Los Vilos (Coquimbo Región)
April 15, 2014 (yes, we did our taxes!)
Dear Kids (and Grandbabies!),
I am writing this in the style of an old-fashioned letter. First I want to say thank-you for sending all the photos and little video clips of the Spring Break Schrammily Reunion! It looked like so much fun. I loved that you did all the normal things. Charlie did an awesome job with a Treasure Hunt; a cake was made in behalf of Teddy Bears Picnic; lots of Pig-out parties (those M&M cookies looked especially good.) You watched What About Bob & even managed to get the Bartlett Bug!! Wow! You went all out! Did everyone get sick? Did you send texts to each other all night long with updated statuses on who was in which bathroom etc.? Also, the painting job on the deck stairs looks awesome! The trip to Wilmington’s boardwalk and visit to Kilwins Ice-cream parlor absolutely made my mouth water! I didn’t hear if you made it to Max’s but I’m sure you didn’t lack for food! The pictures of the ocean and clear blue skies are solace to my soul!
Today was a tough day. I guess really we had two hard days. We’ve been waiting for the perfect P-day (Monday) to go to a ‘big-city’ and do some shopping. Dad needs new jeans as his only pair is wearing out and he didn’t bring any ‘work-out’ clothes for our morning walks. I wanted some shoes but they didn’t carry any in wide widths. At any rate, we set out early in the morning to go to the mall in La Serena and Jumbo (Walmart). About half-way there we got a phone call from the district president informing us that a baby in our branch had passed away. It was hard to have any fun after that phone call. Everywhere I looked I was reminded of babies. Your dad had to leave and go back to the car and get out his computer. He spent some time helping the new branch president learn about funerals (Manual 2). The shopping trip was somber and we went straight back home to the church to grieve with others.
We knew the baby was sick and had gone to the hospital. Her name was Emily. She was born Dec 2, 2013. Just 4 months old. I was particularly attached to her because all last fall I was watching Jocelyn (mom) grow her baby and I was thinking of my own daughters back home in like manner. They have an older son, Sebastian, about 4 years old. I attended the baby shower. I even won a game! We were each blindfolded and give a piece of paper and pencil. Then we were to draw a picture of a baby. Sebastian chose the best drawing. Well, having watched a blind person draw (maybe in a movie or on TV?) I understood that if I used my other hand to mark positions on the paper for instance, where I had begun the circle for the head or eyes, I could complete the circles properly. I did draw a pretty good looking baby complete with pacifier and other accessories!
One day at church I wore my dress with the red shrug. Jocelyn loved it and I told her I liked her skirt. So as it happened we ended up trading. I came out ahead on the deal as I was happy to receive 2 skirts in the trade! Well, where her little Emily arrived she was the cutest baby ever (next to our grand-daughters of course!) Everything was good and the baby was growing well. Last month I was sitting in Relief Society and glanced over at a woman nursing baby Emily (and I knew it wasn’t her mom). Turns out Jocelyn had to go to work and so her sister (member but less-active) came and was feeding baby Emily. She has a baby of her own just a few weeks younger and evidently had plenty of milk to spare.
Every week the sisters meet in the church to visit and knit (Tuesday nights). Last week Jocelyn brought the refreshments. She baked apples and filled them with a type of cream filling. She learned how to knit last fall (okay so it was ‘spring’ here but somehow October just isn’t spring in my mind…) The next week she came with all these cute baby hats, booties and dresses she had knitted. Last Tuesday she brought a pastel pink dress she had made (for Easter?) and another sister (Bernarda) was crocheting flowers to attach to it. Everything changed so fast. As I understand it Emily got sick (developed into pneumonia) and when they took her in to the hospital they found that she had an enlarged heart. It was too late and the illness had been too much for her tiny body and so she succumbed.
