Daughters of God


Children's Responsibility to Care for an Elderly Mother

Mary Chase was the sister of James White. During his lifetime he and Ellen had cared for his sister. After James died, Ellen White felt she could no longer bear this responsibility. She wrote to Mary's daughter, Adeline Savage, challenging her to fulfill her duty in caring for her mother. DG 198.3

Dear Niece, Adeline Savage,

I think you should know how your mother [Mary Chase] is at the present time. She is quite feeble. She has needed care constantly. I cannot possibly have any care of her whatever. DG 198.4

We leave Battle Creek for Otsego today. Next week we shall be, I expect, at Chicago. The eighth we start on our long journey for California. I feel very sad to leave your mother in her present state of feebleness. I provide for her the very best I can. I purchased a house, which has cost me a thousand dollars, and furnished it simply with necessary articles for her use. We have let a family into the house—a mother, son, and daughter. They have the use of the house [in exchange] for your mother's board. I pay the taxes. Last year your mother paid the taxes, but she met with an accident in building a fire in the stove. The floor took fire and there was seventy-five dollars expense to me for repairs. DG 198.5

The son of the widow lady who has my house has been sick for five weeks. During this time your mother has been sick, attended by a physician and sometimes a nurse, for she could not receive attention from anyone in the house. It was in the bargain that your mother's fire should be made in the morning so that she could have a warm room to get up in, but further than this they could not do. DG 198.6

If she needed a nurse, she must provide it. She has only three hundred dollars, which will melt away very soon. She must have clothing. She must have wood. I have done all I can do, and more than I should do. I look to you, her children and her grandchildren, to act your part. I feel bad indeed at the present appearance of things, that strangers’ hands have to do for your mother the duties which justly belong to you to perform. When the neighbors and friends inquire, “Has she no children to have a care for her?” how embarrassing to say, “She has two sons and a daughter and grandchildren and brothers.” The question is asked, “Why do not her children take care of their aged mother in her feebleness?” I am not able to answer that question, but perhaps you can answer it. DG 199.1

I have my work, which is speaking and writing. I am in constant labor and ought not to have one thought or one care upon my soul for your mother. I have invested twenty-five dollars for clothing because your mother needed it. I have ordered wood for the winter because last winter I learned she lay abed hours in the daytime to save burning wood. The little money she has on hand, she is reluctant to use, thinking she might be sick for some time like her mother, and she dreads becoming a pauper. I cannot blame her for this, for judging from the past, she may feel she cannot depend at all on her children. DG 199.2

Your mother has been very economical. I shall not leave her to suffer if you do nothing; but if you feel conscience clear in this matter, if you wish your record to stand in the judgment in the future as it has in the past in regard to your poor old mother, I cannot help it. But God marks this unfeeling neglect. DG 199.3

God holds her children accountable for this neglected duty. I am sorry, so sorry, that the matter stands thus. DG 199.4

Christ will judge every man according to his works. He identifies His interest with His suffering, neglected children. He says to one class, “I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.... Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” The terrible word “Depart” is spoken. DG 199.5

To those on His right hand He says, “I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” The question is asked, “Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” He said, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Thus that which is done to His needy brethren Christ accounts as done unto Himself.—Letter 30, 1884. DG 200.1