Let me share one example of a divine signature that has special significance for me personally. This was a tender mercy in the fullest sense of the word tender. My father, typical of many other men from his generation, did not express emotion openly very often. In all my growing-up years, I can never remember him telling me or any of my brothers and sisters that he loved us. We knew that he did, because he was a good father. He read stories to us almost every night. He taught us to work and how to be responsible.
The one exception to his emotional reticence was with my mother. With her, he was openly expressive of his love. He would often take her in his arms in front of us and tell us how she was the best thing that ever happened to him. Then he would kiss her soundly. It always embarrassed Mom but delighted us. One of the quickest ways to trigger Dad’s wrath was to be sassy to Mom. That behavior was corrected instantly and in a way that was not quickly forgotten. . . .
After more than sixty years of married life, my father died of colon cancer in 1995. As I watched Mom as the months and years moved on, I came to understand in ways I had not understood before what it meant to grieve for a person. She went on with life as a widow for the next nine years, but never quite got over the loss of Dad. She lived close to us and my siblings for a time, then moved in with our family for three years before we were called to go to England.
One day while we were having breakfast together, we were talking about Dad, and I said something about how protective and caring he had always been toward her. Her eyes immediately misted up as she nodded. Then she told us that in the latter part of their life the tenderness had only increased.
“He was always so tender with me in those last years,” she said. “For example, every night when we went to bed, we would lay there and talk for awhile. Finally, as we prepared to go to sleep, he would reach across to me and lay his hand on my cheek.” By now the tears were flowing. “Then he would say, ‘I love you, Evelyn.’”
By that time, both my wife and I were a little teary-eyed too. But she wasn’t through. “I have something I want to share with you about your father that I’ve never shared before. This happened about a year after he died.” She then reminded us of how she did not like the dark. I had to smile. That was an understatement. Mom hated being alone in the dark.
She continued with her story:
One night, I had gone to bed. The house was pitch-black and as I lay there all alone, the old feelings of fear and anxiety began to rise. I started thinking about your dad and how much I missed him. I missed him comforting me when I became frightened of the dark. As I was thinking about that, suddenly my heart began to pound. It was racing so fast and so hard that I was gasping for breath. I was terribly frightened. I was sure I was having a heart attack. What was even worse was the thought that I would die there alone in the dark and it might be days before anyone even knew.
She had to stop then, she was crying so hard. For all of her gentle spirit, my mother was not one to show her emotions either. Finally, regaining enough composure to go on, she said:
I was so terrified that I involuntarily cried out in my mind, “Heavenly Father, please don’t let me die here alone.”
For a moment, nothing happened. Then suddenly, I felt a hand rest against my cheek. And I heard your father say, “I love you, Evelyn.” That was all. But instantly, I was at peace. My heart slowed; my fear disappeared. A few minutes later, I fell into a deep sleep and slept through the rest of the night.
Mom passed away in August 2004. Even now, years after she told us that story, I cannot think of it without getting emotional all over again. Talk about tender mercies! And not just for her. My wife and I were also greatly blessed that morning. I silently thanked my Heavenly Father for allowing Dad that brief penetration of the veil. It enriched Mom’s remaining life, and it certainly enriched ours.
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For more faith-affirming stories about how God works in our lives, check out Divine Signatures.
As Latter-day Saints, we know God exists, but sometimes we may wonder, “Heavenly Father, are you really there for me?”
When trials seem beyond our ability to bear, some people lose their spiritual bearings, while others are made even stronger. How can we strengthen our faith and deepen our testimony to the point that we can endure whatever life holds in store for us and emerge stronger than before?
In this unique book, Gerald N. Lund shows how having a correct idea of God's character, perfections, and attributes is essential to our ability to strengthen our faith and develop our testimony.
He also reminds us of how much God loves His children and that He “delights” to bless us, especially when we are striving to do His will. As and example, Elder Lund introduces the idea of a divine signature: “Sometimes blessings come in such an unusual manner and with such precise timing that they accomplish something in addition to blessing us. They so clearly confirm the reality of God's existence that they buoy us up in times of trials.”