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Posted by: OzDoc ( )
Date: October 21, 2018 07:40AM

Shirley looked around her tiny supported-living apartment. Every surface was covered with memories in tiny frames. She had always loved the photos of children and grandchildren and had delighted in showing them off to her visiting teachers. There had been more room for them in the living room of the family home, but that had been sold to fund the first senior mission she and Robert had taken. There had also been room for other memorabilia, Relief Society awards she had received, china she had collected and the wedding portraits of all her children, her eldest son's photo as school captain plus her daughter's photo in cap and gown at her graduation from medical school.

Now there was little enough room. The photo taken of Robert in his army uniform during the war had gone. She thought young Rob might have it but there was still the snaps of the pair of them outside each of the temples they had visited. The photo had still been there in the small maisonette they had bought after their first mission, and the apartment they sold, to pay for their third, but she couldn't recall it in the rented apartment, which was all they could afford after their fourth mission. She still kept Alice's graduation picture, even though she hadn't seen her daughter for nearly fifteen years. It was good to brag to her fellow residents about her doctor daughter and the grandchildren she no longer saw.

Of course, the faithful ones kept her supplied with updates. If only they weren't so far away in Zion. But there were the great grandchildren; Jake the day he was ordained a deacon, little Jordan in his first Scout uniform, Madison off to girl's camp and their father in his missionary suit. She wondered what the other grandchildren were up to. Rob, her first born, told her what his boys and grandkids were doing but that hardly mattered. Their mother had never embraced the gospel so their achievements were less important. Still she could brag about Rob's boy getting his PhD and his brother's tech company and their talented children.

Yes, she was a good mother and grandmother. She had never resiled from the difficulties of raising children in the church so far away from a strong Mormon community. Such a shame that Rob hadn't married Elaine, the prettiest girl in the Stake. And they had dated for several years. It would have been perfect. Elaine's mother was Stake Relief Society President, and she, Shirley, Stake secretary. But Rob was frustrated after waiting for her to finish her mission and Elaine was holding out for a returned missionary. She had been a good mother to Alice, too. She couldn't understand why she never saw Alice's children and she heard that now there were grandchildren there too. Alice must have heeded her warnings about Cameron. She knew that boys who were learning ballet would turn to homosexuality, but it seems that he's a father now, so perhaps he stopped in time. Rebecca was only a teen when Shirley last saw her. Hopefully, she listened to grandmother telling her she was going to have to watch her weight like her mother and choose more suitable clothes.

She hadn't really missed Robert after he had died, but she always told people how lonely she was. Visiting teachers rarely stopped by now, and she didn't like to associate too closely with the other women in her facility. Still, she could always talk about the photos and she had always been good at embellishing the facts.

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Posted by: deja vue ( )
Date: October 21, 2018 11:26AM

Well, that was upbeat. :)

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: October 21, 2018 12:36PM

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Posted by: dagny ( )
Date: October 21, 2018 12:59PM

Wow. Nailed the "family church" underbelly perfectly. NICE!

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Posted by: nomonomo ( )
Date: October 21, 2018 01:05PM

Very poignant! The "family church" consumes families.

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Posted by: donbagley ( )
Date: October 21, 2018 03:26PM

Nothing left to give up. Very good!

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Posted by: silvergenie ( )
Date: October 21, 2018 04:30PM

Very thought provoking. Nothing but self delusion left after giving all.

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Posted by: exminion ( )
Date: October 21, 2018 05:04PM

I have known many Shirley's! Ozdoc, it's as if you visited each one of these women in their homes! OMG--you even have the names right: the firstborn son named after the father, a granddaughter named Madison. So many of my elderly friends lament about "wrong" marriages, and "if only he/she had been a better Mormon.

Maybe you are a doctor who works with a lot of elderly people.

I love this story, because you tell everything indirectly. In very few words, you have captured that--separation--estrangement--that Mormons have in their relationships. It comes with putting the church first. Perfectionism also causes this.

You have illustrated the skewed values that so many Mormons have. Unconditional love is not there. Passion does not exist. So many Mormons go to amazing countries, but only to visit the Mormon temples, and not venture out into different cultures.

Appearances are what matters most. Appearances are what they get. Hence: the photos.

Underneath all of Shirley's helplessness and submissiveness, I got the feeling that she could change her life. She could open up and accept her grandchildren, and all they have to offer. She could take in interest in the "less important" aspects of their lives. Hell, instead of waiting for visiting teachers who never come, she could talk to all the people who are right under her nose.

Sorry to rave so much--but I feel that everyone should read this story. I try so hard to help these older Mormons--but they remain closed in their little Mormon world, like Shirley.

The Mormon cult has a plan for older members--and I hate that plan!

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Posted by: OzDoc ( )
Date: October 24, 2018 04:34AM

Thank you most sincerely. It's always good when somebody "gets it".This is why I hang around RFM. I don't live with or associate with Mormons so sometimes need a friendly cyber shoulder.The poison of Mormonism lingers and the NeverMo's in our lives can't understand that we can't rid ourselves of it.

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: October 22, 2018 12:09PM

Very very insightful and beautifully written.

I didn't know you knew my mother. :)

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