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Jul. 6th, 2009 at 8:49 am
Gene is 91 years old. He turns 92 in September.
He’s been attending our church services for awhile now. Gene is distinguished looking, tall, and a genuine old-school gentleman. He wears a full suit (jacket, white shirt, tie) to church and has a hat that he carefully takes off before he steps into the church building and then he carefully puts the hat back on when he steps out of the building. To do this little operation he switches his cane to his left hand. It’s a simple little action, but seeing him do this yesterday when we entered and left the building together – it said a lot to me about who he is.
Gene walks quite slowly, with some difficulty. It appears that walking for him is painful, but he explained to me that his legs don’t hurt him that much – they are just weak. Taxis are too low to the ground for him to get into them properly – he has to take the bus wherever he goes.
Gene was baptized two or three weeks ago. I wasn’t there for his baptism, but I am told that to help him, they had a stool for him to sit on in the font and then they carefully laid him back into the water after the baptismal prayer.
Yesterday (Sunday) morning we met Gene at the bus stop. He said the elevator in his building was not working and that he had walked down twenty flights of stairs to come to church.
I can hardly begin to imagine how long and difficult that trip was for him. He said at one point he thought he might pass out. But after sitting down in the bus for awhile, he said he felt fine.
At church, after sacrament meeting, he got a little bit dizzy – so I accompanied him home, making sure he got to his apartment. We took two buses going home. One of those buses we took for only one block – he said he just couldn’t walk it. He said that once a bus driver had laughed at him for taking a bus to go just one block – but the bus driver stopped laughing when he said it was difficult to walk even half a block.
In the future, if I am ever feeling like not going to church, I am going to try to remember Gene and his long, arduous journey down those twenty flights of stairs.
We also tried to let Gene know that if his building’s elevator isn’t working on a given Sunday morning, everyone (including God) will understand if he decides to stay home from Church that day.
Just one final note – I am the membership clerk of the ward. Yesterday Gene filled out the membership paper we give to new members, so we can learn more about them. On one line it asks members how long they plan to stay in the ward, as this is one of those revolving-door wards where a lot of the membership moves in briefly and temporarily for school/training/internships.
On that line Gene wrote one word in very clear plain script: Forever