Saturday, December 15, 2007

I Miss Bill!

I saw this bumber sticker on the back of some person's car at the gym. I couldn't help but agree....

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Catch and Release

When it came to entertainment, Dad had several favorite sports. I think one of his all time favorites would definitely be catch and release boyfriend fishing. As soon as Alicia and I were old enough to date, Dad became obsessed with setting us up. This obsession became more and more intense as we both got older. I remember going on a bike ride with dad as the "rescue driver" (meaning he went ahead of us in the truck and scoped out the route). He would circle back to us every five minutes or so to let me know that he had found the perfect guy for me...holding a construction sign on the side of the road a few miles up...or out baling hay at a farm nearby. He was shameless, he would stop anyone he saw, ask if they were single and if they served a mission (these seemed to be the only real selection criteria from what I saw) and then let them know he had a single daughter who was apparently desperate. I would then have to ride past and pretend not to notice the goofy looking guy in the hay field giving me the eye.

This passion was not confined to road trips. Heaven forbid you try and go to a restaurant with the man. I can't even begin to count how many waiters and bus boys I have been pawned off on during the course of a meal. "Hey, you seem like a nice guy. Did you serve a mission? Why don't you take my daughter out sometime?...Yeah that one right there trying to crawl under the table". One of my favorite memories was right after Dad had his second stroke. He was in the ICU at the University of Utah hospital for a week or so and just happened to have a young, male nurse for his entire stay. I guess I should have been grateful that Dad was feeling himself again when he started subtly and not so subtly suggesting that his nurse should really hook up with his pretty daughter. Matters only became worse when his mother came into town. Now both my Oma and my dad were pretty much deaf but didn't seem to realize that no one else in the room was. In front of both me and the poor nurse, they would start to talk about what a cute couple we would make. Then they would comment on how he was not a member of the church but maybe he could convert. Are you kidding me? We're both sitting right here!

But as much fun as catching boyfriends was, dad's real passion was all about the release. It took me years to bring home a boy that I was actually interested in dating, not because I was embarrased by my family, but more because I was afraid dad would run him off. Dad was shameless when it came to the overprotective father act. He lived for it. As soon as I showed up at home with any boy (regardless of whether or not we were actually dating) dad would bust out the shot gun...or the switch blade...or a pistol with a highly acurate laser scope...or a grenade (a grenade? Who even owns a grenade for pete's sake?) and start to explain exactly what would happen to the aforementioned gentleman should he decide to lay his hands on me, get me home late or in any way come even close to making me cry.

Dad would put signs on the door stating "Potential boyfriend endurance trials, get to the car before the buckshot and you can go out with her". He would make boys leave $50 deposits that they might get back at the end of the night if I made it home on time and in one piece. He would send small children out to hang on my legs, call me mommy and ask if the new boy was going to be their new daddy (he also made all of us do this to my aunts when we were younger so I guess that one was just karma). After his stroke he even learned how to cock a shotgun with one hand just so he could still meet my dates at the door and say "run boy".

But despite all the embarrassment, I guess I'm actually really grateful that he ran off all of the jerks for me. Aaron was the first guy I think I ever brought home that dad actually didn't threaten and later told me I was crazy if I didn't hold on to this one...and that if I didn't take him, he would. I'm so grateful that dad got to know my husband before he died and that he loved me enough to care about who I spent my life with.

Friday, December 7, 2007

I'll get you last my pretty! (evil cackle)

This is the epidomy of my dad and my relationship! He tricks me, I trick him back, he one ups me, I spit in his food, he pours water on me while I'm sleeping, I take advantage of my fashion consultant role in the house and tell him that he should wear one of mom's heart shirts to work and it looks good (and he did), he sells my cheerleading bumpkins to the neighbor boys......and so on.....

Some of my favorite memories of my father have to do with pranks. Afterall, I am way too much like him in this aspect. This is why we butted heads for so many years, but I think we really began to understand each other after a while.

