For Mormons, April 6th is a date of unique significance. It’s the day the church was organized 179 years ago and it’s the day we believe was the true birth date of Jesus Christ. No special meetings or celebrations hallow the day– it is simply and quietly noted as the work of the world goes forward.
Mormons are like this, we don’t have great feast days or high holy masses, choosing instead to focus on the significance of each Sabbath Day(though we love the pomp and beauty found in other faiths– you’ll see lots of Mormons visiting Passover feasts and Good Friday Mass this week). But because April 6th is a day of such profound beauty it seems fitting that it was the day Marjorie Hinckley passed from this life to the next 5 years ago.
I fell in love with Grandma Hinckley on the day her husband was announced as Prophet and President of the LDS Church(March 12, 1993), on this sober and momentous occasion she sent the entire press conference into fits of laughter by saying, “How did a nice girl like me get into a mess like this?”
With delight I watched as she went from interview to temple dedications to formal banquets laughing, giggling, kissing babies and offering compliments. She began an interview at BYU Women’s Conference fumbling with her notecards, resting her head in her head and confessing, “This is how it it with us; nothing ever works out.”
As a young mother, Marjorie Hinckley was a revelation to me. She believed that unstructured summer days taught more than a relentless pursuit of talents; she gave me permission to laugh and make my own rules and even complain a bit. “I hope you enjoy your children; if not, you’re in trouble.”
And who can’t love someone who says, “I decided that if I live to be 85 I’d stop counting calories and eat anything I want. And I do! I would make my mother’s lemon pie but I’ve given up cooking too.”?
Maybe it’s hard to explain anyone outside the church? Mormon women felt generations of pressure to conform, to keep up appearances, to be saintly and then the woman at the head of the church(like’s Isaiah’s wife to give you some sort of parellel) shows a way to be faithful while eating chocolate and telling jokes and wearing red shoes.
The beauty of Marjorie Hinckley’s talents are that everyone can try to emulate them– she didn’t write symphonies or examine scientific theories or climb Mt. Everest; rather, she laughed at troubles, refrained from judgment, cheered the lonely and offered the counsel to “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
And though she spent conference weekends sitting behind the podium, I know she’d approve of our days spent playing Lego’s
and taking long naps.
And I know she’d admire of Mary’s way-too-beautiful Easter dress
and compliment my red sandals and just drink in the loveliness of sweet baby Eden’s blessing day…
“The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it. You either have to laugh or cry. I prefer to laugh. Crying gives me a headache.”
note: I should mention that I never met my hero– but I moved into her neighborhood shortly after her death and have found her daughters and granddaughters to be every bit as wonderful and funny as Marjorie Hinckley herself.