me move this chair?” Together we picked up a green overstuffed chair and placed it right next to one of the clean windows so that Sister Lee’s sister would be able to look out at the farm animals. With this one little detail, Rosie had again demonstrated to me the depth of her vision of service. I wish I could be more like her!