The Elder's Quorum move that left a mark.


NeuroTypical

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In another thread, @Just_A_Guy had this to say.

6 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

 I am confident that The Church would not let your aunt go hungry or naked or homeless or without critical medical care.  But those needs would be administered through the standard Church programs that are designed to help anyone in her situation, regardless of who their employer is or has been—and under current Church practice that means The Church’s ward-level welfare program and not a DMBA investment account or pension fund.

I have a recent personal story on the subject, and thought it best to start a new thread.

It was a standard EQ move - show up at this address Saturday morning, we're helping Sister X move.  So I show up with my gloves, my truck, and my smiling face.  It looks to be one of "those" homes - more mess than stuff, and hard to tell which is which.  I see a few of the regulars there, and the Relief Society has been helping get things cleaned and organized.  I guess Friday a lot of it got done, but they ran out of trash bags and boxes, so this was part 2. 

There are three piles of stuff in the yard.  A passing Elder says "apparently that's stuff going with her, that's stuff to donate, and that's trash".  He looks and sounds a little confused.  As I walk through the home, I see most of the rooms are mostly empty, just leftover debris and dusty knick-knacks.  My buddy, who I don't think has ever missed a service project, walks by with a bag.  "This one is different - it's not a move, it's an eviction.  She's in there," he says, gesturing with his head as he moves past me.  I walk into the last room, and it takes a while to see it all and process it all.  Sister X is on a hospital bed.  Ok, got it.  Sister X is older, obese, and has no legs.  Oh.  I wonder if diabetes took them.  Sister X is wearing her garment tops, and has on her bed an old crusty dog with  a very long tongue hanging out of his mouth.  There are 4 Elders in the room and one Relief Society sister, all of them circling the bed, looking at Sister X, and nobody is saying anything.   The room is full of stuff - it's very crowded in there.  Sister X looks sad, maybe also stubborn?  Or defiant?  In the awkward silence, I think "Wait, what did he mean, 'this is an eviction'?"

Over the next 5 minutes or so, I learn an awful lot more as the other Elders and I wander around the house trying to find out how to be useful.

Sister X's husband died last year.  That's right - I knew the name sounded familiar - it was announced over the pulpit.  Hubby's income had ended when he did, Sister X's Social Security and Medicare and whatnot basically paid for the hospital bed and nursing visits, and dang little else.  So rent stopped getting paid a long time ago, and the landowner was understanding, then patient, then less patient, then tried to help her find a place to move, then eventually began legal eviction proceedings.  This was the tail end of the months-long eviction process. 

The Relief Society sister was her ministering sister, and seemed to be the only one among us that knew what was going on.  And she knew very little - only what Sister X was saying.  From the RS sister, I learn that "they" (she didn't know who 'they' were) were sending her to a hospital/hospice place somewhere.  The ambulance had shown up for her yesterday, but she had refused to get on it.  Sister X was demanding all her stuff be moved to her new home, the ambulance people just showed up for her, and wouldn't even take the dog.  

The Relief Society sister pulled strength, wisdom, and maturity from somewhere, and started making decisions.  She allowed us guys to finally swing into action.  She ran every item past Sister X, and negotiated an answer about keep/donate/trash.  It was difficult, because to Sister X, most of it was "keep".

"I don't think the ambulance will let you take that with you."
"Well, put it in the keep pile, and they can bring it to me later."

"Ok, this is a box of utility bills from 2016.  I'm sure we don't need those any more, right?"
"Better keep them."   "Are you sure?  That's a lot of years ago.  How about we throw them away?"  "Well, ok.  But keep the box."

"What do you have there, elder?  3 suits.   Do you recognize these suits X?"
"Let me see them.  I don't know what those are."

Eventually, the "donate" and "trash" piles become one pile, and the "keep" pile is the new "donate".  Sister X tells us "they" will be back tomorrow with a trailer.  At this point, our best guess is that "they" are the landlord, and she will never see any of this stuff again.

I ask, and am told Sister X has no family, just "one sister that she hasn't seen in years and refuses to call".  As I think about it, I remember her last name being talked about in bishopric and welfare meetings, like 3 bishops ago when I was an Executive Secretary.  Everyone seemed worried about them in those meetings. 

Sister X is utterly alone, with nobody to advocate for her besides the government and the church.  And we (the Elders and RS sister), are "the church" - the only church representatives in her life, besides the bishop.  And the bishop's direction is to help her move.  And our job is to get her ready for this ambulance ride to somewhere.  She's obviously becoming a ward of the state - none of us can imagine anything else is happening here.

