I would like to thank all of the wonderful people in my life who wrote me this past week. I wish there was time to write back to each and every one of you. Thank you to my parents, my grandpa, my sisters, my great-Auntie Sue, Kendal, Bishop Johnnson, The Fields and the Smiths. Words really cannot say how much your letters meant to me. Thank you. I’d like to take this time to thank one special person in particular, my father, in celebration of Father’s Day which was yesterday.
My dad means the absolute universe to me. Both my mum and dad do…. but today let me tell you why my dad is the best father I could ever receive, because he has taught me how to be a man. When I say that I don’t mean “wrastle a steer to the ground and apply a fiery brand to his hindquarters.” (sorry comedic movie reference) sort of teaching…. I mean the much more deeper and truer meaning of the word man. The world today preaches a rather indecent vision of what a man ought to be which is in every way contrary to the way I was raised.
My dad taught me that a man respects nature and God’s creations. He does not destroy them. He loves them. From since ever really he would take me out backpacking and hiking and canoeing, as a family and often just the two of us. He truly taught me how to love nature, because he loves nature.
He is happiest sailing on the Columbia or climbing a mountain. He taught me the great importance of taking time to just sit in nature in silence. It wasn’t until I was much older that I really appreciated those summer nights out in the darkness under the big starry sky with my dad and his telescope. Whether it was in our backyard or out in the eastern Oregon wilderness with a bunch of other unwashed astronomers who smelled like lasagna, my dad taught me to fall in love with the universe. He taught me how to care for nature…. He would have me save spruce saplings in the forest from being swallowed by blackberries even if no one would really see the spruce tree…. and he taught me the spiritual enrichment one can get from nature.
My dad taught me that a man reads. The world says a man reads sports illustrated and maybe a few action paperbacks and that’s it. My dad taught me that a man reads all the classic boyhood books like Lord of the Rings and Call of the Wild but also the works of Jane Austen. He taught me that a man is well read in the classics and the wonderful practice of always having a book to read. My dad is always reading some great thick old novel. My absolute most cherished childhood memories were laying in my parents bed every night listening to my dad read me Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia, the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Treasure Island, and many more books that opened my imagination to worlds without end. I must attribute a great deal of who I am today from those hours in my parents’ bedroom as my dad read about Middle Earth and Narnia and Hogwarts.
One of the greatest gifts I can give me future children is the gift my father gave me a love for reading….. For if you teach a child how to love reading, they will keep on learning even when they leave the house….. And my dad taught me that the greatest book of all was his old worn quad of the scriptures. He taught me how to really love and sink deep into the scriptures, every day of your life. He never did it by force, but by example. (And he is the only person I know who actually understands the Isaiah chapters).
My dad taught me that a man is a gentleman. He taught me that violence is a weakness, not a strength. He taught me that as a man you communicate your feelings, even if it takes him an hour of waiting for you staring at the floor before you say anything, you must express your emotions and talk things out and humbly resolve everything in a peaceful and loving manner and never ever resort of violence. Not to a person. Not to the wall. Not to anything.
He taught me that a gentleman respects girls as their equals. He taught me what real love is by the way he loves my mother. He taught me that the best girls are the cleverest. He taught me how to honour and cherish my mother, because he does.
My father taught me that a man is always serving. He taught me that the man plays just as much of a role as the woman in raising the kids, cleaning the house and cooking dinner. He taught me that a man cooks,and that a real man bakes bread. He taught me that what matters most is serving your fellow man, which he has always taught by example, never once wanting praise for anything.
My dad taught me that a man works hard and enjoys it. While most kids on Saturday got to sleep in, watch TV and go to the mall or whatever it is normal people do, Saturday was when we worked…. and enjoyed it. Saturday activities came only after chores and yard work. After the yard and fields and animals and house was satisfactory there was always wood to be chopped with my dad. We did not get paid because my dad taught us that the payment comes in the joy of the work. The lesson of work ethic from my dad has blessed my mission. And, even though I absolutely hated math with a burning passion and would cry over that awful subject, my dad would always patiently be there to help me through it….even though I was the worst student he could possibly teach. He would teach us how to do hard things to become better…. which included sending us down black diamonds ski runs before we were even baptised on how how to ski properly.
My taught me that a man puts his family first. He switched jobs to travel less so he could spend more time with us…. Everything he ever does is with us in mind. It does not matter how long of a day it was at work, he always has time for us. He always was there to play with us, whether it was playmobils at age 6 or some board game I would lose at age 16, my dad was never too busy or too “manly” to do the silliest things with his kids. He would be there for my soccer games, coach them even, and for every play performance, having built the set and programme the lights and sound.
My dad taught me that a man holds the gospel above all else and is converted to it. The gospel and his family meaning everything to him, and his example has given me a love for the gospel. He is steadfast and guards the right. He loves God, loves his fellowman and is one of the greatest examples of how to serve both.
I love my dad. I don’t know why I have been blessed with such a wonderful father and mother. It seems unfair but hopefully I can use the blessing of my parents to help bless others. My dad is the greatest man I know, and one day I hope to be the father that he is. I’m not sure I’ll ever be as good of a skier as he is, I certainly will never even try to be as good at math and puzzles as he is, but I hope one day to be at least half the dad to my kids that he was to me. I really do love him. Loads.