Since I was home on leave last week we celebrated Father’s Day then so today’s big day almost slipped past me. Almost, but not quite.
Seth spoke in Sacrament meeting yesterday. Janae sent me the notes from his talk and I decided to share some of his thoughts with you all. His first note was “honor thy father as thy father.” Now while he may have meant something completely different, here’s what struck me. We must honor our father for who he is, not who we may wish he was or who we maybe want him to be. Seth pointed out another way of honoring our fathers is listening to their counsel and advice. He used several examples from the scriptures where sons did v. did not listen to their fathers. (Good advice Seth!!! You should listen to your father more!!) Anyway, just a few examples from his talk. Janae said he did a good job. Wish I could have been there to actually hear him give it. Oh well.
So what makes a great Father? Hmm, let’s see… A great father is someone who happily accepts a stupid “soap-on-a-rope” for Christmas every year without complaint (sorry Dad but thanks for enduring all those years!). He’s the Dad who teaches you how to ride horses, fish in the streams on Boulder Mountain, gives you opportunities to work, and work hard, holds you accountable for your mistakes, but loves you just the same, sacrifices his time for you, is full of “Cowboy Wisdom” and humor, is known for his “fatherisms,” is the consummate teacher, is an even better friend. He’s the guy who grew up in a small town in Utah with absolutely nothing, worked hard all his life and taught his kids how to work hard. He’s the Father who valiantly served his country during a time of conflict and taught his children a love of country. A great Father is one who loves and adores his children’s mother and makes sure that his kids know how special their Mother is. A great Father is one who can joke with you and be your friend when no one else will be. He’s the guy who understands what it feels like when your first “love” doesn’t love you back. He’s the guy who takes you water skiing with the Scouts making your feel more important than your 10 or 11 years deserve. He’s the guy who inspires you to be better than you are.
I could go on and on with these references to the Father’s in my life but let me pay tribute to them individually.
My Dad is the greatest Dad ever! Once again, I know you’re all out there disagreeing with me but for me, my Dad is the greatest. In trying to decide upon the one thing that really stands out about him, it’s his, oh, how to describe it – work ethic, willingness to serve, willingness to forgive, love of others. OK that probably sounds like lots of things and not just one but it all comes down to how my Uncle Jim described him, “a man without guile.” I have seen my Dad go through some of the most difficult of circumstances with a smile on his face, without harboring any anger. I made the comment to him one time about how angry I was at a former business partner of his for the way he treated my Dad and the ensuing difficulties that came about. Dad just looked at me and said something like, “I’m not mad at him so why should you be?” I learned a profound lesson that day, one that I have never forgot.
I could list lots of other things about my Dad – life-long Scouter, great packer (you should have seen the truck and trailer that he packed that had all of mine and Janae’s stuff on it when he moved us to San Diego to go to law school), the guy who can fix or build or repair anything and so many more things. I inherited so many of my Dad’s qualities but the one that I failed to inherit was his innate sense of direction. There’s an incredibly embarrassing story out there about a certain officer who couldn’t read a stupid map and got his team lost at Camp Shelby all because he didn’t get his Dad’s gift of direction but that’s another story – or not.
Then there’s my Father-in-Law, Lyman. What a great man to have for a Father-in-Law. For some reason I didn’t scare him quite so much when Janae brought me home for the first time, but maybe he should have been scared, just a little. He has always been a friend to me. We both love to work in the yard (his is always so immaculate and beautiful) and so I’ve enjoyed learning from his experience. His service in the Korean war, serving in the legal office, became another common bond when I decided to join the Navy out of law school. His work ethic, his integrity, his love of family are all qualities that I greatly admire. But perhaps the best lesson I’ve learned from him is how to be a great father-in-law. As my sons approach the time when they will be married I hope that I can be as good a father-in-law to my future daughter-in-laws as he has been a father-in-law to me.
And then there are the Grandfathers.
Grandpa Bill lived up and over the hill from us. He taught me how to work. Living on a huge piece of property there were always fences to mend, horses to feed, weeds to pull and all the other things that needed to be done on a large ranch. He was of the old school, that once you gave your word, you were committed. “My word is my bond” was a common phrase of his and he lived by that creed. He was a man of tremendous faith. I loved listening to the stories of his conversion and then the many stories of how his faith was rewarded. Great lessons for a young man to learn. His favorite scripture became my favorite scripture, “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” I have taken great comfort in those words. Later in life I loved the fact that he started calling Grandma Edra “Tiger.” That was so atypical of the perception I had of him as I was growing up, the perception of a stern businessman, that I loved seeing the softening of his personality. It taught me that you could be the most successful and manly of men but still have a soft and loving side.
Grandpa Howard was the consummate Cowboy Grandpa. He will forever be linked to “Grandpa Cereal,” fishing on Boulder Mountain, his beloved horse Brigham Tea, the ranch at Boulder and changing sprinklers in the pastures. Because of him and what he taught me at the Ranch I was able to instill in my sons a love of fishing on Boulder Mountain, riding Brigham Tea before he died and spending time in Boulder. (I’m afraid I’ve failed them in the Grandpa Cereal department and the pastures have long since been sold.) When I told him I was going to go to law school he asked me why I wanted to be one of those “liars.” I hope that I’ve made him proud. Even though he lived in Arizona and we lived in Washington, there’s a special bond that develops between a Grandpa and his grandson. He idolized Grandma and made sure that I knew it. What a tremendous example he set for me. Later when he became a sealer in the temple, Janae and I had the honor and privilege of having him perform our marriage ceremony. His cowboy wisdom shone through that day as he shared a cowboy poem with us about making a house into a home. While I’ve forgotten the specific words, I’ve never forgotten the message. And then there are his famous “fatherisms.” Let me share just a few with you:
I'm busier than a one armed paper hanger.
I'm colder than a well-digger's knees.
Grandma was slow, but she was old.
If you are waiting on me, you are wasting your time.
If you are sitting up with me, I got well a long time ago.
To a prospective Son-in-law: "Are you taking away a plate or are you bringing one to the table."
Any fool can spend money.
I'm broker than a 10 year old Mule.
You should like to do what you have to do.
And my all time favorite…
We knew you were coming, cause you hadn't got here yet.
So on this Father’s Day, I am grateful for the men who have blessed to be my Fathers. The man I am today is directly related to the men they are. I just hope that I can live up to their expectations and make them proud.
The pictures. Let me explain. There’s Dad, replete with headband, helping a nephew build his house. It says so much about him. There he is on the horse with my niece Alexandria and nephew Addison - cousins. I developed my love or horses and riding because of him. There I am, in Boulder, on Brigham Tea with Seth and Luke – oh how we miss him when we go to the ranch. As you look at that picture imagine my Dad and a much smaller version of me on him or one of our other horses. At the same time imagine Grandpa Howard and that same smaller version of me on him. There we are fishing on Boulder Mountain. Again, imagine Dad and Grandpa Howard in those shots. Because Grandpa Bill taught me the same love of horses and fishing, you can put him in the same shots and get the same image.