Teaching moments: Spirit of comfort

When old age and Alzheimer's required my wife's mother, Elaine, to have constant care, she came to live with us, which permitted us to serve one of God's choicest daughters.

While living with us, she always greeted me with a cheery, "I know you!" Then, I would refresh her memory with "Hello, Grandma! I married your daughter Anni. She's a good girl and so are you!"

Laughing delightedly, she would say, "I know Anni. And you're that big guy. Big, big, big!"

Grandma loved the animals and scenery around our home. She rejoiced in their rediscovery almost every day because of her illness.

One day, peering outside, she exclaimed, "What big kitties!" Smiling, I said, "No Grandma, those aren't kitties. Those are our golden retriever dogs!"

One day, Grandma started to sob, which was surprising because she never cried.

Alarmed, I asked, "Grandma, what's the matter?"

With childlike innocence, she said, "This isn't my house. My mother is looking for me, and I don't know how to go home!"

Seeing her so confused and frightened almost broke my heart.

I thought, "Heavenly Father, her mom is dead, and reasoning with her won't work. What do I do?" The answer was to bless her.

I simply said, "By the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, I bless you with the knowledge that you are at our house, your mother knows where you are and you will be with her soon."

When I finished, Grandma leaned forward, extended a finger for emphasis and solemnly declared, "I know that that is true!"

Later, a fall left her visibly shaken, so I pronounced another blessing and although dazed, when she heard, "By the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood," Grandma folded her arms and bowed her head. A non-member with advanced Alzheimer's, Grandma could not possibly have understood those seven words, but she felt the Spirit, sensed the sacred and responded reverently.

Although her disease robbed her of recall, it could not touch her pure spirit and when Spirit spoke to spirit, she instantly recognized and was comforted by the truth. — Ricke Reed, Sedro Woolley Ward, Mount Vernon Washington Stake

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