One day a few years ago, after taking care of matters at the office, I felt a strong impression to visit an aged widow who was a patient at a senior care center in Salt Lake City. I drove there directly.
When I went to her room, I found it empty. I asked an attendant concerning her whereabouts and was directed to a lounge area. There I found this sweet widow visiting with her sister and another friend. We had a pleasant conversation together.
As we were talking, a man came to the door of the room to obtain a can of soda from the vending machine. He glanced at me and said, “Why, you are Tom Monson.”
“Yes,” I replied. “And you look like a Hemingway.”
He acknowledged that he was Stephen Hemingway, the son of Alfred Eugene Hemingway, who had served as my counselor when I was a bishop many years ago and whom I called Gene. Stephen told me that his father was there in the same facility and was near death. Gene had been calling my name, and the family had wanted to contact me but had been unable to find a telephone number for me.
I excused myself immediately and went with Stephen up to the room of my former counselor, where others of his children were also gathered, his wife having passed away some years previous. The family members regarded my meeting Stephen in the lounge area as a response by our Heavenly Father to their great desire that I would see their father before he died and answer his call. I also felt that this was the case, for if Stephen had not entered the room in which I was visiting at precisely the time he did, I would not have known that Gene was even in that facility.
We gave a blessing to him. A spirit of peace prevailed. We had a lovely visit, after which I left.
The following morning a phone call revealed that Gene Hemingway had passed away—just 20 minutes after he had received the blessing from his son and me.
I expressed a silent prayer of thanks to Heavenly Father for His guiding influence, which had prompted my visit to the care center and led me to my dear friend Alfred Eugene Hemingway.
I like to think that Gene Hemingway’s thoughts that evening—as we basked in the Spirit’s glow, participated in humble prayer, and pronounced a priesthood blessing—echoed the words mentioned in the hymn “Master, the Tempest Is Raging”:
Linger, O blessed Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more,
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor
And rest on the blissful shore.
I still love that hymn and testify as to the comfort it offers:
Whether the wrath of the storm-tossed sea
Or demons or men or whatever it be,
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean and earth and skies.
They all shall sweetly obey thy will:
Peace, be still.1
Through tears and trials, through fears and sorrows, through the heartache and loneliness of losing loved ones, there is assurance that life is everlasting. Our Lord and Savior is the living witness that such is so.2 His words in holy writ are sufficient: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). I testify to this truth.