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Better I can do

By Dalene Rowley

I been trying on posts all morning, but none of them seems to fit quite right. I’ve already written about President Hinckley on both my other blogs and his name continues to generate numerous hits in the news, on all sorts of blogs and be heard on a growing number of special programming on radio and TV (and have you seen our sidebar?). But I find I’m not quite ready to move on.

You likely heard about the tribute quickly planned and swiftly communicated by deftly texting fingers among jr. high and high school students in many locations. “Wear your best dress to school tomorrow in honor of President Hinckley.” That sweet and simple gesture touched my mother heart even more because just the day before my sixteen-year-old son had expressed to me his extreme discomfort at being choked by a buttoned up white shirt and tie. So as he bounded out the door on his way to early morning Seminary on Monday, dressed in a shirt and tie again, I commented on how nice he looked and asked him what was the occasion. “It’s out of respect for President Hinckley,” he replied. It was kind of unexpected and didn’t really sink in. Later I heard mention of the planned tribute on the news and it struck me–this is their prophet. He’s been their leader ever since they can remember.

In addition to the many poignant written expressions of love, appreciation and sorrow I’ve read over the past few days, I’m also aware of the other ways made available to us to pay our respects to a beloved prophet whose simple act of being himself made him seem more like a life-long friend. In lieu of flowers, donations are being taken in his name for the Perpetual Education Fund. A two-day long viewing will be held at the Conference Center. And the coverage of his funeral is completely unprecedented. The services will be broadcast on several media outlets and the Internet will make them available worldwide.

On a personal level, however, I feel the need to do more. I want to do something a little more long-lasting. I’m remembering and rereading some of his conference addresses and revisiting some of his teachings. Laughing again at some of his jokes (General Conference will never be the same). Considering what it means to really stand for something. Perhaps the best way I can pay my respects to President Gordon B. Hinckley is simply to do what he asked of me. In particular, I keep thinking about his frequently issued invitation for us to be just a little better.

Perfect is beyond me. But better I can do.

About Dalene Rowley

Began blogging as a legitimate way to avoid housework and to keep a journal of sorts. In her other life she wants to be excellent at a number of things, but in this one she's settling for baking a mean sour cream lemon pie, keeping most of the points on her quilt blocks in line, being a loyal friend and aspiring to moments of goodness as a wife and mother.

15 thoughts on “Better I can do”

  1. Better is a good goal. I hate the idea of being perfect, but I love the idea of continual improvement, of learning more, feeling more, being more. I've heard many people talk of the hope that President Hinckley had, the hope he inspired in others. And when you live and work and believe and sacrifice within the context of a full life, there seems to be very little room for negativity, very little room for self doubt and criticism and so much room for dreams and goals and the sometimes impossible knowledge that life is good and it will be better. Thanks Dalene, I've been so torn about "moving on" from this topic and I'm glad to have the chance to talk about his example…more.

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  2. This is a great post and I was glad to see the video on your other blog.

    I love that your kids in UT dressed up for him. I wish that had gone around here.

    Our kids talked about it in semindary and I guess it was talked about a lot at school. One of my daughter's friends said, "There are a lot of Mormons at this school." Emily said, "There are a lot of Mormons all over the world." I love that they are talking.

    I wanted to do more as well. Being better is probably the best thing we can do. My kids are readers. I am going to buy them some Hinckley books that they don't have. He will always be their prophet, and they should have something to remember him.

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  3. He was so comforting, wasn't he? How could anyone not want to be better, after hearing that challenge from such a dear, funny man?

    While I'm interested to see how everything "shakes out" with the new First Presidency, new apostle, etc., I still can't believe we'll never hear him at GC again. It's a huge loss.

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  4. Better, yes.
    He inspires that.
    We were snowed in on Monday too, but my daughter dressed best on Tuesday. It's been interesting and humbling to see their reaction to the passing of their prophet.
    Thank you Dalene for continuing to express your love for him.

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  5. At Family Home Evening Monday night, we decided to re-read the Book of Mormon before April conference together as a family in honor of his admonition to read the Book of Mormon from a couple of years ago. Who knows if we'll make it, but there's gotta be something in the effort anyway, eh?

    That was our one thing to try. I do think the best way to respect and honor him is to try to do a little better. He talked so poignantly about that, and I always walked away from listening to him thinking that I could do a little better. He made it seem within my grasp. My kids are still in shock over it. I think they thought he would live forever.

    I think I thought that a little, too.

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  6. That's what I loved about Pres. Hinckley. He always inspired us to be a better people as a whole, and on a personal level as well. He never chastised or made me feel like I wasn't doing enough. I always came away from listening to him talk feeling loved and feeling that Heavenly Father loved me enough to put a prophet on the earth like President Hinckley to guide his church in the right direction.

    What a great man.

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  7. Dalene,
    This is lovely, as always. Being better is a perfect tribute and I loved the story of the teenagers' nice clothes.

    I wrote a fairly long comment, then lost it due to connectivity issues, so I will only include my last few thoughts here . . . thank you for creating an opportunity to share these thoughts.

    I was surprised to find that my reaction to Gordon B. Hinckley's passing brought primarily feelings of joy and peace for me. He is happier than he has been in a very long time and I am happy for him.

    I am thrilled to move forward (with the rest of us still stuck on the planet) into the next time of life in this great plan of happiness.

    Thank you, Gordon B. Hinckley, for leaing us toward this day with your signature integrity, humility and delight. I am delighted for you. I am delighted for the times ahead . . .

