Sunday, February 10, 2008

Mrs. McDonald

On the other side of the tracks, on the far side (northwest I think) of Azusa, California, there was a Lucky Lager brewery.  I remember it because it was a majestic building in an industrial sort of way.  In the vicinity there was also a park with lots of grass.  

At the far end end of the park there was a swampy area with murky stagnant water.   I think there were some trees at one end of the park, but most of it was just grass.  We went to play at this park a number of times as a family.  

One time we had brought a glass mason jar with us.  Dad took the jar and scooped up some of the icky water and showed us the contents.  There were these very small and funny looking creatures that Dad called pollywogs.  They had what looked like a big head and long skinny tail and that was about all.  At first glance I wasn't very impressed with these slimy creatures, but he explained that pollywogs would grow into frogs.  

Now he had my interest.  I thought frogs were about the coolest thing, well that is next to monkeys.  We harvested pollywogs a number of times and would take them home.  I was excited when a few of these grew into actual frogs.  

Our back yard was actually a pretty conducive frog habit.  The little tiny frogs were pretty fun.  Although very small they could really jump and were hard to catch.  I loved it when they got bigger.  It was always a good day when we would find one to play with.  I was always afraid I was going to get warts when they would pee on me though.  I don't really believe that malarky.

Dad worked managing the company store for Aerojet General for a while and would bring home lp records.  We enjoyed it when he would play his records on his turntable.  It was fascinating how the little needle could pick up the sound from the grooves on the record.  

I'm pretty sure that we fouled up his turntable and scratched his records numerous times.  Camelot, Messiah, South Pacific and the comedian Stan Freberg were some of his favorites.  He also had a reel to reel magnetic tape recorder/player.  I still remember some comedic routines from Frebeg and Alan Sherman.  Freberg had some moments in history routines that were hilarious and Sherman put funny lyrics to popular songs.  Won't you come home Disraeli and One Ton Tomato were two notables.

Dad brought some junk records to the park and we threw them like frisbees.  Of course no one tried to catch them.  It was fun but seemed unsafe at the time.  After I saw the James Bond classic Goldfinger I was pretty sure it was dangerous and avoided playing record frisbee.  Harold Sakata who played Oddjob in the movie, threw his hat and decapitated someone.  I was pretty confident that we could have a similar outcome if not careful.

Close to the park the was a small and modest little house.  An old lady lived there named Mrs. McDonald.  My Mom demonstrated great love and service to her.  She would often load us boys into the car and take us over there to visit her.  These visits were not the most exciting thing for a young boy to engage in.  In fact they pretty much pegged the boring-meter, but we understood that Mrs. McDonald was old and lonely and that the visits meant a lot to her.  I know Mom was very interested in her welfare and really cared about her.  Her example served me well as I grew older for learned to see older people, as people, and learned to enjoyed getting to know them.  Most have great wisdom, knowledge and humor to share.

At that time the most significant part of the visit for me was when she would take the lid off of the crystal candy dish and offer us a piece of candy.  At those moments I thought I truly understood the meaning of charity.

Mom would often get us ready for church early and drive us all-the-way-out-there to pick her up for church.  I don't know how far all-the-way-out-there was, but it seemed like a major inconvenience to me.  Besides I thought she was a little crazy.  She demonstrated her zaniness to me several times when she would stand up at church in the middle of a meeting and start giving an incoherent speech.   It may have been that she only did this during testimony meeting at the appropriate time, but I could swear there were some spontaneous outbursts at inopportune times.

Either way, my Mother taught me some great lessons about patience and love and empathy.  I cherish how she taught me by example how to show compassion and unselfish service to others.  Examples of the wonderful charity that my Mom and Dad have shown throughout their lives is legion.

As I reflect upon my life I remember that I, and that we, should all find some Mrs. McDonalds to visit and listen to, and to care for.  


Hugh said...

We visited a couple of Mrs. McDonald type people who live in Sandy at the beginning of this year. ;-)

The Bradford said...

i remember finding toads at the jaquette house. And also finding flattened toads in the road!

I had a teacher named mrs. mcdonald. does that count...

Amy said...

Your parents example has obviously filtered down to you. Your love and concern for the elderly and the widow is apparent.

Mom said...

I remember the toads!! Do you remember when we found one in the filter to the pump? I was surprised that the thing lived! I had forgotten the flat ones in the road! Those were the days!

Tamera said...

Every one needs to be loved, family and friends, neighbors and strangers. I try never to exclude anyone even if they are not like me and I pray that everyone isn't like me. . . And after conference we should try a little harder to be kinder, loving, and more charitable.