Gordon B. Hinckley: A Tribute

Sometimes when you expect things, they don't happen. Other times, when you least expect them, they do. So it was tonight with the passing of LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. We'll miss his example, his wit, and his impenetrable optimism.

We were just concluding an LDS stake priesthood meeting when our stake president stood before the closing prayer to announce the passing of President Hinckley. Through the wonders of modern technology--a smart phone "dialed in" to local news sites--we confirmed the reality of a very sad event. I smiled, though, as I thought that the only ones who are sad are we, the ones who will miss his wit and good cheer-he'll miss us, too, I'm sure, but he's now back with his sweetheart Marjorie. Tears of sorrow at being apart from his best friend have now transformed themselves into tears of joy.

By the time my son and I got home from our meeting, the other members of our family had learned of President Hinckley's passing. We thought it appropriate to sit down with the kids and reminisce about a very unique and shining life, and to talk about what he had taught us.

For our three youngest, including the 3rd oldest, who was born in May 1995, Gordon B. Hinckley is the only church prophet they have ever known. "I don't know why I'm crying," our middle child said to us, as she learned of his death.

We are only slightly saddened at Gordon B. Hinckley's passing. Because the things that he taught us most remind us that sadness is only transitory.

"But we do," my wife told her, and it's okay to cry. We've shed some tears ourselves.

Here are some of the things I remember about President Hinckley:
  • He always had a sense of humor. I best remember his "knighting" of President Henry B. Eyring in the most recent LDS general conference, and his pointing out at a Halloween devotional address to to BYU students and faculty last year that we was wearing a wicked cool jack-o-lantern tie.
  • He loved the greatness of America and the good things it stood for, like charity, hard work, and integrity. His travels to other countries always brought him home with a renewed sense of love for the USA.
  • He loved everyone. It didn't matter if they were kings or if they lived in a ramshackle hut, he loved them.
  • He served in the church for nearly all his life. When other prophets were dwindling in their old-aged faculties, Gordon B. Hinckley performed so many of the administrative affairs of the church.
  • Gordon B. Hinckley made it fashionable to discuss religion in the public square. He made the doctrines and practices of the LDS Church open to the world. He complimented the world for the goodness that their religions offered, and he invited them to learn more about his.
  • He always had time for his family. No matter how rigorous his church calling in life, he always made time to be a father, to attend his children's events, to provide for them, and to let them know how important they were to him.
We--my family and I--are only slightly saddened at Gordon B. Hinckley's passing. We'll miss his ever optimistic example, for sure. But the things that he taught us most remind us that sadness is only transitory, and that because life is eternal, all our sadnesses will ultimately transition into joy. So, we're happy for Gordon Hinckley, and we celebrate that he has written the final chapter of a life excellently lived.

"Are we going to go play basketball as a family in the morning?" my daughter asked, as we usually do play ball together on Monday mornings. I said "Sure, do you want to?" She said, very quietly wiping back tear, "Yes, because that would make me happy."

President Hinckley would want it that way.




Comments

  1. Thanks Frank. That was a very fitting tribute to a great man.

    I was starting to worry as I watched the news last night that I was being way to callous. I think the news media missed the whole focus of his life. I finally turned off KSL when it became apparent that they've been waiting for this to happen.

    He will be truly missed, but I am sure the reunion between him and Marjorie was really, really sweet.

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  2. We heard about this during family scripture study when a friend of one of my sons called to tell us about it. We don't generally watch TV or tune into other media on Sunday. We only turned on the TV long enough to verify the information, and then we went back to what we were doing. While I felt a sense of loss, I also felt happy inside for Pres. Hinckley. We then knelt and prayed for his family, and for Pres. Monson, who will now have a new calling. I imagine he's feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment.

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  3. Franklin,
    Just a note from your same-aged cousin. It's really an honor to be a parent on a day like this. I was so impressed with th youth of our area who used modern technology to organize a white shirt and tie for the guys and dresses for the girls at school today. It was impressive to see. It reminded me of when David O. McKay died. Thanks for being a great example. I knew you would have something good to say today!

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  5. As much as I loved President Hinckley, I thought his death was way too overpublicized. I think that there's a big difference between appropriate coverage and a media circus. I think the media circus that surrounded his death was shameful. To break in to regularly scheduled programming to tell us that he passed and then spend 10 or 15 minutes recapping his service is very apropriate and respectful but 3 hours of continuous coverage really irritated me.
    I will miss his leadership and example but I am so thankful that he has finally been re-united with his dear Marjorie. They were separated for far too long.

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  6. UK and Ron & Jessica:

    I agree with your perspective on the over-hype and the media circus. He was a great man, for sure, but it's interesting to compare coverage of his death vs. coverage of James E. Faust's recent death.

    Scott,

    We talked about it for a while and had a family prayer as well, but then we went back to what we were doing, too. I think President Hinckley would want that that way as well.

    Burke,

    It really is interesting to see the energy that today's youth have, and that many of them channel their energies in the right direction.

    I heard several high schools did similar things. That's cool!

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  7. Sen. Obama was scheduled to make a stop in Utah on Saturday, but has cancelled the event out of respect for Pres. Hinckley's funeral.

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  8. I really like Obama, and I hope he gets the Democratic nomination.

    I think his respect for President Hinckley is a class act!

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  9. "Last night I spoke with President Thomas Monson and expressed my deepest sympathies to The Church of Latter-day Saints on the passing of President Gordon B. Hinckley," Obama said in press release.

    His visit to Utah was cancelled this weekend in recognition of the death of the Mormon prophet.

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  10. I appreciate your thoughts Frank on Pres. Hinkley--what a great man. And I entirely agree, Barak Obama is a class act. If he wins it will be a great thing for the United States.

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  11. President Hinckley was a great man that we all will really miss.

    http://rememberinggordonbhinckley.blogspot.com/

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  12. hey guys. i looked at a video of gordon b hinckley on youtube and the song was " you raised me up ". that
    used to be one of my grandma's favorite songs. when
    she passed away, i used to have a dvd of pictures about her and that song was in there. i miss gordon.
    god be with you 'til we meet again-jake

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