Unspoken Names

Unspoken Names

From Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul

Unspoken Names

Foreshadowing the great work to be done in the temples of the Lord in the dispensation of the fulness of times, for the redemption of the dead, and the sealing of the children to their parents, lest the whole earth be smitten with a curse and utterly wasted at his coming.

D&C 138:48

My mother was baptized, but never active in the Church. I was baptized, active, and with my husband, raised four sons in the Church, two of whom have married Church members and are raising children in the Church.

My mother was never active in the Church because my father was basically anti-Mormon. For many years, he allowed the missionaries to visit Mother, until we children began identifying ourselves as Mormons. Then he banned them.

Once when Mother was very ill, the missionaries saved her life with a priesthood blessing, at which point my father welcomed them back into our home.

Though he would not listen to their message or go to Church with them, he was always willing to feed them and to accept their help on our 265-acre dairy farm on their preparation days. Sometimes, he played pool with them in our basement or rode snowmobiles with them in the winter around our farm property. Sometimes, he slipped them a little extra cash. The missionaries loved my dad, who hated Mormons.

After Daddy died, my only LDS brother, Barney, did his temple work, but wasn’t sure whether Daddy had accepted it or not.

A few years later, my mother called me one day and announced, “I want to go to the temple; can you help me figure out and catch up my tithing?” I was bowled over. I never thought I would live to see a parent in the temple.

I immediately called the missionary who had baptized me, and with whom I had stayed in touch over the years, who also happened to be my father’s favorite missionary, and told him about Mother’s call. He listened while I cried with joy and then asked, “Do you know what I think happened?”

“What?” I asked.

“I think your dad got over on the other side and discovered we were right,” he said, “and now he wants his family.”

I cried even harder to think that my hard-nosed, anti-Mormon father wanted me (and the rest of my family) eternally. I think it was the very first time I ever really felt wanted.

I arranged to meet my mother as well as my LDS brother and sister at the Toronto Temple, which was their temple.

A couple of days before I departed for Toronto, my mother called. “I think my mother and father were baptized once,” she announced.

“What?” I exclaimed.

“The Church should have their records.” Once again, I was bowled over.

I called my genealogist friend and told her about Mother’s call. “Well, we can find out,” she said. “Meet me at the Church history office tomorrow morning.” I didn’t even know the Church had a history office, but I did as I was instructed.

When we arrived, my friend quizzed me. “About what year would they have been baptized,” she asked, “and where?”

I related what few details my mother had shared. She went to the front desk and requested specific rolls of microfilm. Then we went into a reading room, loaded the rolls of film and began scanning for my maternal family’s name.

I didn’t have much hope of finding them, but my friend was confident and, sure enough, we found them. Grandma, Grandpa and their two oldest children had indeed been baptized, which meant we could do their temple work on the same day we took Mother to the temple. I was ecstatic.

Looking into the reading machine, I saw the very cards the missionaries had filled out prior to their baptisms all those years ago. And then a miracle happened.

I had been searching for years and years for the names of my maternal great-grandfather and my maternal great-great grandfather, names no one in the family ever spoke because both my grandmother and great-grandmother were born out of wedlock. But there they were, handwritten by the missionaries on the baptism information card they had filled out so many years ago.

I guess Grandma decided just that once that she would reveal the names, ending years of frustrating research for me so many years later.

The cards also contained the complete names and birthdates of all my mother’s siblings, two of whom were dead, information I had never been able to complete.

I marveled that the Church took such detailed notes, let alone saved them, let alone had them ready at hand when I needed them, a sign of the true church to me.

When we took Mother to the temple, an office worker looked at all the information finally fully filled in on our family sheet and asked, “Would you like to do all these people today?”

“Can we?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied. “In fact, we have youth here doing baptisms for the dead; we’ll send your names down to them first.”

Along with taking Mother through the temple, we also did the temple work for twenty-eight other relatives on both sides of our family that day.

It was one of the best days of my life. It was the day I felt for the first time like I belonged to an eternal family unit. And I could feel my father’s presence in the room and imagine the smile on his face. He finally had his eternal family.

Ilar Rhodes

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