Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Race of Life...

April has come and gone.
It's been a hard time for me to blog this month.
I wanted to, but knew the very next words needed to be of gratitude and love for my Dad.
Before I could post any more puppy pictures, or self portraits of my day to day life.
I need to try and put into words some of my reflection of this month and things on my mind.

April 3rd 2012 it was my Dad's 82nd birthday!  I had thought about it all the week before, and could not ever come up with anything to buy for a man like him.  It had been that way for all the birthdays before that.  We would try, but gifts just felt like "things" and he isn't one to gather allot of "things".

Some of my favorite gifts we were able to make him were the talking photo... where Jacob recorded his voice over and over and over again until it was just the message he wanted to save.  That photo still sat beside his chair in the den, and Mom said he played it over and over again to hear his grandsons voice.

Another favorite gift was the year my sister and I decided to combine two of his favorite things.  Grapefruits and Orange Marmalade.... Grapefruit Marmalade.  We found a recipe and cute little jars and labels and we made him an entire case of it!  I think the case is still sitting in his garage, and I know I still have a jar among my never to be eaten old canning failures.

So April 3rd I called him during my lunch break on his birthday to wish him a Happy Birthday... he wasn't really feeling well. But we talked for a few minutes.  I know he knew how much I loved him.  I heard later that he told my sister when she visited him for his birthday... that "Beth had already called and wished him first!"  He was always trying to get us into a competition with each other.  He loved nothing more than what we fondly referred to it as "stirring it up."  And the more he liked you, the more he would stir to cause your blood to boil in anyway he could find possible.  If he got you to cry, or curse it was just a bonus for him and delighted his soul to know he could push your button and get a reaction!!
I always thought of that as sick humor, but it was how he showed love and it was my Dad through and through.

If he liked you, he would give you a nickname.  It was pretty trendy to get a nickname that was not flaterring, but they always had a ring to them.  In my teenage years he tagged me with "Bethaleen" and the more I asked him to stop calling me that in front of my friends, the more he would say it... I think he even made up a song to sing.

He went with me to buy my first car and left the lot after haggling with a salesman.  They were $50 apart and I begged and pleaded to pay the difference myself if he would just give in and buy it.  But he turned and never looked back.  I pouted and sulked and didn't speak to him for a really long time and one night he took me to ice cream... I was as stubborn as he was and a little ice cream was not going to win me back over.  But we pulled into the parking lot and there was "my car" with a handmade sign in the license plate that said "Bethaleen".  He was soft inside, he just didn't show it.

I remember working for him, unloading trucks and trying so hard to do everything right.  It was the best feeling in the world to please him, and have him show you he was proud of you. He had a hidden expectation for us kids that far exceeded his expectations for others which was 100% everytime, everwhere, and in everything!  So no pressure, but his quality and integrity of service in his company was apparent and like a magnet if you got close and knew anything about it, you were drawn to it and felt like you belonged.  It was family!
One day I worked next to a young man who did not get that vision and was working slower and with less enthusiasm than he should.... I could see my Dad with purpose in his walk from clear accross the warehouse as he walked closer to us as if to be on a mission.  I just knew this boy would be getting his wrath, when all of a sudden he lit into me and gave me the lecture I was just sure belonged to everyone BUT me!!  Was he blind, I thought?  I am the hardest working one out here!!  I was so fired up, I worked harder than ever, but so boiling mad. Unfair, unwarranted, totally misdirected!!!! The boy, in fear, stepped it up beside me too.  It was a lashing of words I will never ever forget.  Again, my stubborn streak flared up and I was so smoking mad.  When the job was done, I wasn't speaking to him EVER again!!!  I went into the office to finish up some paperwork at my desk, so when I decided to finally tell him I was quitting, I would be ready to walk out.... and opened my top drawer to retreive a pen to find a giant size candy bar, of my favorite kind. My heart softened and it all came to my mind in a very clear manner, his intent and his ways were not always traditional, but it worked for him.  We worked harder than we had ever worked before that night.... it was the record turnaround he needed to satisfy a customer I am sure.  He was soft on the inside, but if anyone really knew or went around talking about it, it would ruin his reputation.  Traditional no, but effective oh yes.

