“Grandpa’s Trunk,” Friend, May 1984, 36
“I hope they call me on a mission when I have grown a foot or two …”
Jay was standing and singing to the congregation with the other Primary children. He liked to sing that song because when he was old enough, he wanted to go on a mission.
When the song was over, the children sat down, and it was brother Davis’s turn to speak. “I want to thank the children for their beautiful song,” he said. “It reminds me of the words of one of our prophets who said that each one of us should be a missionary, no matter how old we are.”
Jay didn’t listen to the rest of the talk very well. He was busy thinking about what Brother Davis had just said. If Brother Davis is right, I could be a missionary right now. I won’t have to wait until I’m older. But how can I be a missionary? he wondered.
On the way home from church with his family, Jay was still thinking about being a missionary. “Dad,” he asked, “how can each one of us be a missionary?”
“We can help other people to understand the gospel, and we can be good Latter-day Saints so that perhaps they will want to learn more about our Church,” Dad replied.
“Which people?” Jay wanted to know.
“People who don’t belong to our church.”
“I know lots of people like that. But it will take a long time to tell all of them.”
Dad laughed. “Yes, that would take a long time. Why don’t you choose one person who is special to you and try to help him?”
“Whom do you really care about?”
Jay thought for a moment. “I love you and Mom and my brothers and sisters. And I love Grandpa. He isn’t a member. I’m going to talk to him about the Church.”
Dad was quiet for a moment. Then he said, “Maybe you should, Jay. I’ve tried for a long time to interest him in the Church, but I haven’t had much success. Maybe you can reach him.”
The more Jay thought about telling his grandfather about the gospel, the more excited he became. Since Grandpa was coming to live with them soon, Jay knew he would have many opportunities to talk with him.
The day Mom and Dad went to get Grandpa was exciting. It seemed like forever until Dad drove the car back into the driveway. When he finally did, Jay ran out of the house with his brothers and sisters to hug Grandpa and welcome him. Grandpa seemed glad to see them, but he looked very tired.
“Careful, children. Grandpa isn’t completely well yet,” Mother cautioned. “You can talk to him later, when he’s resting on the couch.”
They all hurried to carry Grandpa’s things to the room prepared for him. There were suitcases and boxes and an old leather-covered trunk. When Jay asked about the trunk, Dad explained that people used to carry their clothes in trunks instead of suitcases but that not many people used trunks anymore.
It was fun having Grandpa living with the family. He couldn’t run and play hide-and-seek anymore, but he could still tell funny stories. And he always listened when anyone had a problem or a secret. Often at night before going to bed, Jay and one or two of the other children would sit on Grandpa’s trunk to listen to his stories. Sometimes they laughed so hard they almost fell off the trunk.
The best times for Jay, however, were when Grandpa took his daily walks. The doctor had said that slow walks would be good for Grandpa’s heart. Since Jay was the oldest and could help support Grandpa, it was his job to walk with him. Jay had Grandpa to himself then, and they talked about all kinds of things.
But there was one thing that Grandpa would not talk about, and that was religion. Jay learned that if he said anything about the Church, Grandpa would quickly change the subject. Each day Jay became a little more discouraged. Boy, what kind of a missionary am I? he thought. I can’t even get someone who loves me to listen to what I have to say. Then a grin started to curl the corners of Jay’s mouth. That’s it! he thought. Grandpa loves me.
The next Sunday when Jay’s Primary teacher asked for a volunteer to give a talk the following week, Jay said that he would do it. He knew just what he wanted to talk about—and whom he wanted to invite!
Jay worked hard on his talk, and he practiced saying it again and again. He was pleased that he had written it himself.
On Saturday when Jay and Grandpa were taking their walk, Jay said, “I’m going to give a talk, and I wrote it myself.”
“That’s fine, Jay,” Grandpa said. “I’m proud of you. When are you going to give it?”
“Tomorrow in church. Would you like to come and hear me?”
Grandpa didn’t answer right away, and for a while Jay thought Grandpa was going to change the subject the way he usually did. Then to his surprise Grandpa answered, “I guess so.”
Jay skipped ahead. He turned around and grinned at Grandpa. “Good. It will make me feel better to know that you’re there.”
When Jay stood up to give his talk on Sunday, he was scared. He looked at the back of the room where his parents sat. With them was Grandpa. He smiled at Grandpa, and Grandpa smiled back.
“I am thankful for many things,” Jay said. “I am thankful for the food I eat and the clothes I wear. I am thankful for my parents and for my grandpa who has come to live with us. I am thankful that I can live with them now, and I am especially thankful that it is possible for me to live with them forever.
“When I was little, the missionaries came to our house and taught us what Heavenly Father wanted us to do. My parents were baptized. Then our family went to Heavenly Father’s house, the temple, and we were promised that we would be together forever if we obeyed His commandments. That is called being sealed. When I grow up, I want to be a missionary so that I can help other families be together forever.”
When Jay went back to his chair, he saw that his parents were smiling at him—but Grandpa was staring at the floor.
After church Grandpa wasn’t there. Dad explained that Grandpa had asked to be taken home right after Jay’s talk. Jay felt a lump in his throat. Grandpa didn’t like my talk, he thought sadly.
When Jay got home, he went to Grandpa’s room. The door was closed, so he knocked.
“Come in,” said Grandpa.
Jay opened the door and stopped in surprise. Grandpa’s usually neat room was a terrible mess, and what was even more amazing was that Grandpa was sitting next to his trunk taking things out of it. Jay had never seen the trunk open before. Now he could see that it had been filled with things that were very old.
“Look,” said Grandpa as he held up a photograph. “This was taken when your father was little. And this is the necklace I gave your grandmother on our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.”
“Were all these things in the trunk?” asked Jay.
“Yes,” Grandpa answered, “but I haven’t looked at them since I put them here when your grandmother died. It hurt too much to look at them because I thought I would never see her again. I kept the hurt locked up inside of me just like I kept these things locked up in the trunk.”
“Why are you getting them out now?”
“It’s because of your talk, Jay, because of what you said about the promise in the temple. I never let anyone tell me about your church before, but now I think that maybe I ought to learn more about it. I’m sure your grandmother would want me to. Do you think your father would mind asking the missionaries to come and teach me?”
Jay hugged his grandfather. “I don’t think he’d mind at all!”