I have an incredible friend. Her name is Susan. I’ve known her for about 26 years. This woman is a few years older than I, not that you’d know it by looking at her or all that she does. She puts me to shame! Big time!
I don’t know how to explain what I mean any better than by listing what I know of some of her accomplishments/daily activities. Please bear with me.
She is and does the following:
- wife of 48 years to the same husband
- a mother of 1 daughter and 4 sons—who all, but the youngest, live far from here
- a grandmother of 14 grandchildren
- owns her own business (jointly with her husband) which employs at least 10 employees
- is indispensable to her husband’s fireworks business which provides employment for many, many others in a broad geographical area
- is thoughtful, kind and generous
- donates her time to the small community where she was born and raised as their Mayor of 18 years
- cooks a hot mid-day meal for her employees each of the 6 days/week her business is open—before coming to work
- donates her time/talents to Church service (we belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has a lay ministry, and are not paid for services rendered)
- as the organist—for about 25 years now
- pianist for the choir and anything at other times she’s asked—I don’t know how many years
- recently taught a lesson in Relief Society (the women’s organization) at least once each month
- has presided as the President or a Counselor of our Ward’s (congregation) Relief Society
- has presided as the President or a Counselor of our Ward’s Primary (the children’s organization)
- has served as the Ward and Stake choir director
- has served as the Stake (similar to a Catholic diocese) Music Chairman—which oversees the various Wards and Branches (units or congregations organized within the Stake)
- supported her husband’s various callings as Bishop, Stake President’s Counselor, Bishop’s Counselor and a host of other callings he’s had throughout their marriage—which means she’s had to do without his help with their small children during Church meetings for most of their marriage
- has encouraged me through all my callings, particularly in the music area—‘cause I don’t have her talent/training!
- cared for her mother for many years when her health required daily assistance (her Mom was 98, I think, when she died)
- visits one of her older siblings (who is about 15 years her senior) in the nursing home each day—7 days a week, in the community I live in
- ALWAYS went to each band event EACH AND EVERY one of her children participated in throughout their public school and college years—no matter how far they traveled!
- has a great sense of humor
- is not above perpetrating practical jokes on people she knows well
- keeps a large home (it’s large to accommodate her children/grandchildren when they come to visit) neat and clean—always!
- keeps up her yard—along with her husband
- has opened her home to her sisters-in-law and other family members who were displaced for a while following Hurricane Rita, back in 2005—the one people didn’t hear so much about because of all the press on Katrina hitting New Orleans, but was just as devastating—and one of those sisters-in-law lived with her for about a year when her health required daily help
- Does without sleep most of the time—I’m convinced!!!
- Her sister-in-law described her like this: “Susan is the most well organized, disciplined person I know. And she’s tireless.”
As much as she has a great sense of humor, she is also very much a no-nonsense person when it comes to matters that require seriousness—adhering to the laws of God and man.
Susan scared me to death when I first came to live and attend Church here. Her husband was the Bishop at the time. I mostly saw the no-nonsense side of her—at first. I knew she loved children and working with them. Still she wouldn’t tolerate them being irreverent during time for serious lessons, but she’d play with them during music time with fun songs.
I am from a different background than she. She, as I mentioned above, is still living in the same community she was born and raised in—right next door to her parent’s home. She does not like to travel, though her business requires it once or twice a year. I was born 1500 miles from here and raised all over, and I love to travel. She hates to speak in public—to a group—like even in Church—where she knows everyone and has known them for most of her/their lives. I don’t mind at all. (I know. Something’s wrong with me!) She is not comfortable teaching in Relief Society, etc. (She’s a VERY GOOD teacher who spends a lot of prep time on each lesson.) I, on the other hand, LOVE to teach in Church.
Susan did something back in November 1994 that touched me deeply and taught me what a good, thoughtful, kind, “in-tune” person she is. My father had just died. Our oldest child was in Utah going to school there as a brand new college freshman. We were leaving shortly—driving our three younger children to Utah. In wintery weather. (My husband is a native Louisiana boy—hates driving in winter weather—period.) So, that afternoon as we were madly packing for a road trip to Utah in the winter, Susan came to the front door and said, “I’m not too late, am I?”
Then she went back to her car and proceeded to gather up bags and bags of goodies for us to snack on during the 2 1/2 day drive. I was in shock. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness. I thanked her. And she said, “It’s not much. I wasn’t sure what your family liked. I hope something in there will be something you’ll like.” (We were leaving soon and I hadn’t yet gotten anything to take with us to snack on and didn’t know if I’d even have time.) And then she was gone.
Even more impressive to me was this: Every treat she brought was something particularly enjoyed by one or all of us. I don’t now remember any more about the specifics of the contents of those bags—there were so many bags of goodies! (I think we ate those goodies for weeks, even after we got back home!) But I came to understand that Susan, in that instance had prayed for guidance to get snacks we’d like—and she’d received guidance from a loving Heavenly Father to bless a family that had no clue she was so aware of us in our time of need.
I’ve come to know that Susan prays a lot about a lot of things. She cares about a lot of people and has a great love of the Savior, Jesus Christ. She’s dedicated to living as He taught/teaches us to live. I believe that’s what gives her the strength to do all that she does, provides her with the continued faith to persevere through the many trials and tribulations she faces day in and day out.
You might think Susan is a fictional character. I assure you, she is not. There may be hundreds of women like her in the world, but she’s the only one like her that I know.
I love this sister, this woman of great faith and good works. She’s one of my greatest heroes. (Or is that heroines?) I’d like to be more like her. I need to be more like her.
Share with me what you know of people like Susan, or at least, who your heroes/heroines are and why.