A convert to the Church, I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Although my parents were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I look back with gratitude upon how they have influenced my life. My mother was born with a congenital heart defect and was told that having children would endanger her life. She waited eight years to have me; I am the only child in the family. Mother was a loving and compassionate person. She always spoke good of everyone and ingrained that teaching in me. In spite of health complications, she lived life to the fullest before she passed away at age fifty.
I often think of the sayings Mother taught me; they come back to me just as if someone had turned on a tape recorder. Among them are these:
Trouble is very easy to get into and very hard to get out of.
Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.
Once a job is begun, never leave it until it’s done.
Mother instilled in me a work ethic and a desire to pursue excellence. She had a profound effect on my life, and I had a great relationship with her, as I did with my dad.
Dad taught me tremendous lessons about service. He had many skills, such as carpentry and mechanical work, and he was always the first to be there when people needed help. I never saw him take payment for his services. I also learned from him that one of the keys to happiness is to really enjoy whatever you do. I never knew a man who loved his work more than my dad.
My parents had standards similar to those of Latter-day Saints. We attended our Methodist church every Sunday and went to prayer meetings on Wednesdays. My parents had a deep love for the Savior and exemplified many Christlike characteristics. Their examples were as important to me as the lessons they taught.
My parents taught me to have faith in myself as well as in the Lord. I have a strong faith in the promises of the Lord. “With God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26) is one of my favorite scriptures. I have found this promise to be true, whether in overcoming temptations or in accomplishing something in my personal life or in my profession. If you choose the right goals and work hard, there is nothing that you can’t accomplish with the help of the Lord. I learned to be excited about life and not fear challenges. Fear snuffs out the spark of faith.
Children, really love your parents, and listen to them. That may sound trite, but it’s very important. I loved my parents and had a burning desire to follow their counsel. Because it was never difficult for me to follow the counsel of my parents, it was also easy to follow the counsel of the priesthood brethren when I became a member of the Church. I greatly appreciate my parents for teaching me to follow their counsel, to respect people in positions of authority, and to try to pattern my life after that of the Savior.