With today being Father's Day, I wanted to give a quick shout out to my dad. I live a happy, comfortable life due in large part to the upbringing my parents gave me. While my father is a returned missionary and has always been active in the church, the lessons he has taught me over the years have been through his example more than him sitting down with with me and saying, "Son, what you are going through in your life right now reminds me of the time when Hezekiah faced the Assyrian invasion. Let's turn to Second Kings chapter 18...." Here are a few of the lasting lessons from my dad that have stuck with me through the years.
Please also post your comments with valuable life lessons you were taught by your fathers as well. Since most of the readers of this blog are parents with kids still in the house, perhaps we can learn a little from one another to pass along to our kids.
I was fortunate to start on the varsity basketball team all three years in high school and was one of the leading scores in the state of Utah my senior year. During the games when my shot was not falling, my dad would wait until the crowd would quiet down and then yell, "More arch!", just loud enough for me to hear. My younger brother also started varsity with me and some games we would hear, "More arch!" five or six times in a game between the two of us. It got to the point where I though my dad should just adopt Darrell Griffith of the Utah Jazz so that at least one of his sons always had enough arch on his shot.
By saying this I don't want to give the impression that my dad is an overbearing David Archuleta-type parent who would lock me in a root cellar if I didn't score 20 points per game. He was involved and active, but never crossed that line. The phrase "More arch!" will always remind me that my dad cared enough to come to my games. He cared enough to be get involved. He cared enough to help me when I needed it. A lot of kids did not have that from their dads. I was fortunate that I did.
Drunks at the State Fair are Fun!
Nothing brings out the upper echelon of humanity like a state fair. My dad is a retired Salt Lake City police officer (he currently works as an investigator for the state of Utah) and was able to work overtime at the Utah state fair if he wanted to. While the extra overtime was nice to have in his paycheck, it was hard for him to put up with the shenanigans of drunk state fair goers who were irresistibly attracted to uniformed police officers. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to work a full day shift and then go to the state fair in 90+ degree weather with a herd of drunks coming up and yelling, "Arrest him, officer, he's on America's Most Wanted!" then walking away laughing at the cop's expense. I am pretty sure that my dad would rather have been golfing on those summer nights.
During my sophomore year at BYU I came home on a weekend to visit my parents. (Okay, it was really to eat their food and use their washing machine, but still, a visit's a visit.) I was still awake at about 1:00 a.m. when I heard my dad come home from working the state fair that night. He looked completely exhausted. The overtime he was working was being used to help me pay tuition for my next semester of school. What a great example of hard work, sacrifice, and placing your children above yourself he was in that moment. I will never forget it.
Indoor Bike Racing is Lame:
Raise your hand if you are a guy who grew up in the '80's and watched the BMX movie "Rad" about 35,000 times....Okay, now that my hand is down I can continue typing. My brother and I were really in to bikes when we were about 11 or 12 years old and wanted to get into competitive racing. While I am sure that my dad instantly recognized that this would be a short-lived fad, he indulged us one weekend and took us to watch bike races. It was so boring! As we were leaving the arena he asked, "So are you sure this is something you really want to do?" We both quickly said, "Nope" and then moved on to the next fad. Karate, I think. My dad could have easily dismissed our BMX fad, but he was a good sport and played along.
"Little Guys Carry Knives...and Guns."
We were once on a family vacation and stopped for dinner. I was either a junior or a senior in high school and was a 6'5" basketball player in good shape. My dad was a 6'2" police officer. While we were waiting in line to get seated, a hot-headed guy who was probably 5"8', 170 came into the restaurant and was obviously looking for trouble. He made some smart remark to my dad to see if he would take the bait, but my dad just remained calm and nothing happened. As a 17-year old I had more testosterone than blood coursing through my veins and I said, "Dad, we could have taken that guy so easy if he would have messed with us." My dad just looked at me and said, "Little guys carry knives...and guns. It doesn't matter how big you are once you get stabbed or shot."
I am sure that after a long career in law enforcement that my dad spoke from experience. Through the career that he chose, my father faced danger in order to provide safety and protection for the citizens of Salt Lake City. He is a brave, hard-working man with a strong sense of right and wrong. I am proud of the career that he chose and for all of the hours of hard work that he put in to provide for his family. (Plus I could pull the, "Oh yeah, well my dad could arrest your dad!" card when arguing with friends about who had the best dad. That was always the check mate move that left our friends in obvious defeat.)
Sometimes You Just Need to Take a Drive:
My dad and I had spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours practicing basketball together. We shared a common dream of me playing college hoops somewhere, most likely at a junior college. During my senior year of high school I was offered a full-ride basketball scholarship to a small school in Colorado where my best friend was also playing. My dad was sitting in the coach's office with me when I was offered the scholarship. My father was so excited that his head almost exploded. Literally. It nearly exploded. Our dream was sitting there on the table. All I had to do was pick up the pen and sign it.
While the logical thing to do was accepting the scholarship, I had also received a part-tuition academic scholarship to Ricks College. There was a possibility that I could walk on to Rick's basketball team and also be a high jumper on the track team, but the odds were not great. Because it was a major decision, I prayed hard to receive some direction. The answer was clear - I needed to go to Ricks. I couldn't explain it, but I knew it was right.
It took me a little while to summon the courage to tell my dad that I was turning down the basketball scholarship. I was not afraid that he would be upset or get angry. That was not his style. I was afraid of letting him down. He was sitting on the couch when I told him about my decision. Without saying a word, he slowly got up, walked to the kitchen, grabbed his keys from on top of the fridge, got in his car and drove away. For a moment I thought, "Uh, oh, he's never coming back..." But that was not his style, either. He probably took the drive to process this surprising decision that I had just made. Later that night he simply told me that he trusted me and would support any decision that I made about my future. My father never once tried to pressure or convince me to take the basketball scholarship. He would have been more than justified in asking me to reconsider my decision, but he never did. My dad trusted me. This was one of the most defining moments of my life and I will always be grateful for the way my dad handled it.
(On a side note: I did not make Rick's basketball or track teams. However, I roomed with five guys who were all getting ready to go on their missions. I took missionary prep class, Book of Mormon, served as a gospel doctrine teacher and was constantly surrounded by good latter-day saints. My best friend who played basketball in Colorado quit halfway through the season because the basketball program and general atmosphere were so poor. I have never regretted walking away from that basketball scholarship.)
Well, dad, here's to you. Happy Father's Day. You're a great father. Thank you for the life you have provided for me.
And I'll make sure your grandson gets plenty of arch on his shot, too.
***MY COMMENTS ABOUT YOUR COMMENTS***
Ang - This is where it is so hard to be on the opposite side of the country from the rest of the family. Sure, the whole family getting together is kind of nice, but you guys spent the night playing Wii Fit?! Despite my borderline obsessive Madden addiction on the PS2, I have never played a Wii. When we come visit in July I have a feeling that you will be prying the Wii-mote out of my hand while simultaneously kicking me out of your house at 3:15 a.m.
Capt Naykid - Sounds like your father is a good man. I have to second what you said about your dad when it comes to him teaching you to respect women. We hear often in the church that "the best thing that a father can do for his children is to love their mother." My dad, true to his form, also taught this lesson to me through his example of treating my mom with kindness and respect.