I need to take the time today to journal my feelings about this special man. I love the gospel, and my testimony has grown so much, thanks in great part to President Hinckley. The spirit and love that he carried with him touched my heart on many occasions.
Last night as I was lying in bed, so many happy thoughts were bouncing around in my head, and I wanted to record them for myself.
My memories and happy thoughts about President Hinckley:
- His ability to carry himself with grace and dignity in the public eye. I'll never forget his interviews with Mike Wallace, and Larry King Live. He makes no apologies for who we are and what we believe, and he's earned the respect of dignitaries everywhere. On his 94th birthday, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by Pres. George Bush, considered to be the nation's highest civil honor.
- His jovial smile and sweet remarks while handing off the Olympic torch to Elder Neal A. Maxwell, leukemia survivor. I was so happy they were a part of the awesome Olympic festivities.
- "Knighting" newly sustained Elder Eyring as his new 2nd counselor with his cane. Leading the congregation by waving his cane back and forth. I had posted about it here.
- The kinship I felt with him since we were both English majors. I remember plugging through my studies at BYU on more than one occasion, and thinking to myself, "I can do this. I can get through this. Pres. Hinckley did too."
- My kids' honor and admiration for him. As young children, they're often restless and rambunctious while watching conference at home, but whenever Pres. Hinckley gave his address, they always sat down in front of the TV and a magical calmness seemed to come over them. They knew he was someone special, and they wanted to hear what he had to say. They prayed for him nightly, without having to be reminded. Last night in their prayers, I heard them thank Heavenly Father that we had him for our prophet. It touched my heart.
- Temple construction! I'm sure he'll go down in church history as our temple building prophet. Last night as I was flipping through channels, watching the news, I heard several different reporters say that besides Joseph Smith, Pres. Hinckley has done more for the growth of the church than any other prophet.
- His inspiration to start building "mini-temples." One of those mini-temples was completed in Louisville, KY, while we were living there, and I'm so grateful!
- A new conference center--he had a vision for the growth and subsequent needs of the church.
- The perpetual education fund.
- His quotes that prompted me to start blogging and recording my life for posterity.
- His sense of humor. Ah, his sense of humor. How can you not just love him! He brought many a smile to my face. So lighthearted and funny. And his humor was never at the expense of another. He never took himself too seriously.
- His encouraging, loving, positive instruction. He was never one to chastise and use guilt. He just encouraged us to "be a little better, try a little harder, be a little kinder..." A great example to me of what a good leader is.
- His sweet affection and obvious love for his sweetheart, Marjorie. His tenderness to her was a beautiful thing to watch, and that in and of itself brought many tears to my eyes.
- I was so touched by this quote from her funeral: " "It isn't as bad as you sometimes think it is. It all works out. Don't worry. I say that to myself every morning. It will all work out. Put your trust in God, and move forward with faith and confidence in the future. The Lord will not forsake us. He will not forsake us. If we will put our trust in Him, if we will pray to Him, if we will live worthy of His blessings, He will hear our prayers."
- At Sister Hinckley's funeral 4 years ago, their son Clark Hinckley read a letter from Gordon to Marjorie after their nearly 60 years of marriage: "When in some future day the hand of death gently touches one or the other of us, there will be tears, yes. But there will also be a quiet and certain assurance of reunion and eternal companionship." I know there was great reunion and rejoicing last night.
- Of course, his famous "be-attitudes" talk for the youth. I think we all have his 6 (now 9) things "to be" displayed somewhere in our houses. I do!
- His cute address in April 2007 conference. So many of us worried that it felt like a farewell address, but we still had one more conference with him. "I am now in my 97th year. The wind is blowing, and I feel like the last leaf on the tree. Actually my health is quite good, despite all the rumors to the contrary. Skillful doctors and nurses keep me on the right track. Some of you may go before I do." I mean seriously, he's so funny!
- I can't help but think of his closing remarks at our last conference session (Oct. 2007). My notes said, "We have been edified, uplifted. We have been inspired and lifted to a higher appreciation of this wonderful gospel. We look forward to seeing you again next April. I’m 97, but I hope I’m going to make it." We were all hoping too.
Goodbye President Hinckley. I love you and I thank you!