Singing to Grandmother
October 2014

“Singing to Grandmother,” Ensign, October 2014, 70

Singing to Grandmother

Bethany Thiemann Roper, Idaho, USA

young woman with grandmother

While I was away at college, my mother called late one Friday night and said, “It’s time to come home. Your grandmother is weak, and I doubt she will be with us much longer.” My grandmother had been living with our family for the past year because she was too sick to live on her own. I knew her time on earth was drawing to an end, but I was not ready for my mother’s words.

I sped toward home from college and recalled my childhood visits to my grandmother’s home—the stories she had told, the family treasures she had shown me, and the Spirit I had felt when I was with her. As I pulled up to our family’s house, the flood of memories ceased and my mind returned to reality.

I entered my grandmother’s bedroom and noticed that she no longer had hope in her eyes. Her face was gaunt, fearful, full of pain. She didn’t acknowledge my presence; even when I held her hand she continued looking sadly at the ceiling. As I wondered how to express my love for her, a prompting came to my mind: “Sing.” I thought, “Sing? What can I sing at a time like this? I can’t sing.” But the thought came again: “Sing a hymn.”

I hesitated, feeling inadequate to sing, but began to hum “Come, Come, Ye Saints” (Hymns, no. 30). Grandma turned and acknowledged my presence. I looked at her and began singing. She squeezed my hand, and tears welled up in her eyes while I sang every hymn and Primary song I could remember. Although I was not used to singing in front of anyone, I soon was singing so loudly that my family came to see what was happening. Immediately noticing the changed look in my grandmother’s eyes, they gathered hymnbooks and joined me. My sister played the piano in the next room. We could see that my grandmother felt comforted.

My testimony of the influence of the hymns was strengthened that day as I saw my grandmother’s countenance transform. I now know that music can change lives, soften hearts, and give hope to those in need.