Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Rees, Robert A.
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i8z I Dialogue Slowly the stories became less lively, duller, and seemingly endless. His attitude toward politics became contentious; he complained constantly that no government leader was good for much, that no one was being raised up to save our economy. By the time I got home from work in the evenings, Mother would be distracted with his rumblings. At eighty these two persons were not the parents who had reared me, but the behavioral changes were so subtle that a net was woven around me by this time, and how could I get out? I found that I had to adjust my personal schedule to accommodate new duties at home, and the net drew tighter. But there were times when the net became almost tolerable. One rare Sunday I was relieved from my responsibility with the children's program for ages four through seven and allowed to go hear a general authority speak at quarterly conference. To hear adult talk on Sunday morning was a treat, especially since the brother from headquarters seemed to speak especially to me. He gave a beautiful address on the necessity of families taking care of their parents. I listened for guidance. He said his own family members had realized that they should care for their mother. As they agreed that she would reside in his home, their decision had brought them all closer together in love. He told us that blessings were in store for all persons who honored their parents and took care of them. My feet were scarcely touching the floor as I left the tabernacle at the end of the session. I resolved that I would remain at home, try harder to honor my parents, and do more soul searching to correct my attitude about my circumstances. Three months later, I learned that this same general authority had placed his mother in a rest home. My responsibility to my parents seems to grow more difficult year by year. In recent years the apartments have required more repair, the cost of labor has risen, and taxes have increased. We now make less than $300 above expenses from the rentals, and a $400 house payment has to be made monthly, "before we can eat." Mother has had a severely sprained ankle and a cataract operation. She enjoyed being in the hospital and was upset when the doctor released her to go home. She had paid money to remain longer because she wanted a "good long rest." At home, naturally, she wanted the same personal care the nurses had given her around the clock. She needed constant encouragement and few gestures we could make to relieve her hardship soothed her. Father has been brought through two heart attacks while refusing medical aid. He said he had to cough it out himself. Two months ago, while he was walking to town to say hello to bankers, barbers, and shoe repairmen, Father's right leg gave way. We nursed him, but after seven weeks he was no better. He finally consented to see a doctor, and a brother-in-law secured the help of a physician who would make a home call in the evening. Next morning Father was in the hospital, and a week later his leg was amputated. Our oldster will be eighty-three in two months; quite a birthday present for a man who has found solutions to all his problems by using his limbs, talking a lot, and swearing a little. It will soon be time to remove Father from the hospital. He has been saying repeatedly, "Hell, this is no place to get well. When I go to Sister's I'll improve." But how can my sister take him? She has a husband convalescing from a stroke, limited facilities in her home, and children who should not see so much suffering. We have a pleasant small apartment on the ground floor which would suit his needs well. A woman has agreed to be with him, and he would be on our home block, so family, relatives, and friends could visit and cheer him. But he wants to go to my sister's and she, the peacemaker, says, "We haven't tried having him at my home yet. If he wants to come, he should. Things will work out." Over the past ten years our peacemaker and I have seen many changes as we have tried to take care of our parents. One of the greatest changes has been in my attitude. For thirty years my sisters have come home with problems, secrets, productive husbands, beautiful children, and adorable babies. They have planned to arrive when I would be home where they would find tasty food and adequate lodging. Never in this long time have I heard one of them open the door and ask, "What can I do to help?" Instead, when they arrived, Father would greet them and say, "Let me take the baby." Mother would say, "We have a good dinner. Wash your hands, we'll eat and you can relax." While young parents were being trained to "collapse," I was being trained to do the adjusting. Over the years resentment built up in me; I grew more and more bitter with the sense that life had cheated me. Mother likes to close the Sabbath by listening to Elder Sill's radio address. One spring evening while I was listening with her, he gave an example of a man bitten by a rattlesnake, who had retaliated by chasing the rattlesnake. I found this story analogous to my relationship with my family. Throughout my adult life, filled with the constant tedium of family obligation, I began to feel the poison of resentment permeating everything I did. Like the enraged man in the story who sent the rattler's poison racing through his veins, I was governed by a quiet vengeance that distorted a clear vision of my circumstances. After the broadcast that Sunday evening, however, the numbing ache of having run for years with venom in my heart found cure. The revelation that this simple story brought me