Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today my dad died.

Ten years ago today I was six months pregnant with my first child.

Ten years ago today my heart broke wider than I ever thought possible.

Ten years ago today I experienced one of my first "now I'm really a grown up " moments.

But today I don't want to dwell on the sadness or how long it took to feel normal again. I want to remember the man that I loved and the lessons he taught me.

My dad was funny, funny, funny. He was the funniest man I have ever known. He had a quick wit, coming up with nuggets of humor that one would never expect. I remember riding in the truck with him and I would admire something: the sunset, a nice paint job on a car, an interesting billboard. I would say "That's a really pretty sunset" and my dad would reply "Thanks". It never failed to make me laugh.

Once, in relating a story to me, he substituted the word "decaffeinated" for "decapitated. On purpose. So. Funny.

I loved to hear stories of his childhood, like the time he and his older brother covered my grandpa's WWII Japanese bayonets and their own shirts with ketchup and ran out of the kitchen screaming, scaring their younger sister nearly to death. Or the infamous laundry basket incident, in which my dad ended up sitting in a laundry basket, a rope tied to his dog and the other end securely fastened around my dad's neck. His older brother may or may not have been involved in helping to tie the knots, but my grandmother always stated that she knew she saved my dad's life when she quickly responded to the screams she heard coming from outside.

The best story, hands down, is the sheep story. As a teenager, my dad and his cousin were driving around the back roads of rural Utah as bored teenagers are wont to do. They came upon a few sheep that had escaped through a broken fence. Dad and his cousin promptly gave chase in the car and when they had chased one sheep until it couldn't run any further, they got out and coaxed the exhausted animal into the front seat with them. They propped it on its haunches between them in the front seat. Dad said that the sheep just calmly sat there, looking around, with its front legs resting on the dash. They drove to the local A&W and when the car hop rolled up to the window on her skates, they calmly ordered three root beers. I can't even think of this story without tears of mirth coming to my eyes.

These are stories that became family legend, lore that was told around the campfire in the summer, sitting in the family room visiting with guests, these tales were even told at his funeral. He was a funny, funny guy.

He also was the most honest person I have ever met. As a (stupid) teenager, some of my friends and I visited Burger King once and each of us left with a ball from the ball pit as a souvenir. It never crossed my mind that taking the balls was stealing, but the disappointment in my dad's eyes told me that it was.

He was an avid golfer and there was one friend in particular that he spent many hours with on the links. Occasionally they would make small bets, just a few dollars, on the outcome of the game. Dad always paid if he lost but the friend almost never did, even though he was by all counts a wealthy man. While it frustrated our family, Dad never said a word against the man. He just kept paying his share when called for and kept his mouth shut when he was treated unfairly.

He was a businessman and anyone who did business with him always came out with an honest price and good, hard work. He taught all of his children to work. Growing up, our family activities were things like cutting and splitting firewood or weeding our massive garden. Going out to eat was a rare treat and now that I'm a parent of four, I appreciate my parent's gift of a night out to eat for their brood of six.

Dad was also very tenderhearted. I remember many nights when we would watch a particularly emotional movie and Dad would suddenly notice that the wood box near the fireplace was less than full. "Going to get some wood" was code in our family for "going outside so you don't see me cry".

The first time I went skiing, it was for a church activity. It was Dad's job to drive me into the church early that morning but before we got in his truck, he took a few minutes and gave me my first skiing lesson in the garage.

I miss him every day. He was human and he had his faults. But he taught us well and he loved us. I hope that he is proud as he watches my siblings and me and sees what we have done with the lessons he taught us.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Spirit

Mom: Mike, your primary teacher called last night and told me that you volunteered to be in the Christmas program this evening. You'll be a wise man.

Mike: I never volunteered.

Mom: She said that you said you'd do it.

Mike: No, I didn't.

Mom: Well, I already told her that you would.

Mike: I think she has me confused with somebody else. I don't want to.

Mom: Dude. The party is in a couple of hours. You have to.

