“Grandma’s Book of Life,” Tambuli, Mar. 1990, 32
While I was still a student, my grandmother fell down a flight of stairs, injuring herself so severely that her heart stopped three times and had to be restarted. She also suffered broken ribs, a broken hip, and a broken jaw. Worst of all, she lost almost all of her vision.
A few weeks later, my grandfather suddenly died of a heart attack. Why had she survived her accident only to face this? she wondered. She missed my grandfather and longed to be reunited with him. Fortunately, she had a good home teacher who helped her to feel secure and looked-after.
As time went on, Grandma began to feel that perhaps she had survived her fall for a reason, and she determined to find out what it was. She began to realize that once a person is gone, there isn’t much left on earth to remember him or her by. Many of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren—including myself—hadn’t known her and Grandpa well. And she wanted us to know our heritage. Neither she nor Grandpa had ever kept a journal, so she decided to write about her fifty years of marriage and of her service in the Church.
With this new goal, Grandma became excited about life again. Her only problem was how she would be able to do it. She was nearly blind, and she didn’t know how to type. She tried tape-recording her recollections, but her memory was failing just enough to make accuracy impossible.
About this time, Grandma phoned me and asked for help with her history. I had never had a very close relationship with my grandparents, and the last thing I wanted to do was to help with this project. Besides, I didn’t have the means to get to where she lived to help her.
But the Lord must have wanted me to help, because when I graduated from college, I found a job and an apartment near where my grandmother lived. Though I still didn’t really want to help write her history, I felt a family obligation to give her some of my time.
One day, I visited her and evaluated what needed to be done. She had a box full of photographs, tapes, letters, newspaper clippings, and certificates. To organize this would take months, maybe years!
But the Lord was listening to her prayers. The first week at my new job, I hurt my back and couldn’t work for some time. I decided to spend the time recovering from my injury to helping Grandma with her history.
I soon found that the fastest way to compile the material was to tape-record Grandma telling her story as she responded to questions I asked her. Though the history was soon progressing well, my injured back wasn’t, and after a while I was almost out of money. I decided that I would have to return to work; the history would have to wait.
About this time, my grandmother’s home teacher, John Minor, told me about a night when my grandmother had almost died. She had been very sick and had called him—not to ask him for a blessing, but to ask him to pray for her, which he did.
That night John had dreamed that he saw my grandfather, who said that he was going to call for Grandma. John had pleaded, “You can’t. She hasn’t finished her book yet!” The next day, John had checked on Grandma, and she was all right.
As John told me of his dream, I felt the Spirit soften my heart. I sensed the urgency of finishing my grandmother’s history. It would not be easy, but I determined to spend as much time as I could with her—as long as my limited funds lasted.
Now my concern was shared by other family members. They all helped to support me with food and with rent money while I wrote. In a pocket of some clothing I had my family send from home, I found some money that I had forgotten about. The Lord was blessing me and Grandma as we worked on the project together.
As I wrote, I began to better understand my grandparents. I learned about the persecution they had endured when they had joined the Church. I learned that soon after their marriage they had found out that they could not have children until Grandma underwent an operation to allow them that blessing. I felt the Spirit of Elijah turn my heart to my fathers, and I loved and appreciated my grandparents more than I ever had before.
After a few months of steady work, I gave the first chapters of the history to Grandma. She loved them!
A few weeks later, Grandma died.
After Grandma’s death, I finished her history and made it available to our family. I am grateful that through it, other descendants can come to love and understand my grandparents’ as I have.