In my childhood, everything wasn’t bliss in our ward Primary, for boys will be boys. The laughter of the boys and the chatter of the girls at times must have been most disconcerting to our Primary leaders.
One day as we left the chapel for our classrooms, I noted that our Primary president remained behind. I paused and observed her. She sat all alone on the front row of the benches, took out her handkerchief, and began to weep. I walked up to her and said, “Sister Georgell, don’t cry.”
She said, “I’m sad.”
I responded, “What’s the matter?”
She said, “I can’t control the Trail Builders. Will you help me?”
Of course I answered, “Yes.”
She said, “Oh, that would be wonderful, Tommy, if you would.”
What I didn’t know then is that I was the source of her tears. She had effectively enlisted me to aid in achieving reverence in our Primary, and it was achieved.
The years flew by. When Melissa Georgell was in her nineties, she lived in a nursing facility in the northwest part of Salt Lake City. One year just before Christmas, I determined to visit my beloved Primary president. Over the car radio I heard the music of familiar Christmas carols: “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and many others. I reflected on the visit made by wise men those long years ago and the visit made by us boys when we portrayed the wise men in the pageant. The wise men brought precious gifts to the Christ child. I brought to Melissa only the gift of love and a desire to say “Thank you.”
I found her in the lunchroom. She was staring at her plate of food, teasing it with the fork she held in her aged hand. Not a bite did she eat. As I spoke to her, my words were met by a benign but blank stare. I gently took her fork from her and began to feed her, talking all the time I did so about her service to boys and girls as a Primary worker and the joy that was mine to have served later as her bishop. There wasn’t even a glimmer of recognition, far less a spoken word. Two other residents of the nursing home gazed at me with puzzled expressions. At last they spoke, saying, “She doesn’t know anyone—even her own family. She hasn’t said a word for a long, long time.”
Luncheon ended. My one-sided conversation wound down. I stood to leave. I held her frail hand in mine and gazed into her wrinkled but beautiful countenance and said, “God bless you, Melissa, and merry Christmas.”
Without warning, she spoke the words, “I know you. You’re Tommy Monson, my Primary boy. How I love you.”
She pressed my hand to her lips and bestowed on it the kiss of love. Tears coursed down her cheeks and bathed our clasped hands. Those hands, that day, were hallowed by heaven and graced by God. The herald angels did sing, for I heard them in my heart.
The above story previously ran on LDS Living in 2016. Lead image from YouTube
Read more heartwarming stories from President Monson in Consider the Blessings, a beautifully pictured collection of 50 of his most beloved spiritually inspiring stories that celebrates his 50 years as an apostle of the Lord. Available at Deseret Book and deseretbook.com.