Sunday, June 17, 2012

My dad could beat up your dad...

Today is Father's Day, and I want to be clear the my dad is awesome.  Last year, I wrote a lovely tribute to mothers, so this year, I feel it's only right to tell the other side of my amazing parentage.  This is a little gushy...but my quiet, hilarious dad deserves a little recognition.  No pictures because my dad hates them, and this is for him. :)

My dad instilled in me from a young age the love of rock music.  Simon and Garfunkel, The Beach Boys, The Beatles...the list could continue for a page and a half.  I have a playlist called "Old School" where I put all of the songs that remind me of road trips or Sunday nights with Dad, playing Who Sang That Song? for hours at a time.  Even today in our conversations, he'll always pop in lyrics from songs and then pull out his phone and find the track from some obscure artist from the 70s.

One of my favorite sides of my dad is when he gets going about the good ol' days working at Lagoon.  He spent a lot of time in the Rides Department back in the 70s, and hearing him reminisce about his friends, his bosses, the actual is a riot once you get him going.  Ask him about the time one of the rides broke off its gears and rolled down the Midway.  Or when he had to steal a cup of ice from a food stand to hold a girl's finger that had been ripped off. 

Listening to his storytelling will make anyone bust a gut, even if the story is somber.  Back when he was on his mission in France, his appendix burst and he nearly died in a tiny hospital in the middle of nowhere with a greenie companion and nothing to eat for 11 days.  The way he retells his insane experience gets people rolling in the aisles, but he nearly died.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he probably had a lot more life to live and a bunch of people to help, so he was spared.  My absolute favorite part of the whole appendix story is when he had been painted with iodine and left naked...and the Bishop and his kids had come to visit him.  In his state of delirium, my dad pulled off the bedsheet covering him and said, "Look, they painted me orange!"

Dad always has a sense of adventure, no matter how much of a hermit he tells you he is.  How could you not be adventurous to set out on the road with seven kids to journey all across the country and back again?  I have been to the majority of this great country's states, and that's because of my dad.  I've seen Europe from a front row view because my dad was willing to be our chauffeur and haul us around.  Give him some fudge and control of the radio, and he's set.

Dad jokes that he doesn't get out much, and we all know that isn't true. One of his favorite things to do in the summer is go camping, and this year will be one of his best. He got a new trailer last year, and he has been like a giddy school child waiting to use it. He taught me how to roll a tent or a sleeping bag correctly, how to gut a fish, and how to start a fire (still struggle with that one...). And he lets me use all of his fancy camping gear whenever I want to head for the hills. We joke around that he has one of everything and two of most. 

One year when I was living at home and going to college, I didn't have class until 11:00 most days.  This is when my dad and I bonded over M*A*S*H, which ran re-runs in syndication at 9:00 and 9:30.  Dad was working from home a lot of mornings, so we would put the tv on while I finished up readings for class and enjoy the antics of Hawkeye and the gang.

My dad has been my champion when it comes to my own dating life.  He's never been the overprotective father with a shotgun, waiting for his daughter to get home, but he has a quiet sense of defense when it comes to his girls.  When my engagement went to pieces, he drove down to Provo that night and took me out to dinner, just him and me, and told me some of his own heartache from before he married my mom.  I'm getting a little weepy-eyed now just thinking about how special that evening was to me, not for the fact that we ate Italian food or that he stocked my freezer with ice cream, but that I, his middle daughter, meant enough for him to come take care of me at one of my most vulnerable times.  Today, Dad will still lend a listening ear when I don't understand men or if I'm overanalyzing a guy situation way too much.  And even if he is old, he's still got great advice.

Speaking of ice cream, it's my dad's favorite.  When I asked this year what he wanted for Father's Day dinner, that was his answer: ICE CREAM.  He has a pitch for the "ice cream diet" where, if you eat enough ice cream, your body temperature will lower so much that it will burn calories to keep warm.  Don't think I haven't tried to implement this diet...thanks, Pa.  But don't make it pink for my father...he doesn't eat pink food.  You'd think with six girls, he would have gotten used to a lot of pink, but none of us even likes the color that much.

When people ask what my dad does for a living, I'm not sure what to tell them.  I always end up saying, "Something with computers...and networks..."  But in reality, my dad is a computer genius.  To explain to the rest of us how all of these little computer bits fit together, he will draw diagrams, show us old mother boards, and walk us through all of the inner workings.  If something isn't working, he'll find parts from a bunch of other dead computers and make what we've termed a "Franken-computer."  And it works!

He can also make cars work.  If I have car trouble, I know I can just call my dad...and then my car will magically begin working.  Obviously it's because the car knows it will be beaten into submission by my father.  For example, when I was 20 or 21, my car broke down as I was driving back down to college after a weekend with the family.  I realize that when any car breaks down, it's disconcerting, so it wasn't a surprise that my dad was feeling put out to have to take care of the car madness.  He brought down the trailer and miraculously got the car running long enough to get it up on the trailer.  Once it was up there, the sides of the trailer made it impossible to open the door for him to get out.  I shouldn't have been giggling inside then OR now, but just thinking about him climbing out the driver's side window brings back kind of a hilarious memory of that stressful moment.

When I was 14, my dad got called as a bishop of a brand-new ward.  Talk about insanity.  But he pulled it off like a champion, and I got to share my dad with the ward.  He was one of the sweetest examples of hard work and service dedicated to people and to the Lord.  He's always been like that, though...people need help with yardwork?  He's there with his favorite tractor.  When I needed money for my last year of college, my dad was very generous and understanding.  His family is the most important thing in his life, and this is evidenced by basically everything he does.  No one would ever question his loyalty to his siblings, his mother, his wife, his children or grandkids.  I'm not saying he's perfect, but you have to love a man who plays Three Billy Goats Gruff with his kids, buys cute toys for his grandkids, and mows the lawn every week for use with his great big, happy family.

I may have gotten my out-of-control eyebrows or my bad knees from him, but he also helped hone my dry wit and gave me a fair bit of his intelligence.  My dad deserves the ultimate thanks and gratitude for his amazingness.  Props to my Pops!


Blogger Kate The Great said...

Hooray, Jim!

I learned a few more things about him, even after all my nights over for dinner with a shy husband.

Annie, I'm now making a feedburner feed just for me to read your stuff. You're good, girl.

June 18, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Blogger Caryl said...

Just read this...LOVE it. Totally agree. He rocks.

September 10, 2012 at 5:53 PM


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