Occasionally, someone captures the essence of feeling by articulating our sentiments perfectly. This happened for me in a round-about way when President and Sister Monson’s daughter, Ann Monson Dibb, spoke recently of her mother.
As the children were growing up, her father’s responsibilities as a member of the Council of the Twelve often took him away from home. At these times, her mother lifted her children, supported her husband, and fulfilled her role. She said:
“Mother conveyed to us that he was doing his duty and that we would be watched over and protected whenever he was away. She communicated this message to us not only with words but by her quiet manner of making sure everything which needed to be done was always accomplished. My mother is unlike many of the women of today’s generation. Instead of looking for the recognition of the world, she has always received her acknowledgment of worth from such things as the happy smile of a son or the outstretched hand of a grandchild. President Wilford Woodruff once said, ‘The mother has greater influence over her posterity than any other person can have, and her influence is felt through time and eternity.’ I am grateful to my mother, thankful for her influence, and pray that I might always be worthy of her love.
“As I reflect upon the many blessings which I have received as the daughter of an Apostle of the Lord, the one which means the most to me is the gift and blessing of the woman he married, my mother.”
I have a wife and six daughters worthy of that very same accolade. They, too, are a gift and blessing to their families, husbands, and all of us. I am grateful to Sister Dibb for articulating so well my sentiments when it comes to the wonderful mothers in my life, especially and including my sweetheart and our daughters.
Camilla Kimball story
When I was a young man growing up on the farm, I remember fondly the swell of emotion that I had for the beloved prophet of those days, Spencer W Kimball. Perhaps it was because he was the first prophet I came to appreciate and love. Perhaps it was the talk given in a general conference priesthood meeting those many years ago in 1976 about honoring and appreciating life, which so influenced me at that time, or maybe it was because I was captivated when reading his biography at the tender age of fifteen and forever united with him. But for a young man of my age, it was more than admiration. He seemed to connect with me. I came to love and appreciate the qualities of his wife, Camilla Kimball, as well.
She was stalwart and true, supportive and loving. President Kimball said it best when many years ago in 1979. He made a profound prophecy about the impact that covenant-keeping women would have on the future of the Lord’s Church. He foretold:
“Much of the major growth that is coming to the Church in the last days will come because many of the good women of the world … will be drawn to the Church in large numbers. This will happen to the degree that the women of the Church reflect righteousness and articulateness in their lives and to the degree that the women of the Church are seen as distinct and different—in happy ways—from the women of the world.”
So it was that years after that statement was made, I had the opportunity to attend Brigham Young University and there met the woman who has become my wife. We had our first child, a little girl, in the early years and gave her the name Camilla as we reflected on the life and qualities of Sister Camilla Kimball. During that time, I worked at the Ernest L Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus. We prepared the facilities for many distinguished guests, including general authorities, statesmen, educators, and notable orators.
While I was moving between responsibilities one day, I caught the elevator. I saw two women enter the elevator after me—one was pushing the other in a wheelchair. When the elevator stopped at the next floor, the doors opened, and the women exited. We continued up to the subsequent floors. While we began ascending, I asked who these women were. Another passenger answered “That was Camilla Kimball and her daughter Olive Beth.”
I was surprised and as quickly as possible returned to the floor where they had exited in hopes that I could get the chance to speak with Sister Kimball. I looked right and left and continued down to the lobby, and sure enough toward the end of the hallway, I saw them strolling leisurely along. This was many years following the passing of President Kimball, and I approached the party and mustered the courage to say as best as I can recollect the following:
“Sister Kimball, you don’t know me, but I know you. We love your husband and revere him as a prophet of God, and we love you. My wife and I recently had a baby daughter, and we named her Camilla in your memory.”
She took my hand in hers and with a twinkle in her eye, she responded “Thank you for telling me that.” Sister Kimball was 92-years-old at the time.
My brief encounter with Sister Kimball that day has been a connection that I have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy through the remainder of my life.
I love this story. Retelling it reminds me of that special day so long ago.
About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.