GiftsOn September 6th, 2012, this past week, my mother Jan Williams had past away. Not all of the circumstances are well known, but we believe it was due to complications of her End-Stage liver disease that she has been fighting for some time now. I was in the middle of teaching an EMT class at my work when my uncle contacted me beside himself with the news. At that moment, I packed up some clothes and began one of the longest, loneliness drives to American Fork from St. George (3.5 hour trip) I had ever taken. During this drive, I had a lot of time that I could review my mother's life and what she brought into this mortal world to teach to others.
I entitled this blog post "gifts" for a reason. My mother Jan gave me as her son many gifts that I will hold on to for the rest of eternity. The very first gift my mom gave to me was the gift of life. In March, 1987, in less than optimal circumstances of her life she brought me into this world as a single parent with only the support of her immediate family at her side. For this I am grateful, because I had been given an opportunity to change the world and help others, and partake of the great plan of salvation. I would learn that my mom was my very best friend growing up. This is the gift of life.
During my mother's young childhood years being a student in school, she would learn of several challenges. One of her most significant was learning how tough life would be with a birth defect on her cheek. My mother had the misfortune of having a large birth mark on her left check that was very notable. I learned that many of the kids in school would give her a terrible time over this and it destroyed a lot of her self-image. She struggled with this for many years being chopped down by her peers and made fun of. It got bad enough that my grandmother attempted to have it surgically corrected, however medical practice at that time was unable to change the appearance of the mark on her face. The only way my mother over came this trial was by learning how to be strong and not letting others hurt her feelings. This leads to her next give she would give to others, a big heart for those being treated less than fair. My mother learned how to reach out to those who were less fortunate than her and bring the up and show them love no matter what their position in life was. I recall her telling me as a child to never tease or pick on others because of how bad it can hurt them, and that we needed to love everyone because that is how we all can be happy people. This gift was not just given to those she cared about, but to me that I will have with me forever. I have learned not to care about how people look, or even what choices they have made. I have learned to see the positive in others and love and care about them.
The next gift I was given came to me as a young child growing up with some struggles with my health. I had really bad eye problems where the muscles of my eyes had to be reconstructed. This is where I learned how great of a caregiver my mother was. She help reduce my fears of the surgery by making sure I understood everything, and only taking me to the best optical surgeons around. I remember as if it was yesterday that she would make sure when I got out I was comfortable. I remember coming home to a nice comfortable bed with warm blankets and a spot just for my mom as she did not plan to leave my side. With this particular eye surgery, my eyes were "gooped" closed for a few days after. I can remember just wanting to see my mom's face and the world around me. She knew this, and spent a significant amount of time with a warm washcloth wiping down my eyes until I was able to open them. I remember seeing her look into my new set of eyes and telling me how much she was glad I could see and gave me a huge hug. This gift was of compassion for the ill. My mother was one of the best caregivers around when you got sick or hurt. Her nurturing skills were top notch as she cared for her kids and others. It was here that I took this gift from her hands and carried it into my adult life as I became a professional emergency room nurse. The caring I have for the job, I have felt wasn't something I developed, but rather obtained from my mother's blood!
As an adult, I would learn that life through me a lot of challenges that sometimes I wasn't prepared to handle or questions I didn't know how to answer. The next gift of communication would then be revealed. My mother would talk your ear off if you weren't careful! However, she always seemed to have the answers to life's most difficult questions. I remember that whenever I had a troubling problem, my mom was my best friend and the first one I would want to call out of anybody. She had a way of turning your whole perspective around and you always had a smile on your face when you hung up the phone. This gift of communication is a dear one of mine as I like to talk to those around me about their problems and help them through their hardships. Sometimes, this gift gets me into trouble as I have an eagerness to get to know people too quickly!
In my teenage and young adult years I would learn that my mother was quite the visionary for her children. She had a vision and dream for all of us to succeed and do what we loved. As a teen, I had a hobby of working with HAM radios. She not only encouraged me in this hobby, but would drive me around to buy radios, meet others, and take the necessary exams I needed to take. She always told me, "you have to dream big". In these years I also wanted to become a police officer. She would encourage me with stories, and help be arrange ride-alongs with the police department. Then, when my interest changed over to emergency services and emergency nursing, she supported me 100% there, and helped me to dream big. We would sit and talk about ambulance calls I would go on, have me buy her Life Flight shirts, and stay up watching the Discovery Health Channel all night long. This was the gift of vision that I took with me into adulthood and often try to share with those around me, especially younger friends. I know that it was the gift of vision that got me to where I am in my life today. Thanks mom for having me dream big and making the world work for me in accomplishing my dreams. I am proud that my mother got to watch two of those big dreams materialize as I became a Paramedic graduating from Weber State University, and then an emergency room RN at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.
I could write a book about all of my mother's gifts she passed along, but there is one final one I would like to share. The evening I got word that she passed away was about 7pm in the evening and I was teaching an EMT course in St. George. Right then I obviously knew I had to get home to be with my family. I packed a bag quickly and hit the road. The sun started to fall and it became dark quickly as I began my journey home. By the time I reached Cedar City, the emotions of loosing my mother hit me like a ton of bricks and I started crying uncontrollably. I missed her so very much even this early on. I knew there was no way I was going to make it home from there. So I reached out to someone I hadn't in quite some time, my Heavenly Father. I knew he was there, and that he was waiting to help me. I pulled over and crossed my arms. I said one of the most emotional prayers in my life begging him to help me make it home and not feel so alone. It wasn't a long prayer, but when I got done with it I had the faith that it would work. I took a minute to collect myself, and then the most amazing thing spiritually happened to me. A sudden calm came about me and I knew things were going to be alright. More significantly than this, was that when I pulled back out onto the freeway, I didn't feel alone anymore. I knew there was somebody riding in my passenger seat with me. Now, I can't be certain if that person was my mom or not, but it was either her or my Heavenly Father. No questions, I wasn't alone that night. When I thought the church had blessed me all that it could right then, I was proved wrong. I called the bishop at home and told him I knew my grandma was very upset and needed to not be alone. Without question, he told me he would head over there right then and take care of her. When I arrived home, 4 hours later, I learned that Bishop Sharp had stayed beside my grandma the whole time until I got there. When I learned this, I could not stop crying and I felt more love from being a member of the church than I ever had in my life. I can not thank that bishop enough, and I will not be able to thank my Heavenly Father enough for being there that night.
I love my mom more than anything in the world, and on September 12th, I will be able to lay her to rest comfortably in our hometown of American Fork, Utah. No longer will she be in pain, struggle to breathe, be weak, or have to worry about the future anymore, and I know she is in the kingdom of God and is at peace finally after a long, hard life. I can testify of the divinity of the Atonement and that Christ is our savior. I believe that Christ walks alongside those who have been left behind by their loved ones as a comforter. I know that the Gospel is everlasting and is our map for this mortal existence.