I recently made a brief visit to Utah. I’ve never lived in Utah, not even briefly for school or a stint in the MTC. But there is a sense of being among my people that has always imbued my visits with a deep soul sense of returning home. Tracy M described it well. On this trip, I was so focused on business and rushing in and out that I didn’t have much time to soak in that feeling. Just about 24 hours after arriving, I was dashing back to the airport to leave again. As I handed the keys to the rental car return attendant, he saw the BYU logo throw blanket I carried, and the BYU institutional charge for my rental, and asked me cheerily if I was a member of the LDS church. He was older and a little stooped, but very spry in doing his job. I said yes. Suddenly his mad rush of handling the many arriving customers stopped, and he gazed directly into my eyes with an intense earnestness. He told me about his wife. He told me about how he lost her. And he told me how every minute of every day he makes decisions conscious of a striving for total righteousness, to return and join her one day. “I know she’s going to the Celestial Kingdom!” I can’t imagine anyone having more intense focus and determination than he had to join her.
The way we praise “angel mothers” and “angel wives” in the church can be problematic at times, usually the more effusively the more problematically. But there was a grounded, matter of fact way to how he praised her that compelled me to yield to its convincing. “She must have been an exceptional woman,” I said. She must really have been an exceptional woman.
It was an odd encounter–one doesn’t ever expect to be spiritually touched in a chilly parking garage at 6 a.m.–but it has persisted in the tumbler of my mind for the weeks since then, and it was tumbled to the fore when I listened to conference this morning.
President Eyring spoke today of his father’s journey of losing his wife, Eyring’s mother.
He shed no tears. That was because the Holy Ghost had long before given him a clear picture of who she was, where she came from, what she had become, and where she was going. The Spirit had testified to him many times of a loving Heavenly Father, of a Savior who had broken the power of death, and of the reality of the temple sealing he shared with his wife and family.
The Spirit had long before assured him that her goodness and faith had qualified her for the return to a heavenly home where she would be remembered as a wonderful child of promise and be welcomed home with honor.
For my dad, that was more than a hope. The Holy Ghost had made it a reality for him.
That is what I saw in action at the airport that morning: a man for whom the Holy Ghost had made a reality. I hope that attendant got to watch conference today. I hope Eyring’s words brought solidarity, joy, and strength to him. I hope that somehow he knows that he gave me a special gift by his gentle ask for permission to share his gospel truth, and his wide open sharing.
I find more gospel uplift in everyday people, service, and experiences than I do in words, be they conference talks or web articles. One gift that attendant gave to me was to spark a connection between me and this apostle’s words. He gave me a special moment in General Conference weekend, and I needed that. I join with Eyring in gratitude for a Holy Ghost that blesses us with moments like this.
“I was worried that Mildred would arrive in the spirit world alone. I thought she might feel lost in the crowd,” [Eyring’s father said.] “I prayed just now. I know Mildred is all right. My mother was there to meet her.”
We all feel lost in the crowd at times, sometimes in an airport, sometimes at work or school. I join Eyring in gratitude for a Holy Ghost that lets us know to be there to meet each other, and helps us understand when those we love will be greeted in their moment of need.