“Grandma’s Temple Mission,” Friend, May 1993, 3
Kim listened as her grandmother told the family about her mission call. “I’m going to work in the Denver Temple. I’ll be an ordinance worker there.”
Denver! It was over fifteen hundred miles away. Kim had learned that in her fourth grade geography class. “Why do you have to go there?” she asked.
Grandma turned to her. “I don’t have to go there, Kimmy. I want to. That’s where the Lord needs me.”
“But we need you here.”
Grandma smiled. “I’m glad that you want me to stay. But it’s time I started getting on with my life again. Ever since your grandpa died, …” She didn’t finish, and Kim watched as tears rolled down Grandma’s cheeks.
Kim’s grandfather had died the year before. Since then, her grandmother didn’t smile as much as she used to. And when she did smile, the smile didn’t reach her eyes. It stayed right on her lips as if it was too tired to stretch any farther. Kim remembered when her grandmother was always smiling. Her eyes crinkled at the corners, sending little lines to turn up at the edges.
“Laugh lines,” Grandpa had called them. He had liked to tease Grandma, and he’d laughed when her cheeks turned rosy with embarrassment. Grandma pretended she was mad at him, but Kim knew she wasn’t.
When Grandpa died, things changed. Grandma came to live with Kim’s family, but she didn’t bustle around as she had before. Mostly she sat by the window, staring out. Once when Kim asked her what she was looking at, Grandma smiled one of her half-smiles and said, “I’m remembering, child,” and Kim understood that Grandma was remembering Grandpa.
But now Grandma was going away. “Why does it have to be the Denver Temple? Can’t you serve right here in the Washington Temple?”
“The Lord has called me to Denver,” Grandma said simply.
Grandma spent the next two weeks saying good-bye to old friends. The Saturday she was due to leave, Kim stayed in her bedroom, refusing to go to the airport with the rest of her family. “I can’t,” she told Mother. “I don’t want to see Grandma leave. I’ll miss her.”
“I’ll miss her, too,” her mother said, “but I’m glad that she’s going to serve a mission. Do you remember how happy Grandma was when she cooked Christmas dinner for us?”
Kim nodded, puzzled. What did Christmas dinner have to do with Grandma serving a mission?
“Grandma was happy then because she was serving others. Do you remember how much she enjoyed baby-sitting your cousin Elizabeth when Aunt Carol had to go to the hospital?”
Again Kim nodded. She was beginning to understand. Grandma was happy when she was serving others. “When Grandpa died, did Grandma stop being happy because she couldn’t take care of him anymore?”
“That’s part of it,” Mother said. “She loved Grandpa very much. When he died, I think she felt empty inside. Grandma is happier now because she has a chance to serve someone else. Someone very special.”
Kim knew who that someone was. “Jesus Christ.”
“That’s right. Can’t you be happy for her too?”
Kim thought about that. Of course she wanted Grandma to be happy. Hadn’t Kim been the one to spend hours with Grandma right after Grandpa died so that she wouldn’t be lonely? But Kim also remembered all the times Grandma had sat in her rocking chair, just rocking back and forth, her eyes sad. “Wait, Mom. I have to change my clothes. I want to go to the airport too.”
People scurried through the airport to catch their planes. Kim kept a tight hold on Grandma’s hand. At the gate where Grandma’s plane waited, Kim squeezed her hand even more tightly. “I’m going to miss you, Grandma,” she said, trying hard not to cry.
Grandma bent down to kiss Kim’s cheek. “I’m going to miss you too.”
“I’ll write every week,” Kim promised.
“Me too,” Grandma said, brushing away a tear.
Kim reached up to hug Grandma. “I’m happy you’re going to serve a mission.”
“Thank you, my little Kimmy.”
Kim’s mother, then her father and little brother hugged Grandma.
Kim watched as her grandmother boarded the plane. That night, Kim started a letter:
“I’m going to tell all my friends that you’re serving a mission in the Denver Temple. I’m very proud of you. …”