Friend to Friend

From a personal interview by Joleen Meredith with Elder James M. Paramore of the First Quorum of the Seventy.

Print Share
    Elder James M. Paramore

    “My mother is a unique person,” began Elder Paramore in tribute to his mother. “She has implicit, absolute faith in our Father in heaven. Through prayer and undeviating faith, she has been able to accomplish many things in her life. She prayed that my father would become active in the Church, and it happened; he became a very strong, faithful, and capable leader. She prayed to have more children, a thing that was especially difficult for her. Yet she was able to have six children, who mean so much to her. She set a fine example for all of us to follow.

    “My father is special also. When I was young, he trained me to be a dental technician. We often sat side by side while I worked under his direction until I became quite proficient. It was a giant show-and-tell program for about five years. When I went into the service, they learned of my skills. I was pulled out of basic training when I was only eighteen years old and put in charge of a dental laboratory with many workers. All this because of my dad’s training.

    “We have some great progenitors on the Paramore side of my family,” Elder Paramore continued. “My grandmother left Denmark alone at the age of eight. Her mother put her on a boat with a tag around her neck addressed to Ephraim, Utah. When she arrived in New York, some Mormon missionaries who had arranged to meet her there helped put the child aboard the train that would take her to her destination. What an experience for an eight-year-old girl! It makes me weep to think about it. I’m sure her mother thought that this was a wonderful chance for her daughter to be where the Church was strong.”

    On the subject of children who are eight years of age, Elder Paramore added, “As a former bishop, I must have interviewed at least eighty children and watched them be baptized. In all those interviews, I never knew a time when I felt that the child wasn’t ready for baptism. Eight is the age of accountability and children do know right from wrong at this age. They don’t know all of the doctrines, of course, but they know how to make proper judgments. They know instinctively, by the light of Christ, what is right. Whether they do what is right is subject to the exercise of their free agency, but there’s no question in my mind regarding an eight-year-old child’s ability to choose the right. I’ve had that witness come to me many, many times.

    “I would like the children of the world to know that the great message from our Heavenly Father is to trust in Him and to love their fellowmen. Keep the loving spirit you have at this age in your life. You are humble now and teachable. You have a marvelous ability and that is that you can forget—you don’t hold grudges and you can put problems out of your mind and go on loving someone who may have hurt you. Don’t build walls or barriers, just keep a loving heart. There is no substitute for love. Love means interest and concern. It means doing things for others. When there is a spirit of love between two people, it encourages a feeling of trust and self-worth. You can share any problem with each other and solve it together. Love breaks down barriers. President Kimball loves unconditionally.

    “If you are remembered for only one thing, what would it be? Would you want to be remembered because you were steadfast in the things of the Lord? That you were honest? That you were trustworthy? That you were a hard worker? That you were a good missionary? All of these are cherished attributes, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to be remembered above all else for your love of people? I bear witness to the truth that loving the Lord and loving your fellowmen is the message of the Savior and that we must find and return this love if we are to have eternal life.”

    Illustrated by Paul Mann