Love Your Mother

I’m blogging today because my oldest son asked me to. I awoke this morning thinking of his request and I could not go back to sleep. My first thought was, I really don’t have anything that important to say and tried to blow off the idea of blogging. Then the thought came to me, what if no one ever shared a song because they weren’t good enough. I don’t know that we ever feel good enough and maybe we’re not, but we’ll never touch anyone’s heart unless we share. So here goes.

 My Mom passed away a little over a year ago. One of her requests at her funeral was to have her children sing a song she had taught us as children. One of my sisters felt strongly that her wish be fulfilled, but the rest of us felt it wasn’t that appropriate and we really couldn’t recall the words. It was left off the program, to my sister’s dismay. As I prepared my remarks, the thought kept coming to my mind “share the song”, but I kept thinking, “I’m not going to sing that and I don’t remember the words anyway”.

“Go on line and look them up”, the thought was driving me nuts. So my wife went online and somehow found the words. With the words to the song, I remembered the tune Mom sang to me from the time I could recall from so many years ago.

Then the negative thoughts started coming. “You don’t have time to teach this to your grandchildren or your children. Your siblings aren’t going to sing it. It’s not even on the program. You certainly aren’t going to sing a solo.”

Right up until the morning of the funeral, I kept putting the idea out of my mind. Finally, I said to myself, “Who cares if I don’t sound like Bing Crosby, I will do it for Mom and anyone else who appreciates it”. The thought of singing a solo was much more frightening than the thought of speaking….without accompaniment, never!

I remember thinking as I stood there at the pulpit, here goes nothing and who cares.

A Little Boy’s Walk

By Emilie Poulsson

A little boy went walking

One lovely summer’s day:

He saw a little rabbit

That quickly ran away;


He saw a shining river

Go winding in and out,

And little fishes in it

Were swimming all about;


And, slowly, slowly turning,

The great wheel of the mill;

And then the tall church steeple,

The little church so still;


The bridge above the water;

And when he stopped to rest,

He saw among the bushes

A wee ground-sparrow’s nest.


And as he watched the birdies

Above the tree-tops fly,

He saw the clouds a-sailing

Across the sunny sky.


He saw the insects playing;

The flowers that summer brings;

He said, “I’ll go tell mamma!

I’ve seen so many things!”

Beulah and Jan Graf 1944

My Mom & I in 1944

Mom was always happy to hear of our day and what we had experienced.   My Mom taught me to see and love this beautiful world Heavenly Father has given to us to live in.

 So many people commented on the song and how the message touched them. My sister, Laura, was delighted and even the rest of the family seemed pleasantly surprised. I know my dear Mother was extremely happy. She was fun loving, kind, gentile and very beautiful and taught me to love the Lord and his Gospel. Love your mother. I do. Have a great New Year 2015!

Loving Every Person

One of my favorite and highly recommended books, Return from Tomorrow, written by a man for whom I have a great deal of respect,  Dr. George Ritchie,  has one of my favorite stories on forgiveness.  I quote Dr. Ritchie from the book beginning on page 114.

“And that’s how I came to know Wild Bill Cody.  That wasn’t his real name.  His real name was seven unpronounceable syllables in Polish, but he had long drooping handlebar mustaches like pictures of the old western hero, so the American soldiers called him Wild Bill.  He was one of the inmates of the concentration camp, but obviously he hadn’t been there long. His posture was erect, his eyes bright, his energy indefatigable.  Since he was fluent in English, French, German, and Russian, as well as Polish, he became a kind of unofficial camp translator.”

“We came to him with all sorts of problems; the paper work alone was staggering in attempting to relocate people whose families, even whole hometowns, might have disappeared.  But though Wild Bill worked fifteen and sixteen hours a day, he showed no signs of weariness.  While the rest of us were drooping with fatigue, he seemed to gain strength.  `We have time for this old fellow,’ he’d say. `He’s been waiting to see us all day.'”

“His compassion for his fellow prisoners glowed on his face, and it was to this glow that I came when my own spirits were low.  So I was astonished to learn when Wild Bill’s own papers came before us one day, that he had been in Wuppertal since 1939!  For six years he had lived on the same starvation diet, slept in the same airless and disease-ridden barracks as everyone else, but without the least physical or mental deterioration.”

“Perhaps even more amazing, every group in the camp looked on him as a friend.  He was the one to whom quarrels between inmates were brought for arbitration.  Only after I’d been at Wuppertal a number of weeks did I realize what a rarity this was in a compound where the different nationalities of prisoners hated each other almost as much as they did the Germans.

As for Germans, feeling against them ran so high that in some of the camps liberated earlier, former prisoners had seized guns, run into the nearest village and simply shot the first Germans they saw.  Part of our instructions were to prevent this kind of thing and again Wild Bill was our greatest asset, reasoning with the different groups, counseling forgiveness.”

“`It’s not easy for some of them to forgive’,  I commented to him one day as we sat over mugs of tea in the processing center.  `So many of them have lost members of their families.'”

“Wild Bill leaned back in the upright chair and sipped at his drink.  `We lived in the Jewish section of Warsaw,’ he began slowly, the first words I had heard him speak about himself, `my wife, our two daughters, and our three little boys.  When the Germans reached our street they lined everyone against a wall and opened up with machine guns.  I begged to be allowed to die with my family, but because I spoke German they put me in a work group.'”

“He paused, perhaps seeing again his wife and five children.  `I had to decide right then,’ he continued, `whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this.  It was an easy decision, really.  I was a lawyer.  In my practice I had seen too often what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies.  Hate had just killed the six people who mattered most to me in the world.  I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life–whether it was a few days or many years–loving every person I came in contact with.'”

“Loving every person… this was power that had kept a man well in the face of every privation.”

To me this is an exciting story on the power of forgiveness and the effect that it has on us physically and psychologically.  Even though, from Dr. Ritchie’s account, this man lived in such a dreadful environment, as did all the rest, he was not emaciated like the others.  Apparently, he didn’t have to be emaciated to justify all the fear, hate, anger and other negative feelings his fellow prisoners had bottled up inside causing them to fester in their bodies in many cases even unto death.  He chose to forgive and love every person.