Lessons From My Dad

The scriptures say that where much is given, much is expected. I don't really like this scripture because it's pretty much setting me up for failure. I've been given so much. Very few children can truthfully claim to have been blessed with parents as wonderful as mine. I'm immensely grateful, but sometimes I wonder if maybe I'd have been better off being born to crappy parents so that any good thing I do counts for extra points.

Oh well. There's nothing I can do about all of this except try to be the kind of person my parents are proud of. In the meantime, since it's Father's Day, here are a few of the great things about my dad.

Dad taught us to stick up for family. When I was in about the 3rd grade, my brother and I walked across to the junior high school to ride the bus home with Dad. He was a school teacher there and also drove the bus, so we often rode home with him. We got out fifteen minutes earlier than he did, so we waited on the bus. A bigger kid came out to the bus and started harassing us. My dad had full lips and bratty kids who thought they were funny called him "Liver Lips." When Dad got to the bus, he heard the kid saying rude things to us and could tell we were scared. He kicked the kid off the bus and told him to find another way home. Then he finished the kick-off by saying "And you're saying it wrong. These are lover lips." I thought Dad was so clever, but even better than that, I knew he'd always stick up for us.

Dad helped us learn to love good music. When I was a kid, Dad hooked up our stereo to a giant speaker that was taller than any of us kids. I think it had been a theater speaker. Then Dad got his hands on it and it became our entertainment stand (the television sat on top of it) and our source of good and LOUD music. We listened to 1812 Overture, Grieg, Robert Goulet, Ravaun, Barbra Steisand and Johnny Mathis.

Dad taught me to care about politics. In the late 1970s when feminists and others were doing their best to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, Dad and Mom regularly went to rallies opposing its ratification. I was young. I didn't understand what the big deal was and why we'd oppose it. After all, one of the slogans was "Equal Pay for Equal Work." Why would we oppose that. It sounded fair. Dad explained to me that if it passed, it would open the door for many things that would be harmful. It wasn't just about "Equal Pay for Equal Work." It was the first time I understood the way the political game works and the underhanded way conspiring people try to push through their own agenda. It helped foster some cynicism that I think is necessary to see through all the political muck.

Dad taught me that a testimony is a living, breathing thing and that if we don't feed our testimony, it will die. Dad and Mom made the church a central part of our lives--every day started with "Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray?" and then we'd read scriptures. If we hadn't said our morning prayers, this gave us a chance to go do it.

Dad also taught me to prepare for temptations before they came. In Family Home Evening, we did role-playing so we'd have had practice handling situations. I can remember when a friend tried to get me drink a beer. I got out of the situation with confidence because I'd practiced what I'd do in that situation.

Dad rarely got angry with his brothers, but once, a brother got upset with my mom about something. He called her a disgusting name. I'd never seen my dad get so upset and for a few minutes, I was afraid for my uncle's safety. Even though it was an unpleasant situation, I remember being so happy to know that Dad loved Mom so much.

Dad has always welcomed others into our family. We had people live with us when they needed a place to stay and he always welcomed friends into our home. No matter what their circumstances, Dad wanted our family to be a positive influence and a welcoming environment for others. I was always glad that friends were welcomed.

Dad supported his kids in school and extra-curricular activities. I can still hear him saying "Put a little arch on it," when a free-throw was being shot. He helped us with homework. I was an impatient reader when I was a child and would make so many mistakes, just so I could get through it quickly. I remember reading to Dad and he'd start out giving me 20 M&Ms in a cup. For every mistake I made, he ate one. A couple of times, I didn't get any M&Ms, but it didn't take long before I was getting all of my M&Ms.

Dad's always been a morning person. His methods for getting us up in the morning were maddening. They ranged from a glass of water, to "Feet on the Floor Contest" to a loud horn honking. And he was always cheerful as he tortured us. His example has helped me be more of a morning person now that I'm the one who has to get everyone up.

Dad taught English for many years and helped me love books. He writes beautifully and has always encouraged me in my writing.

I'm so fortunate to have been blessed with the dad I have. I wish everyone had a dad like mine.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father's Day.

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Scott / Lori said...

I am lucky enough to be able to have him too. He is the best. Happy Fathers Day to Dad!!! I love you.

plpamlee@gmail.com said...

that was such a fun read.. I had a wonderful dad as well but didn't have the long legacy you do with your dad..

missy said...

What a great tribute!! I love the m&m's in the cup idea. I can think of several ways I could use that around here! Your dad sounds like a great man. Yes, we are very blessed.

By the way, thanks for your comment. I knew the correction wasn't from you. :) No worries!

Leslie said...

beautiful written.

we are so blessed. i wish i had all the fun memories that you older kids have... i love to hear them though.

we have amazing parents. amazing.

Jason said...

I still remember your Mom and Dad coming to one of my Jr Jazz games. They have always been supportive of me. They even complained to my coach after the game that he didn't play me enough. It meant a lot to me that they wanted to come and watch me play.

Tawnie said...

He is a great dad. He has been a great dad to me for the last 15 years. I mostly lost my own dad but gained a wonderful dad just about the same time. I will forever be grateful for that. And I couldn't ask for anything better.

brooke said...

He sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing this!

Torrie said...

What a great tribute to a great father! I loved this--it made me look at the things that my own parents taught me as well and how much I often take for granted. Thank you for the post!

Anonymous said...

You are correct when you say you have a wonderful father. He is the best! LMH

Kristi said...

Here here. What a great tribute to a great father. I had never heard some of those stories and I had never seen that first picture before. He has been a great father to me as well as a great grandpa to our kids. We love him.

Melissa said...

I have heard a lot of different ways to wake up kids in the morning.

Sometimes my mom would tickle our feet to wake us up. That would put me in a good mood. :)

On the flip side, sometimes my siblings would yank my pillow out and let it fall on top of my head.

What is the "Feet on the Floor Contest"?