“A Forever Family,” Ensign, July 2013, 71
When I was 19, I made one last visit to my grandparents before leaving on a three-month humanitarian trip to Ecuador. My grandfather had moved to an assisted-living center because his health was declining. He suffered from dementia along with other physical ailments incident to old age.
As my family and I entered the assisted-living facility, I was sullen, knowing that this visit with my grandfather would most likely be my last. I knew he would pass away while I was gone, and I felt guilty leaving.
Just before we entered his room, a staff member had transferred my grandfather to a wheelchair. We wheeled him into the facility’s common area. My mother was talking to one of the staff members while my 16-year-old sister and I talked to our grandfather.
He was not himself. The decline in his mental state was evident, and he seemed confused. When we asked him how many grandchildren he had, he answered incorrectly. Then we lovingly teased him as we made a big deal about how many he actually had.
My heart ached for him. But then, amid his confusion and in the middle of answering our questions inaccurately, my grandfather suddenly said, “A forever family.”
I was shocked. A nearby staff member didn’t understand what he had said, but my sister and I looked at each other. We had both heard him clearly. He then repeated a second time, “A forever family.” This time our mother also heard him.
I don’t recall anything else about our visit that day. All I know is that as we walked out of the care center, I sobbed with sorrow and joy—sorrow for the man we were leaving behind and whom I would not see again in this life and joy for the tender mercy of those simple words and the peace they left in my heart.
I know that despite my grandfather’s state of mind, he was able to share one last time his strong conviction and knowledge that families are forever.
I soon left on my humanitarian trip. When news came of my grandfather’s passing a week before my return, I was at peace. I knew, and I still know, that one day I will see him again. Thanks to temple ordinances, families are forever.