Steam filled the room, and the heavy boilers began gurgling away their song of work in the cask sterilizing plant of the Great Yarmouth [England] brewery in which I worked. It was Tuesday morning, February 25, [1941,] as I commenced upon another day of apparent routine work in my humble and none too pleasing occupation.
This particular Tuesday began as a customary day of work, but it developed into an unusual and memorable one for me indeed. Not long after I had begun my work at my machine – at 8:15 a.m. to be exact – a workmate handed me a note. Notes at work, and particularly at this hour of the day, were unusual, so I read the contents with thoughts of eagerness mingled somewhat with anxiety. The message was short: “Sister Cushion is dying and is asking for you to administer to her.”
I became suddenly weak as the purport of these words dawned upon me. Here was I, just an ordinary worker, called upon to perform an important duty for a fellow being who was in the very Valley of the Shadows. Hurriedly I showed the note to the foreman, who granted me a leave of absence from the room of steam.
Cycling to my home in Great Yarmouth, I obtained a hymn book, sacrament card and consecrated oil, and then set out on the three-mile journey to Bradwell, where Sister Ann Caroline Cushion resides with her daughter, Sister Mabel D. Cushion Upcraft. I had no trouble finding her home along the hedge-bordered lane, for on the gate was the inscription of “Gaza,” so named in remembrance of Sister Cushion’s son, Lon Alec, who was killed while fighting for his country near Gaza, Palestine, in the Great War.
Walking up the garden path, I entered the modern Upcraft home. After a few hurried enquiries, I was ushered into the sickroom. There was Sister Cushion, propped up in her bed to aid her breathing. Both her physician and her nurse had given her up. Bronchitis and heart trouble were the cause, and since she was 76 years of age there remained not a vestige of hope.
But the light that came into her friendly face, wreathed by silvery hair, was sufficient reward for my haste (I had reached her place in an hour’s time since receiving the note). She assured me that I was not too late.
Immediately asked her what I could do for her. Although she could not speak plainly, I understood that she wanted to be administered to and to partake of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.
Realizing my responsibility, I knelt at the side of her grey-blanketed bed for a few minutes, and asked my Heavenly Father for help and guidance in the important task I had before me. Then I anointed her with holy oil, and sealed the anointing in the presence of Sister Upcraft. Then we all partook of the bread and water in sacrament.
Remembering that on a previous visit Sister Cushion had expressed the desire to hear the elders sing, I asked if she would like me to sing to her. Her face brightened. “Sing O My Father,” she asked. So in the quietude of that sickroom I sang those rapturous words composed by the Pioneer poetess, Eliza R. Snow. Then I sang School Thy feelings, that inspiring song written in Britain by the late President Charles W. Penrose.
Returning to the plant at 2 p.m., my thoughts throughout the afternoon lingered in that room in which Sister Cushion lay battling against death.
Work completed,”tea” over and Primary children’s practice finished, I set out again for Bradwell in the evening, all the time wondering apprehensively what I would find when I arrived. Upon arriving, I found Sister Cushion still breathing, but much weaker. She asked me to administer to her with prayer and oil once more. After meeting her request, I seated myself, and began to wait. A change came over her. Her countenance glowed with a new radiance. She seemed to take on the appearance of youth.
The following morning my wife visited Sister Cushion, and found her much better. The doctor, one of the well-known physicians in the area, told her that Sister Cushion now had a chance for recovery. He said that he had given her up two days before, but that a remarkable change, which he could not explain, had come over her. To us, the source of that change was clear. It was the power of the holy Priesthood which I held – the same Priesthood which the Apostles of old held, restored in these last days to the Prophet Joseph Smith, a Priesthood which no man can enjoy “but he that is called of God as was Aaron.”
Since the administration to her, Sister Cushion has been able to converse with visitors and to explain to them the healing power of the Priesthood.
From that call to me in the boiler room that Tuesday morning developed a wonderful experience. The incident demonstrates the divinity and moving force of the Priesthood, no matter how humble the trade of us who hold it might be.
Ann Caroline Alger Cushion (1859-1941) lived until 31 May 1941, three months after her blessing. She had been a member of the Church since 1908.
Mabel Demaris Cushion Upcraft (1901-1975), her daughter, was baptized at age 8, one year after her mother’s baptism. (Her father’s baptism was done in the Salt Lake Temple in 1944).
Sister Cushion’s son Lon Alec Cushion (1898-1917) who died in World War I was baptized the same day as his sister.
I’ve posted this under the “In Their Own Words” series, but technically these aren’t the words of Brother Cole – this story is “as told to W.J.A.” I suspect that if we had his own words, they would be somewhat humbler, less polished than this story, but given a choice between having his story filtered through a fluent writer or not having had the story preserved, I’ll take the filter! Albert Alexander Cole (1895-1984) was called as president of the Gorlston Branch soon after his 1930 baptism. That branch, formed in 1931, was closed in 1941 when the war broke out and most of the local people were evacuated from the defense zone. Bro. Cole remained, and was called to the District Presidency. One of his duties was to visit the remaining branches in the area at least once a month; he also visited a nearby American Air Force base as often as possible to provide the sacrament to Latter-day Saint servicemen there.