It's Father's Day and this year I am focusing on my Dad instead of my husband... no, not because I almost forgot about Father's Day gifts this year and then couldn't afford the super awesome idea I had so now I have to improvise last minute and who wants to post about a last minute gift for the whole world? After all, I am all about keeping up appearances. So naturally, I am going to blog about my own Dad instead.
Ok, that isn't the real reason. The real reason is that I cut his completely gray hair the other day and got kind of freaked out because he looked like an old man, and not my Dad. And then I got scared that maybe I am not doing enough and saying enough and all of that stuff that scares you when you realize your dad is not 49 anymore. And instead of being normal and calling him- I am posting a blog, since I am still dysfunctional enough to avoid awkward sappy conversations with my family.
When I was leaving on my mission I had some friends come to my Missionary Farewell (an opportunity for a missionary who is about to begin their mission to speak in church before they leave). After the meeting these friends, who I have known since I was 14 years old, said "was that your Dad?" referring to the man who gave the opening prayer. "Yes" I answered a little confused. "Wow." they said "In all these years we have never actually met your Dad!" We had a pretty good laugh about the fact that they had known me for 9 years and never met my dad! But if you know my dad, you know he is not a "lime light" kind of guy.
I hate to admit that sometimes I have felt like I didn't even know my dad that well. We didn't have the easiest relationship growing up. (This is where me being an idiot comes in.) Now that I am raising Riley (who has some of my most ridiculous attributes) I can see why I might have been a difficult child. Stop laughing, Nelsons. And I think because of that and some differences in interests (who knew my dad didn't love parties and nail polish and that I didn't love bird watching and math) we weren't very close growing up. That is kind of hard to write for the whole world to read. (yep, the whole world has started reading my blog) But luckily I am growing up and a lot of that has changed.
So here goes a few of my favorite George Nelson highlights.
Graduation (1997) - after graduation the school wanted all of the grads going to the all night Grad Night to stay at the school while we waited for the buses to come (that would take us to gamble, dance, and eventually be hypnotized into stuffing my bra with a ton of napkins in front of the whole senior class) so that we wouldn't sneak out and get drunk, defeating the purpose of the all night Grad Night party. I was exhausted. And I was saying how much I wished I had an ice cold Diet Coke to give me a little boost for the night. Growing up LDS, caffeine had been strictly prohibited... ok, it was definitely frowned upon, and so the idea of my dad (a former Bishop) approving of his daughter consuming caffeine seemed highly unlikely. But the next thing I knew, my Dad left the excitement and picture taking to run up the road to 7-11 to get me a Diet Coke! It sounds really simple, but to me it was huge. It was my Dad saying "I know you. I know what you love, and even though I don't necessarily approve, I support you." Maybe it was just him saying "Kate, stop whining, I will go get you the Diet Coke if you will quit whining about it!" I like to think it was the first. :)
About a year later- during the new stage of Post Graduation Freedom I made some mistakes that I was not proud of. Mistakes that I knew would disappoint my parents. (Even worse than my Diet Coke addiction.) After seeking counsel from my Bishop down in Utah, I decided to call home to talk to my parents. I was pretty scared about how they would react, after all, I was their perfect angel! (Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. That may have been the funniest thing I have ever written on my blog.) After I talked to my Mom, who was really calm about the whole thing, she handed the phone to my Dad. I cried when I told him what I had done and how bad I felt and his response literally changed my life. My dad answered that he was proud of me. Wha?? He told me as a Bishop he had always counseled the youth to share their struggles with their parents and they rarely did. He was proud of me for applying the Atonement to my own life, and for being brave enough to go to my parents for help. And then, the best part, that he loved me. My entire perspective on the Atonement of Jesus Christ changed in that moment. My understanding of a loving Heavenly Father who cries with us, and desperately wants us to seek his guidance was personified in my own dad. I think that is a huge reason why I am still active today. I knew in that moment that the Savior would always be forgiving. I knew that mistakes were human and part of life. That using the Atonement to heal my broken heart would actually make my Heavenly Father (and my earthly father) proud of me! It is one of my most cherished memories with my Dad.
Some less significant, but still favorite moments, with my dad are from a trip we took as kids to Disneyland. I was about 12 years old, when dads aren't cool. And I remember my Dad handing us each $20 for food and $20 for whatever else we wanted to buy in the park. We were shocked! (For a family that shopped at thrift stores, and treated a snickers bar like a huge event, getting $40 handed to me by my Dad was like winning the lotto!) That is when I found out that my Dad has an extremely generous heart. Way more generous than I even realize. I know he has always given freely to our church, to programs that he loves like Boy Scouts of America, and even to his children. That $40 has gone along ways. Much farther than the cotton candy I bought.
One last attribute of my Dad's that I have always admired (and one of the things that I looked for in a spouse) is his ability to resist the temptation to gossip about people. I really have never heard my Dad say an unkind word behind someone else's back. I have never heard him say anything negative about any of my siblings or any of his friends or coworkers. I have seen him bite his tongue, and even cringe when others around him begin to gossip. In fact, when he does talk about anyone who isn't present it is always to praise them. (I should start having my sister record conversations with him because I know he is bound to compliment me at some point, and it is nice to hear.) He even has a saying about how "Small people talk about other people, average people talk about things, and great people talk about ideas." And he really lives what he says. The conversations we have had since I have become an adult (and not an idiot) have been uplifting and inspiring. This is one area where I fear I have fallen short of the example he set. ( I blame it on "being a talker", that I feel compelled to talk about everything and everyone.) But when I think of my Dad's example I am more careful to only talk positively.
So there it is. If you have ever wondered if my Dad really exists, he does. And I am grateful that he is my Dad.
Happy Father's Day.