When I was moving in, the last owner told me about the three neighbors I would soon meet, one of them being a little old firecracker named Ana. She was described as a chatter box and and that “everyone knows Ana”. When I first met her this proved to be true, so on Monday when I came down my stairs and saw her out sweeping her front porch, I knew I would probably end up at work a few minutes later than I had originally intended.
As expected, Ana and I started to talk and she began to tell me that she used to sweep the front porch and stairs for our side of the building, but since she couldn’t do the stairs anymore, I was welcome to borrow her brooms anytime. “I am 84 years old!” she reminded me, over and over. To give you a better image of Ana, she also stands at about 4’10” and has a thick, Italian accent. Ana also likes to remind me she “is a New Yorker!”. I thanked her and assured her I would borrow her brooms if the desire to sweep ever came over me. She then told me she tried to tell the HOA people about it but they’re no help. Then, her demeanor saddened and she said they call her “the foreigner”. With that her lip started to tremble and Ana started to cry. She began telling me how she has no family here, her husband passed away and her children live back in New York, where both her parents are buried. My heart broke for her and I gave her a hug and she held onto me tightly.
She began to tell me about how her husband fought in WWII, how she lived through Hitler and Mussolini and her family immigrated to New York in the 1950s. She and her husband at some point then moved to Salt Lake, bringing (according to her) the first good, authentic Italian food to the valley. Her life sounded so fascinating!! Ana then began to brag to me that she keeps a very clean house and that I wouldn’t find a cleaner house anywhere! At that point she told me I had to come in and see it! I knew there was no fighting it, so I followed her in where she proudly showed me around her neat home (though full of the knick knacks older people tend to collect…it’s endearing really) and then showed off pictures of her husband in an old military photo, her two sons from when they were younger and her two granddaughters.
I finally left Ana and headed to work. As I got into my car, my heart completely shattered for her. She is all alone. She has no family here, I don’t know that she has many, if any, friends and she is not able to drive, so she can’t go anywhere. Ana is completely alone. I cried the whole way to work that day, as I thought up things I can do for her, like buy her flowers or take her out for dinner. I also thought of my own grandparents and of how grateful I am that all of them have some sort of support system near to them, whether it is family, friends, church or a combination of those. As I’ve been going about my busy schedule, Ana has been consuming my mind all week.
Tonight I attended the General Women’s Session of General Conference (if you missed it, go watch it here. It was SO good!). The over arching theme of the talks, videos and music shared was serving others. The whole time, I thought about Ana.
With tomorrow being Easter Sunday, it seems only appropriate that we should think of the amazing gift given to us by our Savior, Jesus Christ – The Atonement! His Resurrection from the grave is fulfillment of all the Father asked of Him and His victory over the grave means that we will live again, that we can be with our families forever, that all the hardships we go through can be eased and placed up on His shoulders, so we don’t have to bear the whole weight of it alone. Because of Him, there is true joy, there is love and there is happiness available for everyone.
In Matthew, Chapter 22, we read of how Christ was asked by wicked men trying to trick him which was the greatest commandment. He answered,
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul , and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these hang all the law and the prophets.”
We can never hope to repay the Lord for the great gift He has given to us. But He did it because He loves us and all He asks is that we love Him and love each other. None of us are meant to go through this life alone. We’re on this earth together to learn and grow and experience God’s love for us – usually through another one of His children. Pray to know who needs you and what you can do for them. I guarantee you can be an influence for good in the life of someone else and through sharing God’s love, more love will enter your life as well.