Friends Forever

From an October 1969 general conference address.
Elder Marvin J. Ashton served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from 1971 to 1994. He was sustained as an Assistant to the Twelve on 3 October 1969, the day he gave this address.
Elder Marvin J. Ashton

My wife and I were in the front of our yard one day when the newspaper boy came down the street on his bicycle. His bicycle was loaded with papers. About 20 or 30 yards (20 or 25 meters) in back of him, there was another boy following him on a bicycle. I was not sure at that time what their relationship was, but I did notice they were coming down the street at a pretty good clip.

When the newspaper boy came to our sidewalk entry, he was traveling too fast to make the approach to our home, and, as a result, he went one way, the bicycle went another way, and the papers went everywhere. Noticing the boy had fallen on the lawn and was not hurt, but realizing that he would undoubtedly be embarrassed from the fall in front of his friend, we moved toward him.

At the sight of this perfect three-point landing, if we may refer to it as that, his companion shouted his pleasure and laughed heartily with complete and full enjoyment at the misfortune of his associate.

Trying to relieve the embarrassment of the paperboy, knowing he didn’t want help but he wanted to have his pride repaired a little, I took a few more steps toward him and said: “It’s kind of a low blow to have your friend laugh when you’ve had a bad spill, isn’t it?”

He went on picking up his papers without even looking up. Finally, he had the papers back in place and got on his bicycle; and as he started out away from our home, he made the remark: “He isn’t my friend—he’s my brother.”

His words have been ringing through my ears with a great deal of significance ever since then. I sincerely feel that one of the great purposes of family evenings and home teaching is to have family members realize that a brother can be a friend, and that a sister can be a friend, and that a father and a mother can be more than parents—they can be friends.

I would hope and pray that we may catch the wisdom and the inspiration of building a home so that our members in that sacred unit can look upon a father and say, “He is my best friend,” or “My mother is more than a mother; she is my friend.” When we realize that parents and family members can be more than blood relations and are in very deed friends, then we will have a glimpse of how our Heavenly Father wants us to live, not only as brothers and sisters but as very close friends.

Illustration by Paul Mann