I knew I was loved and even though he was a man of few words about it, he showed it in everything he did for me.  In everyway, at all times and in all things!!  I never did take on his teasing ways, but at times when Jim and I wonder where Jacob got his sense of humor I wonder if all the time Papa spent with him rubbed off on our son.  For something that annoyed me so much as a teenager, it is one of the most endearing qualities I love about Jacob.  So skipping a generation sure did wonders.
I didn't know it at the time, but the birthday phone call would be the last time we talked to each other.  That night he had a massive heart attack, and never regained conciousness.  I was able to fly to Seattle and arrived Thursday morning.  I stayed with Mom and we were inseperable that week.  We prayed together and laughed together and were just quiet by his side together.  Those will always be precious moments in my memories.

That Saturday April 7, 2012 he passed away.  I know he was attended by angels and greeted with many many loving arms of his parents and sisters and his brother and daughter who preceded him.  That gives me great joy!  I knew all of them except his Dad and I can't wait to be with them too!!

For certain the very hardest part was the waiting to inform Elder Dayley.  They were so close!  They were partners in crime for a very very long time!  He handled it well and with a great deal of maturity.  I know his Papa was there with him for days afterward to show him signs of his love.

Just days prior in General Conference  President Thomas S. Monson
spoke about The Race of Life ... and I loved some of his thoughts... he shared about a lady who when heard of her diagnosis of a terminal disease knew that she would be spending her last moments with her family, it was some of what I felt with my Mom...

"Such moments of clarity come to all of us at one time or another, although not always through so dramatic a circumstance. We see clearly what it is that really matters in our lives and how we should be living.
Said the Savior:  “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”1
In our times of deepest reflection or greatest need, the soul of man reaches heavenward, seeking a divine response to life’s greatest questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where do we go after we leave this life?"
I am so grateful for the Gospel and that we have the scriptures to help us find these answers.  They do not have to be a mystery.  We can know of a surety where we go after we leave this life.  I am enjoying learning these things in the context of my Dad.
This past month, I feel like I have not greived the passing of my father much, but been able to remember sweet memories with him.  And I have had an overwhelming amount of peace and comfort since his death.  I miss him so much.  And there is a void in my life where he would tease and taunt me and make me laugh and stir me to frustration... that would eventually help me to grow in a way I never knew I needed to.
I am grateful that we never stop learning and growing... even in Heaven we can continue to progress.  I know that God lives and He sent a Savior, His only begotten son, to accomplish an atonement for each of us.    I am so grateful for the plan of Happiness, and the divine plan He has established for us as families, that has provided a way to be sealed together forever.  And I am so grateful for His Grace and comfort in my life.

I love and will miss my Dad for a time, but I know that I will see him again.  And I want him to be proud of what I have done with my life between now and that time.  I hope that he can turn to God in Heaven and say "Yep, that's my daughter too".


heidi said...

Thank you for posting this, Beth. What wonderful memories and feelings. It is sad to lose a dad, but the memories soften the blow.

Robert and Kristen said...

I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your Dad! You are an amazing woman, it was fun to learn about your Dad. You are in my thoughts and prayers!

Lindsey said...

Oh Beth... I can barely type as I am crying like a baby. I never knew your dad but he was one of the first people you spoke of when we first met and you shared many, many stories of him over the years. I know how much you loved him. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. Praying for God to wrap his arms around you during this time, especially Jacob... I know how very close they were.

Donna Lynn said...

When a man has 19 lives it is hard to believe he is finally gone. I find myself continually thinking I need to run by and see him or I need to ask him something and then remembering he is no longer there. I truly believe he was proud of each one of us. He was extremely influential and a part of him is who we are today. I can't even imagine the celebration he had when seeing Kenneth, Mama Moody, Cheryl Ann, his dad and sisters, Peg Brown, and his other close friends and family. He is at peace with the Lord. Love you.

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