Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Pioneer Father

Perhaps I am the only girl in the whole wide world that hates shopping. That said, occasions like Father’s Day are particularly hard for me when it comes to the gift buying and giving category. It is not that I don’t want to do it; I am simply at a loss as to what to buy the men in my life who seem to have everything they could need, and certainly are at a point in their lives where they could buy whatever they want. That leaves buying gifts very challenging. Beyond cooking them a special meal, I always feel at a loss for ways of showing my gratitude to them. Typically they both receive electronics or maybe even clothing. This year in lieu of my usual offering, I have decided to pay tribute to them with words from my heart. Today is the post for my Father, and tomorrow is the one for the Father of my children. So until next year, where I will probably be found at Best Buy or The Mens Wearhouse, Happy Fathers Day.

Typically the development of the Father/Child relationship might be something like this:

4 years: My Daddy can do anything!
7 years: My Dad knows a lot…a whole lot.
8 years: My father does not know quite everything.
12 years: Oh well, naturally Father does not know that either.
14 years: Oh, Father? He is hopelessly old-fashioned.
21 years: Oh, that man-he is out of date!
25 years: He knows a little bit about it, but not much.
30 years: I must find out what Dad thinks about it.
35 years: Before we decide, we will get Dad's idea first.
50 years: What would Dad have thought about that?
60 years: My Dad knew literally everything!
65 years: I wish I could talk it over with Dad once more.

I guess I have always been a sixty year old at heart because I have always understood that my Dad knows literally everything.

Growing up, if anything was ever broken or needed fixing in the house my dad became a MacGyver. He could fix anything. He would even make parts out of the treasures he would find in his garage for the broken items when no parts were available to buy. Having felt the blessings of this talent my whole life, after I was married the first time my husband suggested we call a repair man for a broken item I almost died. I had never realized that not everybody was as talented in that area as my Dad was.

By the standard set by President David O. McKay when he taught, “No other success can compensate for failure in the home”, my Dad would be deemed highly successful. He showed my brother and I unconditional love, while at the same time he taught us the meaning of the word respect. This foundational teaching has stayed with us our whole lives, and has helped us to teach our children that same reverence and respect that many others have failed to learn. He taught us to respect things that are Holy, to respect other people, to respect property, and mostly to respect ourselves. Many times I have been tempted to do something I knew wasn’t right, but the thought of disappointing my dad was the one thing that made me ultimately choose the right.

My Father loves my Mother. That is the greatest gift he could have ever given to his children. His support for her and loyalty to her sets a standard for all of us. When my father became unable to work because of an injury he received on his job, he and my mother switched roles for awhile. During this time in his life, it became necessary for my grandmother to receive constant care. My mother’s mother moved in with them and my father took care of her everyday. Although it was not easy, my fathers example of love and service to my mother and grandmother is something I will never forget. In the last few years that my mother worked as a school teacher my father went to work with her everyday, helping her in her classroom. Those Kindergarten children were blessed to have not only the expertise of my mother, but the influence of my father in their lives as well. I am sure that the role of both a mother and a father was one that was rarely seen by the children my mother taught. How lucky they were to have been influenced by that great model of parenting.

Courage, perseverance, and strength are three words that I would use to describe my dad. As a child growing up, my father faced many challenges. His childhood memories are not the most pleasant. He always made sure that my brother and I had the best of everything. My father showed courage when he decided to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints against the wishes of his family. He persevered in his commitment to the gospel despite many who opposed him, and married my mother in the House of the Lord, for time and all eternity. He had the strength to effect change in his life so that his future generations would be the beneficiaries of that mighty change. I boastfully think of him as my pioneer ancestor. He forged a path for the rest of us to follow, and I will be eternally grateful.

How thankful I am to have been blessed with such a man as my father in my life. Because of him I have come to understand my Heavenly Father better and to feel the love He has for me. I know that when I am broken he can heal me. I know I have Heavenly parents that love each other and that I am their daughter and respect the blessings that go with that knowledge. I understand that courage, perseverance, and strength are needed if I am to return to live with Him someday. These things I know because my father taught them to me by the way he lives his life.

May my own father rejoice in the fruits of his labors which is the firm testimony of Jesus Christ, which his children and his grandchildren have today. For generations his name will be known for good among our household of faith. The love I have for my righteous father will be a light that pierces all darkness, unto me forever.

Thank you for being the best father you could be... Dad I love you.

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