Ten years ago, my family and I toured the Church History and Art Museum in Salt Lake City. One of the exhibits was of the painting and wood carvings Elder Packer had done throughout his life. I was struck by how excellent they were, particularly the wood carvings of small animals and birds; clearly the result of careful real-life observation and exquisite technical skill. (An example of his work is seen to the left.)
Later, I wrote him a letter thanking him for some talks he’d given and complimenting him on his art, especially the wood carvings.
He replied in a letter dated August 17, 2005. One paragraph reads: “I am glad you enjoyed the museum visit. That seems like another life as the years have moved on. Because of causes incident to age, I am not able to do that fine work anymore.”
The pathos of those statements also struck me. I noted that he didn’t blame his lack of recent art on the demands of his ministry, but only on the realities of advancing age. (In retrospect, it’s inspiring that despite “causes incident to age,” he still maintained a vigorous and productive global ministry for another decade after writing that letter!)
Clearly, though, he loved those carvings and it hurt to not be able to do them anymore. At least in his golden years he had all those great achievements to look back on, and the memory of the feeling of creating them in the first place.
Truly, this was a life deeply and well lived.