In a few days I’ll mark the 14th anniversary of my father’s death from pancreatic cancer. Dad has been on my mind a lot today, as I’ve been mourning for two friends who’ve just lost their fathers.
If you were to say that I’ve never forgiven God for taking my father, you would probably be right. My most vivid memory of that time was sitting at Dad’s bedside and realizing that neither I nor anyone else could prevent his demise (and cursing God for not answering my prayers and for letting my father suffer the indignity of slowly wasting away as the cancer ate through his abdomen). I was relieved when Dad finally took his last breath–not because I wanted him to go, but because the suffering was so acute. I couldn’t believe how fragile his shoulders felt in my arms as I embraced his body one last time.
I wrote this poem about Dad a few years ago, and originally posted it here on February 11, 2007:
“Every man who lived on the earth,” Joseph said to them, “was entitled to a seer stone, and should have one, but they are kept from them in consequence of their wickedness, and most of those who do find one make evil use of it.” (Brigham Young’s journal, as quoted in Latter-day Millennial Star, 26:118,119)
It was the nights when Dad would have kidney stones that he would call me in
To sit at his bedside to pray.
I was the family healer, set apart in my patriarchal blessing when I was twelve
To have the power to be healed and to heal others on their behalf
I would sit and hold Dad’s hand and ask God
and he would breathe deep and say
“Thanks Jan, the pain–it’s better now”
But how when it got so bad and the doctors didn’t know why because the stones, they couldn’t see them
I fasted and prayed my healing prayer
And the answer
A time to die
And then the MRI, it showed cancer. Pancreatic. Uncurable.
Dad’s college buddy, Dave, he called today.
I’d run in to him at Sunstone, recognized him from the funeral
Asked him for stories about Dad
Dave said Dad was curious about seer stones. That a girl brought her family’s stone to their Institute class.
Dave put it in his black felt hat and they had tried to see.
I asked Dave about Dad’s testimony. Did he always believe?
He told me of Dad’s mission to the Western States. Dad was dark and could pass for native
Went to a kiva ceremony and had a manifestation–a Navajo blanket the veil, drawn back and the heavens opened.
That after that he wondered but never wavered.
I am angry now that I didn’t know this Dad.
He never told me the dream stories that Dave tells now.
Premonitions, knowing, seeing.
When I was young Dad stopped at all of the rock shops along the summer route to Utah. I liked the rose crystals, bright pyrite, peacock ores.
Dad looked, too, but I don’t know what caught his eye.
Dave says the seer stones give a psychological closeness to the Spirit, remove earthly barriers
I see myself, a rock-gatherer
They roll on the floor of my car, mark the bagua of my home, circle the herbs in my garden.
I see myself, a healer
the power to be healed
Pondering my Father’s stones
In a revelation from god, Joseph Smith reveals how those who attain glory in the afterlife will receive a seer stone of their own: Then the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher order of kingdoms will be made known. And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word. (Doctrine and Covenants 130:10-11)