6.21.2009

To My Father, On Father's Day



Generations are veiled in the flowers blooming outside my window,
There was always one before, 
Another beyond that
Greenhouses, upon field, upon kitchen windowsill, the glass flung wide open,
The wind, a midwife of the world, carrying seeds safely
As they become echoes of Eden

~Red Clover

These thoughts came to mind as I have spent the day contemplating my father, and the evening staring at my garden.   God gave Adam the earth to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow.  Perhaps because He knew that Adam would learn the ways of eternity upon his scythe.  And so I take a post on this gardening blog to honor the one who came before me.  

My father is a good man.  Truly good.  Definitions for the word "good" that also accurately portray his character include morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious; of high quality; excellent; right; proper; honorable; worthy; in good standing; educated; refined; not counterfeit; reliable; dependable; responsible; in excellent condition.  

I hope you don't mind Dad, as I share the many qualities in you I appreciate, and am so grateful for.  


Morally Excellent, Virtuous, Righteous, Pious, Of High Quality

My father is a disciple of Jesus Christ.  He has always sought to be a man of morals, a virtuous man.  I have never known him to compromise his commitment to these divine standards.  Virtue connotes strength, purity, higher thought and action.  His integrity is to be admired.  Dignity, in my mind, is synonymous with his name.  A faithful husband, and diligent father, he has blessed his family as a stalwart example.  

  As a teenager I drove him to the bus stop in the morning so he could commute to work.  One evening I picked him up in another city because the bus had broken down.  He offered a fellow passenger a ride.  While riding back toward home this passenger began to make derogatory comments about the bus driver, who was of another ethnic background.  My father would not participate in the rude conversation, though did so without making the person feel bad.  The man soon fell to silence.   Not being a showboat, or a boaster, often my father's quiet dignity manifests the kind of person he is.  He is not loud, or overbearing, yet stands on the path he endeavors to follow, and does not deviate.  

Years earlier, after a softball game, myself, my father, and a few siblings were walking back to the car.  Ahead of us walked a family where the father was getting after one of his children.  Angered at something said or done by the child the man kicked his son in the back, yelling.  My father asked us to go to the car and wait for him. We did.  I don't know what was said to the man, when he entered the car there was no disclosure, but I felt much gratitude to have him as a father.   

Excellent; Right; Proper; Honorable; Worthy

As a younger child I loved to see my Dad laugh.  Occasionally, at the dinner table, we could get him to laugh so hard that he would begin to cry and leave the room.  He would have to leave, gain his composure, and return straight-faced.  We would all burst out laughing again, and the whole process would repeat itself.  He played classical music during dinner.  He played classical music on Saturday mornings.  Brazilian music often greeted me on these mornings as well.  We would go to the symphony, the art gallery.  

Off color jokes were not even an option in our home.  Humor was welcome, word play, poetry and good books.  Cheap talk, low comments, or anything that hinted at the tawdry was something we all knew was not acceptable.  He loves seeking the excellent things created by mankind in music, literature, and art.   He does not follow fads, does not feel the need to be cool.   Yet, he says "it's better to be overdressed then underdressed for an occasion."  It's a matter of respect.  He has a great tie collection.  Very classy. 
 
My father is respected a great deal by those who know him.  I am told this often.  He is wise.  If you ever need counsel, he is a wonderful resource.  As a writer he delights in words, in sounds, in the depth and sense of feeling a language can bring.  He speaks Portuguese and, when assigned direct supervision over Central America and Mexico at work a number of years ago, he taught himself Spanish so he could speak directly to the people. 

Whenever returning from a trip around the world, he gathers his family into the living room and relates his experiences.  His appreciation of beauty (an inheritance from his artist mother) illustrates stories of the places and cultures.  Because of his respect for the people he has visited I have felt a love kindled for the people of these many countries.  From Beliz to Kenya, his experiences have made me smile, and tear up.  We both served as missionaries in Brasil (decades apart), and share a love for the people and culture there.  

I have never heard my Dad say anything negative about his boss.  Ever.  I wonder if he knows how rare that is. 

One of my favorite memories was him coming up to my bed room the night I got engaged, with tears in his eyes, and giving me a hug.  

(A hug on my wedding day)

In good standing; Educated; Refined; Not Counterfeit

One of the pleasures of growing older has been talking to my Dad about the literature I was studying at school.  (I am a Literary Studies major:)  Especially when I took the "American Renaissance" class.  My Dad loves that time period; Thoreau, Emerson, Etc.  He has a card came called "Authors" and I remember the pictures of Scott, Longfellow, Dickens, Alcott, asking my father which books he had read.

When I was about ten we would sit on his bed in the evenings and read Treasure Island together.  Pew terrified me.  Jim was superb.  The Doctor always resembled Stevenson himself in my mind.   I believe we read through it twice?

Every Monday night my parents would gather us around for Family Home Evening.  We would sing hymns, study the scriptures, have activities (Steal the Flag was my favorite), and always end with a treat.   I looked forward to Mondays.  Dad was always a great teacher.  (So are you, Mom.  But it's father's day...smiles)

He uses educated, and refined speech. 
 
Reliable; Dependable; Responsible; In excellent condition.

Dad is the best alarm clock.  He never forgot to wake you up for that test you had to take early, or to finish that paper for class.  When my Mom was on bed-rest my father began to do the grocery shopping.  He's done it ever since (17 years).   We all know it's because he saves more money that way.  Ha ha. 
 
I knew he was not pleased with something I did when he would adjust his glasses. 

My Dad needed a new hat for a trip to Africa (I believe) and instead of taking the money out of the family budget, he saved his lunch money for a week.  He is self-disciplined and does not like to waste his time on things of no value.   I can't remember more then a handful of times him sitting down to watch a movie.  Instead he would be cleaning out his papers, getting ready for work the next day and walk in and out, watching the occasional scene.  (We knew the movie was really good if he continued to stand in the door frame for more then ten minutes, laughing occasionally.)  Up to a couple of years ago he had only taken three sick days his entire working career.  (I am not sure if he's had once since.  Haven't asked lately.)  

He loves being with the family, observing his children and grandchildren interacting, laughing and talking. 
 
Yesterday I went and cheered him on at a triathlon he participated in, at 60 years old. 

(That's him in the red cap, finishing the swim.)

He taught me how to pitch a softball, and would come home after meetings late at night, set the lights up in the backyard, and sit on a bucket in his white shirt and tie while I practiced.  I appreciate this time, and value it.  

I remember him coming upstairs and saying sorry to me as I cried on my bed.  Misbehaving as I was, he felt he hadn't handled it right and apologized.  
 
Above all he has never been hesitant to share his testimony of Jesus Christ, and the power the Atonement has in our lives as we seek to better ourselves, and to repent.  (He once said that repentance is the most joyous word in the english language.)   I have heard him testify of the love of our Father in Heaven, who sent his Son to atone for us, that we might return unto Him if we so desire.  He has taught me to read the scriptures, to pray unto Heavenly Father, and to listen to the Holy Ghost, who Christ calls the Comforter, that I might do the things God would ask me to do.  

As eloquent his speech, the real power has come through his example.  He strives to be what he teachers.  Once he said, "You cannot coast in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because the only way to coast is downhill."  

Thank You, Dad.  I love you.  I appreciate the father that you are, as well as the Christian you are.  

~ Red Clover

(Dad visiting with a granddaughter at a family B-B-Q a few weeks ago.)


3 comments:

My Life As A Single said...

OUTSTANDING! Great man, Great tribute.

Sally said...

Bethany,

That is the most beautiful tribute I have ever read and Dad deserves every word of it. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

Allysha said...

Very nice, Bethany.