Our job is done.  The other Elders have all disappeared.  Our angel/saint of a Relief Society sister, has truly worked a miracle during the process, talking Sister X down to one box of things, bags of adult diapers and medical supplies, and her dog.  She's been putting a positive spin on the ambulance ride and new home.  She has Sister X agreeing to just taking things one step at a time, with the next step being her upcoming ambulance ride. 

Sister X's softening of her attitude, is the closest thing to a legitimate miracle I've seen in the last decade.  The spirit is present in that bedroom, and it is testifying of the humanity, the divine nature of Sister X's soul.  And it's heart-wrenching, it hurts.  Because in this case, my job/the church's job, is to divest her of the rest of her earthly belongings, and get her willing to go without a fight into whatever custody/care the state has in store.  And get the address of where she ends up, so we can move her records, so her new ward will know of her existence, and hopefully visit/fellowship her.

There's nothing left to say or do.  I say "can I say goodbye to your dog?", and Sister X and I talk for a minute about the dog.  Dog seems pretty laid back.  I hope Sister X gets to keep him.  I get to share a little with Sister X just a little, one human soul connecting to another, over a crusty old dog.

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I did my best, Lord.  I don't know what else I could have done.  Besides maybe tell her story, in hopes it might help motivate someone to change something about their lives.

 

 

Edited by NeuroTypical
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Great story @NeuroTypical! I think it paints well the transition from focusing on a problem to a person that inevitably happens when we take a Christlike approach to dealing with unpleasant situations. Parts of the story made me recall past experiences of my own, some of which I could have handled better or at least spent more of my effort addressing the needs that can't be seen with the eye.

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Mostly as we think and evaluate life; we think of the positive things that are associated with life but the reality is that life as we know it will eventually end and in almost all cases the end is frightening and difficult.   Sometimes the ending sequence of life tragically takes place over months or even years and involves a lot of suffering (mental, physical and spiritual); both for the individual and their care givers.   I had over 40 aunts and uncles (over 100 first cousins).  Currently all that are left are two aunts that are not physically doing well.  I have seen @NeuroTypical epoch story play out many times.  Sometimes being handled by ward families, sometimes by direct families and sometime by both.  For the parents of my wife and my self; their end of life struggles were intended to be handled exclusively by family but lots of others somehow showed up - and many of the others was beyond the ward.

The last year for my father (the first of mine and my wife's parents to pass) - he required 24-7 care.  I have six siblings and we each took a day to see for his needs.  I will not go into all the details with my father except for one regret.  I thought it was important for my father to eat properly (he wanted mostly ice-cream) and make sure he took all his meds - he did not want to take any of them and did all kinds of tricks to make me believe he had taken them when he hadn't.  My regret is that I should have fed him his ice-cream and skipped his meds as per his request - my efforts may have prolonged the inevitable but other than that - did not hardly change anything.  Especially it did not add any more comfort or joy to his last days. 

The sad truth is that if someone does not die quickly from an accident or sudden illness - they will endure a very sad, difficult and extremely dependent phase of their life cycle.  I am old enough to see the beginnings of this in my own life as control over "things" seems to be slipping a little (more so with some of my and my wife's siblings).  The most difficult part of this is that very few prepare ourselves for this phase of our life - leaving the greater burden to others.  The greatest problem are attachments to things that one can no longer care for by themselves (which includes beloved pets).  I think the most difficult part of this is for the suffer to give up stuff that can no longer be properly cared for - and I include in stuff the mental capacity to make rational decisions - which means someone else must make such decisions and somehow convince (or not) that things will be best under the circumstances.

Because of improved health care many lives are being extended longer into this end of life phase.  I believe this is both a good and a bad thing and something we will see a lot more of in the coming years.  As I have pondered this circumstance I have only become more uncertain of solutions - especially for myself.  And I wonder if some humanitarian efforts are only making matters worse - both for those in such circumstance and those providing compassionate service.

I think, for myself, the most difficult issue to resolve is what will become of my library collection of books and papers.  For years I have collected and written notes in the collection and there is no one that cares.  It seems that we all have stuff that we think is valuable to ourselves that just do not mean the same to others - they have their own stuff to worry about.

