Barbara B. Smith, general Relief Society president
“One time my mother told me that I could have a birthday party and invite anyone I wanted. We decided that eight children would be about right. But when I got to school and looked at all the children in my class, I couldn’t decide whom not to invite, so I invited all of them without saying anything to Mother. Instead of eight children at the party, there were forty-four! She just laughed about it and put some cupcakes into the oven. By the time we had played our games, she was able to serve them all something. A lot of mothers would have been upset over the situation, but not mine.
“My mother helped us learn the value of work. We all had responsibilities every Saturday, and we always did our work before we ever went out to play. We’d scrub, clean, dust, and vacuum because Mother believed that we should learn how to do such tasks when we were young. She made games out of nearly everything we did; we’d play that the dishes were drowning people and that we were trying to save them. It was fun to be with her, for she taught us to enjoy whatever we did.”
Sister Smith shared many fond memories of her mother and other members of her interesting family. Her father was a barber. And her grandmother was a practicing physician and surgeon, whose second husband was a pony express rider. He was once captured by Indians early in his life.
“I remember sometimes staying at Grandmother’s when I was very young,” Sister Smith recalled. “One day she took my brother and me with her when she went to deliver a new baby. When we got to the house, she told us to wait in the car. We stayed in the car a long time, until the children living there invited us to play with them. We got out of the car and all ran around to the back of the house where we saw my grandmother through the sundappled window, bathing a brand new little baby. Suddenly she looked up to see a window full of little faces peering in. I remember how she put her head back and laughed! She didn’t get after us for getting out of the car, because I guess she realized that we had become restless waiting for her.
“One Thanksgiving Day at my grandmother’s, fifty of us sat down at one meal. I remember thinking what a thrill it was to have all of those people who loved each other sitting down together. And then as grandfather led us in prayer, I can still recall that happy, secure feeling of being in that family circle.”
Recollecting times of fervent prayer during her childhood, Sister Smith continued: “The day I was to be baptized, my mother was delayed trying to find a place to park the car, so she sent me into the Salt Lake Tabernacle baptistry by myself. The sisters there helped me get ready, and I went into the baptistry and sat down. My mother wasn’t there yet. I was so nervous I could hardly sit still. The only thing I could think to do was to pray that Heavenly Father would make sure my mother would soon come to be with me. While I was praying, in she came, and I knew that my prayer had been answered.
“I remember another special prayer, too. My brother was suffering with a painful abscess. The doctor told us that he would have to have surgery. Our home teachers came and with my father blessed him. The next day the doctor checked again and the abscess had disappeared.”
Remembering some of her experiences in Primary and Sunday School, Sister Smith said, “One time after I had given a two-and-a-half minute talk, I thought I had done quite well. But a certain brother said, ‘I was really disappointed in you.’ I felt crushed and asked, ‘What didn’t I do?’
“He said, ‘You didn’t smile.’
“I think that made me realize that you need to smile often if you want people to feel comfortable with you. Now that I’ve learned how to genuinely smile at people, it has made a big difference in my life. Smiling is a signal of friendship. Heavenly Father has told us that one of our purposes here is to experience joy. I think that smiling is one way to reach that goal.”
In relaying a message to the children of the world, Sister Smith said, “Love your parents and honor and obey them. Pray often to your Heavenly Father, and if you make mistakes, admit them. Ask those people who love you so that you can make right any mistake you might make. Be happy and helpful. Try to grow in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with your Heavenly Father and with your friends.”