|In the Sacred Grove|
I am enjoying the chance to recall a few favorite memories with my dad.
When I was small, I remember being (or at least feeling) selected out of 7 other children to be the one to join you on a quick Saturday night "date" to the grocery store. I felt like I had won the lottery. It didn't matter that we were probably just picking out some last minute items; I was so honored to be your date. I don't remember any details of that night -- just the feeling I had walking through the parking lot holding your hand and the way you would walk ahead of me then playfully pull me forward quickly. What a thrill to be your date. Now that I'm a mom, I think about that experience often and how it meant the world to me just to spend that one-on-one time with you at the grocery store. Sometimes a date to the grocery store is enough.
Fast forward several years. I was an awkward 12 year-old girl experiencing a "rough patch". I felt friendless at school and most the time tried to be invisible. One morning as I was heading out the door for school you said, "Remember: the keyword for the day is 'KEYS'." I was puzzled and tried to get you to explain what you were talking about, but I enjoyed the mystery of wondering what this keyword could mean. I wrote the word "KEYS" on my hand so I would not forgot the important word-of-the-day. I excitedly thought about it throughout the day. I concluded that I would probably have to search for a house key afterschool that day if I wanted to get inside. Then I heard my voice called over the intercom requesting me to come to the school's office for an early-release. When I got the office Chelise and Chenae were waiting to check me out of school. We went to the car where you were waiting. Someone had packed an overnight bag for me and after a brief explanation, the mystery had been solved: we were escaping the the FLORIDA KEYS for a daddy-daughter getaway (while you attended to some business in the area). How I needed that! I needed to feel important and it meant the world to that 'invisible girl' to feel like my busy dad made the effort to scheme and pull of that suprise for me.
Jump ahead a few more years when I was a lost soul trying to plan my life post-college graduation. I had the opportunity to work and live in Maui, Hawaii for several months and it seemed like just the life adventure for me. I had engineered my plans, but things were starting to fall through. It broke my heart when it became evident that I would have to work on Sundays while living in Hawaii. I had to make a decision and was completely torn about what to do. After some weeping, pacing and hand-wringing -- I called my dad and asked if I could come talk things over. We talked, you counseled and helped me consider the pros and cons about both sides of the situation. Finally, you gave me a Priesthood Blessing. I felt so much clarity about what I had to do. Suddenly there was absolutely no question that I had to turn down my Maui opportunity. How grateful I felt for a dad who could help me think clearly, who would support me and be in my corner no matter what decision I came to, but most imporantly who was worthy to hold the Priesthood and help me enjoy the blessings of the Priesthood power.
I can clearly remember sitting in a Sacrament Meeting in a college ward and having an ah-ha moment. I realized how much more I could understand about my Father in Heaven through reflecting on the relationship, parenting, and characteristics of my DAD on Earth. The way that Dad loved me, taught me, offered counsel when I came geniunely seeking it, yet allowing me the agency to choose for myself...these are all things that are present in my realtionship with Heavenly Father, as well. I feel like for the first time I could really understand the Parent/Child relationship that we have with God. As I've become a parent myself, I can appreciate this even more. I am grateful that I have a Dad who is such a good parent and that through my relationship with him, I can better understand my relationship with my Father in Heaven.
I love you, Dad.
Thank you for -- just being my Dad -- and being so, so, so good at it.
"Can Can Chicken"