I remember all too well the feeling we had when we learned baby Gemma had a heart problem. We are so thankful for the wonderful doctors who took their time and followed proper procedures in a timely manner. The government healthcare here is a total disaster. We’ve been to the hospitals. We know how it is. So many of our dear members have health issues left unattended. At best they are diagnosed and then told to go somewhere else to a specialist and maybe they are seen in 6 months or a year. Our RS president lives in constant pain. I know she needs a knee replacement. She always has extreme pain in her chest and her left arm. I have told her and she knows how serious it is. She has been to the doctor but was put off and then needed papers to see another doctor etc…. It doesn’t surprise me any longer to see blind, maimed or crippled bodies shuffling down the streets. And let’s not talk about the extremely high rates of cancer. It’s just scary.
Back to Emily, yesterday the little body was in the tiniest casket. It was satin, all-white with a big bow. They had hung up white, gauzy ribbons and pink and white balloons and had some Xerox pictures of her put here and there in the flowers. There were lots of very beautiful floral arrangements. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do when it was time for me to go look at her lying in her casket. I’m not trying to make this letter really sad but I know you will all understand how precious this (and all) little baby was. She was fortunate to belong to a very, very large family. There were hundreds of people at the church to offer love and support. Yesterday the dynamics of the cultural hall shifted and changed as people came and went. Hymns were sung, words spoken and love was shared along with many tears. I’m so very proud of Jocelyn. She wanted to speak at the funeral today and she did an awesome job. She was a pillar of strength even though I understood her to say she had no strength any longer. Dad says that she spoke of knowing that their daughter would be taken someday. She was just totally surprised that it happened so soon and so quickly. She understood that Emily had fulfilled her purpose and she was too good to have to spend any more time on this earth and be contaminated from it. Yes, she broke down many times and cried into many a shoulders saying “Mi nina, mi princesa,,,,” She spoke of her arm always reaching out for her baby and now it falls empty to her side. (I’m remembering it as I understood it) I can still see the tears on her cheeks as she spoke from the pulpit. They honestly looked like diamonds sparkling. She wore a white dress and looked heavenly. Maybe someday I will be able to tell her how proud I was of her and how she looked like a true mother in Zion, enduring hardship and being refined from it. I would tell her that someday her children could be as numerous as her tears were these past few days. But there is much work to do first….like getting them to the temple and sealed forever. They are both active in the church and he is a return missionary.
People always procrastinate and none of us really sees the beginning from the end of life. We don’t know how long or short life will be. But we do know what is most important. FAMILY. That is what it boils down to. FAMILY. We think there are so many things in this life but if you don’t have someone to share it with then it’s nothing. Not now or in the eternities. When I was young I used to worry about getting to see my father again (he passed when I was 7 yrs old) and my brothers and sisters and living together in heaven. Later, it got a bit more complicated when I my mother remarried and I gained a step-dad and also step (and half) brothers and sisters. Then when your Dad and I began our own family all I wanted was to have our 5 children in heaven with us. Now we have an additional 5 (may I mention they are all fantastic?) kid-in-laws (& their families whom we consider family too) 10+ grandbabies and of course more to come J So, in our ‘older’ age we are seeing a bigger picture of eternity. It doesn’t matter too much what type of family we have at the moment because it will always be changing. As long as we are with family we will be happy. I love Heavenly Fathers plan of happiness. I love being a representative of Jesus Christ and sharing the good news of the restored gospel. Of course I don’t always do it very well in Spanish. I have had to learn better how to communicate through the spirit and right to the heart since I don’t have the words for it. I really love these people here in Chile. I know I would love the people anywhere we were called to serve, because the love comes from the Holy Ghost who is my constant companion.
Well time to sign off. This was much easier to type than it would have been to write it in long-hand as they did back in the olden days. Have you guys started teaching our grand-children about the ‘olden days’? Do they know about hard work? (Like hauling buckets of water (or rocks or you name it) all over the place?) Do you share your testimonies with them? Don’t leave it up to the primary or Sunday school classes or it won’t happen! One thing that never changes is the Gospel so please be sure and instill this precious gift in them while they are young. They will need every bit of spiritual strength they have to have peace and live in a world where so much wickedness abounds. I hope you can feel our love and prayers are with you constantly. We feel yours!
Sincerely and with much love!
Mama, Schramma, Paw Shaw etc