In our Elder’s Quorum today we discussed Chapter 11 from the Howard W. Hunter Teachings of Presidents of the church manual. The lesson started with a powerful story that I felt that I felt really strongly should be shared more widely. It really resonated with me because one of the most enduring memories that I have is watching my father take care of my mother when she was sick. In particular, one of the most moving experiences of my life was seeing her walk her to the bathroom when she was too weak to walk herself. I learned more about his true character and the true meaning of love from that single act that anything else that my father ever said or did. So this story of President Hunter’s care of his wife really connected with me and reminded me of my father and mother:
“One example of President Hunter’s relatively unnoticed service was the care he gave to his wife as she struggled with declining health for more than a decade. In the early 1970s, Claire Hunter began experiencing headaches and memory loss. She later suffered several small strokes, which made it difficult for her to talk or use her hands. When she began to need constant care, President Hunter provided as much as he could while also fulfilling his responsibilities as an Apostle. He arranged for someone to stay with Claire during the day, but he cared for her at night.
A cerebral hemorrhage in 1981 left Claire unable to walk or speak. Nevertheless, President Hunter sometimes helped her out of her wheelchair and held her tightly so they could dance as they had done years earlier.
After Claire experienced a second cerebral hemorrhage, doctors insisted that she be placed in a care center, and she remained there for the last 18 months of her life. During that time, President Hunter went to see her each day except when traveling on Church assignments. When he returned home, he went directly from the airport to be with her. Most of the time she was either in a deep sleep or did not recognize him, but he continued to tell her of his love and to make sure that she was comfortable.
Elder James E. Faust of the Quorum of the Twelve later said that President Hunter’s “tender loving care of his wife Claire for more than ten years while she was not well was the most noble devotion of a man to a woman that many of us have seen in our lives.”