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  8. Several years ago, I read Pres. Hinckley's autobiography and it was life changing. It made me see him in a whole new light – he was "normal" like the rest of us. He talked about fighting feelings of not wanting to take on important callings but then always came back to the desire to do what the Lord wanted of him, which always outweighed the negativity inside. That was a huge epiphany for me – not just for myself but for the love I have for him as a prophet as well. He wasn't perfect (I know, he was pretty darn close) but he was righteous. And he was able to use his talents and desire for righteousness to do all the things he did. I think that is our same challenge. He remains a perfect example of how to do it. Thanks for the post!

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  9. "within the context of a full life, there seems to be very little room for negativity, very little room for self doubt and criticism and so much room for dreams and goals"

    Maralise, I think I need that cross-stitched on a pillow.

    As I was reading his obituary and the articles about his life in the lds newsroom, I was so struck and amazed by how ambitious he was. He created the PEF, a masterpiece. He instigated the building of so many smaller temples, one of which I live 15 minutes away from. My life is so much better because of what he DID. It is impressive to me that his actions reflected his attitude of optimism and hope. He didn't only say "look on the bright side," he literally made things brighter.

    So, I'm trying to live my religion better so that my works or at least more of my works mirror my beliefs. I think in my personal life, this will mean listening for and obeying more the promptings of the Spirit.

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  10. Thank you Dalene. This is exactly what I have been thinking. His words on so many occasions urged me to try a little harder to be a little better. By being better, even becoming better we can truly honor him in a lasting way.

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  11. Mara–thank you for your beautifully expressed thoughts. I'm with Carrie–I need your entire middle paragraph cross-stitched on a pillow.

    Lisa–on Monday night we read part of one of his last conference addresses then I had the kids go around and tell about their favorite thing about President Hinckley. It was kind of interesting, but one of my favorites was when my 12-year-old daughter talked about his conference talks not ever being boring.

    Millie–"dear, funny man" indeed. There was so much that was endearing about him, but I think he had building people up unto betterness down to an art form.

    b.–my daughter's friend didn't know about the Monday tribute, so she is dressing up for the rest of the week. Yesterday I gave her a ride home after school and saw her exit the car with in her skirt and flats and noticed her freezing cold legs and thought to myself, "Now that's a tribute!"

    Justine–true confession here. We're still plodding through it as a family from the last challenge (I almost wrote an entire post about the guilt I feel over that). But here's something interesting to me. Last time, just weeks before President Hinckley issued his challenge, our bishop had challenged our ward to read the Book of Mormon before Christmas (so more or less I feel disappointed two people I greatly love and respect). At the beginning of this year our bishop asked our ward to read it again–this time with the goal of finishing by April conference. I felt like it was a second chance. I think we just might finish this time. It's part of my effort to do better.

    Kalli–I love the way you put that "Heavenly Father loved me enough to put a prophet on the earth like President Hinckley." Thank you.

    Melody–I too feel joy for him and his lovely wife. Although I will miss him in so many ways, I'm so much more happy than sad. One of the favorite things I have been reading this week are the "Thank Yous" to him. Thanks for sharing yours.

    Lisasco–I'm looking forward to reading his autobiography, especially after reading the quote in which he gave his first reaction to it and said (in so many words) "It's too much about me!"

    Carrie–Yes. His legacy is astounding!

    Rynell–Thank you. I appreciate knowing I'm not the only one who feels this way.

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  12. I know it's sort of late to make a comment. I wasn't able to get around to reading this post until last night, and I just don't know what to say that hasn't already been said. We are having ward conferences in our stake, which I am attending as a part of my current calling. For the past 3 weeks I have had the opportunity to sustain President Hinckley as our Prophet and President twice each Sunday. I have taken special notice, as recent experiences have caused me to struggle with my testimony–something I NEVER dreamed would happen. But this week it will be emotional for me when his name is not read for sustaining, and I realize I am grateful for the privilege I had to do so. I think this was a beautiful post and such a gift for others to read and share their own thoughts as they resolve their feelings of grief and express their feelings of peace and joy. Thank you.

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  13. My friend met President Hinckley just before Christmas and told me that she had never seen someone who looked as completely physically exhausted as he did. She said he was happy, friendly, talkative, but just had a fatigue in everything about him, his skin, hair, face, and body. I am sure it was that way. Think of all the work he's done . . .the travelling alone! Anyway, on Monday we watched his testimony from the Special Witnesses dvd and it was a great way to feel of his love and spirit again. I can do better as well; thanks Dalene.

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  14. It's interesting, each prophet has been able to provide what the church/world needed most at that time. It has not been any different with President Hinckley.

    Gordon B. Hinckley will ever be a giant among men and the angels in heaven.

    What a great thing it is that there isn't any political jockeying in determining who the next prophet will be. There won't be any personal agendas, house cleaning, payoffs, etc. The work will go on, and his successor will have what it takes to do it.

    I think you have summed it up well with, "Perfect is beyond me. But better I can do."

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  15. Thank you for sharing that Am'n2deep. I will be thinking of you this Sunday and I'm sure it will be the same thing during April conference. I know we don't do this, but it just occurred to me how satisfying it would feel to be able to release him with a vote of thanks.

    Heather H.–With all he has accomplished no wonder! Surely if anyone deserved a rest it would be him, but I sort of imagine him enjoying being able to lengthen his stride and quickening his step now that age and mortality no longer affect him.

    Lyle–Isn't the contrast between our the practically silent and sacred succession of a prophet and the bitter and brutal battle of an election rather stark? Great comment.

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