My Dad is one of the best men I have ever known. I’m sure many people can express the same sentiment, and they are most likely justified in their assessment. But for me, it is a given fact that no one has had more influence on my life than my own Father. Maybe I can shed some light on why I feel the way I do by sharing a few experiences that have made a lasting impression.
I was six years old when my parents were divorced. It was one of the most difficult experiences of my life (DUH!!) and very easily could have scarred me much more than it did. But the way my father handled the whole situation left open the possibility that I would be able to recover and have a semi-normal life, in spite of the difficult circumstances.
After the divorce, my brother and I went to live with Dad while the other two boys stayed with our mother. At first it was like a little vacation for me but as the days moved to weeks and months, I started to resent what was happening. After not too many months, Dad remarried and my resentment increased – this time focused on my new step-mother (another story for another day). Soon, the other two boys joined our growing clan and a little sister was born to the new couple. All this time, Dad was patiently waiting for me to become accustomed to things and move on with my life.
One day, several years after the divorce, I finally got enough courage to ask what happened between my parents. This would have been the ideal time for Dad to “lay it all out” and show me all the reasons my mom was at fault for their failures.
Instead, he quietly let me know that there were some problems, but that mom was a good person and the two of them just had issues that couldn’t be fixed. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he was sacrificing his own pride and protecting my image of my mom, despite some major hurt he was suffering.
I’m now 60+ years old and in the 54+ years since the divorce occurred, I have NEVER heard my Dad say one negative thing about my mother. He has left it to me to determine how I will deal with that relationship. In all those years, my decisions have been based on my own experiences and not something he tried to force on me. I will ever be grateful for his forbearance and kindness in this matter.
|Two versions of my Dad. In the back when he remarried|
and the front at his 50th Anniversary a few years ago.
Yet, there are other reasons for the designation “GOOD PEOPLE” being attached to my own Father.
Like most Dads, mine worked hard and sacrificed continually for his family. To list all the different jobs he worked would take a whole post in itself. Whatever the job, Dad worked hard and gave his best efforts, a trait I have tried to emulate in my own life.
With ten children, Dad suffered embarrassment over the antics of his brood (I provided many such experiences) and still exhibited love for the unique personalities that populated his home.
(Not wanting to give too much fodder for future use, let’s just say we all provided moments (or longer) of humiliation for the head of the household).
One enduring fatherly attribute that has been a focal point of my personal life is best illustrated by a little story I have shared a few times over the years. It goes like this:
When I was 8 or 9 years old, I was tasked with cleaning up some things around the house. Always in a hurry, I gathered up a number of items and began to put them away where they belonged. Hurrying down the hallway, I whipped open the bathroom door and threw a washcloth into the tub (right behind the door) and moved on. Having gone only a step or two, I was surprised by a loud bellow, “Who threw that in here?” Seems Dad was in the tub and I had connected with my toss of the cloth. He called me into the room and, with a fair amount of righteous indignation, showed me the fruits of my labors.
Unbeknownst to me, Dad was reading his scriptures as he soaked in the tub and when I tossed the cloth into the bathtub, I had knocked the scriptures (a brand new quad) out of his hands and into the water. For many years after, I was reminded of my miscue every time we went to Church because the book expanded as it dried and was never quite the same.
As you consider that story, you might wonder what attribute I would learn from my Dad. I promise it wasn’t anything about bathing (I never have liked taking baths – I’m more of a shower guy) and it wasn’t about paying attention to work duties.
What stuck with me was the love my Dad had for the scriptures and his desire to be knowledgeable about the things of God. As I grew older and had my own experiences with the Word of God, I often recalled the time and effort (with that big family and all those jobs) my Dad took to stay in touch with his Savior. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that may have been one of the reasons I eventually fell in love with teaching the doctrines of the gospel.
Like every person on this earth, my Dad has his “warts.” But those imperfections are minuscule in comparison to the great work he has done in bringing up righteous children and improving the state of this world. I love my Dad and hope that one day I can be as influential to others as he has been to me.
I often tell my students that the one thing I always wanted to do in life was become a Dad because I had such a great example and I wanted to be like him. I now have five children of my own with 16+ grandchildren and I love them beyond my own imagination. All because I learned from a great man how to be a Dad.
Thanks Dad, you are my hero.