I have mentioned my mother a lot in my blog. After all, she taught me most everything I know, but this week is the birthday of another person who taught me a few good lessons himself.
My dad is a mechanic and not because he loves the smell of gasoline and the roar of a broken muffler. It’s because he’s good at it. Ever since he was young he was taking apart and tuning up almost anything with wheels. Wagons, bicycles, motorbikes, full-blown motorcycles, cars, vans, trucks, you name it. I don’t think it took him long to discover that in his hands broken things became fixed. Still today, Fords destined for salvage become freeway material, Chevys are taken off blocks, and little Toyotas are transformed into chariots for poor college students. And he doesn’t love it. In fact, it’s hard. As his body ages crawling under a dash turns out to be more challenging with the decreased flexibility. Kneeling at tires dirties his aching knees. Hours of bending over engines causes much soreness in his back. He’s worked for bosses he didn’t like and with coworkers he found difficult. He’s spent hours busting his knuckles on rusted bolts and cutting his palms on sharp metal corners only to bring home no paycheck. But he always goes back. Every morning for my entire life he’s pulled on his stained uniforms, packed his lunch and set off for another day doing something hard that he doesn’t want to do because he loves his family that much.
Lesson 1: Life is about doing things that are hard that you don’t want to do. That’s what makes us stronger. . . like the calluses on my dad’s palms. The more we’re rubbed, the tougher we become.
My dad loves Looney Tunes. From boyhood to manhood he has never grown tired of Elmer Fudd looking for that “wascally wabbit” or Marvin’s quest to remove Earth from his view of Venus. My family would be gathered at the table eating some delicious meal and Dad would do some Looney Tune impressions for us. Sometimes he’d show us clips of his favorite episodes on youtube. I think we all love them because he does—because they make him smile, so we smile. One of my favorite memories of him was bedtime. He would tuck me in, take my favorite teddy bear and in his high, happy sing-song voice say, “Can I sleep with you tonight?” I would grab Teddy from him and just giggle. I liked his silly voices. For a short time, when we first moved to Utah, my dad would drive my brother, sister, and I up to Lehi everyday for school. He had an old cassette of Bill Engvall’s cleaner material and we loved listening to it. My dad would just laugh and laugh. I like his laugh. I love how his shoulders fall up and down as he chuckles.
Lesson 2: Even when times get hard, stay happy. Laugh with the people you love most.
There were times, especially in high school where I would come home and break down. Life was over for whatever trivial reason and I wanted some sympathy. Sometimes Dad gave it, and sometimes he didn’t. Most of the time he didn’t. He would sit me down and tell me that life isn’t high school, then he would ask me a question: “Is griping about it going to get you a better grade on the test?” or “Is standing here complaining going to help you do well in chair auditions?” I hated those questions because I knew he was right. I needed to just dive in and practice and study.
I also was overeager to grow up just a little bit faster. When I was three I wanted to be in school, and when I was in grade school I wanted to be in junior high, and so on. There was such difficulty for me to just live in the moment. But my dad has always just been in life while it was happening. So often it was him that grabbed my little kite tails and pulled me back to earth where I was needed. He knew wishing away my present wouldn’t bring the phenomenal future of my dreams. I wish I understood it then like I’m learning it now.
Lesson 3: There is a time and a place for everything—even drama (detail oriented-ness). Sometimes it’s just time to work.
My parents have a long mirror in there room. It’s the only one in the house so if vanity permits and one has to see what an entire outfit looks like, that is the place to go. And sad to say, I ventured there more often then I’d like to admit. I can remember more than one occasion of walking in my parent’s room to determine my “lump factor” only to catch my dad on his knees. He prays a lot. It is my Heavenly Father’s will that he sought when he moved my family to this valley. It was the Lord who he went to when decided to start a business. He has led us in morning family prayer for as long as I can remember; it was him who so often knew, without me saying anything of how sad I felt, that I needed to give the prayer.Lesson 4: “Pray always, that you may come off conqueror.”(2 Nephi 32:9) And teach by example.
Happy birthday, Dad! Thanks for letting me watch you for twenty years. Thanks for loving me unconditionally. And thanks for your patience. I love you!