Twenty-five years ago, Karlene Hardy of Oakley, Idaho, was a young mother-to-be when someone emphasized the importance of completing her four-generation sheets. Sister Hardy obediently set a personal goal to do the work, and "I completed this task and felt I had done my part." At the time, these ancestors, to Sister Hardy, were just "names on the sheets."
Years later, she came to appreciate her progenitors. In 1996, her grandmother, Pearl Garrard Poulton, a convert who had not been active in the Church, became physically disabled. Sister Poulton, now 92, requires total care, so her descendants take turns providing it.As the family spends time with their disabled but mentally alert grandmother, she tells stories about her deceased family, those for whom her descendants had helped do research 25 years earlier. She also gave them many group sheets of research she had done.
"We started a beautiful journey together through her life history," said Sister Hardy. "Those names and dates became real people and events. We have been so greatly enriched by the moments of laughter and tears as she recalls the priceless events of her life."
Another blessing came through this situation. One day, family members did the temple work for Sister Poulton's late husband, Hyrum. While at the temple, they experienced powerful spiritual feelings. At the same time, Sister Poulton had a change of heart and said she wanted to become worthy for a temple recommend, which she since has received. Unfortunately, she is too infirm to attend the temple.
This year as Sister Hardy visited the cemetery in Oakley, Idaho, where many of her forebears are buried, and placed flowers on the headstones, it wasn't as an act of duty for her grandmother.
"I felt like I know these people," she said. "They have become more than names on a tomb. They are personalities. I feel they are actually family. I relate to them as my grandparents and uncles and aunts. I know about each one of them.
"My understanding about our eternal family and our eternal obligation to our ancestors has grown much more keen and my life has been greatly enriched," she said.