“If Not for Clyde,” Ensign, Oct. 2002, 68–69
It has been 35 years since I was assigned as the junior home teaching companion to Brother Clyde Parkinson. Much has changed in my life since then; much of that change is the result of work begun by Clyde.
In the winter of 1967 I was a teenager who was actively involved in ski racing and hadn’t been to church regularly for several years. On the rare occasion I did attend church, I was alone and always introduced as a visitor, so I stopped going altogether. What prompted someone to assign me as Clyde’s home teaching companion, I still don’t know.
When my mother found out that I had received the assignment, she hoped that I would become active, even though my father was not a member. So she told Clyde I would be ready to go the first Wednesday of the month. At 7:00 P.M. that night the doorbell rang; it was Clyde. He introduced himself as my teacher’s quorum adviser and home teaching companion. I had never been home teaching before, and had it not been for my mother standing there with my coat, I surely would have come up with an excuse not to go.
After a prayer we left and visited three families in the neighborhood. At the end of each visit, we made return appointments for the following month, and Clyde confirmed with me that I would be able to go. I said yes but meant no. Plans for my excuse were already forming. But back at home I reflected on how good it had felt to be with Clyde and how much interest he had shown in me. He had talked to me about ski racing and even knew I’d won a race two weeks before.
Nonetheless, when the first Wednesday of the following month rolled around, I was not at home when Clyde came to pick me up. He called and tried to talk with me four more times that month before he finally caught me at home the last Saturday of the month after a ski race. Maybe I wanted to tell him about the race, because for some reason I agreed to go home teaching with him. I didn’t learn until many months later that Clyde had already visited our families earlier that month and they had all agreed to this second visit.
The message this time was on the priesthood. I know it was for me as much as for our families. Clyde had even arranged for the families to invite me to pray and hinted to me this might happen, making sure I knew what to do. Clyde persisted for months until I actually looked forward to going home teaching with him. After four months of his making repeated attempts to take me home teaching, I learned I couldn’t avoid him and started being more cooperative.
In March he asked me why I didn’t come to church. By then I knew and trusted Clyde well enough to tell him the real reason. I told him I felt singled out and strange. The next Sunday I was in church surrounded by Clyde’s family. I never sat alone in church again.
In May Clyde asked me to give the home teaching lesson and helped me prepare. He suggested Sabbath observance and gave me some material. I could never look at skiing on Sunday the same way again. I also was ordained a priest about this time and became fully active.
As the years have passed, I have come to appreciate Clyde even more. At that critical time in my life, Clyde was the manager of an automotive store. He was also a husband and father in his mid-30s with a large family and a multitude of responsibilities. The hours he spent getting to know me and sticking with me never cease to amaze me.
I was on my mission in Germany the day I learned of Clyde’s untimely death. I wept for days in quiet moments; truly Clyde had been a savior on Mount Zion to me.
There are turning points in our lives. At age 16 I was faced with many hard choices, and I am convinced that without Clyde I would not be active in the Church today. Less than a month after attending church for the first time with Clyde’s family, a close skiing friend of mine got heavily involved in drugs and alcohol. I remember how tough the choice was to lose him as a friend rather than join in his activities. It was feeling comfortable at church with Clyde’s family that made the difference for me. I’m grateful that Clyde never gave up on his tough junior companion.