Today is my dad's 74th birthday. For the first time in 50 years, my mom won't be making the traditional tomato soup cake. For many years she made it into this panda bear. It was kind of gross, but it was his favorite!
My dad was the best. He was always involved in our lives and loved us so much. When I was little and had a bad dream, he would rock me in the big green chair and sing the Fishy song in his deep bass voice. He even dressed up a few times for Halloween.
Dad was always trying to live as best he could. He was a worthy priesthood holder his entire life. He gave me a blessing before every school year, baptized me when I was 8 years old, and was always there with a blessing when I was sick or having a hard time.
We went camping almost every summer and he taught us how to fish. He spent a few years living in Alaska, where he lived like Tom Sawyer and fished all day long during the summer. He always spoke very fondly of those years.
One of my best memories of my dad is when I was probably about ten years old. We were out in the backyard playing soccer or something as a family, and the sunset was just beautiful. I remember being perfectly happy at that moment. Dad came and put his arm around me and said, "This is what it's all about." I try every day to find that happiness, because he was right.
My dad almost died 15 years ago. I had just finished junior college and was still trying to figure out what to do with my life. My mom had just had a knee replacement, so I was helping her with that and living alone with my parents at the time, since all of my other siblings had moved out. To make a very long story short, Dad had a blood clot that cut off the flow of blood to his intestines, and over four feet of his small intestine died before the surgeon discovered it. He developed a systemic infection that should have killed him, but he recovered. My sisters, Lori and Kristi, came to help take care of Dad in the hospital and Mom at home. I can't begin to express how grateful I am that he survived to live another 15 years, because in those years he supported me as I served a mission, he got to see me get my Bachelors Degree, he danced with my at my wedding, and he met all three of my kids. He was very supportive during all of the good times and the bad. He greatly influenced my decision to serve a mission (even though he was not a big fan of sister missionaries--but that's a story for another day).
One summer I had the incredible opportunity to go to Mexico with my parents. We didn't go to a nice resort town, we went to the very poor parts of Chihuahua, where some of my mother's ancestors lived. We wanted to see the communities they had built. It was an amazing experience. Here's my dad in front of the Colonia Juarez temple.
Dad was very fond of puzzles. I inherited that from him. I used to try to finish the New York Times crossword puzzle in the newspaper before he got home from work, but usually ended up messing it up so badly it would take him twice as long to finish it. He didn't like when I messed with his crossword puzzle. We had a jigsaw puzzle out after Christmas every year. Dad always took a piece and hid it so that he could be the one to place the last piece when the rest of the puzzle was done. This resulted in much frustration on our part, when we just couldn't find that one piece. My brothers and sisters and I all got a new puzzles and put one piece from each in Dad's pocket at his funeral. Now we all have puzzles that we will never be able to finish to remind us of Dad.
This is the last picture I took of him. This was taken at my sisters house after my other sister's funeral, about a week before my dad died. He loved his grandkids dearly and was almost always snuggling someone.
I love my dad and miss him so much. Happy birthday, Dad!