Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Stories of Asael and Ellen

For those of you who may not know, I have spent every Friday and Saturday in the University of Utah Hospital this semester for clinicals. It is the pits, however I have had some awesome experiences.  On November 1st I particularly hated that I had to be in the hospital because I was on a sugar hang over from Halloween and I was exhausted! I noticed one of my patients was from Vernal, Utah.  He was in a lot of pain so in my attempt to distract him I had the following conversation with him:

Me: My Mother spent her summers in Vernal as a teenager and she has fond memories of that area.”
Patient: “Why”
Me: “Her grandparents lived there.”
Patient:  “What is their last name”
Me: “Haws, Ellen and Asael Haws”
Patient: “No kidding?! We lived across the street from them”
Just then the patient’s Son 36 years old, (I asked him later) and Wife walked in
Patient to his family: “Guess who her great grandparents are, Ellen and Asael!”
Wife: “Really? Oh, I loved Ellen so much!
Me: “My mother was pregnant with me when she passed away, my middle name is Ellen”
The spirit was so strong; I could literally feel this woman’s love for my great grandmother.  We both had tears in our eyes when she finally said “Let me tell you a few stories about her.”

“When I was pregnant with our third son” she paused and said “or was it our second…” more pausing then “ no, it was our third because for our second son Ellen made him booties that he wore for his baby blessing.”  A smile while she remembered the fond memories. She continued,  “When I was pregnant with our third Ellen was in the advancing stages of Alzheimer’s.  About a week after I had him she walked in through our front door without knocking, she never did this, she had no shoes on.  She looked confused so I directed her to the couch and she just reached her hands out for my newborn son.  I gave him to her and she just held him and looked at him.  After about 15 minutes she stood up and without saying a word she handed me my son and left. 

“The Christmas before Ellen died we did the 12 days of Christmas for them.  I remember the Fast and Testimony meeting of the New Year Asael stood up and thanked who ever it was that had done this service for him and his wife.  He talked about how much it brightened up Ellen’s Christmas and he was truly grateful, it was a blessing that our children were able to participate in” the son piped in “I think Asael knew it was us, we weren’t that fast of runners”

“That same Christmas, which was just months before she died, she died in January or February I believe, I saw her sitting on the couch in the foyer the Sunday after Christmas.  She rarely talked at this point.  I asked her if she enjoyed her Christmas with her family.  She looked up at me and said “YES I DID” it was the last thing she every said to me.” I could tell that this experience was one that this good woman cherished, as I have thought about it the past week I think it is because even in the end with dementia Ellen still remembered and knew what was important to her, she was at Church, and she loved and cherished time with her family.  I wish I knew which family member had visited her that Christmas so I could hear their stories from their time together.

Patient: “Their home was so beautiful, they had a large pussy willow tree in the back yard and they had a large garden.  They would share their vegetables with us.  Oh, Asael loved his horses.  He was such a strong hard working man.”

Son: “I remember one day we were had put pipe down in a ditch and we were covering it with dirt.  We asked Asael if we could borrow his wheelbarrow to carry the dirt.  Well, he wouldn’t just let us borrow it.  He came over and insisted on being the one to carry the wheelbarrow.  I remember he was so strong.”

Patient: “The day Asael was moving to go live with family after Ellen died all the neighbor kids were sitting around him on his front porch saying their goodbyes.  They were all so upset, they all loved Asael so much.  My daughter was only about 4 at the time and she came home crying that day from saying goodbye”

I really wished I didn’t have to be a student nurse that day, and I could’ve just listened to stories all day long.  But that was all they had time to tell me before I had to go to another patient’s room.  Needless to say I think my plan to distract this patient from his pain was very successful! It was a tender mercy for the patient to forget his pain and trials and also for me to see into the life of the woman I constantly try to emulate.

According to Google this is what a pussy willow tree looks like


  1. Those stories are amazing and made me cry, I'm so glad you had this special experience!

  2. Loved the story. Thanks so much for posting it!