The neighborhood women of the Church Relief Society, whom we call Sisters, invited all the women with October and November birthdays to a birthday luncheon, in true Relief Society fashion. Mom drove herself up the street to join 20 other birthday girls. She was so happy to associate with her friends, neighbors, and fellow Sisters. And she enjoyed the soups—creamy chicken noodle and spicy chicken taco—not to mention the desserts. Several Sisters stopped by with birthday gifts for Mom, including Barbara R., who brought a small loaf of banana bread (adding walnuts because Mom is “extra special”), Barbara N., who delivered a potted plant, because we all need to be near green living things, and Judy, with a fresh baguette and raspberry freezer jam, which went perfectly with our dinner of pork loin topped with a sweet deglaze of boiled dark stout Guinness and raspberry dressing. Such events and interactions greatly enrich Mom’s life.
Mom received an invitation from one of the women of the Church. It was fancy, with vinery winding around the pretty graphics and text. An invitation to a Relief Society Garden Party. The Relief Society, established by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1842, and reestablished in 1868 after the “Mormons” were driven from Missouri and Illinois into the wilds of Utah Territory, created a “temporal and spiritual ministry” by which the frontier pioneer women cared for each other, Church members and not. The Relief Society organization, tradition, and mission thrives today, both with weekly meetings and countless acts of ministering to one another by over seven million women—a great worldwide sisterhood. And here was the Garden Party, 179 years on, with 60 neighborhood women converging on the designated garden. I dropped Mom off at the driveway and watched her gather with the welcoming throng. She beamed as she walked through the front door three hours later, happy, refreshed, built up by camaraderie and love. Dinner had consisted of a huge salad bar spread over several tables, plus one for desserts. She loved visiting with the women, her sisters, and particularly enjoyed those who beamed cheer despite personal hardship. For that is what we do: we take what comes and help each other through with smiles on our faces, sustained by a faith that all will work out in the end.