Monday, October 01, 2007

Early Father's Day Ideas:

My dad has always been very involved in my life. A noble man of integrity. A caring and compassionate person, full of interests, always trying to find something new in life, always refining and adding to his many talents.

But that isn't really the point of this story. I just remembered this today, completely unrelated to remembering that Father's Day is coming up.

Once, when I was about nine years old, I went to the pool with my family. My dad went to the dressing room with us, we put on our suits, showered, (state law requires this, you know), and frolicked in the pool with my mom, my brother and my sister. The whole family. While we were there we ran into Devon Vincent, who was somehow related to our neighbor, Mrs. Vincent. Devon was a kid from school, a year younger than I was. He started hanging out with us, and when we left the pool he left the pool with us. So we were taking off our swimsuits, changing our clothes, and Devon starts looking at this older man who was naked in the showers of the changing room. Devon then motions to us. He had discovered something that he wanted to share with the rest of the world.

He yelled to us "Hey, look at that guy's penis." I looked. He did have a very prominent penis. Devon yelled to other people. "Hey, look at that guy's penis!" The guy didn't seem to be noticing, he was just taking a shower, with his penis facing so Devon could see it. My dad kindly told Devon that he shouldn't bring attention to the man's penis. Devon stopped talking about it, but did not stop looking. To Devon, this penis was mythical, like it was a dragon, a unicorn, or a mermaid.

When we got outside, my mom and sister were waiting for us. I said "Tell her what Devon did" and dad didn't say anything, or if he did, he might have said "Oh, geez" or something. Then my mom asked what Devon did. Dad finally said something very proper, like "Well, there was a man taking a shower who who had a pretty large penis, and Devon kept telling people to look at it." To me, my dad never seemed to be phased by talking about embarrassing things. He is a strong and honest man.

My father and I were home teaching companions for a very long time. We always went, and I always enjoyed riding in the car with him to visit our families. We would listen to NPR, classical music, talk radio. We visited Mary Bird in the nursing home, the Harrington family on Sylvia street, and the Louks', who lived out in the country. I have already written about when their daughter Becky ran away from home and how worried they were, and how we held a fast in hopes that she would come home. There were a lot of times when I saw my dad in action, really living his religion, really giving his life for others, making sacrifices, doing things that maybe might not have been exactly what he wanted to do all the time. He was an example of a faithful man, a man of God.

All the time I see myself becoming more and more like my father in unexpected ways. I think every young man realizes this at some point. It's not a new thing, people have been telling me this for a long time. When my aunt saw me playing guitar while laying on my back, she said that I looked just like my dad, that not many people had the ability to play the guitar well while laying flat on their backs. Sometimes I get frustrated, and find myself reacting how my dad would, saying "Oh geez" or "what a mess." I find myself breathing heavily and deeply in certain situations, or making long, cliff-hanger pauses in my speech while I am trying in my mind to find the most eloquent way to explain something.

When I was a teenager my dad started making violin bows. When I was a freshman in college, my dad was on sabbatical from being a professor at the same university, and he was always home. He seemed to spend a lot of time making a guitar, although he was supposed to be doing research, writing, or something professorly. The fact that he was always home made it difficult to skip class. Not that I really wanted to skip class, but the fact that he would know if I was still home made it all the more encouraging to not skip class. It was good to know he was there. It was good to see that he was having fun, that he was doing what he wanted to do, and that he was developing new talents, trying new things.

I'll probably never completely understand how much of an influence he has had on me. But it's safe to say that I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful father to serve as an example and to help me through the peaks and valleys of life.

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