I said to Joan, “How true that message really is.” That cartoon touched me; it touched me deeply. It touched me because I realize that my days left in mortality are limited and what truly matters in life at my age, or any age, is the family.
And it touched me because last week was a very difficult week, a week that required a visit to my cardiologist where he reminded me of my mortality. This cartoon also reminded me that the memories I will carry beyond mortality will not be of the big houses we lived in, or of the money we made, but those memories will be of those children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren whose pictures we were looking at in this family photo album — the family God gave to us to love so dearly here in mortality.
As I sat there with Joan, with tears in my eyes, looking at this family of ours, scattered all around the world, I remembered the family members we were in contact with the previous week. Our grandson, Ben Bracken, had called to share with his grandpa, even before contacting his girlfriend, that he had received his mission call from the First Presidency of our church. He is going to a Spanish speaking mission in New Mexico, but will go to the Missionary Training Center in Mexico City, Mexico, to learn his Spanish and missionary lessons.
I’m excited for Ben because Ben has been raised up by loving parents to love the Lord and be worthy to be called by the Lord to go forth to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will listen. It will be a rewarding two years for Ben.
After Ben’s call, we received a phone call from granddaughter Erin, who called to tell us she had just given birth to our 30th great-grandchild — a boy they named Jacob. How wonderful it is that she would think of her grandparents so soon after giving birth to her first born.
Then Frank, a son-in-law, called to inform us that daughter Carrie had just had a minor operation. Later that week we learned two grandchildren, Andrea and Hannah would graduate from college in May.
Later that week, cousin Jenny sent pictures, via the Internet, of me taken in 1928 with my grandparents. What a different world we live in today. Today we can transfer pictures on the Internet of me at five months while looking at pictures of our week-old great-grandson.
I shared these pictures of my grandparents taken 86 years ago with my family. My grandson, now Dr. Donnie, living in Switzerland with his wife and son — a son who carries a family name through the seventh generation — sent an email telling me how much he truly loved the great pictures we sent of his great-great-grandparents.
That same weekend, my brother and his wife stopped in for a “Conkey stop” on their way home to Michigan after wintering in Florida. These are always choice opportunities to reminisce the old days and recall those choice memories of our growing-up years with our loving parents and siblings and how the siblings separated and went separate ways.
Life. I shared with my brother a family ancestry story about two great-aunts who were in the second wagon-train of pioneers to arrive in the Great Salt Valley in 1847. I then showed him the book this story about our great aunts was in and after reading a portion of it, said he wanted to buy a copy of the book. Not available, I told him. He Googled the title and up came a PDF version of it online. Family members had put this book online and shared it with the world. A world of wonderful miracles.
Still later, we received a beautiful thank-you note from granddaughter Samantha for the gift we had sent her to celebrate her baptism.
Even cartoonists know “families are God’s greatest gift to mankind.”
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.