Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Miracles and Stuff

By Sariah S. Wilson

I wanted to blog today about the small and not-so-small miraculous things that have happened in my life in the past week.

A couple of days ago I had a chance to take my family to our local children’s museum after it closed, thanks to our chapter of the Autism Society. Once a year the museum stays open after hours for the Autism Society, and we get to attend for free. I sat there on Thursday night, looking at all the different faces and people, in a room of young men so valiant that many of them will never be tested in this life, and felt overwhelmed. I felt so grateful for the opportunity to be with such a large group of people who understood. People who didn’t stare at the child having a meltdown and didn’t whisper about what a brat he was or how his parents were bad parents. I realized why organizations like this one are created in the first place - there is just an indescribable joy that comes from being with people who know exactly what you’re going through, who are caring, sympathetic and understanding with you and your children.

On that same day I got a phone call from my editor and my publisher has accepted my second book. The title’s going to be changed (another book coming out around the same time has a similar title) and my editor wants me to send in my great ideas for a new title. I’ve got nothing. I tried explaining that if I could think of another title I wouldn’t have named it what I did. But I remind myself - this stress means that somehow I really did manage to sell another book. Woot.

I also found out this week that my uncle is taking the discussions. Let me give you a bit of the family history - my grandmother joined the Church at a young age and married my grandfather outside of said Church also at a very young age (14). While reading Jeff’s memories of his own grandpa, I had to laugh at how different my memories are. I never knew my father’s father - he died when my dad was younger because he got drunk while smoking and fell asleep and burned himself to death. My other grandpa, the one that I remember, was not a nice man. He came from an abusive family (although he did not physically abuse his children the way his father had him - he stopped that particular aspect) and often yelled belittling and horrifying things at his kids (he had nine). He was an alcoholic who smoked like a chimney.

In his defense, he really did love my grandmother. She divorced him for a time, married another man, divorced that man and then remarried my grandfather. I always felt like he loved her more than she loved him. My grandfather also had many grandchildren with pretty severe disabilities (including my sister) and he always showed those grandchildren great tenderness, kindness and compassion. The rest of us? Not so much.

But we prayed for our grandpa. Every day, at every prayer. We wanted grandpa to join the Church. But we knew that there were things he’d have to stop doing. Like drinking and smoking. So we prayed for that first. For years and years we prayed for it.

One day my grandfather walked up to my grandmother and told her that he wasn’t going to drink anymore. This was not a man who had a couple of beers after dinner. This was a man who every single night drank 18 beers followed by a pint of whisky, who couldn’t hold down a job and took his children’s babysitting money to support his addiction. Just up and quit. No AA. No doctors. No counseling. He just stopped.

Feeling inspired, we began to pray that my grandpa would stop smoking. A few years later there was a repeat performance - he announced he was going cold turkey from a several packs a day habit. And he never smoked or drank again.

Feeling even further emboldened, we started to pray that he would join the Church. Guess what happened? Yep, eventually my grandfather was baptized when I was a freshman in college. He became the sort of member that called the bishop to make sure the bishop was doing his home teaching. He got sealed to my grandmother by proxy and to those children who were still active members. My mom said she’ll never forget the expression on her father’s face as he looked at the empty spaces for the children that weren’t there. My grandfather died not too long after that.

You can imagine that with an alcoholic father and a mostly inactive mother that many of the children in my mom’s family were inactive themselves. My uncle (the one taking the discussions and the start of this tangent) was a big hippie. He, in fact, had great plans to run away and join Charles Manson’s commune. My mother ratted him out and he got in a lot of trouble, although years later he grudgingly admitted that maybe it was okay for my mom to have stopped him.

My uncle had a stroke not too long ago because he overdosed on some tainted drugs. He’s had two failed marriages, a son who died from overdosing, and a history of alcohol and drug abuse. Apparently he woke up one morning and decided that he’d been making a big mess of his life and figured that the Lord couldn’t do any worse than he’d done himself. So he’s taking the discussions and planning on being baptized. Another inactive uncle’s wife has been going to Church on her own for the last year and a half and teaching Primary. My mother’s oldest sister is also taking the discussions and trying to get her life in order so that she can be baptized as well.

My mom is still in shock over these sudden changes that seem to all be happening at once, with family members who we all thought might never come back to Church and are now lining up to do so. We should know better. After all, even grandpa got baptized.

Somewhere my grandfather must be thrilled with the thought that in the not-too-distant future those empty spaces at the temple will be filled.


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At 8/05/2006 9:56 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Sariah, all I can say is WOW! What awesome stories!

And big congratulations on the acceptance of your second novel! That is so exciting. I'm already impatient to read Secrets in Zarahemla and now I'm waiting for two books!

At 8/06/2006 7:13 PM, Blogger Stephen said...

Miracles are treacherous, yet joyous.

At 8/06/2006 9:18 PM, Anonymous Jennie Hansen said...

I too want to congratulate you on having your second book accepted for publication. I'm anxious to read both of them.


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