Compassion

As the sons of Jim Clark all get older, I think we all realize we are becoming more and more like him. I, in particular, picked up on my dad’s tear ducts. My dad will cry over a commercial on TV. I used to laugh and say, “Oh, Dad, comon, the Lexus isn’t that great.”

I am morphing into that teary-eyed man I grew up watching. I think I saw a billboard one day with “Team Hoyt: Inspiration, pass it on” and I teared up. Why? Because I know their story. It’s pretty incredible. But so are my tear ducts.

It’s funny how as you experience different things in life they have huge impacts on how you handle new situations you face. My family has had some pretty incredible (and I don’t always mean “Awesome!” by “incredible”) experiences in regards to my youngest brother. In fact, this blog post was inspired by my sister Gillian’s musings on this brother and my sister Adrianne and how she’s dealt with health trials in her life.

Ammon’s had a very challenging physical life and my parents have had to deal with those first-hand. I was a senior in high school when he was born, so my involvement was somewhat limited. I was out of the house and on a mission and college fairly soon after he was born. But my folks have been very limited in what they can do — even in terms of going out, going on vacations to visit their grandkids, even driving up to Idaho for a missionary farewell/homecoming because it’s difficult to manage all the stuff that deals with hauling Ammon anywhere.

My folks really get exhausted when there are extended hospital stays for Ammon. They live over an hour away from Primary Children’s, they have to eat and pay for hospital food for most their meals, they sleep on crappy beds in the room, their entertainment is limited to small TVs that show the Disney Channel to keep Ammon entertained, and they deal with a plethora of hospital staff who don’t necessarily have great, shall we say, people skills.

I’ve watched this all a little detached. Sure, I’ve made plenty of visits up to the hospital to see them, but there’s nothing I can really do. I just kinda have to sit back and watch it all transpire and hope for the best. I’ve learned a lot about Spina Bifida in the last 14 years but mostly learned more about my parents and some of my siblings.

Today, I was sitting in a regional church meeting and was listening to Vicki Matsumori speak. She was speaking about how parents are an example for their kids and then related an experience illustrating this. They had a premature baby who spent lots of time in the hospital. He also developed hydrocephalus, which means water on the brain. Ammon has the same problem and the shunt — the draining mechanism — is the reason he recently spent three weeks in the hospital.

One night, after they all returned home from a recent surgery, this young baby was crying in his room. As Vicki and her husband debated on who would check on the baby this time, they suddenly heard the pitter patter of 2-year-old feet coming down the hallway. The baby’s cries stopped and things were calm. Vicki walked into the baby’s room and noticed that their 2-year-old daughter, hearing the cries of her little brother, got out of bed, walked into his room, climbed into his crib to calm him down, and proceeded to lay her hands on his head to say a prayer for him. Undoubtedly, she’d seen her own father lay his hands on her brother’s head to offer a Priesthood blessing many times.

Vicki Matsumori was very emotional as she related this story and I felt much the same way. I thought of the compassion this big sister had on her little brother, the example she was simply following, and the physical ailments some face that allow us all to grow a little.

My life really is pretty easy. I have a great wife and three adorable daughters. Our health problems are minimal. I have a job where I feel very stable. We have a home we can afford and enjoy. Our cars work. We have good friends. Perhaps my challenge is to observe others’ trials and exhibit the compassion and support needed to lift the hands that hang down.

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9 thoughts on “Compassion

  1. If it's any consolation, my tear ducts work more like dad's as I age too! What's with that?? ;)Thanks for sharing. I think I could post your words as well. It feels like that sometimes in our lives here too. But knowing what we know, and having experienced what we have, our responsibility is even greater to help those who are in need. That's a cool story from Sis Matsumori too.

  2. Well, when you make posts like this one and the rest of you over the weekend, my tear ducts are overactive as well. I was very touched by all your comments this weekend. I felt the spirit in all of them. The story about Sister Matsumori made me sob. I could see any one of you doing the same thing when Ammon was a baby. It wouldn't even have to be Ammon – you took care of each other all through your lives.Jess, you are very compassionate. I think of all the days you would show up at Shriners early in the morning and would even go late to work to stay with him until one of us could get up there to be with Ammon. You came and visited and your brought your girls often. We all looked forward to your visits.You brought me a much appreciated meal the other night to break the monotony of hospital food.You have always done more than sit by and watch. Thank you. Matthew 25fits well in your life.

  3. I was watching tv with dad right after I got home from my mission.. We were watching Disney's Ice Princess. Dad cried at multiple spots. I was way confused but I started all coming back to me that died cried at everything. But I think I have it a little too, cause the last time I went to priesthood with dad and Ammon in Elk Ridge, last spring, while just sitting there I looked over at Ammon and just started crying cause I could feel his spirit and strength and I remember thinking man! I must look like my dad over here crying..

  4. I am glad you are a crier Jess. I am glad all of the men in my life are criers! It is a way for us to feel of your spirit. Some say men aren't great communicators ( not me of course!)but your tears tell us alot.

  5. Yea, I have been a crier all my life.. so no surprise that I cried during this post too. We have a great family dont we?

  6. Thanks for reminding me that my tear ducts work as well…now I have to reapply the make-up. That was a wonderful and VERY inspiring post. Thanks for sharing! The Beebes sure are grateful to have the Clarks as friends. =)

  7. I have had those same thoughts this past week. Do you remember an Elder Leonard, he has in the office for awhile. Anyways, I noticed him on facebook and was excited to learn how the last 10 yrs have gone, up until three weeks ago, they were great! Than around the 23rd of sept his wife started feeling sick, they waited a few days and she progressively got worse, so on a friday they took her to the hospital, after all kinds of crazy complications, she died monday the 29th. I was in total shock and immediately though of my wife and how blessed I really am!!

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