Last Saturday I was fortunate enough to spend some time with my Dad, just the two of us. I had just returned from a funeral near my parent’s home. My Mom was working at the Temple, and my own family had gone to a picnic with some of my wife’s friends. As I stopped to see him, clouds were moving in and a rainstorm threatened outside. The setting was ideal for a good visit.
One significant similarity between my Dad and me is our fascination with discussing ideas. It might be philosophy, religion, or some theory that either of us has been mulling over for a while. I have noticed over the years that the specific topic matters little. The discussion, however, provides a forum for each of us to clarify and refine our ideas. Sometimes the exchange causes me to reconsider a notion or a hunch, and my ideas are better for it.
As we sat together, Dad showed me a draft of his newest book. Dad had ambitions of writing a book during the 30 years that he taught school. He waited patiently and finally realized his dream. I believe this is now the tenth book he has written in the past 12 years. I never considered writing a book, myself, until I watched him do it. He inspired me. I still haven’t written my book, but perhaps I will be able to return to it some day like he did.
Reading Dad’s manuscript yielded to me another observation – our writing styles are very similar. This really isn’t a surprise to me. One of the advantages of having a father who taught English and journalism is that I always had a tutor at home who would proof read my homework essays, provide suggestions, and even type up my papers when I was lazy. Over years of positive critique and correction, I became much like him. Again, I am better for it.
If I were to describe how much my Dad has influenced my life, I would have to write volumes of books. He has invested so much in me and has shaped who I have become. Perhaps, if I do get to write some day, his literary voice will sing out on every page because he is such a part of me.
I have been given a rich heritage. I consider how these and other gifts have been passed from father to son for many generations. My dad’s father was also a teacher. I never met my great-grandfather, but I have heard stories about him, enough to know that he taught my grandfather important lessons as well. So I wonder, “How many of the lessons I have been taught were original to my Dad, and how many are part of a common thread that has been shared time after time?” Both ideas are very appealing to me, so the answer matters less than the question.
Dad has also taught me about the Father of us all. I am reminded about my relationship with God, because I have watched, talked with, and shared with my Dad. He has guided and inspired me. I have become like my Dad because I love him and admire him. As my love for Father in Heaven increases, I become like Him, too. I have greater insight as I ponder the scripture in John 5:19, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.” The power of example is strong. I believe the power of Love to be stronger.
A short while ago, as I was preparing to retire for the night, my oldest son came to talk with me. I could tell that he had been mulling something over for a while. I paused, we talked, and I was excited to see the conversation happening again.