By Golden V. Adams Jr.
Just over a year ago, I was assigned as a home teacher to Van and Eva. Although Van was a member of my High Priest Group, I did not know him well and so the first couple of times that I visited their home, I noticed that Van’s speech was slurred and I hadn’t noticed it before. I soon learned that he had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. In that visit of a year ago, my companion (Richard Veinotte) and I were made aware that at this time there was no cure for the disease.
In April, I had the opportunity to spend an hour with Van as we worked together to help him narrate five photographs that he had chosen to be his “living legacy” to his friends and family in Legacy Stories, a family history social network. At this time, he had almost lost his ability to speak due to the effects of the disease which did not allow the motor nerves to send signals from his brain to the muscles that controlled speech. This was just at the time he began to use his speech synthesis laptop for verbal communication.
It was this experience that helped me to get to know Van better. I learned that he was a native of Lindon, having moved to Salem in November 2011. He and his sweetheart have seven children and a growing number of grandchildren. He provided for his family working construction as a brickmason and recently retired from driving school bus. He always enjoyed sports, hiking, biking, and being with his family.
He told of his father being a missionary companion to Lawrence Roberts, who later became his uncle, when Van’s father married Lawrence’s sister; an experience when he was age five; an early photograph of he and Eva (shortly after their marriage after meeting at BYU) where he was wearing the same bow tie that he still had; a family photo of his wife, five daughters, and two sons taken in the early 1990s; and great memories with his ATV and his father-in-law Wendell A. King. He said that he selected this photo also because Eva thought that it was dangerous.
Over the last few months, as his condition worsened and he indicated that things were going downhill, I saw in both he and Eva great hope and courage. When asked how he was doing he always gave the “thumbs-up” signal that expressed to me his great faith in the knowledge that his Heavenly Father knew better than we. His faithfulness in attending his church meetings and his positive attitude in the face of his knowledge that his time upon earth was limited has been a great blessing in the lives of his family and friends.
Van left this mortal existence firmly on the path of the gospel of Jesus Christ thus ensuring that, for all practical purposes, his calling and election are made sure.