NOTE: This is a personal incident shared by a Church employee who wishes to remain anonymous.
Only weeks before President Hinckley’s passing, I was in the Church Administration Building delivering a report to a member of the Twelve.
I was in the south elevator descending to Lower Level 1 when it occurred to me that the elevator had stopped at the first floor. As the doors slid open my eyes locked with the person who would share my ride. I smiled and nodded, and then nervously stepped to the left with my back against the wall.
I wanted to give this important man space, as it seemed to me that I was encroaching on his world. The doors closed.
Then, much to my surprise, President Thomas S. Monson spun and faced me, just inches away.
He smiled, then laughed…I’m pretty sure he could sense my surprise. I immediately sensed his sense of humor.
He asked my name, where I worked, and then where I lived. As we stopped our descent, I attempted to wait for him to exit first. President Monson then locked his arm in mine and proceeded to casually stroll with me down the hall toward the parking garage.
In a very comfortable manner, he asked me about my wife and each child. He asked for their names, repeating each one – as if he was locking them away in his memory for later recall.
He then asked me about my calling and thoughts about my ward. He listened intently.
It was clear to me that I was the most important person in his world at that moment.
It was then that I felt a love for this man that would not be erased by time. He was the most kind and genuine “stranger” that I had ever met. He certainly didn’t need to spend precious minutes with me, but he did…and it was clear to me that he wanted to because he genuinely cared about me…someone he didn’t even know.
As we approached the security desk I became aware of his security detail anxiously standing in the parking garage waiting for President Monson. It was apparent to me that they were not pleased with the delay or my impertinence in delaying the Prophet. If they only knew how hard I had tried to allow him to carry on without me. After what seemed like an hour (but was actually 4-5 minutes), President Monson nudged me with his elbow, and with a twinkle in his eyes and a nod of his head to the security detail, said, “I guess we’ve kept them waiting long enough, Brother [last name]. It was nice to meet you.”
Then, much to my surprise, he added, “Thank you for visiting with me.”
I watched as he walked to his car and sat in the back. The door closed, and he was gone.
I will never forget this experience or this man.
I have a feeling that if I get a chance to see him in the next life, he will ask me how my wife and children are, and he will use each of their names when asking.
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