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Father's Day 2013 - Thanks Dad!
It is my 52nd year here in mortality and I am left to ponder how I have become the man that I am. What factors contributed to my character and whose prayers were answered on my behalf hundreds of time that has allowed me to still be enjoying life as I know it?
At age 25 I spent Father’s Day in the LDS Missionary Training Center preparing to head to Brazil as a Mormon Missionary. Prior to my entry my Dad told me I was a fool for that decision and wasting my life. He reasoned that there was so much more I could accomplish by staying and applying my focus to higher education and employment. This advice came as he expressed his disgust in my progress here in mortality just before the funeral of his only sibling, Uncle Harley. Then he drove off before the ceremony back to his property in Tennessee. Why is this important? Because I was challenged by my MTC Branch President to write to my Dad for Father’s Day and continue writing him each week of my mission.
Sitting down and writing a letter, more out of duty, than out of the feelings of love and appreciation made me a better person. “Act the better person and become the better man!” I wrote the letter, sure that I would not receive a response, but I felt closer to the man that had disowned me for my decision. I continued to write each week and it changed my heart in the process. Writing to Dad caused me to consider him in my thoughts, prayers, and actions. It allowed me to set aside hard feelings and delve deeper into why I should be appreciative for what he had done for me.
Let’s face it, it took both Mom and Dad to get me to age 25. Dad was the primary bread winner and had selective focus on the responsibilities of raising kids. He deferred most of that responsibility upon Mom, but I can remember several selected scenarios where he stepped up to the plate. I don’t remember him ever being involved in an organized school, church, or Boy Scout activity, but we did a lot of private activities. Ballgames? Yep, he came to one All-Star game in which I sat the bench the entire game. Skateboarding? Yep, he came to one competition and watched me wind my division. Father and Son campouts? I can’t remember ever camping with Dad. Fishing? Never in my memory. Sports? Due to his near life ending tornado experience at age 14, Dad never excelled in sports, not did he play them with us kids. Family board games? If it wasn’t chess, then it wasn’t ever played with him. Did he ever get down on the floor and play with me as I built Hotwheel tracks or charged up my Sizzler car? I have no memories of him ever playing with our new Christmas or Birthday toys.
But we did ride bicycles together for about 4 straight years. We rode thousands of miles together throughout Southern California. Many of these rides were organized with bike clubs and many were just he and I. We spent a lot of time together, yet he never really shared what made him tick. These trips were not filled with moments of Fatherly interview or life learning discussions. Instead, he was quiet. He left the discovery up to me. I only remember a few times where he reprimanded me for bad actions and decisions, and I don’t ever remember praise for good decisions. He remained silent on these issues. Why? I am not sure. It wasn’t because he did not like me or care about me, it is just the way it was. And yet, he shared with me the freedom of discovering new roads, new locations, new memories. It was during those years that I learned to take the wrong turn and discover a new route, a new site, and maybe a more enjoyable way to get somewhere.
And then there was the time I ran a stop sign right in front of the police car. I was written up for the infraction and the time to appear in the Burbank court before the judge drew near. I had to appear in person on a schoolday. That morning Dad sent Mom off to work without him and we climbed on out bikes and rode the 20 miles to the Burbank Courthouse. We came in wearing cycling attire and the Judge was impressed. I was read the long list of horrible things that could happen due to my negligence for failure to stop. After beating me down the Judge let me off with a warning, and this was greatly due to my Father’s presence and the fact that we had ridden to court. I learned several lessons: 1) I still stop for all stop signs, 2) A Dad’s presence in the courtroom and/or the principal’s office makes a huge impact, 3) Dad’s need to be there when their children are in the deepest of trouble.
Thanks for being there for me Dad at those troubling times. It still means a lot to me and I have tried my best to carry on that tradition with my kids. I have also tried to be there for the enjoyable times with my kids and talk with them about their successes and failures. You and I missed out on those experiences together and there is little that we can do about that now. I think that you would have really enjoyed climbing into my youthful head and seen things through my eyes... But since we can’t return, all we can do is appreciate where we are today. And even though you rarely expressed it verbally, your actions showed over the years your deep love for me. Thanks for the life lessons Dad! I love you, Michael!!!
JUST LIKE HIS DAD
HE WANTS TO BE LIKE HIS DAD! YOU MEN, DID YOU EVER THINK, AS YOU PAUSE, THAT THE BOY WHO WATCHES YOUR EVERY MOVE IS BUILDING A SET OF LAWS? HE'S MOLDING A LIFE YOU'RE THE MODEL FOR, AND WHETHER IT'S GOOD OR BAD, OF YOUR LOVABLE LITTLE LAD, COULD YOU REST CONTENT IF HE GETS HIS WISH AND GROWS TO BE LIKE HIS DAD?
DEPENDS ON THE KIND OF EXAMPLE SET TO THE BOY WHO'D BE LIKE HIS DAD, WOULD YOU HAVE HIM GO EVERYWHERE YOU GO? HAVE HIM DO JUST THE THINGS YOU DO? AND SEE EVERYTHING THAT YOUR EYES BEHOLD, AND WOO ALL THE GODS YOU WOO? WHEN YOU SEE THE WORSHIP THAT SHINES IN THE EYES OF YOUR LOVABLE LITTLE LAD, COULD YOU REST CONTENT IF HE GETS HIS WISH AND GROWS TO BE LIKE HIS DAD?