This is my Daddy...that's right, "Daddy," not just "Dad". Isn't he a handsome devil?
This is the face that I saw last of all, every night when I was a little girl. He was so sweet to me. Every single night he would throw the covers over my head and fold them back neatly, tucking me in. Then he would sing me a song: "I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck..." Usually he didn't finish it. I was an adult before I realized it was a real song (from "Guys and Dolls") and not something that sprang spontaneously from his heart. :) He made me feel so special. I remember going to sleep every night with such a warm fuzzy feeling. My dad sure loved me. As a mother I am even more impressed at how awesome he was at the bedtime routine. How many nights to my kids go to bed and the last thing they hear from their exhausted mother is something heart-warming like: "JUST GO TO BED!!! I'M DONE!!" Poor little guys...
Wanna know something cool about my dad? He's a scientist. Yup! An honest to goodness fully fledged scientist. He got his Doctorate from Brown University in...uh...something scientific, like Fluid Dynamics or something (whatever that means). Daddy worked for Lockheed Martin for his whole career. He did all kinds of scientific work for them on government contracts. If I ever asked him what he did at work, he'd say "I can't tell you." How cool, I thought, maybe he's a SPY! But he wasn't a spy, he was a scientist, which is much more exciting to me now that I am grown up. Daddy was such a good provider. Always there, always on time, a real Johnny-on-the-Spot. He used to hoard all his vacation days and use them to get the better part of December off for Christmas. That made Christmas even more awesome.
One of the things I treasure most about my Dad was the time he took to EXPLAIN stuff to his 7 kids. When we got in trouble, it was never just "GO TO YOUR ROOM!" It was always, "Let's talk a little bit about what just happened.." followed by 20 min. of deep character evaluation. ;) I remember him taking the time to explain to me why it was so important to resist selfishness, and how it leads to unhappiness. He taught me the gospel this way too. He loves to talk about the gospel and has lots of deep insights. He gave me a strong conviction that morality is much more than just a silly rule, to be tossed aside at the slightest temptation. He always taught that the things Heavenly Father wants us to do are because He loves us and wants us to live happily. I still believe this. What a good job my father did as a teacher!
This obviously isn't the best picture I've ever taken, but I like it because it describes my daddy so well. The loving dog and the bull (actually it is just a cow, but still) represent 2 important facets of his personality. The puppy represents the man who teared up almost every Sunday during church, wiping his eyes with his handkerchief when the talks were touching. So tender. This is the same side that led him to constantly tell us all how much he loved us. I can honestly say I think he said it every single day to me. Very rare in father's these days, I think. The bull represents his authoritative side. My father is not a big man, probably 5'6 and lightly built, but BELIEVE me, when he was stern everybody hopped to attention and straightened right up. I remember once at our church youth group a couple of non-member teenagers came to beat up one of the 17 year-old boys in our ward. They punched him pretty good, and I remember seeing several large church leaders running into the church to call the police or something. But MY dad, my fearless (and relatively small) dad, ran right up to those 2 huge teenagers (they looked like linebackers) and stuck his finger right at their faces and bawled 'em out like they were school boys. I'll never forget the sight...it was like looking at two St. Bernards fearfully eyeing a barking chihuahua. He scared them right off; they ran away with their tails between their legs. I was so proud of him, saving the day like that, like some kind of super hero. If he were a super hero, his super power would be "having a serious voice that absolutely leaves you no doubt that he means business" man. But that's a kinda long title for a super hero, isn't it? That's why I just call him "Daddy."
Love you too, Daddy. Thanks for always being there for me.