As I look back on my childhood, I think one of the most important and impressive things that I remember is that I always knew I had a Heavenly Father who loved me. I never doubted it. Not only my immediate family, but my grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins were also very important and close to me. The most exciting and significant parts of my life were spent with them. I knew that no matter what I did, they would always love and support me. I think that that knowledge helped me understand how much my Heavenly Father loved me.
I recall spending many happy times with my family. One of my favorite relatives was my grandmother, Louie Snelgrove Richards, who lived in our home as I was growing up. I loved having her there with us, and I loved praying with Grandma. She would sit in her rocking chair, and my brother, Rich, and I would kneel at her feet and say our prayers. I always felt peaceful when I prayed with Grandma.
Grandma was also incredibly patient. Many of the General Authorities were her friends and would visit her in our home. I remember when President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., would come to visit her. Because of health problems, he was not able to climb the stairs to visit Grandma, and she couldn’t come down. So she would sit in a chair at the top of the stairs while he sat at the bottom, and they would talk. While they were conversing, Rich and I would climb the stairs and slide down the banister. They never scolded us, and we had a great time.
I remember working with my brother and sisters Mary Jayne and Lou-Ann in my father’s wholesale meat store. We went there early every Saturday morning to take the cellophane wrappings off hot dogs. It wasn’t pleasant work, and we didn’t always enjoy it. Sometimes I begrudged the fact that I had to get up early and work while my friends were sleeping in or playing. But I learned how to work, and I soon learned to make work fun.
We all played the piano in my family, and some of our favorite pieces were songs from Broadway musicals. Everyone had the words memorized, and we spent most of our Saturday mornings singing. I can still remember the words to the songs of every musical that Rodgers and Hammerstein ever wrote. We sang the lyrics to Oklahoma, South Pacific, and Carousel as we skinned the hot dogs. And we truly had fun. We still love to sing together. It brings back wonderful memories.
My family is still important to me. I have tried to teach my own children to have the same feelings of family unity that I experienced. I want them, and all children, to know that they have a Heavenly Father who loves them. He knows them by name and is always available to them. They can be happier members of His family if they will obey Him.