"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
March 23, 2015
A Time for Becoming
by Kathryn H. Kidd

Last week I read something that was written by a friend of mine, Daryl Hoole, who recently started writing a column for the Nauvoo Times. In her article, “Space and Time Enough,” she wrote:

When Hank and I were serving a welfare/humanitarian mission in Asia, based in Hong Kong, from 1999-2001, our area president, Elder Cree-L Kofford, counseled us senior missionaries by saying: “We’re approaching the time of life when we do less, but we can be more — it’s a time of becoming, not of doing.”

Instead of just doing kind things, we can endeavor to be kind; instead of just providing service, we can strive to be a servant; instead of just sharing wisdom, we can try to be wise; instead of just doing exemplary things, we can be an example; instead of just being a member of the Church we can become a disciple of Christ.

This was a real comfort to me, because it addressed something that has plagued me lately.

When Fluffy and I were younger, we were real Energizer Bunnies of activity. Our Sundays were a good example of this. We lived in an area where Mormons were as thick as fleas on a mangy dog. In fact, we could walk to all the homes of every member of our church congregation.

And that’s exactly what we did. On Sunday afternoons, we would bake cookies or some other caloric treat, and then we would walk to the homes of random members of our congregation, knock on their doors, and exchange the treats for a visit. Surprisingly, people will pretty much always be glad to see you, even if you are almost a perfect stranger, if you have a plate of freshly baked cookies or a loaf of bread in hand.

This is how we got to know the people of our ward. We started out not knowing anybody. By the time we moved out, some eleven years later, people said we had the best-attended farewell party of any party they had ever seen. It was those Sunday visits that did it. We baked. We walked. We visited. We served.

Contrast this with a recent experience.  My visiting teachers dropped by for a visit on February 9. They brought me a little Valentine’s Day container of “Cracker Candy,” something that contained exactly four ingredients and that could be made in five minutes flat. I decided we could make our own batch of the stuff and recycle the container, giving some candy to Kim, a lady that Fluffy and I home teach.

We had all the ingredients on hand. Thanks to my visiting teachers, we even had the cute Valentine’s Day container (once we ate our own Cracker Candy out of it). Once Leslie gave me the recipe, we were all set to go.

Days passed. Some days were stormy. One cannot make candy on stormy days. (The same goes for caramel corn.) It does not set up right. That was nice. We were not in the mood anyway.

Valentine’s Day passed. Oops. This did not bode well. Then February ended. Can one give Cracker Candy in a cute Valentine’s Day container in the month of March?

St. Patrick’s Day approached and then left us in the dust. Easter is on our bunny tails. The Cracker Candy still has not been made. It isn’t that we don’t love Kim. It’s just that we’re tired — and I mean that sincerely. We’re just too tired to go into the kitchen and make the five-minute effort.

Why in the world does it wear me out to think of melting butter and brown sugar in a saucepan and then spreading it over crackers in a jelly roll pan and then melting chocolate chips on the top? Tell me, people — when did that become a hard thing to do?

As it says in Matthew 26:41, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Frankly, I had no earthly idea my flesh would ever get so weak that making cracker candy would become a daunting task.

I have no idea where the days go. Our marriage has always been a compromise, because I am a morning person and Fluffy is a nighttime person. Now that he is retired, we wake up sometime in the eights and get out of bed a little after nine, after doing a little lying in bed and planning our day. You would think that would be plenty of time to start our day, but no, it is not.

First I have to get dressed in my nightgown o’ the day. Then Fluffy has to put on my shoes and socks. If you think it is easy to put shoes and compression stockings on paralyzed feet, think again. This is a comedy of errors, but we do try to focus more on the comedy than on the errors.

I do have to mention here that pain hurts. Fluffy is pretty good at ignoring this little factoid, but it is true nonetheless.

Next we do my foot exercises. Fluffy does his best to imitate André, my former Québécois physical therapist, but his techniques are more in line with a German SS officer. Fluffy’s accent sounds more German than French, too.

I get to my office to work at about ten. I work until one or two, when I wash my hair. Then we have lunch. (You may notice there is no breakfast in the equation.) There may be a couch nap after lunch, but it usually only lasts ten minutes or so. We do my walking practice in the afternoon, sometimes a little more work, and then my scripture exercises come in later on. Then we have dinner and the day is pretty much shot.

The next day is a rerun of the day before. You know, there appears to be plenty of time to make cracker candy somewhere in there – or assembling atomic bombs, for that matter. But the days gallop away inexorably.

The clock has no mercy on old people. We don’t need to worry about running out of things to do in retirement. If anything, our to-do lists are getting longer rather than shorter.

I have been feeling so guilty about this that it has been eating me alive. I have thought I was the only person in the world in this situation, and I have been blaming it on my coma. And then Daryl Hoole’s words were a Band-Aid on my soul:

“We’re approaching the time of life when we do less, but we can be more — it’s a time of becoming, not of doing.”

I am not the only one. Swimming in molasses is the normal state of affairs for people my age. (Heaven help us.)

I have been blaming my coma for something that was not my coma’s fault at all. Well, perhaps my coma gave me a twenty-year head start.

But the quote from Daryl’s mission president did more than diagnose the problem. Daryl then gave the solution:

Instead of just doing kind things, we can endeavor to be kind; instead of just providing service, we can strive to be a servant; instead of just sharing wisdom, we can try to be wise; instead of just doing exemplary things, we can be an example; instead of just being a member of the Church we can become a disciple of Christ.

As I have thought about that quote, I have realized that when Clark and I were in our Energizer Bunny years, we were not in competition with the old people in the neighborhood as far as delivering treats to other people’s doorsteps. We did not get cookies or cakes or pies in return for our labors — nor did we expect any.

Occasionally we did get thank you notes, written in spidery, old-lady penmanship. We didn’t even expect that, because we had already been thanked on the spot, but the thank you notes were nice to get. That was the level of reciprocation one expected from old ladies, if one got reciprocation at all.

Now, I guess the shoe is on the other foot. Occasionally we answer the doorbell and are the recipients of loaves of bread and plates of cookies and other treats. We may be a little younger than the people Fluffy and I used to visit during our Energizer Bunny years, but my health may have thrown a wrench into the mix.

Also, we live in a young congregation. Like it or not, Fluffy and I are just about the oldest people around here. We may not be wise, but we are geriatric by default. I guess it is our job to try to act the part.

As we move through life, we cycle through different roles. In turn we are infant, toddler, student, teen, young adult, college student, young married, parent, empty-nester, and golden ager. Some of us have more roles than these; some of us have fewer.

But the progression is there, and as much as we may want to linger in one stage of our lives or another, it does not happen. We go from birth to death — to our graduation into the next life — as surely as a tree goes from spring into the winter.

I have been foolish to expect to cavort about as a spring lamb when I am really an old sheep with no spring to my step. I still think I should be able to muster the energy for cracker candy, or even for more ambitious projects, but perhaps it is time to step aside and let the Energizer Bunny tasks be left to the Energizer Bunnies.

There is still a role for me — and it may even be an important one — but it is different from that of the role I have been expecting myself to continue doing for these past two-plus frustrating years. If I can get through each day and make a positive influence on just one person, perhaps that will be enough.

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About Kathryn H. Kidd

Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the possibility that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at every opportunity.

A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.

She married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.

A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy moderated a weekly column ("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian until she was derailed by illness in December of 2012. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.

Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she hopes to get back to writing a weekday blog once she recovers from being dysfunctional. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.

Kathy spent seven years as a teacher of the Young Women in her ward, until she was recently released. She has not yet gotten used to interacting with the adults, and suspects it may take another seven years. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.

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