February 11, 2013

Mary Taught me How to Visit Teach in Cold Snowy Boston

After the nor'easter hit this last weekend, I couldn't help but remember some of the times I was cold in snowy Boston. We lived there for 5 years while my husband studied Chemistry.  Although those years were difficult and stressful, I have fond memories of the people I met in the beautiful city.

February seemed to be the coldest month there.  Tires would pop on the sharp icy roads on particularly cold days.  Going anywhere took courage and many layers of clothing.  With our old Dodge Diplomat, we usually drove everywhere on those cold days, except when I went Visiting Teaching.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was asked to serve as a Visiting Teacher as soon as we arrived.  My duties were to visit certain women in the congregation monthly and make sure they were doing well.  I was given a companion—another woman who would accompany me on these visits.  As needs were noted, we would fill them ourselves unless the needs were greater than we could solve.  Then we were to let the Relief Society President know, so she could help us fill the needs. 

I gladly accepted the call, knowing I would become acquainted with a wonderful group of women, and hopefully make life-long friendships.  My companion Mary turned out to be a fabulous mentor as well.  Although Mary was unique in many ways, her dedication to Visiting Teaching became her most memorable feature.

Outwardly, Mary was a middle-aged practical woman.  She wore her long graying brown hair in simple neat braids on each side much like a young girl.  As typical of the late 1980's, we wore dresses to church and for visiting teaching.  As the weather turned cold, she wore multiple layers of clothing to keep warm, as she walked or took the subway everywhere she went.  Her ensemble was topped with the hats, scarves and gloves she needed.  She was an amazing sight, all wrapped up warmly with a dress on! 

To visit teach with Mary, I copied her fashion sense and put on as many layers as I could spare.  I even wore sweat pants under that dress I reluctantly donned.  From our warm apartment near the Longfellow Bridge in Cambridge, I walked over to Beacon Hill, where Mary was awaiting.   Ice floes on the Charles River illustrated the cold temperature, but I felt it more.  Wind blew across the frigid water and cut right through all those layers as I crossed that bridge.

We visited an older immigrant in the South End, a young homesick nanny in Back Bay and a divorcee in Brookline, among other interesting women.  As it was, it took all Saturday to walk that route and visit with them.  After the last appointment, I crossed the BU (Boston University) bridge and headed home.  Although it may have only been a few miles of walking, in the cold weather it seemed miles and miles further.  I admit it was a pleasant walk in the Spring, Summer and Fall.  But this visiting teaching route froze me to the core in Winter, especially in February. 

Mary was a true disciple of Christ.  She cared deeply about our charges, making sure they knew we'd be there to help no matter what.  Even the coldest weather didn't deter Mary from visiting these nice ladies.  Mary had a joyous laugh that melted all discomfort as we reconnected monthly with our new friends.  One woman never once came to church while we visited her, yet she welcomed us each month once she got to know Mary.  Mary's consistency and steadiness in visiting teaching taught me volumes about how important this assignment was.  Even in the coldest weather of February in Boston.

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