Applesauce will never be the same for me again, not after reading this excerpt in the new book I Will Lead You Along about the life of Henry B. Eyring. Hal, as Henry was called, had dreamed of having a family of his own since he was a little boy. He felt angst over it and wrote home to his mother when he was living in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the age of twenty-two single with no prospects in sight:
My Dearest Mother,
I’ve just opened your first jar of applesauce, and although I meant to eat it slowly as I wrote, I’ve already finished half of it. There’s only one food like applesauce and onle one applesauce like Mother’s. There goes some more. I just can’t leave it alone.
I wanted to talk a little with you tonight, Mother, the way we’d do if you’d been here when I cam home from tracting or if I were with you. I know how much my Mother loves me, but sometimes I wonder if you understand how much I love you.
From you I learned that the most wonderful thing in the world was a home where the gospel was the common bond of love and the way of life. I don’t think you could have dreamed about my home or your grandchildren any more than I have over the years, Mother. I’ve lost fifteen pounds in the last four months, and to a large extent over concern for your grandchildren. If I thought much more about it, perhaps neither of us would live to know them.
Hal’s longing for children was neither idle nor new. From his teenage years he had not only thought of his future children but imagined them. In his mind’s eye they had red hair like his mother’s; he even called them “the Redheads.” When he faced temptation, he would remind himself, “I can’t do that – the Redheads are counting on me.” (pgs. 87-88)
Isn’t that one of the sweetest things you have ever read? Henry B. Eyring’s concern and love for his family is evident throughout this biography. It is taken largely from his personal journals and includes many of the sketches he added to the margins of his journals. Did you know he enjoyed drawing and painting? I certainly didn’t!
“[Hal] took postcard-sized art paper and, while waiting in an airport or taking a private moment in the home of a generous host, would capture a scene of an intriguing place or person. On a long trip, Kathy and the children might receive one of these original postcards in the mail. Upon his return home, Hal would send a similar custom-made thank-you note to his host.”
It doesn’t surprise me that Hal would send thank-you notes. Pres. Eyring’s advice and counsel have literally changed my life. I have shared in the past how his talk, O Remember, Remember, about gratitude and writing down the things that happened each day has helped me to be more grateful. In reading his biography and journal excerpts you can see that it was a life-changing habit for Pres. Eyring too.
The hardest, but also sweetest, chapter to read was the last one about Kathleen, Hal’s wife. Throughout the book we see how Kathy has influenced Hal’s life. Her goodness and insight and spiritual sensitivities were a great boon to their marriage. The love Hal has for his wife is evident in the journal entries.
“After dinner we watched the movie ‘Forever Young,’ with Mel Gibson. The romantic ending is of young love reunited. The music at the end of the film, as it was in the beginning, was Billie Holiday singing, ‘The Very Thought of You.’ We, Kathleen in tennis shoes and I without shoes, danced on the basement carpet until the last note.” (pg. 493)
Kathy was a huge support to him in his endeavors. She was in every way his match. It was hard to read of Kathy’s memory loss, something I did not know about. Her father also suffered the same thing in his later years, and like her father, Kathy’s memories of sacred tunes and verses learned in childhood have outlived all other memories. I admit I cried as I read about Hal looking to Hoke, the humble faithful chauffeur in the movie, Driving Miss Daisy, as a hero to emulate.
In a closing scene of the movie, during one of Hoke’s visits when she is unusually alert and coherent, Miss Daisy takes his hand and says, “Hoke, you’re my best friend.” Initially, Hoke protests. But then he consents, “Yes’m.” As Hal worked with Kathy, especially in the stressful moments, he held that scene in mind as his goal. (pg. 496)
What a perfect example of being faithful! While the book predictably details Hal’s many worldly achievements it also shows how this humble servant of the Lord has been lead as he has put his trust in the Lord, learned from his mistakes, and served his family.
Size: 6½” x 9″
Year Published: 2013
About the Authors
Robert I. Eaton began serving as president of the Washington Federal Way Mission in summer 2013. Prior to that, he was a professor of religious education at Brigham Young University-Idaho. He is a graduate of BYU and of Stanford Law School. He and his wife, Diane, are the parents of four children.
Henry J. Eyring graduated from Brigham Young University, earning a bachelor’s degree in geology and graduate degrees in business administration and law. He is the advancement vice president of BYU-Idaho and has served as director of the BYU MBA program. He also served as president of the Japan Tokyo North Mission. He and his wife, Kelly, are the parents of five children.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book to review. All opinions are my own.