Friday, January 15, 2010

My Dad

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Today is my dad's birthday, so I decided to write down some of my favorite attributes and memories about him.

My dad smells like sawdust and paint, stainer and lacquer thinner. His hair is soft and wavy, dark brown. His face, neck, and forearms are a reddish brown, darkened from many days in the sun. He works with wood, turning cabinets into works of exquisite art. His hands are dry and calloused, permanently stained, with deep cracks and cuts old and fresh, scars of wounds super-glued together. They are rough but held my five-year-old hands softly. He speaks in a gentle tone and is polite to those around him, perfectly mild-tempered. He makes faces in the mirror while getting ready and nudges me in the ribs with his elbow when he wants me to laugh at one of his jokes. Dad has never spent a lazy day. Every evening, after a long day of hard work, he walks up to the house, stomps the sawdust off his boots, shakes it out of his hair, and walks through the front door. A few hours later and he is sitting on the couch with his reading glasses, a red pencil, and his scriptures.

A few of my favorite memories with Dad:

He took me to the Nutcracker when I was in 2nd grade. My first exposure. I have no idea if he liked it or not, but I LOVED it and love that he was willing to spend time doing something he wouldn't particularly enjoy in order to spend alone time with me.

Dad and I used to play a hand game in church. He'd hold his palm open and I'd poke it with my forefinger and try to withdraw it before he caught it. If he caught me, it was my turn.

I remember one time my Dad got on me about how I wasn't spending me money very wisely. It was definitely something I needed to hear, and was delivered kindly (as always) but wasn't received humbly. A few hours later, he dropped me off at the airport for a tour I was going on and another few hours later I got off the plane with a message on my phone from my dad, telling me how great he thought I was and that he loved me. His voice was soft and I could hear he was sorry for things he didn't need to be sorry for. He said if he were told he could have ten girls guaranteed to be exactly like me, he'd do it in a heartbeat. He tells me that often and I know that he honestly means it.

One year while preparing a talk for church, I came across a C.S. Lewis quote on charity. I showed it to my dad and we've both loved it and quoted it ever since.

I am kind of scatter-brained and often make mistakes besides having the best of intentions and my dad knows that. Sometime within my first few weeks with a license, I scraped a car while trying to park. A friend and I were going to the movies at a particular theater with parking spots so thin that they (still!) make me shiver. Well, I called my dad and his voice was kind and he said he'd be there right away. I know I was all apologies and he reassured me that it was ok, that things like that happen. I know it was with complete sincerity. Once I got there, he told me to go in with my friend to the movie and that he'd put a note and info on the car for me and re-park the car. I have to admit, I've had more car issues and he is still, along with my mom, completely understanding and un-accusatory. They both laugh and relay driving incidents they'd had in their younger years.

On another driving note, I got my license on a Thursday, a day when both my parents worked. They carpooled the whole day so I could drive the car to school and dance practices. It may seem trivial, but they knew it meant a lot to me.

Any time I have a talk in church, I show my dad all my quotes and he sends me a few he likes.

I took the ACT when I was fifteen and had to go to a school three hours away to take it. My dad gave me his whole Saturday. After driving up, he drove around and found things to do during the hours I was taking my test. On the ride home, we found a cute little sandwich shop and had a great time together.

My dad's family has a family home video of him and all his sisters when they were young. The background music for the video was the Beatles. So to this day, when I hear the Beatles, I think of my dad and of what's important in life: family.

I'd like to point out a lack of a memory: I have NEVER IN MY LIFETIME heard my dad raise his voice. He's never had a temper, never sworn, never been angry.

When we lived in Texas, my dad would take my brothers and me around for a bike ride in the evenings. I never thought anything of it other than that it was a fun time with us kids and Dad. But now I suppose it was also for the benefit of my mom who was going to school full-time and waitressing on the weekends.

My dad loves reading Louis L'amour novels. Most years, I buy him a book for Christmas because it's sure to please. Well last year, I got him Louis L'amour's autobiography. My dad sent me an email a month ago telling me he'd finished the book and loved it. When I came home for Christmas he showed me some of his favorite parts and quotes.

When we were younger, my brothers, Dad, and I would play an amazing game. Dad'd be the ruler of the bed and my brothers and I would try to get on. He was so strong! But gentle. We NEVER won!

Younger years again: he'd lay one of us in his lap in the blue rocking chair and buzzzzzzz his fingers as bees around us. He wasn't allowed to touch us and we weren't allowed to laugh. Again, we NEVER won!

My dad doesn't critique me. He laughs at the state of my room, but that's about it. He sees me as perfect. Or at least, never says anything about me that would suggest that I was any less than perfect. He has an artistic eye, so always notices when someone's eye is bigger than the other or their nose is crooked or their ears are uneven etc. I remember asking him as a teenager what my facial feature flaws were and he said I didn't have any. And I don't think he's ever said anything about a need for improvement personality-wise either. Well, I know me and you know me and we know together that I am far from perfect. But Dad knew me even better and knew that in order for me to be the best I could be, he needed to tell me that I was already there, rather than how much further I had to go.

I was looking for Happy Birthday cards for dads in the BYU Bookstore and, while reading through them, started tearing up! In the middle of the bookstore! There were a lot of birthday cards to dads from daughters that expressed the beautiful bonds that develop between the two. Dad, I love what we have.

Happy Birthday. You are incredible. Thanks for being the perfect dad that Dallin needed, that Ty needed, and that I needed. Our family is so blessed. Much love,


1 comment:

Melissa said...

Awww Morgan. I have a little tear in my eye. That was so sweet :)