Maxine Campbell was my hero. I never saw her sitting still. I never saw her standing still. If she was sitting, she was waiting for sacrament meeting to begin, but she was eagerly waiting, thinking, looking for someone, getting her scriptures out, reading, smiling at someone. If she was standing, she was on her way to teach a lesson. And her lessons were memorable!
She taught a powerful Relief Society lesson once about having meaningful family home evenings and having them consistently, and how the tradition became a legacy. I remember that she related to us how she had had a strong desire to have family home evening when her children were young, even though she had not grown up with it; and that she had had to prepare the lessons on her own, since Bishop Campbell traveled a lot; and that she used whatever she had on hand in order to make visual aids for the children. She even mentioned that sometimes when David was little, that Bishop had to call for an intermission, and have David run up and down the stairs, before resuming the lesson. No excuses.
Sister Campbell rescued me at least twice while I was a teenager. There was not a day that went by, it seemed, that my mom wasn't talking to, or about, Maxine. We had her number memorized, and that was long before the advent of caller ID. If Mom wasn't reachable, I knew I could call her best friend. She was always there. My teenage years were no worse than anyone else's, but they were awkward. Many times I was almost paralyzed with fear that I would say or do the wrong thing, and be forever judged for a single word. But when Sister Campbell was there rescuing me in my most embarrassing moments, she was so quick to put me at ease by telling me about her own. She talked to me as if I were her equal. She talked to me about every-day things like a dream she had had the night before, and her plan to send a word processor with Rod when he went off to college.
I remember Sister Campbell came to a baby shower my mom threw for me at Sister Christiansen's home. She made sure I knew that the gifts she brought were not just from her. She explained that although attending a baby shower was too painful for her daughter-in-law, who had already had two beautiful children, but who could have no more, that Sharee had definitely contributed. It was the cutest little pink Piglet outfit!
While I was teaching Primary, I once took a child to the bathroom, and Sister Campbell was there. She observed my interactions with the child, and then told me that I was a good teacher. I did not feel that I deserved the praise, but I felt so appreciated, and I really valued her opinion, because she was just so good.
When I was in the hospital for a short time, she came to visit. I knew she knew what I was going through. During her illness, I was impressed that I so often saw her at church. I heard the prognosis was not great, but she just looked so good! When I asked her how she was doing one Sunday, she just said, "Keep praying for me." And then she was off to take care of some church business. No excuses, no complaints.
Shortly after Sister Campbell had been diagnosed with cancer a second time, she attended our ward's fast and testimony meeting. She stood and started walking toward the pulpit. She tripped and fell. She got right back up and headed forward. She fell again. Up again, and forward she walked. And then she fell a third time. Undeterred, she walked to the pulpit and bore her remarkable testimony. I know my Savior lives.
At Sister Campbell's funeral, I learned, or was reminded, of things about her that surprised me a little bit. Not that they were hard to believe, but I just don't remember her telling me all that stuff, like about how she loved to dance and to go to the beach. I love those things, too. Come to think of it, I really relate to Sister Campbell. She loved my family, especially my mom. I want to be more like Maxine. I want to be a best friend to my mom. I want to give priceless gifts to my children and grandchildren. I want to be in the temple every week.