Brethren and sisters, this has been a most desirable meeting. I have sat entranced. I know that we did not come here to be entertained; we came here to be instructed. I hope we have accepted this meeting in that tone, that we will take into our lives those suggestions which have been given. The brethren and sisters have given a wonderful demonstration of how it can be done, how we should do, and where we should go.
I remember, rather indistinctly, that when we first moved to Arizona from Salt Lake City this program officially was not in vogue, but unofficially it was. In many of the stakes and wards the work was going forward—partly it was.
I remember that when we went to Arizona, President Christopher Layton had been the president of the stake. He was ill and soon passed away. My father took the reins and became the president of the stake. I remember we lived in a one-room house. I guess there were about nine of us at that time, and we lived in that one room for some time. Then we moved to a little adobe building a few blocks away, where there were about three rooms. The roof leaked and many times we had to sleep out in tents.
And then we acquired a ten-acre place which was above the canal. It was covered with mesquite bushes and chaparral and other desert plants. How to get rid of them, how to clear the land—that was the question. The first thing we knew, the brethren from Central Ward had come those several miles with their picks and shovels, their axes, and they began to help us clear our ten acres. They came from Layton Ward, and then they came from Pima Ward. They came before we knew it, almost. With the help of my father, who was a very excellent worker, and two sons who were older than I was, we soon had the place ready to plant.
That was welfare work. It wasn’t under the same direction. It wasn’t stimulated in the same way. But it was real welfare work, because each helped the other.
Also, my father was very responsive. He found that President Layton, who was beginning to get rather old and feeble, didn’t have the help to do the things he needed to do, and he had a big orchard. So Father gathered all of us children up, with all the buckets and pans, and with the consent and approval of President Layton we all went down to his orchard and picked fruit on shares. There was a large family of the Laytons and there was a large family of us. We divided the pickings from the orchard and went forward with our program. My dear mother knew how to make ends meet. We had a pantry and that pantry was always filled with bottled fruits and everything else you could think of that was available at the time.
Another thing I wish to mention is that in Nauvoo, Illinois, the Relief Society has been given approval to erect a monument which will be a joy forever. We would like it understood that we have given approval for it, and we would appreciate it if the stake presidencies and the mission presidencies and the bishoprics would give this encouragement. Encourage the sisters to make individual contributions—not too large, but very voluntary and adequate. We hope that you will encourage the sisters to go forward with this program. We shall mention this again tonight in the priesthood meeting. It is very important.
President Marion G. Romney was talking about the work which involved our parents. The other day we heard a story in our council meeting that I saw raise the ire of the brethren. It was all righteous ire because of the things that had happened. A father who had been very careful in his investments and in his service had saved hundreds of thousands of dollars for his sweet little wife who had helped him to gather it. But unfortunately he died first and was laid away. His wife became a little older, and somewhat senile. She was put in a rest home. The money went to the children’s bank accounts, and she went on suffering. Maybe she didn’t fully understand all the suffering that came to her; but maybe she did. With inadequate clothes and with inadequate treatment and training, the poor woman is still living in a rest home. As far as we know her children never see her.
It must be a little bit difficult to visit a mother who gave her life for her children, who spent many, many years rearing and training and saving for them. It must be very difficult for them to show their interest when she is in a position where she needs some comfort from those whom she has loved.
This is very important, and I hope you will not forget it, you bishops. In your wards, remind your people that they should take care of their fathers and mothers, no matter if they do become senile, no matter if they do become difficult to handle. They should be taken care of; that is a part of the program of the Lord established when He first organized this world.
One other matter. I remember some years ago, a young man and his wife and little children moved to our Arizona community. As we got acquainted with them, he told me of the rigorous youth he had spent as he grew up. He’d had to get up at five and six o’clock in the morning and go out and deliver papers. He’d had to work on the farm, and he’d had to do many things that were still rankling in his soul. Then he concluded with this statement: “My boys are never going to have to do that.” And we saw his boys grow up and you couldn’t get them to do anything. They left off their Church activity and nothing seemed very important to them.
“Thou shalt not be idle,” the Lord said. (D&C 42:42.) Idleness is of the devil, and we are not kind to our children when we become affluent and take from them their labors, their opportunities to serve and to be trained and to do things for themselves and for others.
This has been a wonderful meeting. We’re deeply grateful for the splendid service as directed by Bishop Victor L. Brown and his counselors, Sister Barbara B. Smith and her counselors. We’re grateful for their wonderful service. And we’re grateful for your service as bishoprics and stake presidencies as you give leadership to this marvelous program. We pray that the Lord will bless us as we go forward and follow the program as it is outlined for us. We say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.