‘They taught us patience, forbearance’

HAMILTON, NEW ZEALAND

In 1977, Janette and Daniel belonged to the Hamilton 1st Ward and were physically handicapped, a mother and son devoted to each other. My husband and I were assigned to be their home visitors in a fellowship that lasted three years.

Janette was 50 and Daniel 28, a fine young man who had promised his grandmother he would look after his mother, as she was bound to the wheelchair and had to be lifted everywhere. Daniel was big and strong, but he had deformed feet. He walked crooked but was able to push the wheelchair to the shops; they loved shopping.

Although they were tied to the home a lot, the disability van would take them where they wanted to go, and that was to Church on a Sunday.

Daniel was an imposing young man and ran the household very well, cooking the meals, sewing and knitting his mother lovely cardigans. He was beginning to make a suit for her.

Financially, they were well provided for. Daniel loved his videos, while Janette did fancy stitching as a hobby. They liked a few plants and had a garden. That's where we came in. We dug and planted the garden for them.

Janette could not read well, so Daniel started to read the Book of Mormon to her daily. He was very keen to learn and was obedient. They held family home evenings and often invited people to dinner, Daniel cooking his favorite curried sausages.

I discovered a lot about Janette's sad life. Her husband left her with Daniel, and shortly afterward she contracted an illness that immobilized her. She liked colors and loved making herself look good for Church with her rouge and her pink cardigans and blonde hair. She looked very nice and soon began to smile as we complimented her. The Lord gave us a caring nature for them; we admired their courage and optimism. They definitely had testimonies.

I personally felt for Daniel, as I knew he would love to have a girlfriend but was committed to his mother. They found friends in the Church and were thinking about receiving their temple endowments. They had begun their family history research, as we were anxious to provide their information for the temple.

Then tragedy struck. We received a call to say Daniel had fallen while lifting Janette and was unconscious. He suffered a blood clot and died soon after. Janette was devastated and was afraid for herself, as she had never been without Daniel. However, there was no other option but to admit her to a hospital and later to a care facility. She fretted about the death of Daniel and seemed inconsolable. After three weeks, she succumbed to grief, gave up her desire to live and passed on. Daniel and Janette were buried together in the same plot.

I feel it reasonable to suppose that Daniel called his mother to join him in death because of his commitment that he would never leave her. His loyalty was such. We had fulfilled our calling to them and were able to send in their work to be done in the temple. They enriched our lives by teaching us patience and forbearance. Our hearts were broadened. They had a sheer determination to succeed and never complained.