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.
"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.