Our families will grow stronger as we speak and act in ways that show love and kindness to each other. Our families include more people than those who live in our homes; they include parents, grandparents and great-grandparents as well as children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Families also include aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and their posterity and sometimes good friends who are like family. We can gain much wisdom from our ancestors and learn many important things from our posterity.
We can strengthen our families, generation after generation, by sharing traditions and experiences of love. I was deeply touched when I heard the following story shared by Bob Perks.
“Recently, I overheard a mother and daughter in their last moments together at the airport as the daughter’s departure had been announced. Standing near the security gate, they hugged and the mother said: `I love you and I wish you enough.’
“The daughter replied, `Mom, our life together has been more than enough. Your love is all I ever needed. I wish you enough, too, Mom.’ They kissed, and the daughter left.
“The mother walked over to the window where I sat. Standing there, I could see she wanted and needed to cry. I tried not to intrude on her privacy, but she welcomed me in by asking, `Did you ever say good-bye to someone knowing it would be forever?’ `Yes, I have,’ I replied. `Forgive me for asking, but why is this a forever good-bye?’ `I am old, and she lives so far away. I have challenges ahead, and the reality is the next trip back will be for my funeral,’ she said.
“`When you were saying good-bye, I heard you say, “I wish you enough.” May I ask what that means?’
“She began to smile. `That’s a wish that has been handed down from other generations. My parents used to say it to everyone.’ She paused a moment and looked up as if trying to remember it in detail, and she smiled even more.
“`I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.’
“She then began to cry and walked away. They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, and an entire life to forget them.”
This story reminded me of the last time I saw my mother in this life. My children and I were flying back to Alaska after spending several weeks with family in Utah. My parents took us to the airport and then walked with us to the gate. We walked out on the tarmac to the aircraft and found our seats. As I sat there looking out the window, I could see my parents clearly as they had walked out on the tarmac also; I knew in my heart that my next trip home would be for a funeral. I received word of my mother’s death about eight months later and returned with my children for her funeral.
Unlike the mother in the story, I believe that family relationships can continue after death. I believe that I will be with my mother once again and that our family will be together for all eternity. This belief does not decrease the pain I feel when I lose loved ones to death, but it does give me hope that death is not the end of our relationships.
This story made me stop to think about what is really most important in life. I believe that the most important thing we can do is to love – our parents, siblings, spouses, children, grandchildren as well as our ancestors and extended family members. I believe it is the natural things for us to weep when death steals someone we love.
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught the early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die…” (Doctrine and Covenants 42:45).
Most of us have no idea when our last day on earth will be. Many of us spend so much time and effort on temporal matters that we fail to do the things that truly matter. At the end of our lives, all that matters is the love and good times that we shared with our family and friends. We can strengthen our families as well as our communities and nations by loving one another and by sharing traditions of love.