I remember running for my life around the house one day because my dad was going to give me a swirly in the toilet. Now let me clarify what my dad's swirlies are like. They're not the "un oh look you're hanging upside down over the toilet and I'm going to flush!".......oh no! He would actually insert our heads inside the toilet bowl and let our hair swirl around as he flushed it! Are you kidding me! I was willing to run out of the house naked if I had to, to get away from his swirly wrath! So, I am running and I come to a fork in the hallway, I see our huge black dog blocking my escape route, so at the last minute I opt for the left hand turn into the kitchen and.......BAM! I run write into the corner of the wall! Oh the pain! My head immediately began to bleed and for those of you who don't know me that well, pain is not my game. It took 5 nurses or so to hold me down just to give me a tetnis shot, let alone try to stitch me up. I wouldn't allow that needle to get that close to my face, so a scar remains on my right brow in memory of the swirly chases that brought so much joy to our family!

My dad became so predictable in his latter years, but for a while there when we were growing up, he really got us good! Okay, lets be honest, that man may have been slightly predictable, but he continued to shock us until his dying day. Well, I remember how much he loved to "test" out the fire alarm(smoke detector) at our house. He would set it off early in the morning, I'm talking 5-6AM (which doesn't exist in my conscious world) and he would run through the house screaming "Fire, Fire!! Everyone out of the house!" All four kids and his unsuspecting wife would all wake up in a panic and jet for the front door. He would follow behind us and at the last minute, he would smile and slam the door in our faces and lock us out! Now remember that we were all in our pajamas, or my mother in her underwear!It would take a few exorcist voice yells from mom to get him to finally unlock the door again. Whew, how traumatic fire drills are for us now. :)

I would always dread, and I mean dread my dad coming to pick me up from school in elementary, jr. high, and especially high school. He would make a point to make it the most embarassing experience of my life. Every single time, without fail, he would park our beat up minivan in the most obvious spot right in front of the doors. He would get out of the car and when he saw us he would wave his arms frantically and act "handicapped," yelling our names and making a scene. After he made sure that he had everyone's attention, he would then hustle to hop in the van before we got there, chuckling to himself. Oh, and here is the kicker! He would start to pull away and make us chase the van. As soon as we would sprint to catch up, he would slow down and let us get almost to the door handle and then he would speed up again, roaring in laughter. Everyone around us would always be quite humored by this occasion. My friends always said they wished their parents were as funny and goofy and my dad. "Um, no you don't!" I would say. But I really seem to agree now looking back. Humor was the best medicine for any circumstance. Thank you dad for teaching me that.

So, 3 weeks before I was scheduled to leave on my mission to the Canary Islands and while Michelle and Taylor were already in the mission field, my dad decides to steal all the glory by having a huge stroke. This was the first stroke that paralyzed his left side. It was extremely difficult to watch as his ability to walk, write, eat and work were taken away from him, after he had worked so hard to gain it back after the tumor (including obtaining his bachelors degree in Engineering!) I questioned whether it was right to still go on my mission now that my family had so many burdens in front of them. I spent every single day up at the hospital with him after that stroke. It was a time I will never forget because I really got to spend time talking to my dad and getting to know him. We grew very close to one another and shared many laughs. I continued my prank-pulling to ease the severity of the challenges he faced. My favorite thing was to feed him. I would get the fork so close to his mouth and then.....oh, pull it away! I would give him a sip of his sacred coca cola and right when he could taste its heavenly glory, I would.....oh, pull it away! hahahahah Payback is so so sweet. We would take strolls in the wheelchair through the hospital. Since, he only had one functioning arm now, he could only go in circles without me. So I would push him into some old unsuspecting patient's room and leave him there. He would panic as the old person would look at him with confusion. Instead of awkwardly staring at the person, he would strike up some off-colored conversation with them until I returned to rescue him. Cute dad.

While in the hospital, he expressed his concern that I still needed to go on my mission. He said that I could be of no greater help than to share the gospel with those that needed it. That was my dad's #1 goal in life, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others because it had made such a difference in his own life. I knew he was right, so as difficult as it was, I took that leap of faith and left to Spain, not knowing if my father would be around when I got home. One of the first letters I got from him in the Spain MTC was this one:
What an example of humility. He was learning to write his alphabet again at age 45. He wanted to encourage me to work hard and so he let me know that he was "getting better every day" with this small gesture. I hold this piece of paper close to my heart because it represents so much of who my father was. His character lives on in each of his children. He has been my hero since I was a little girl and I will continue to honor him for the rest of my life......including the practical jokes! waa hahahahaha!