“When you think of your father, what comes into your mind?”
“A whole mixture of things, a spiritual giant, someone to pattern my life after, a friend, someone to share my problems with, someone to jog with, someone to play basketball with—a real great guy!”
What an introduction and compliment to a man from his son! As I continued my talk with this son, I wondered how anything more could be added.
“He’s the kingpin of our neighborhood basketball team, so one day a boy called him the king. Now he’s just that and all my friends think he’s neat.
“He’s honest in everything he does and he works very hard. Probably one of his greatest assets is that he’s really friendly. We can be driving down the street in the car and my dad will wave to someone in another car.
“‘Who’s that?’ I’ll ask.
“‘I don’t know, he just looked like a nice person,’ Dad might reply.
“My dad used to take a bunch of us up into central Idaho to run the Salmon River. He would take us up on top of one of the big hills at night, and we’d all lie down on the ground. Dad would stretch out, look up at the stars, and then he would talk to us. None of us ever said a word. We just listened. Then we’d have prayer together. Those are great memories.
“He talks a lot about Helaman and how he would like to have been in the army of the 2,000. He’s big and strong enough too. He played fullback in high school football and was really good.
“We talk about preparing for my mission. We talk about finances. He tells me how I need to save and to settle down and prepare myself spiritually for my mission. He’s a great one to say, ‘Always be prepared. Live close enough to the Lord so that if you are called upon on the spur of the moment to talk, pray, give a blessing, or perform an ordinance, you can do it well under the spirit.’”
“Dad loves his family and spends his free time with us.”
“He loves caramel frosting.”
“He always says how much he loves his work and the Lord. During family home evenings he sometimes tells us of his experiences that tie in with the lesson. He told us once that when he was a little boy and couldn’t find his best shoes on Sunday, he wore a pair of nurse’s shoes so he wouldn’t have to miss Sunday School.
“He loves music, especially the records of the Tabernacle Choir. He listens to these records every chance he gets. He sings around the house a lot and plays a ‘mean’ harmonica. He’s taking piano lessons now every Wednesday.”
“How does it feel to be the only girl in the family?” I asked his young daughter.
“OK,” came an honest reply.
“What do you and your father do together?”
“Sometimes he lets me go to work with him at his office on Saturday. I just keep him company while he works. Once in a while he takes me to the park. I love to go to the park. We also go out and look at the stars together.”
“How does your father show his love for you and your mother?” I asked.
“Oh, he shows it in a lot of ways. One way is just the look on his face.
“Dad treats Mom so nice. They both seem to ache when they have to leave each other. It’s as though they’ve been falling in love over and over for twenty-five years.”
I had a rare opportunity to talk with the mother of this General Authority about her son.
“He was always a daredevil—he would scare me to death! He used to try to swim across the irrigation dams. He loves to swim. He would see how many times he could swim the length of a swimming pool without breathing, but I was the one who almost stopped breathing.
“He was always good to help with his younger brothers and sisters. One day when he was about four years old, his little cousin came to visit. I remember that he put his arms around her and sang the song, ‘Let’s Fall in Love,’ in his very best voice.
“He has always loved music. When we all get together we sing. He likes to listen to recorded music. One of the first things he bought from money he earned on his first job was a record player.
“I had eight children and the last baby was born when he was about twelve years old. He took right over, fixed the bottles, changed the diapers, and did everything. He could cook a good meal—not just bacon and eggs, but delicious dishes from recipes.
“One thing you had to watch out for, however, was his dry sense of humor. He could look at you without a hint of a smile on his face and say the dangdest thing; then you realized that he had been teasing.
“He was president of his junior and also his senior class in high school and president of the seminary during one year. However, when he went to school for his first day, he just got tired, walked out of the room, climbed a tree, and waited until school ended. I finally made it clear to him that he must remain in the schoolroom until the teacher told him he was excused.
“Our Christmas times were special. The children would string popcorn and make paper chains, and we had a very handsome tree.
“I recall that when we were considering the purchase of our home, my son came running to me and said, ‘Oh, Mother, this is the house we want—it’s right across the street from the church. We just have to buy this one.’ It didn’t matter that he had to walk over a mile to school; the Church has always been first in his life.”