Sunday, June 17, 2012

Memories of My Dad

It occurred to me this morning when I was thinking about what I could blog about for father’s day, that I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about my dad.  I’ve mentioned him in other blog posts, but he’s never gotten a post of his own.  So here, in the last few hours before Father’s day is over—memories of my dad.

As the oldest child in my family I feel like I got the best of our dad.  In some ways it’s like I had a different dad than the one my younger siblings did, and I feel lucky to have known him. 

My dad taught school when I was young.  Every summer he would have a lot of time off and we would go camping.  Camping in the beautiful Sequoia National Forest has to be one of my favorite childhood memories.

camping I remember playing in the water (creek? stream? river??) with dad, moving rocks around and trying to make a dam.  Every time I sing “Israel, Israel, God is Calling” I remember the first time I sang that hymn—sitting beside my dad in a little church building at the campground. 

camping2 a

I also remember that as I got a little older, when we went on ward campouts my dad would always tell a story or recite a poem.  (This was back in the olden days when kids could stand to listen to a long poem.)  His favorite poem to recite was “The Highwayman,” but the best of the best was when he told the story of “The Most Dangerous Game.”  Talk about a story that would make chills run up and down your spine, and he told it well.  (If you’ve never heard this story, you can read it here.  It’s not that long and it’s quite exciting!)

My dad taught summer school every year and every year we would go and take fun classes at his school.  I took rocketry and singing where I learned to sing important classics like “King of the Road” and “You’re so Vain.”

Many summers we would drive from our home in Southern California to my dad’s boyhood home (aka “The Farm”) in South Carolina.  I don’t know how either of my parents survived these trips—they were brutal and bore no resemblance to the trips my kids and I take now.  I remember getting to sit up in the front with my dad at night to help him stay awake while he drove.  We would eat small gum drops and see who could make one last the longest, and my dad always won.  We would listen to Marty Robbins—“Cool, Clear Water” and “El Paso.”  I loved those moments driving in the dark with my dad, having real conversations and singing Marty Robbins.

When I was in 6th grade I switched school so that I could be in my dad’s class.  Some people worried that he would be too easy on me, but they couldn’t have been more wrong—he was really hard on me.  It was a great year though—he and his colleague were terrific teachers and we learned a lot and played hard too.  I don’t know that my dad could have taught much longer than he did, and he certainly couldn’t today—he’s not nearly PC enough and he wouldn’t put up with the coddling today’s students demand.  But he was an amazing teacher.  I’ve always been grateful that I inherited some of his ability to teach.

For the science fair the year I was in my dad’s class I decided to study distillation.   He helped me make a grain concoction that I put in my miniature still and distilled into whisky.  I thought I was hot stuff when I won 2nd place and had my picture in the newspaper.  Can you imagine a student today making whisky for a science project??

I’m usually pretty glad that I grew up when there were fewer rules and regulations about everything, and here is another reason why.


Yes, you are seeing what you think you’re seeing.  My dad used to ride my mom’s bike up and down the street with us on his shoulders.  He was our hero. 

I would say that my dad is a self made man; that he pulled himself up by his own bootstraps, but the reality is that my dad was a marriage-made man—I believe that he became who he has become because of my mom and the help she gave him and the confidence she had in him.  When they married he was driving a delivery truck, but after a few years he went to college and became a teacher.  When he was still a teacher he went back to school so that he could become a principal.  Then when I was 12 he decided to stop teaching and go back to college to become a chiropractor.  He was just a few years younger then than I am now, and I have to say that I DON’T KNOW HOW ON EARTH HE DID IT!!!  He went to school full time for 5 years and also ran a full time janitorial company to bring in some income to keep food on the table for our growing family.  (There were 8 kids when he started and 10 kids before he finished.)  I don’t know how he managed to cram all that information into his head, much less do it and work full time too. 

I learned to love photography from my dad.  When he was serving a mission in Finland he ate oatmeal every morning so that he could save his money and buy a nice digital camera.  When I was in high school he let me use it as much as I wanted, and didn’t even kill me when my friend dropped & broke the light meter. 

My dad has always loved to drive, as evidenced by our summer pilgrimages to SC.  One fun memory from after my family had moved to North Carolina happened right before Christmas—my dad had found a place to buy a new trampoline but it was in Georgia, and so he and I hopped into the truck and drove to Georgia that day and bought a trampoline for Christmas.   Spending a lot of time with him like that was always a treat.

When we bought our “new” house in Durham and the triplets were so little, my dad came and helped me prime their bedroom before we moved into the house.  The room was so violently ugly—it was Pepto Bismal pink, and it was sponge painted with teal and white.  It really looked like someone had vomited all over the walls.  Right as we were ready to start priming he looked at me and said in all seriousness, “Are you sure you don’t want to keep it just like this??”  We had such fun painting that day, laughing and joking together. 

My last memory of my dad is really many memories together.  My dad has always been able to hear the Spirit better than most people I know, and the stories he told us as we were growing up helped build my faith.  I don’t know how some of the things he told us about happened, but I never doubted that when my dad prayed, Heavenly Father heard him and responded.  One time when Cindy Lynn was little and in and out of the hospital, someone said something to me about giving her a blessing to “make her be healed.”  I was so young—probably only 22—and so confused at this.  I still remember my dad sitting with me and helping me to understand why I wouldn’t want to force Heavenly Father to do anything that wasn’t part of His plan, because His plan was ultimately what was best for my little baby.  I know that I’m so blessed to have had parents who both loved the gospel.

So there you have it—a smattering of memories about my dad—just enough to remind me of how truly lucky I am to have him in my life.  I love you Dad!!


  1. Thanks for this insight into to why you're the amazing person you are:).

  2. I love hearing about your memories of your dad. Thanks :)

  3. I cannot imagine how I missed this post! You totally have memories of a man that some of us barely knew - others of us never met. What a rare privilege to be able to read about how much fun he was before he stressed his brain to death! I sure hope you sent him a link to this AWESOME post!