By Janet Walgren
Last Sunday was Father’s Day. My dad is 86 years old. He loves flowers and has a large yard full of them. So, in preparation for the holiday, I went to a nursery to purchase a gift certificate for my Dad. I found a huge nursery unlike any I have ever seen. I was mesmerized by the beautiful flowers that went on and on for acres and I was grateful that I had my camera in my purse.
After over an hour, I walked out of the nursery with 187 photographs of every imaginable type of flower and a gift card for my dad. I was so excited, I couldn’t wait to give my dad his gift so I headed over to his house to give him the gift card and show him the pictures of all the pretty flowers.
My dad looked at the photos then asked me to take pictures of his flowers too. I followed him around his yard as he pointed out flowers for me to photograph. Click, click, click… Then he posed for a photo on his lawn tractor. The end result is a precious photo album of dad surrounded by all his lovely flowers. I know that I don’t have very many years left with my dad, so my album will be a family treasure for my family and all of his descendants and their posterity. What a wonderful gift I received for remembering Father’s Day and my dear father.
Dads are often busy and get very little credit or thanks for all they do. They are gone a lot as they work to provide for their families. It is our mothers who get to spend the money and the time with their families. And, they often get most of the credit for all that our dads provide. Today, I would like to thank my father for all that he does in hopes that it will stir something within each of you as you honor your own fathers on Father’s Day and every day of the year.
I am thankful that my father honored my mother. My father and mother never fought; perhaps they should have a time or two but they never did. I have always known that my father loved my mother and I appreciate that. It helped me feel loved and secure.
My father was a good provider. We were never hungry, homeless or lacking the necessities of life. I’m sure that wasn’t easy for a father of ten children. Dad was an electrical engineer for AT&T but never finished his degree. He enrolled in night school several times, but there was always another baby or child who needed something when his tuition was due. Dad never complained.
My father is careful in his hygiene, dress and appearance. He was, and still is, always well groomed. If dad was working in the yard or on a car, he would always take the time to clean up before dinner. It was Dad’s way of showing his family how important we were. He afforded us the same courtesy he showed to guests, business associates and strangers.
It was my father who gave me my love for learning. I remember going to classes with him at the University of Utah when I was little. I remember the physics lab, the flight simulator, the math classes and the planetarium. I remember coming home from the U and fencing with dad in the driveway after his PE class. Those were the good old days when I was 4 and 5.
Then, there were the fun times with the Boy Scouts. My dad was a scout master and I got to go on their hikes. Sometimes I rode piggy back on the scout’s shoulders but they never complained. On occasion, our family got to camping with the scouts. Now I love to camp and my children’s favorite childhood memories involve long camping trips.
I learned to swim in Yellow Stone Lake on a family camp out. When our family went camping, we would have fishing contests. I always caught the biggest fish and I never realized that my fish was already cleaned and ready for the frying pan.
It was my dad who taught me about God and provided my moral compass. He was a missionary for my church and I got to travel with him when he was assigned to talk to congregations in small towns with exotic names like Hiawatha where we would hold church in the Odd Fellow’s Hall after cleaning up the beer cans from the night before.
As I grew, and our family grew, my parents were blessed with over 100 direct descendants. They were also blessed with the gift of hospitality.
The record attendance for a Thanksgiving dinner was 87. No reservation was ever required at my parent’s dinner table. It was not at all uncommon for children, grandchildren and their children to show up hungry (and unannounced) right before dinner.
Over and over again, I watched a repeat performance as my parents performed the miracle of the loves and the fishes. On one such occasion, we were serving pork chops for dinner. As each person showed up, we kept cutting the dinner portions in half. By the time Dad arrived, he got a pork chop bone for dinner. Instead of complaining, he said it was delicious…just like his family.
Often family would show up for a surprise weekend visit (impromptu family reunion). When we ran out of space to sleep people in the bedrooms and living room, we put the overflow on the porch and in tents in the yard. Everyone was always welcome and my parents were always excited to see them.
At 86, my dad can still out ride any of his grandsons on a bicycle. A month ago he ran a 5K and he keeps a membership to Gold’s Gym so he won’t lose muscle mass in the winter. He still helps my brothers take out trees and concrete from broken driveways and he maintains the yards of several of the neighborhood widows in his spare time.
I took my dad on a weekend trip to Monticello, UT and Mesa Verde, CO for Father’s Day. Dad was jogging up the trails while I huffed and puffed my way down to the cliff dwellings and back up. He was a good sport as he patiently waited for me to catch up. We had a marvelous time.
My father keeps the family anchored. He lets us know that we are deliciously interesting and exciting even though we are very diverse. I love that about him.
When I was raising my family, my children didn’t have a dad that they could lean on, learn from and depend on. Fortunately, there were many good men who stepped up to the plate as surrogate fathers for my children. They were marvelous men who set awesome examples for my family. Principle among them was Robert Wolf. He was a grandfatherly type of man whose service to my children was unparalleled.
To Dad, Bob Wolf and all the others who have provided fatherly love and support for my family, I would like to thank you for all you have done for me and my family. I wish all dads out there a very happy Father’s Day every day of the year.