Mike: *GIANT sigh* I guess I'll do it if they can't find anybody else.

Mom: They can't find anybody else. Would you like to help me figure out a costume?

Mike: I don't want to wear a costume. Do I have to?

Mom: You don't have to but you'll be the only wise man without one.

Mike: I don't care.

Mom: Okay....... You also need to take something to carry as a gift for the baby Jesus. Maybe you could make a gold box out of Legos.

Mike: *excitedly* Okay! *runs to room to begin construction*


Mom: Noel, would you like to be in the pr-

Noel: YES! What do I get to be?

Mom: One of the heavenly hosts; an angel.

Noel: Do I get to wear a costume?

Mom: She said to have you wear something white.

Noel: I don't have anything white. *GIANT sigh* I guess I'll just wear this. How will everyone know I'm an angel?

Mom: They'll give you a halo to wear.

Noel: What's a halo?

Mom: One of those gold things above an angel's head.

Noel: SWEET! (running out of the room) Hey, Dad! I'm gonna be in the Christmas program and I'm going to be a host!

Mike: *rolls eyes*


*Upon telling Mike of her brilliant idea to make a beard using a piece of felt and a couple pieces of elastic*

Mom: *excitedly* Hey, Mike! Do you want me to make you a beard? I can do it in just a few minutes.

Mike: No.

Mom: Come on! It'll be really cool.

Mike: I don't want a beard. *stalks away*

Mom: *mutters under her breath* I guess you'll be a pre-pubescent wise man in jeans and a t-shirt, then. *glancing over at Dad* What about you? Should I make you a beard? I can make it really full and it will be completely filled in.

Dad: *shoots poison dart looks in Mom's direction*

Mom: Come on, that was funny. *reaches out to hug Dad*

Dad: Don't touch me! *stalks away*

Mom: *considers making the beard anyway because it was a really good idea*


*In the car on the way to the church*

Noel: Do you think I'll be on the ground or in the air?

Mom: You mean will they hang you from a rope so that it looks like you're flying?

Noel: Yeah.

Mom: I'm pretty sure you'll just stand there.

Noel: Aww! I want to be in the air.

Mom: But you'll get to wear a halo.

Noel: Oh, yeah. SWEET!


*Upon arrival at the church, seeing that all other wise men/shepherds are indeed wearing costumes*

Mike: I guess I'll wear a costume.

Mom: *biting tongue and holding back chastisement because it is, after all, Christmas* Let's go find your teacher and see if they have a costume for you.

Noel: *participating in rowdy and decidedly un-angelic running through the gym with the other "hosts"* When do I get my halo?


*The wise men arrive at the stable to pay homage to the baby Jesus. Two of the wise men carry boxes wrapped in shiny paper. The third, who has only one arm (the other being wrapped beneath the sheet that enshrouds him and is tied about his waist with a rope), carries an exquisite golden box constructed entirely of Legos. The audience doesn't realize that the box is filled with small Lego jewels and coins. The one-armed wise man clearly looks as if he'd rather be anywhere else, as is seen by his surly expression. When he catches sight of his parents in the audience who are near wetting themselves with mirth at the sight of his bound arm, a small smile cracks his stony facade. He gently places his gift at the bed of baby Jesus.*

My heart is full as I sit surrounded by people I love and who love me, celebrating the birth of our Savior.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Famous People

I was thinking today (shocker!) about how most people have a "celebrity" story. You know, they ran into Alice Cooper at 7-11 or their dad used to work with Britney Spears' dad. I'm not really a star-struck sort of person. I actually think that a lot of celebrities are really obnoxious.

Anyway, the point of this post is this: what is your celebrity experience?

Come on. Entertain me. Leave your celebrity experience in the comments. I have a tracker. I'll know you were here and if you don't share I may have to take drastic measures.

Friday, December 4, 2009

There Are No Words

Noel: Dad, is it okay for Michael to fart on me?

Dad: No.

Mike: I didn't know that.

Dad: ...seriously?