I called my dad yesterday to wish him a happy birthday! He laughed when I asked him, “You made it to 70! Now what are you going to do?” His easy response, “Make it to 80.” Love that man!
He has a pretty incredible legacy. 10 children (3 boys, 7 girls), 37 grandchildren, and a wife he’s been married to for almost 45 years. For his birthday we all wrote him a letter that my mom read to him last night. I wish I could have been there for that. I hear there were lots of tears mixed with plenty of laughs.
I thought I’d share my letter to my dad along with some images I captured last Christmas while he and my mom came to visit us in Florida.
Happy 70th Birthday Dad! I wish we could all be there to celebrate this day with you!!
We’ve been talking about you a lot on our Big Blue Bus Tour! There is plenty of time to tell stories about the “olden days”. The kids love hearing stories and especially stories about grandpa living on the homestead! What a live you’ve lived!
Then there are the stories about when I was growing up. Stories of ice rinks in the front yard, vacations to exotic locations, and of course our favorite Disneyland. Stories about learning how to drive, going for road trips, and trying to hike to the top of Mount Topless. We love the tradition of Dingus Days and are grateful to you for starting it! Who can forget trips on the boom truck and working side by side on a sign?
My life is filled with grand adventures and little moments that have defined who I am. Your legacy is the way you have taught your family to Dream Big. I’ve always believed that I can do anything because of your example. There was never a time that you suggested that something I wanted to try could not be accomplished. Rather you helped me find a way.
When I wanted to go to The Soviet Union as a People to People Exchange Student, we had no money and the $4000 it would cost seemed a king’s ransom. But you wouldn’t let that stop me! We sat down and brainstormed a plan on fundraising and sponsorships and you inspired me to go for it! An overwhelming task became doable because of you. That summer I learned that if I could dream it, I could achieve it and my love for travel burst into full bloom. Without your support and direction, I could have never achieved my goal.
You taught me that gaining an education was a personal pursuit. You set the example of reading and personal study to learn what we were interested in. You became involved in what we were fascinated by and learned along with us, showing us the way to gain an education.
Remember when you helped me build a pinhole camera? And not just a pinhole camera, but a dark room to boot! We built a camera, took a picture, and then developed the film. We studied all about the process, we talked to experts, we read books, and then we tried it ourselves!
Your love of learning was contagious and inspiring. You can do anything you set your mind to and you have passed that legacy on to your children and grandchildren.
My life is filled with stories of my dad. And underlying all of the stories is the knowledge that you would always be there, no matter what. I made mistakes and there were consequences, but you showed me how to grow from them and to be a better person. I never doubted, I knew you loved me. As a parent myself, I see the beauty in that gift: the ability to teach and inspire and love.
Remember when you taught me to drive? I was scared to death because the first time I tried (when Tressa let me drive the van full of kids home from church when you and mom were out of town and I was just 14 years old) I crashed into another car and I decided I would never drive again.
A year and a half later I was almost 16 and it was time for me to really learn how to drive. But I didn’t want to. I was scared and nervous and generally opposed to the whole idea. But you were there. You were patient and kind and listened and then made me get behind the wheel. I cried the whole time and that was okay. Because I knew you were there. And then you taught me how to drive. I still happen to be the most cautious driver I’ve ever met.
Dad, I don’t know how you do it. You have 10 children and each of us believe we are your favorite. You always made time for each of us individually. We felt special and cherished and unique. That was a gift. You talked with us, you laughed with us, you cried with us. Our goals were your goals. Our dreams were your dreams.
Perhaps the greatest thing you did for us as children was to love our mother. Your example of how to love is one of my greatest remembrances of my childhood as well as my adult life. You love unquestioning, unwavering, and unconditionally. I have always been able to easily believe that I have a Heavenly Father who loves me because I have felt that love from you!
I’m so grateful for your example as a worthy priesthood holder. I knew that I wanted that in my husband because I cannot imagine life without it. You love The Lord and you embody His Spirit. I love that you turn to Heavenly Father for advice and support during hard times and in acknowledgement always. You were always there to give a father’s blessing or offer a prayer. You are an example of faithful service. I have no question that when the time comes, our Savior will be waiting for you with arms outstretched and He will whisper in your ear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Dad, your life has been one filled with grand adventures and little moments. You and Mom have worked together to raise an incredible posterity that is an honor to you. I’m grateful, so grateful that you are my dad. I couldn’t ask for anything better than that. I love you with all of my heart.
Your Sunkissed Girl
P.S. Just wait till we get to write these for MOM! I have so many stories to share with her and so many thank yous! What a great pair the two of you make!