Story #1 Jimmer Finds Freedom
Last week, before we put Jimmer on a plane and sent him out West, he escaped from our yard. I didn't know this because I was at church with my family. When we came home we noticed that Jimmer was gone. This had never happened before. We looked everywhere and the girls finally found him in our neighbor's fenced backyard. There was a message on the answering machine from my neighbor saying that Jimmer was running around free as a teen with a sports car and so she put him in her backyard to keep him safe until we got home.
Story #2 A Stranger Makes a Sacrifice
It takes planning, coordination, experience and a little bit of pixie dust to work out the logistics of getting four kids to their various after school activities. On Tuesdays I had artfully scheduled Naomi and Dan to be at gymnastics while Sophie and Syrena were at piano. This worked beautifully for six weeks, but then the next term of gymnastics began and I forgot to sign up Naomi. By the time I remembered it was past the deadline and I was too late. Her spot had been taken. So now, while Sophie, Syrena and Dan were all occupied, Naomi had nothing. I lamented on this problem to the nearest listening ear: another mother at gymnastics who had a daughter in Naomi's class. She listened to my plight sympathetiacally. Then she said something I would have never expected. She said, "Why doesn't she just take my daughter's place? Naomi can have her Tuesday spot and I'll just bring my daughter on Mondays instead."
Arrangements were made and Naomi got back into the class.
Story #3 Jimmer Finds Freedom Again
One morning I let Jimmer outside to use the bathroom and run around while I took a shower. When I got out of the shower I dressed, put on my make up, and went to the kitchen to start cleaning up. It was then that I noticed that Jimmer was inside the laundry room with the gate shut (that is where he normally stays when he is inside the house). I looked at him and he looked at me. How did you get in here? I wondered. I couldn't figure it out. I shrugged it off and spent the rest of the morning calculating how old I would be before Alzheimer's completely took over my brain. The next day my neighbor (a different neighbor than the one in the story above) mentioned, "Did you know that Jimmer got out yesterday and was running around? I caught him and brought him up to your door. I rang the doorbell but no one answered, so I just took him inside and put him in your laundry room. I didn't want to put him in the back yard because I was afraid he would go over his invisible fence line and get zapped, so I just brought him in the house. I hope that was okay."
Story #4 The Woman Wearing Slippers in the Rain
This story happend this morning.
I heaved my heavy grocery cart out of Wal-Mart with my three-year-old by my side and my baby in his car-seat, buried in the shopping cart under a Mt. Kilimanjaro of groceries. It was raining cold rain on my shoulders and the wind kicked around my new, unfortunately-short haircut. We got to my van and all of the sudden a woman wearing bedroom slippers jumps out of a white truck. "Let me help you!" she says in her Southern drawl. "I'm just here waitin for my mama to get out of the store and I saw you with yer babies and I thought ya'll could use some help." She loaded all of my groceries in my trunk while I buckled in the boys. I thanked her and she disappeared back into her truck.
The words HELP ME must be tatooed on my forehead. I can't even tell you all the times people have ridden their white horse (or jumped out of their white trucks) and come to my aid. I think I am a fairly capable person and I get by just fine most of the time on my own. Surely I would have found a way out of all the above scenarios on my own. Those people didn't have to help me, nor did I ask them to. But they saw my predicament and they helped me. Keep this in mind while I tell the last story.
Story #4 Syrena is Polite
The other day my daughter Syrena went to a playdate to a neighbor's house. Later the neighbor told me over the phone how polite Syrena had been at her home. She said that her elderly parents were over and that Syrena had been very respectful to them. I relayed this message to Syrena, telling her how grateful I was that she had been kind and that I received such a good report. I opened my mouth to say one thing more but I stopped myself.
What I was going to tell her was: "it is good that you were kind because they know we are Mormon and we need to be a good example."
Now, for those of you who are reading this blog that aren't Mormon I don't think I need to explain the bad press Mormons get for being a little peculiar. Because of the decades of bad publicity we often feel the need to impress upon the world that we are not lunatics. So telling a child, "you need to be a good example because you are Mormon," is not unusual.
But I stopped myself because I realized I didn't want Syrena to be good because she is Mormon. I wanted her to be good because she is human.
I don't want Syrena to turn on and off her goodness. She shouldn't have a motive for being good. She should alwasy be good. And we shouldn't be trying to help others just to show that Mormons are good people. None of the people who helped me in the above stories were Mormon. They weren't proving anything and they didn't have a cause. There were not trying to share their religion with me or trying to make a statement or be an example of anything. They were just being kind. They saw a need and they took action without hesitation.
My dad used to say "People are people before they are Mormon." You could also say that people are people before they are police officers or Wal-Mart cashiers or semi-truck drivers or perhaps even congressmen.
Our duty is not to be kind so others think we are good. Our duty is to be kind because kindness is good.
And that is all I have to say about that.