This was no vacation. But she had known that when they planned to spend a week at Nauvoo to increase their faith through tangible history. She had known that when you camp with children, you bring most of the chores with you but leave all the comforts and conveniences at home. An overnight rain had not eased the heat. As they had left the tent trailer this morning, she’d backed out, mopping up the muddy footprints.
The Relief Society Memorial Garden had been peaceful until they arrived with running feet and piping voices. Angie wailed in her arms, although she’d been recently fed and changed. Alma took the baby and they walked around the paths, smelling the pungency of flower beds in recently wet earth. The statues portrayed women in typical life roles. For Mother’s Day two years ago, the family had given her a replica of the woman praying. Last year’s had been the woman circling with children. This year’s had been the mother with an infant and a little boy.
In the restroom, as she washed her hands, she looked at her face in the mirror: the tired lines, the limp hair that sweat had plastered to neck and forehead. Her flushed and multi-chinned face revealing a life of fragmentation and effort did not resemble the serene faces of those sculpted women engaged in never-failing charity. She shook off the familiar feeling of depression at her many imperfections.
She found Alma resting on a bench in the shade with the three youngest. Gratefully she sat, a little breathless. A breeze cooled her wet places as she looked at every sculpture in view. Every chin line firm. Not a slump in any shoulder. No bags under the eyes from waking in the night to the sound of vomiting. No stained hands from pulling weeds or canning cherries. Nobody who looked like she needed a cart to support the immensity of her pregnant belly over swollen legs. Nobody sighing over a bad report card—again. No one wearing clothes too small since the last baby. Nobody helplessly mortified because she’d dented the car backing out at the supermarket. The woman on her knees would never be interrupted by quarreling voices. Was this what it would be like when she looked at the videotape of her life, the one they’d show her at the Last Judgment? Would all the minor harassments be erased and the charities remembered? She hoped someone was getting a good shot of Alma and her bringing five kids to Nauvoo in a mini-van.