17 November 2005

Let me call you sweetheart

What is visiting teaching? It's the beautiful sound I just heard coming from my 87-year-old grandmother's private "living room," the sound of her eager, wobbly voice blended with the voices of two fresh young women in their early twenties, one a graceful ballroom dancer and student, the other an energetic early morning custodian getting her new Russian husband through a university degree in Physics. They came over tonight so my grandmother and Marilyn, the dancer, could have a social visit with Diane and also give her an uplifting message to encourage her on her way. This visiting happens every month--they come here because it's difficult for my grandmother to get out now that her health is poor. At this very moment they are singing along with the random tunes that are coming from a musical fountain which was a recent gift to Gram, from another woman whom Gram and Marilyn visit this way. When I first heard Gram and her company singing tonight, so softly together, it was to the old tune, "Let me call you sweetheart, I'm in love with you." The utter sweetness of their music stopped me dead in my tracks as I worked in the kitchen. Tears came to my eyes and are coming again as I write this. Can you understand why? How often do moments like this happen anymore in our society? As far as I can tell, not too often, not even among family members. My heart was so touched by just the simple goodness of that sound, and all the reaching across the vast divide of self it represented. I waited until they were done, then crept to the door and quietly clapped my hands. The three of them turned to me and they were already smiling, and the feeling of kind love in the room was tangible. Marilyn and Diane said they'd like to be adopted. It was such a small pretty moment, but I just can't get over it. I am so grateful that this sort of experience is part of my life. And part of Gram's.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshineYou make me happy when skies are greyYou'll never know, dear, how much I love youPlease don't take my sunshine away

I can remember one time this year I went visiting teaching with my own companion, Kathryn, who is one of the sweetest, most conscientious and intelligent people on the planet, and we went to see Rose, who has had a lifetime of difficulty overcoming a number of handicaps. Rose is one terrific, funny, special woman, though socially, she often completely overwhelms people to the point of panic--she's that different. Rose has a hard time focusing, particularly when we get to the spiritual message/time-to-concentrate-and-process part of our visit. Usually, we try to prepare just one simple, clear thought we can share with Rose, maybe a quote, maybe a single verse of a scripture, something that won't tax her but can help her feel encouraged. This one particular time I'm thinking of, Kathryn and I had a somewhat more complex message to share, and neither of us knew exactly how to simplify it so Rose could enjoy it and not struggle with being distracted. We ended up singing a very hopeful children's song together for our "lesson", one that was tied closely to the topic we wanted to teach. I'd brought a songbook with me and we all sat on Rose's bed in her tiny private room and sang together. The contrast between our experience that day and my grandmother's tonight is that Rose and Kathryn and I sounded like a pack of howling dogs. Really. If anyone in the next room overheard us and shed a tear, it was for pain and not joy! We seriously sounded miserable in the technical sense, but I have to say that real grace of that moment wasn't lost on me. It was a beautiful thing, the three of us concentrating together on something that was important to all of us, and however out of tune, singing words we all believed in. It was a unifying thing, and I felt a lot of love for those women then.

I'm glad for such interactions as visiting teaching. I'm glad to be part of the Relief Society.

8 comments:

Jamie said...

Georgia, I am crying out loud right now because this very thing has been on my mind lately. This past month the Relief Society has realy lived up to its name for me. Our sisterhood literally saved me the past few weeks, especially that fateful Friday when I was home alone and felt so lonely and scared. I've never been good about asking for help and I tend to hide when I can't put on a happy face. But, oh, it felt so good to cry--really cry--on the shoulders of my surrogate moms and sisters who had been in my shoes and knew just what I needed. What would normally have been a very quiet, very painful burden I would carry alone became something a little bit lighter, something that, instead of breaking me to pieces, bonded us all together. I will be eternally grateful for them and for all the small things that really make us a society and bring us such sweet relief.

Thank you.

christa said...

What a wonderful experience! Sometimes I wish could turn the world the other way so that we could experience some of the precious times of old. But then I have to realize that there are many precious things that happen today that strengthen who I am, and I am grateful! I love that song by the way! It reminds me of me and Liz being weird before going to bed and singing that to each other in deep voices. We could only do it for so long before we would both crack up with laughter. Those are some great memories!

Anonymous said...

Just earlier tonight I rocked Natalie to sleep in my arms humming "You Are My Sunshine..." I especially tried to hum low and deep so my chest would vibrate and soothe her. Thanks for sharing this Georgia. Your writing is so lovely. - Jenny (Mauro)

Chemical Billy said...

That's something, Geo - I was singing that to myself in the shower just this morn. Maybe you whispered it in my ear whilst I shampooed.

One of my colleagues recently moved from the Boston office to mine, she's Irish, and will break into song for no reason. There's nothing better. I join in with her when I know the tune, and the whole office pauses to listen...

Elizabeth said...

Lovely, Georgia. I loved the simplicity, the connecting of bridges and closing the gaps close enough so you really feel, for a moment, the sisters that Relief Society should be. I thought that yesterday in our Relief Society lesson---about what an amazing thing it is to have women all together, all different ages, specifically so that we can share in each other's experiences. Although they are so different, there's something inspiring about the journey of women through the ages (somehow we're connected just being women and living everyday life with all of its struggles and joys), being able to be together and share. I think this experience is a bright view of what Relief Society was intended to be; just that window of love and peace and joy and love.
xoxoxo

todayiamabird said...

that was beautiful. i loved reading it.

Elizabeth said...

Georgia---

Where are you?
I'm missing your blog. :)
xoxoxo

Geo said...

All: don't know if any of you who commented will read this, but I just wanted to say thanks for your beautiful responses. These are the kinds of words I want to go back and read and re-read, because you all shared something of your hearts. Thanks for filling mine all the more. xoxoxoxo