On Tuesday, December 8, 1992, a young Idaho farmer spent his 33rd birthday in a labor/delivery room. He was cheerfully filling out Christmas cards while his wife was in labor. When the clock struck 7 pm, the room filled with baby cries as this father was delivered the most beautiful birthday gift a man could receive. Since the day of my arrival in this world, I’ve been my Daddy’s special little girl.
Growing up on an Idaho farm, I loved to help my dad. One of our family stories was when I was little, I’d love to ride in the big truck with my Dad to make corn and wheat deliveries to the grain elevator by the train tracks in Weiser, Idaho. The drive was about an hour long. It was hot in the noisy old truck. He tells me the story of “Daddy, why did Heavenly Father make Weiser so far away?”
What I remember is that once the grain was delivered, my Daddy would buy me a Big Hunk candy bar from the gas station for being his helper that day. Big Hunks are still my favorite!
Growing up, I thought there was nothing my dad couldn’t fix. If my toy would break; he would fix it. If I was carsick on a drive, he’d hand me a black jelly bean or some black licorice so my tummy wouldn’t hurt. When I needed surgery, he held my hand until the medicine put me to sleep. When I’d get sad, he’d tell me, “Ice cream has magical powers to fix everything that makes me feel sad.” Not sure if that was truly because ice cream is magic or just because he wanted to eat some, but it sure worked- every time!
Dad taught me to drive, and what an adventure, learning to drive a stick shift on the farm. I did great going forward, but the reverse was a bit fast. My first try in the little pickup moved like something from The Fast and the Furious. I missed slamming into the chicken coop but didn’t quite clear the log pile for winter wood storage. My dad’s pickup truck landed on top of the pile, smashing in the door and crunching the frame. Instead of getting angry, my Dad walked over and helped pull me from the window. Then we walked to the haybarn in silence to get the John Deere tractor and a chain to pull the pickup down. He never mentioned a word about my damaging his vehicle, but I did notice our driving practice was moved from the farm to the large church parking lot where there wasn’t anything to hit.
My father taught me how to dance and went with me to the Father-Daughter dance at our church. My dad was my first date, and took me to a restaurant for our birthday dinner to teach me how I should be treated on a date. He got the door for me, pulled out my chair, and covered the check. He told me that a young man should treat me with respect if he is to deserve my company.
After suffering an attack at age 19 on a blind date while at college; I feared men. My dad has never hurt me, yet because of my trauma it took six months to be able to sit next to him at the dinner table. But my father’s patience while I worked through my struggles, his understanding of the situation allowing me to heal at my own pace, and the loving kindness of a father’s unconditional love made him the first man I felt comfortable sitting next to in a room or hugging after that experience. I knew my Daddy would always keep me safe.
During the years that followed this life-altering experience, my Dad became my hero; he championed me in all things.
He encouraged me to pursue my goals and finish my education. We celebrated my graduation by climbing Mt.Borah.
He found me a “boyfriend” on a family camping trip (image left-the Rock), dresses up with me for my favorite holiday each year, and when he thinks I need cheering up, Dad takes me for A&W Root Beer Floats (one of our favorites).
When life’s challenges come, my dad tells me to come ride the tractor for a bit. After about three passes talking with him, things always seem a little clearer and life a little easier to handle. He calls it tractor therapy. No matter what happened in my life or how I chose to react, my dad has always been an example of unconditional love.
After the attack at school, I struggled with my faith for many years. There was never judgement. But one major thing my dad did to help me heal was get me excited about family history. Sunday nights he’d read out loud from old family stories and we’d sit down during the week to trace our pedigree lines. We did our DNA tests one year and researched family history from the countries in our results. I LOVE family history because of my dad, so when I was heading to Scotland for a friend’s wedding, my Dad went along with me and we extended our stay in the land of our ancestors.
My Daddy-Daughter trip is one of the highlights of my life. Dad drove, I navigated, and we only got lost a couple times. He loves history and when my Dad got to see the RRS Discovery ship. it was like a 4-year-old on Christmas, he was so excited. I was grateful to be there and share that adventure with my daddy. We toured family history sites, tracked down headstones, and read family history stories along the way. Together we experienced the culture of our heritage. My Dad says I can hunt out a kilted bagpiper like a dog hunts out a bone. My dad’s a pretty good adventure buddy.
My dad has worked hard my whole life to provide for our family– always holding multiple jobs, leading our family with faith, and being an example of selfless service. Seeing this example, I grew up wanting to be like my dad! He is the Legend; I am his Legacy.