Happy Mother’s Day! I get a lot of inspiration from a story about an amazing mother, Esther Packard. You can read the story from the Ensign magazine here. Esther bore 17 children. Her husband, Forrest Packard, left their home in Idaho to earn money during their marriage by building an airstrip on Wake Island in the South Pacific. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor while he was gone, so he ended up being a civilian prisoner of war on Wake Island. Esther suffered nervous breakdowns over this, but she also eventually healed from them and worked to support the family selling corsets door-to-door. She was so successful that when he came home, everything was in fabulous order, including the family, the farm, and her business.
She even managed to play games with her children every day and maintain hope during the dark time of her husband’s imprisonment. It sounds a lot like this time when we are in when it’s easy to give up hope or not feel any purpose for the quarantine life. She didn’t hear from him for two years! Can you believe that? That would have been so hard.
Here’s a quote from the story, about the time of her husband’s imprisonment:
She [Esther] had two purposes: first, to improve herself and her own skills so she could earn a livelihood, and second, to spend every possible moment “living it up” with her family. She made sure to carry on the traditions that she and Forrest had started, and one of those was to have fun, no matter what they did. The children learned to play the piano and to sing. They held regular family nights in which the children performed musically and did dramatic readings. After the work was done in the evenings they played games or had popcorn or a taffy pull or some other fun activity that kept her family members wanting to be home together.
Floyd Packard, now a Regional Representative, remembers those fun family evenings: “Mother would play games with us every night, often until 1 A.M. or later. A real key was that while we were playing she would teach the principles of the gospel in an atmosphere that was easy to accept. There wasn’t much arguing, either, because when some of us started to argue, Mother would stop the game.”
Read the story! It is full of sorrow, heartbreak, tragedy, and a family pulling together to help each other. I love it. Our lives each have all of those elements. Despite the tragedies, we can find hope in Jesus Christ and His restored gospel.