I guess the point of my post is that the great lesson of life is such that whatever we do not plan for ourselves will be left to others or not at all.

 

The Traveler

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Last January before the shutdowns and quarantine and everything started, I went to lunch with a group of elderly cardiac patients and their spouses.  We were all talking about the coming scary coronavirus.  Opinion was split around the table, and the two opinions were very interesting.  About half the people said ok, they'd wash their hands and stay home more and whatnot.  The other half said they weren't going to do a dang thing differently.  The entire table was basically looking at all the things that might kill them, and COVID was just another possibility.  And the general consensus was that a short illness where you cough yourself to death in a week or so, was a heck of a lot more attractive than many other options faced by these folks.

After my experience above, and watching my mom take a decade to waste away and die from Multiple Sclerosis, I understand their reasoning.

Edited by NeuroTypical
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Thank for sharing.  Since I joined the Church, I've always taken my children on every service project I've done.  We've laughed, cried, and learned.   I remember one particularly good lesson where we were helping someone move from her home after a divorce.   

We showed up and the house was destroyed.  Lots of pets, smelled horrible, and hadn't been cleaned in years.  It was very disgusting.   Nothing was packed, and the only people that showed up to help were her ministering brother, the bishop, and my boys and I.  She sat on the porch without helping, and the entire time we packed and loaded her things she swore at us for being church members, criticized the Church, smoked, and was just being a pretty crappy person to those of us that helped.   
 

At more than one point I asked her to stop swearing in front of my children, and my boys asked why we were helping her.  It was a great opportunity for me to share the nature of service, why we serve, and blessings.   To this day when one of my boys complains about doing something, they will bring up that day and talk about how we own our attitudes and the effect we can have on others through cheer and good-tidings when confronted with grumpiness and bad behavior.

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3 hours ago, Grunt said:

To this day when one of my boys complains about doing something, they will bring up that day and talk about how we own our attitudes and the effect we can have on others through cheer and good-tidings when confronted with grumpiness and bad behavior.

Just like forgiving others all the other Christlike virtues are sanctifying and ennobling in a way wholely independent of the response from others. This is where I fall short at times, choosing how to act or not act based on perceived response of others rather than making a choice purely because it is the right thing to do. Great story @Grunt.

Edit: though I will say it does make it a little tricky when trying to help people be accountable or not enabling them in bad decisions. But if ever in doubt error on the side of compassion.

Edited by laronius
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14 minutes ago, laronius said:

Edit: though I will say it does make it a little tricky when trying to help people be accountable or not enabling them in bad decisions. But if ever in doubt error on the side of compassion.

We had a discussion about this on the way home.   We also talked about why she might behave that way.   Kids aren't intellectually mature, but they are smarter than we often give them credit for.   

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  • 1 month later...

I am grateful to all for sharing. It is good to know that I am not alone in experiencing such traumatic situations. It is the kind of thing where one does the best that one can, and then lay the rest at the feet of Christ, comforted in the faith and hope that all will be made right and whole in the end by the Savior. Besides, when any of us pass to the other side, we leave behind all our material possessions. For some of us, though, that occurs prior to death. Even still, "It is well."

Thanks, Wade

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On 11/4/2021 at 9:41 AM, Traveler said:

 

I think, for myself, the most difficult issue to resolve is what will become of my library collection of books and papers.  For years I have collected and written notes in the collection and there is no one that cares.  It seems that we all have stuff that we think is valuable to ourselves that just do not mean the same to others - they have their own stuff to worry about.

I guess the point of my post is that the great lesson of life is such that whatever we do not plan for ourselves will be left to others or not at all.

 

The Traveler

This reminded me of my oldest sister. For most of her life she has collected magazine articles and other papers that has a great deal of meaning to her. She spends hours going over her papers. I talked to her younger daughter and she said when her mother dies she just wants to throw it all away. The daughter said,  “I hate those papers! Mom would spend so much time on them. I feel like it took her away from me. Even now if I ask her to meet me for lunch, she will say “no, I don’t have time. I’m working on my papers.” I think her three other children will agree. And the sad thing, those papers aren’t organized in any order. No one is going to want to go through them to see if there’s articles that are worthwhile. A lot of the articles are just recipes that she thought looked good.

