Soon after the birth of our first child, my husband and I broke with the established tradition of my sisters, and moved farther than a few blocks away from mom and dad. Eric’s career in the Air Force took us out of state and away from the security of family that I had always known. Moving away, especially away from my mom, was the hardest thing I’d ever done. Luckily, we took the opportunity to come home and visit quite often. I remember on the last day of one of those first visits that I was about to clean the mirror in the bathroom before we took off back to Montana. I didn’t like leaving behind the mess of a sticky toddler, which Tyler was at the time. As I was about to spray the glass cleaner, mom came in and said in a frantic voice “Don’t! Just leave it. Seeing those fingerprints makes it easier for me when you are gone, because they remind me of you.” I found out later that she would often leave those sticky fingerprints on the mirror and on the screen doors for a long time after we left because they gave her a sense of comfort and helped her to feel closer to us when we weren’t there. I’ve thought a lot about that experience since then and I think it epitomizes the type of life that Mom lived. People were always the most important thing to her . . . especially the people in her family. One other such occasion that she showed this characteristic happened during another one of our extended visits. Kailee was about two and I had just put her down for a nap in the downstairs bedroom when I heard a bloodcurdling scream coming from the bottom of the stairs. I ran to the top of the stairs to find that my baby was covered from head to toe in deep dark red. I instantly thought a tragic accident had happened and that she was covered in blood, but after scooping her in my arms, I realized from the smell that she was covered in fingernail polish! I had no idea those tiny bottles could hold so much, but after checking her out, I went into the bedroom where she was supposed to have been sleeping and realized that the comforter on the bed was covered in nail polish as much as she was! I was mortified and felt so bad when I went to tell my mom that the comforter in her guest room was completely ruined. Her reaction was priceless, and typical of her. She just smiled and said “Oh, that’s ok. Accidents happen. I’m just glad Kailee is ok.” Not only did she not react negatively to the comforter being ruined, but she actually kept it on the bed, and it is still there to this day …. Only now instead being covered in bright red, it has faded to a slight pink after all of these years. I remember asking her once why she had never replaced it, and she said it was because no other comforter would make her smile and remember her cute granddaughter and the day she’d gotten into the nail polish. Her family, and kindness showed towards them, was always more important than any possession, position, or other priority, and we all knew it. She never minded if we left fingerprints around her house, and she always showed kindness and compassion no matter what messes we caused or problems we got into. In living her life this way, she left her own indelible fingerprints on our lives.
Thomas S, Monson said “The longer we live, the greater is our realization that (life) is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon this earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. . . and what is most important almost always involves the people around us.” Mom knew this and lived it every day of her life. I am so grateful for my mom and for the lessons she taught me and for the impact she has had on my life. I’m grateful that she emulated the Savior, who Himself kept the prints of his wounds in the palms of his hands and on his feet as a reminder to us of His great love and sacrifice which allows us to be together as families forever. I’m so grateful for the knowledge I have that I will see my mom again. I’d like to dedicate this poem to her. I hope it encourages all of us to follow her example in making a difference in the lives of others and reminds us to leave evidence of our own loving fingerprints.
Not long ago God called you home, our loss was heaven’s gain
Though gone from sight, the fingerprints you left us still remain.
The void you left no one can fill, your loss too much to bear;
But oh, what comfort now to find your prints are everywhere!
They show up unexpectedly in moments and in places . . .
In sights and sounds and scents; and even in the faces
Of those you touched with your warm heart and all your loving ways.
These marks you left, no flood can wash, nor time can fade away.
Though we miss you every day and know we always will;
You left us with a legacy, of love that lingers still.
We’ll cling to precious moments in this time that we’re apart,
And take comfort in your prints, forever etched upon our heart.