Sister Hinckley Shares Humor and Wisdom at Women's Conference - Y Magazine
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Sister Hinckley Shares Humor and Wisdom at Women’s Conference

It’s often said the longer two people are married, the more they look and act alike. This was apparent as President Gordon B. Hinckley’s characteristic humor was displayed by his wife, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, at a fireside during this year’s Women’s Conference, co-sponsored by BYU and the Relief Society of the LDS Church.

During the hour-long question-and-answer presentation of Sister Hinckley’s life, the prophet’s wife was questioned and coaxed by her three daughters as she shared many nuggets of wisdom, punctuated by humorous anecdotes and an occasional lost page that kept the crowd laughing.

“The family that I grew up in consisted of one brother and four sisters and a mother and father who were absolutely devoted to the Church,” said Sister Hinckley, who was born Nov. 23, 1911, in Nephi, Utah. “It was a prayerful home. We prayed about everything, and I mean everything—that we wouldn’t burn the soup.”

Sister Hinckley praised her parents and her upbringing, especially her parents’ choice of residence. “The really wonderful thing about my childhood was that the stake president lived across the street from us, and his son was Gordon B. Hinckley. So I was aware of him. By the time I got to high school, I knew there were two sexes, and I noticed him,” she quipped.

As their romance blossomed, Gordon was called on a mission. “There were very few missionaries who went in those days,” recalled Sister Hinckley. “It was the bottom of the Depression—and my husband likes me always to say, ‘It was the bottom of the Depression.’ It seems like everything wonderful that happened to us always happened in the bottom of the Depression.”

After Gordon’s mission, the couple resumed dating and soon were married. As the mother of three girls and two boys, Sister Hinckley shared her philosophy on raising children—try not to take yourself too seriously.

“When you felt like crying, it was always better to laugh,” she said. “One day I took a beautiful casserole from the oven and my six-year-old boy said, ‘Mom, how come you baked the garbage?’ Children are like that. There are days when it’s hard to laugh.”

As Gordon Hinckley became Elder Hinckley and then President Hinckley, his Church assignments took him around the world, and Sister Hinckley often accompanied him. “The very first time I went overseas with him was when we went to the Swiss Temple, and I was very excited. Switzerland is a wonderfully beautiful place. And I was so happy to be there, until I realized that there was an ocean and a continent between me and my children. And I broke down in sobs,” she said.

Despite the separation from her children, Sister Hinckley’s trips have continued. On one of her trips, Sister Hinckley went tracting with some sister missionaries in Hong Kong. “We went to the resettlement flats. And if you have never experienced a resettlement flat, just know that there’s one rest room for 75 people, and that tells it all,” she said.

Sister Hinckley and the missionaries walked through the flats until they found a family they could teach. “They didn’t have anything to sit on but packing boxes, but we were grateful. But the thing that impressed me was that high on a shelf there was a little glass vase with an artificial flower in it. And I said to myself, ‘No matter where women live, no matter what their circumstances are, they can find some way to get a little beauty in their lives.'”