As my husband and I are getting older I have come to realize that we need to get rid of a lot of our stuff.  We both tend to save everything thinking there might be a use for it sometime in the future. If we died tomorrow, I feel bad for my kids who will have to go through all our stuff. Why in the world haven’t I donated more clothing to DI or Goodwill that no longer fits me? Same thing for appliances that we no longer use. Both hubby and I grew up with parents who lived through The Depression, and it was instilled in us to not throw anything away. We might “need it for when times get hard.”  I can still remember my mother telling me about prophecies of the last days “when even a rag will be scarce”. I believe in being prepared, but I have gone overboard. I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder, but I definitely have too much stuff.

Edited by classylady
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5 hours ago, classylady said:

This reminded me of my oldest sister. For most of her life she has collected magazine articles and other papers that has a great deal of meaning to her. She spends hours going over her papers. I talked to her younger daughter and she said when her mother dies she just wants to throw it all away. The daughter said,  “I hate those papers! Mom would spend so much time on them. I feel like it took her away from me. Even now if I ask her to meet me for lunch, she will say “no, I don’t have time. I’m working on my papers.” I think her three other children will agree. And the sad thing, those papers aren’t organized in any order. No one is going to want to go through them to see if there’s articles that are worthwhile. A lot of the articles are just recipes that she thought looked good.

As my husband and I are getting older I have come to realize that we need to get rid of a lot of our stuff.  We both tend to save everything thinking there might be a use for it sometime in the future. If we died tomorrow, I feel bad for my kids who will have to go through all our stuff. Why in the world haven’t I donated more clothing to DI or Goodwill that no longer fits me? Same thing for appliances that we no longer use. Both hubby and I grew up with parents who lived through The Depression, and it was instilled in us to not throw anything away. We might “need it for when times get hard.”  I can still remember my mother telling me about prophecies of the last days “when even a rag will be scarce”. I believe in being prepared, but I have gone overboard. I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder, but I definitely have too much stuff.

My book and papers were gathered for me.  They are things I reference.  If I lost them in a fire or whatever I would not be concerned.  There is noting more important to me than people.  Though I will likely draw ire - as much as I like pets - there is no animal (pet) that is more important to me than people.  

However, here is a thought.  A lot of what is recorded in books, articles and various papers is fluff.  Read anything older than 10 years and see what has changed since.  Now go back and read talks given in Conference from 10 years ago or even articles in the Church magazine.  I keep records of my own opinions from times past to see how in touch I really am and how my thinking evolves.

 

The Traveler

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10 hours ago, classylady said:

This reminded me of my oldest sister. For most of her life she has collected magazine articles and other papers that has a great deal of meaning to her. She spends hours going over her papers. I talked to her younger daughter and she said when her mother dies she just wants to throw it all away. The daughter said,  “I hate those papers! Mom would spend so much time on them. I feel like it took her away from me. Even now if I ask her to meet me for lunch, she will say “no, I don’t have time. I’m working on my papers.” I think her three other children will agree. And the sad thing, those papers aren’t organized in any order. No one is going to want to go through them to see if there’s articles that are worthwhile. A lot of the articles are just recipes that she thought looked good.

As my husband and I are getting older I have come to realize that we need to get rid of a lot of our stuff.  We both tend to save everything thinking there might be a use for it sometime in the future. If we died tomorrow, I feel bad for my kids who will have to go through all our stuff. Why in the world haven’t I donated more clothing to DI or Goodwill that no longer fits me? Same thing for appliances that we no longer use. Both hubby and I grew up with parents who lived through The Depression, and it was instilled in us to not throw anything away. We might “need it for when times get hard.”  I can still remember my mother telling me about prophecies of the last days “when even a rag will be scarce”. I believe in being prepared, but I have gone overboard. I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder, but I definitely have too much stuff.

I'm writing this as I take a short break from packing and tidying. The best way to reduce clutter is to move house, as I will be doing in the next two days. I've just spent 45 minutes going through some papers that I somehow managed to retain from when I was a stake clerk. In the same pile of papers was an affidavit from another country rom 2006 saying that we were the parents of a child that I'd forgotten about (I don't know the story but I do know the child is now dead. Her biological mother was our niece), about ten copies of my deceased brother's will and tax papers going back to 1993. Some of that stuff will stay (the papers related to the will) the clerical papers will be shredded, some of will be thrown in the trash and some will come with me to our new house. Our kids will end up going through the stuff my wife and I leave behind as they will be staying in this house. My wife and I are being diligent in sorting things out now because we know that our kids will want to do what classylady's kids want to do - just throw the lot without sorting. 

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