While David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism is nearly perfect in every way, one thing it doesn’t do is provide an intimate portrait of President McKay. That lacuna is partially filled by Heart Petals: The Personal Correspondence of David Oman McKay to Emma Ray McKay.
Toronto, Ontario, June 4, 1929
My Darling Sweetheart,
. . . After traveling all night by train from Ottawa to Toronto, I approached the Mission house in high anticipation of finding awaiting me at least four letters from Loved Ones at home, as I have had only one since I left two weeks ago. Though the sun was shining brightly, yet the air was cool; the city seemed to have an unwelcome aspect, an incident happened on our way to the street car, which impressed me as foolish, the mission house seemed rather still and undemonstrative, to say the least–no Elders to meet us, and our hostess naturally reserved as you know she is. These, and other things combined to keep my feelings just a little below par; but interjecting itself constantly like a ray of sunshine through the clouds, came the thought–“There are letters from home so I’ll be content.” I was shown to my room, but there were not letters on the table awaiting me. Later, I met the Mission Secretary, but he said nothing about mail.
Breakfast was announced, but no letters given me. As we were eating, the postman came. The little girl brought in papers and letters, wondered which one was for her, handed the bundle to her mother, who glanced through it, then handed it to the Secretary, who also looked at each envelope and wrapper, but handed me no letter. Thinking that he did not want to disturb me while eating, I asked, “Any for me?” In answer, he handed me a long letter from the Beneficial Life, but not a line from a chic or a child at home!
Well, Toronto became a gloomy old place! “Cold in climate, and every other way!” “Kiddies don’t give a rap, anyhow.” “They are cold in their feelings also.” “It will be a cold day before I write to them again!”–These cold, somewhat rebellious thoughts threw the thermometer of my feelings down to near the freezing point. I don’t know whether I radiated chilled feelings or not, but Sister Hart turned on an electric heater, and later Bro. Hart lit the gas radiator!
I was in a good mood to write a letter to the Assistant Superintendent of the civic hospital at Ottawa, who, I thought, treated us in an ungentlemantly not to say contemptuous manner when we called yesterday, to administer to a sister missionary–I wrote the letter, and read it to Brother Hart, who seemed a bit frightened, and mildly suggested some gentler terms instead of “insult,” “ignorance,” “bigotry,” etc.
Well, by the time that letter was modified, and another written to “His Excellency, the Mayor of Ottawa,” the postman came with the afternoon delivery of mail. I was handed your letter of the 31st.
Toronto is not an unpleasant city at all–The Mission house is really a cheerful home! Sister Hart is just as considerate as a hostess can be! The outlook of the Branch here is favorable! Everything that hour seemed to take on a different aspect! Yet everything was just as it had been before; but my Sweetheart’s letter had put Sunshine into my heart, and made all things gladsome! I’ve given you this peep into my innermost feelings, just to assure you again that
I love You!
My life’s sunshine!