Sunday, February 15, 2009

Notes from Holly's Talk

We thought it would be nice if the three of us daughters stood here together and shared some of our memories of Dad from while we were growing up. Being the oldest, I guess I’ll start. When I was a little girl I loved wearing Dad’s t shirts as my nightgown. They came all the way down to my ankles and I remember that I felt safe and loved in his shirts. As children Dad would play with us girls. He was so strong. He would give us piggy back rides around and around the family room until he was too tired to keep going. He would also play airplane with us where he would lay on his back and lift us up with his feet and we would hold out our hands and fly. These moments were always filled with lots of love and laughter. Dad always tried to make some time for us each day and he always made us feel special.

Family night was very important to Dad. There was never a reason that was good enough to miss family night. I remember one time when I had a school play rehearsal scheduled for a Monday night. My teacher had said that it was mandatory for all of us to be there – no excuses- and that she would dock the grade of anyone who didn’t come. When I got home that afternoon and told my parents about it, Dad called my teacher. First he asked if she was LDS (she was) and then he explained to her that to him family night was more important than any school activity, that I wouldn’t be there and that she should not penalize my grade for doing what the prophet had instructed us to do. I was so embarrassed at the time, but it really made a deep impression on me about the importance of family and standing up for what you believe in. Dad was never afraid to do what he felt was right.

I also learned about teaching during family night. We had an assignment chart that hung in the dining room. The various assignments were conductor, songs, jokes, refreshments, spiritual thought, games, opening prayer, closing prayer and the dreaded lesson. These assignments would rotate weekly and we had all week to prepare for the upcoming family night. Our parents made sure that each of us kids had something to do for our family night gatherings. There was no excuse to not be ready by Monday night. Mom and Dad would always help us prepare if we would ask for their help. I remember one time when it was my turn to give the lesson and I just didn’t know what to do. I asked dad to help me and his answer was, I’ll teach you how to give a lesson and then you’ll always know how to give one. He taught me that first you pick a topic and then you just need to ask five questions – what, where, when, why and how. These questions give you a basic outline for your lesson and you just need to research and find the answers to each of these questions. When giving your lesson, you ask these same five questions one at a time and then direct the discussion to the correct answers. He explained that by doing this you’ll learn a lot about your lesson topic and be an effective teacher too. I’ve used this method many times over the years and I’ve also seen my father give lessons based on this outline. It works very well.

I’ll always remember the sight of Dad sitting at the kitchen table and studying his scriptures. You could find him there at the oddest hours. If he couldn’t sleep he would get up and study. We always knew what a priority it was in his life.

Some of my fondest memories are from Sunday afternoon scripture reading. All of the family, including friends, spouses as they were added and grandchildren as they came along would gather together in Mom and Dad’s front room. We would begin with a family prayer and then take turns going around the room each of us reading 4 or 5 verses a piece. We would then discuss what we had read and Dad would teach us. We read all of the scriptures several times each over the years and I learned so much from these afternoons. We would always have refreshments afterwards and a lot of times we would play games together too. These weekly gatherings continued until our family group finally became just too large. The memories of these gatherings will be something I’ll always remember and cherish.

Dad was never judgmental. You could talk to him about anything and he had a way of letting you know that he loved you no matter what. He would give the best advice and offer his support. I remember while growing up that there were times I didn’t want to talk to him about some things because I didn’t want to disappoint him. When I talked to him though, he never made me feel like I had let him down.

For those who don’t know, I have two sons serving missions. One is in Germany and the other is in Japan. It was a very hard thing to call them and let them know of their Grandpa’s passing. They were understandably sad and we talked with each of them for about one half an hour. They both expressed their gratitude and appreciation of their Grandfather and said what a good man he was. I could tell that they know he is in a good place. My oldest son Zack had his Pday the day after and was able to email us a quick letter. He wrote, “When I heard that Grandpa had passed away it was pretty surprising. I'm okay though. I know that he's off in a better place right now, and that he's doing some missionary work along side me while he's in the Spirit world. Now we have 4 missionaries in the family. “

I also have a young son age 2. He was very much a surprise to our family and when I found out I was expecting him I had some very mixed emotions about starting over. We also found out that he had a birth defect and the doctors prognosis wasn't very good. In talking with Dad, he assured me that Winston would be fine. He would have a hard start but things would work out. Also, that having a child at this stage of my life would be a tremendous blessing to me and my family. He expressed his love for my baby sister and said that even though he loved each and every one of us, he has special memories and experiences with her that he wasn’t able to have with the rest of us because of the demands of life. He told me that he knew my new son would be a special little boy and Dad was right. He really is a tremendous blessing to our family and I’m so grateful that Heavenly Father sent him to us. I think that we all felt like Dad had a direct line to Heavenly Father and we valued his advice.

Dad was always a great example of love and respect to us all in the way he treated our mother. He truly cherished her and insisted that we treat her with the same respect. Dad always referred to mom as his sweetheart. He made sure he told her every day that he loved her and we would always see him hug and kiss her. It made us feel good to see these expressions of love and to know that our parents loved each other so.

There aren’t words to express how wonderful our father was. We have so many fond and loving memories of him. His knowledge and advice was a precious gift to us and he will be greatly missed.

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