|Dad with me and Shawni|
My dad is truly unique. In fact he is so unique that there needs to be some sort of new uber-unique word made up just for him. He thinks outside the box, he does what he feels is right, he dresses in his own special style, and he couldn't care less what anyone else thinks. He's also about the most deliberate person ever. He makes plans and goals and makes things happen like no other. He oozes purpose and drive. He has about 100 exciting new ideas every day. He offers amazing advice (and has gradually learned to offer it mostly just when asked!). He loves and cares more deeply and passionately about more people and more things than most people can even imagine.
He's raised us to be the change we wish to see in the world, to dream big and then think and plan carefully to bring things to pass. He's raised us to be "citizens of the world" and has instilled us with an insatiable desire for experiencing new things and new places and new people. He's sent us on plenty of guilt trips and been somewhat of a control-freak at times, but all that helped point us in the right directions and for that we're so grateful. He's showed us that being a parent and a grandparent is the most beautiful and powerful and important role we can play. He's taught us to love more and to find great joy in serving others.
I used to entertain my friends and roommates for hours with stories about my dad. Here are a couple favorites:
- He wanted us to experience another culture so he and my mom loaded up their 9 kids in the big old van and we took off for Mexico only to have the air conditioning go out on the van the day after we all got sunburned at the Grand Canyon. As we drove through Phoenix the temperature on the marquis read 123 degrees and we were rubbing ice from the cooler all over ourselves to relieve the sunburn and make it feel a little less like we were driving around in an oven. We finally got to Tucson where we stayed for a few days with some friends there while the van was being fixed and while my parents looked into options. They found out that it would take us 5 more days of driving to get to Guadalajara where they'd rented a house for the summer and that the roads were bad and that there were lots of bandits - and the van was sure to have more problems. So we ditched the van, flew from Tucson to Guadalajara and had a great summer learning some Spanish, getting to know neighbors in vastly different circumstances from ours, and exploring all over the place with our new best friend Carlos and his taxi cab. Where there's a will, there's a way. And having 9 young children to bring along on adventures just added to the fun for my parents!
- He had a dream of connecting with his ancestors by building a log cabin on a piece of land he bought ages ago in a remote part of the Umatilla National Forest in Oregon. My mom made him wait for a year that she didn't have a baby. Then we headed up there to live in tents and totally rough it for a summer while building a log cabin together as a family. I was 14 and didn't think it was the coolest idea ever as we went into the experience. But it turned out to be an amazing family bonding experience and we sure learned to appreciate showers and electricity and toilets. We worked really hard and during our leisure time, we read tons of books and explored the woods and had all kinds of good old fashioned fun. (You can read more about that here and there are some photos if you scroll down).
- When he was thinking about running for governor of Utah, he decided to write a book about what he hoped for for Utah's future called "Utah in the Year 2000" and of course, that book would have to be in the shape of the state of Utah (took him quite some time to find a printer willing and able to cut out the corner of all the books! As part of writing the book, he determined that we should visit all 400 cities and towns in Utah. I was in college at the time so I missed out on a lot of those travels but I was able to join the family for a few legs of the trip. Dad would pull into each town and find a cafe or gas station where he'd just chat with whoever he could find who lived in the town and he'd ask them who he should talk to who really knew the history of the town. Then we'd drive to the home of whoever that person was (usually a really old man or woman) and listen to stories of the good old days in that town. He really got to know Utah. And we saw how you can find beauty and interest in every person you meet and every place you visit!
I love how Dad has always explained things to us and shown us how to do things:
I love this photo-booth shot. Dad always did photo-booth pictures with us when we were little. And he could get us laughing like no other.
Dad dressed up as a clown and did all sorts of fun magic tricks at all our birthday parties. This is Shawni's 7th birthday party - she's in the middle on the back row.
Josh made dad some cucumber glasses and he wore them with pride.
Here we are with Dad on a picnic up the canyon (Saydi, Josh, Jonah on the ground, Dad, Talmadge, me, our dog Canie, Shawni). Can you see the mutual adoration going on?
|Dad fulfilling his dream of building a log cabin together|
My kids think their beloved Grandfather is about the coolest and most fun guy in the whole world and I'm so grateful we live near my parents now and relationships have been able to deepen. Here the kids are with Grandfather a while back. The great relationships are pretty apparent in the photos.
Here are a few of the quotes my dad had us memorize as kids that I still think of all the time and that I can type out off the top of my head:
"See how the masses of men worry themselves into nameless graves while here and there, a great unselfish soul forgets himself into immortality."
"True joy comes of the capacity to feel deeply, to think freely, to enjoy simple, to risk life, to be needed."
"Good is the enemy of best."
"You wouldn't worry so much about what other people thought of you if you realized how seldom they did."
"Some people look at things that are and ask 'why?' I dream of things that never were and ask, 'why not?'"
Cast aside the old phrase "If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing well" and replace it with "If a thing is just barely worth doing, then just barely do it."
"We don't own anything. We are mere stewards. An attitude of stewardship creates gratitude and generosity while an attitude of ownership can make us selfish or prideful."
"Live with an attitude of serendipity. Serendipity means 'when, through sagacity and awareness, we see and act upon something better than that which we were originally seeking.'" (My name comes from the word "serendipity," my parents' favorite word at the time I was born.)
Thanks for being who you are, Dad, and for being it so completely. Thanks for doing so much to help us be all that we are. And thanks for all you do for my children. You have influenced SO many in such important ways. I'm eternally grateful that you are my dad.