Extended Hand

Brett was a member of my dad’s scout troop for several years.  He was born with his right arm shriveled with just a few fingers, and his right leg was shorter than his left.  He loved to run, but it was mostly a hop and a drag, and his mother would comment on how hard it was to keep him in his shoes.  He loved baseball and could whack a ball with his over compensating left arm.  Just like me he got into many fights, and one only knows that I would have hated to be on the receiving end of his left fist.

Another physical challenge was his frequent Grand Mal epileptic seizures.  Our Scout patrol often did a day-hike without an adult, and one time when we were hiking along Kearney Blvd, Brett had a seizure.  He scattered the multicolored pills as he attempted to unscrew a tin canister that he always wore around his neck. As instructed by his mother, we picked up the pills, placed them in our palm, and let him pick the pills he needed.  Then we sat down amongst the eucalyptus trees and waited for the seizure to end, and for him, to rest from the tonic flexures of his muscles.

On several Tuesday nights at the Roeding school, our troop joined another troop to be instructed by a certified Red Cross instructor in first aid.  When the certification tests were collected, my father became apprehensive as he did not know what to do.  Brett had answered most of the test correctly, but left blank all the questions about fire.   My Dad knew as well as the rest of us that Brett had come home from school one day to find his Mother on Fire.  She had fallen asleep in the sofa chair smoking a cigarette. He shoved her into the shower to put out the flames.   She did not suffer long.

As a teenager I knew that our mothers were our best friend and most of the time our only friend.  So this was going to be a very difficult time in Brett’s life. Sometime later, his father remarried and he and his younger twin brothers went to live in his stepmom’s house.  It was a nice white house with blue trim.

At church some years back, a sister a few rows behind me had a seizure during Sacrament meeting.  When I looked back to see what the commotion was about, a physician with the same last name as Brett had slipped  into the pew and was resting her head in his bosom.  As I looked into his eyes, I knew things were taken care of, so I turned my attention back to the meeting.

These life events came into sharper focus, after rereading the conference talk by Dallin H. Oakes.  He discusses the many reasons for attending church, but I was surprised when he quoted Spencer W. Kimball on two reasons not to attend church. First reason:  Don’t attend church to be entertained! What! No Movie!! Second reason: Don’t attend church to be educated! Huh?

Another member is quoted that one of the many reasons to attend is to proactively edify other members during our church meetings.   As in my stories of the two Jones’, should we be looking for those that need an extended palm or to rest their weary heads in our bosoms?   Yes!  I so testify in him who edifies us all, even Jesus Christ Amen.