My mother died two years ago this December. We’d planned a family temple trip to Salt Lake last year to do her temple work with my uncle, her brother and his wife acting as proxy for my grandparents.

My uncle became very ill, however, and what with one thing or another, it’s been two years. The last six months, I’ve felt very guilty about not getting down to the temple for Mom’s work.

Anyway, we finally committed to the first weekend of December and drove down to St. George. We picked up Brad and Sarah (newly pregnant–she’s gorging on pickles smothered in mustard!) and drove to the temple.

We were coming off six weeks of turmoil. My daughter-in-law had spent the rent money on other things besides rent and was evicted for the second year. Last year they were homeless at Christmas (my stepson pays child support–we decided to let that happen last year, hoping she’d never avoid paying the rent ever again!). They’d been evicted–again at Christmas!–on 2007 for not paying the rent.

Long story short, we ended up with three kids for a week, then we’ve had Max for a month. The chaos of two dysfunctional adults–one a raging abusive alcoholic, the other manipulative and pathologically dishonest, both childish and narcissistic—combined with three traumatized children has been overwhelming. My heart goes out to any grandparent raising grandchildren.

There had been conflict those days before we went to the temple, ugliness. We almost cancelled the trip to the temple. But I knew it would wait till 2011 if we didn’t get it done and felt driven to do this for mom.

I felt the peace as soon as we entered the temple. There was a lifting, a lightness in my shoulders. I didn’t see my mom–or even hear her voice spiritually. I took it on faith that she was there. There were tears when I knelt at the altar with my daughter and her husband as proxy and Mom was sealed to her parents.

This last week I’ve felt a powerful spirit with me. I assume, of course, that it’s Mom. But the mom I knew was childish and self pitying, selfish and drunken much of the time. I thought “she’s changed.” Then I realized that now she knows who she was before she came to earth and lost herself. She’s talked with the Savior. And she knows who I was. In a way that is more real to me than ever before, I realized that the horrible person my mother was on earth is not who she is at all. And this lost hugely flawed woman I have become is not who I am. I truly felt that I was a child of God and the heavenly sister of a woman whose nobility I never experienced on earth. I think it’s changed me, a tiny bit. And there is a source of strength beyond the veil for me and my sisters.

I wish she’d risen to her divine potential while here on earth. There’s so much I don’t understand. But I understand more powerfully than ever that we are so much more than what we present temporally. And now Mom knows who she really is.