My Two Favorite Men

Dad & I Snowmobiling

1980 – Dad & I snowmobiling

I have fond childhood memories of my dad. He works hard and plays the same way. The construction business he started with his brother, Harold, before I was born gave me the opportunity to learn how to work at a young age. Dad sometimes took me to work with him and it was a joy to sit between his legs or at his side while he operated the backhoe, which was a lot more fun than spraying water on the construction site to keep the dust under control. The highlight at the end of the day was the ride he’d give me in the bucket. In my teenage years I learned bookkeeping from him as I worked by his side doing billing, cost accounting and payroll for the employees. However, dad didn’t just teach me how to work, he also taught me to enjoy the mountains and lakes around us with hiking, boating and snowmobiling.  If I were asked to choose a favorite out of all my wonderful memories, it would be of our horseback riding adventures when it was just Dad and I, one on one, having a good time together.

One of Dad’s best traits is his patience. He never makes me feel foolish when I do thoughtless stuff. When I’ve made mistakes, he concentrates on the solution, not the error and he’s helped me overcome some doozies. I’m sure he can fix anything and go to him often with a problem. He is wise and loves people, especially me, unconditionally. He knows just what to say and when to just listen. He builds my self-esteem by making me feel like I can accomplish anything and with his help, I can.

Dad and Mark

1980’s – Dad and Mark boating

I love this picture, not only because it’s two of the best men I know, but I see and feel the adoration and enjoyment they have for one another. I am so fortunate because my two favorite men love each other. My folks always refer to their in-law children as bonus children. I must say and believe they would agree they won the jackpot when I married Mark.

I appreciate the wonderful father Mark is to our two children. He has taught them all the important things in life, but has taught them in a much different way than most fathers do. Some quotes from our daughter’s written story, Dad Creating Beauty After Tragedy:

“The scene of my life drastically changed, after the car accident, and so had my dad’s. But like Bob Ross transforming a dark and ugly line of paint into a ‘happy little tree,’ I saw my dad use his tragic and life-changing disturbance to create a new kind of beauty.

He taught me the value of perseverance as he pushed through strenuous therapy. He learned to feed himself and speak again. He liked to say P.T. (physical therapy) really stood for ‘pain and torture.’

1992 – Mark kissing Katie. His ability to wrap arms around her came months later.

He showed me how burdens can be lightened by having a sense of humor. He often told people the scar on his stomach from the feeding tube he had was really a second bellybutton, which made him ‘twice the man.’

My dad (who wasn’t expected to live) not only survived, but thrives with a positive attitude. I’m blessed to call him Dad.”

Other quotes from Katie’s written story, Part II:

“After I had been married for about a year, my parents met me for lunch at a restaurant. We were quietly eating when I looked around the crowded room and realized my dad was the only person there in a wheelchair. I wondered if that ever bothered him. My thoughts were interrupted when my dad sat up in his chair with a big smile on his face and declared, “I’m the luckiest guy here!”

‘Why?’ I asked.

He replied, ‘Because I’m sitting next to the two most beautiful women in this room.’ Dad’s so busy looking for the good in every situation he doesn’t have time to notice the bad.

DadAndMe 2013

2013 – Katie & Mark

My dad has taught me the keys to happiness through his example. He chooses to be happy by having a sense of humor, being productive, forgiving, grateful and maintaining hope. My dad once said, ‘Adversity is the exercise that strengthens the muscle of character.’ I think my dad’s muscle of character has Hercules strength.”

One of Mark’s favorite childhood memories is the “way boss” swing his dad built for him when he was a kid. He built a beam between two trees about 30 feet off the ground. A rope was tied to the middle of the beam, creating the swing. Since his dad was a carpenter, at the bottom of the rope was a seat made from a gunny sack filled with sawdust. His father also built a ramp next to the swing so he could carry the swing up the ramp and jump off the top. Other fond memories are the clam digging adventures he went on with his dad and the wonderful home he took three years to build, working after his regular work hours.

Dads have a huge impact in our lives, whether they realize it or not. Hopefully, on this day your dad and mine will know how much we appreciate all the good they have done for us.

Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful men out there loving and caring for others!

Unconditional Love

Dad & I SnowmobilingWhen I reached adulthood I realized not all parents loved their children unconditionally. It was a heartbreaking experience as I witnessed a parent withdrawing their love and concern for their child because they didn’t act or accomplish the things the parent thought they should. At that time I vowed to love our children the way my parents loved me—unconditionally.

No matter the test score, or school grade, an argument, a strong belief, or a life changing decision, the love remained the same. That isn’t to say they never showed disappointment, but they did it in a way in which I knew the bond between us was unchanging and unconditional. Believe me, in my teenage years, I tested the limits and no matter what, they still loved me.

Dad was especially good at understanding me and knowing just what to say and how to help. My appreciation for his empathy has grown since the car accident, beginning when Mark’s neurosurgeon walked into the waiting room outside of the I.C.U. where we had been waiting for what seemed like forever.  He said, “We’ve successfully placed a shunt in Mark’s head to relieve the pressure on the brain. The next 24 hours are very critical. His injuries are catastrophic and we don’t know the amount of damage done to the brain. We’re not sure he’ll make it through the night. He’s in a coma and we don’t know if he’ll ever come out of it, but you can go in and see him now.” He left the room without one encouraging word or any glimpse of hope for the future.

Unbelieving at what I’d just heard, I looked at my parents and said, “This can’t be happening. It feels like a nightmare!” I wanted to see Mark, but I was afraid. I imaged how terrible he’d look with a shaved head, shunt, drain, and other equipment hooked up to him keep to him alive. Dad understood my hesitation and said, “Why don’t I go see Mark first.” A few minutes later he came back to the waiting room and gave me the first optimistic words I’d heard in hours. “Mark’s coloring is good and he looks better than I expected.” Dad’s encouraging words were just what I needed to hear to give me the courage to see Mark. I appreciate Dad’s example of looking for the positive, no matter what the circumstances.

Later that night, Dad gave Mark a Priesthood Blessing. More than twenty-three years later, I still remember some of the words he said, but more importantly I remember the love, concern and compassion I felt from his blessing. That was the first of many blessings he has given Mark since the car accident. Each one was given with the same sincere feelings. I’m so grateful Dad is a righteous and religious man.

The day after the accident, the doctor told us Mark needed some high-top boots to prevent foot drop. Dad ran to the nearest shoe store and bought Mark a pair. When he got back to the hospital he carefully put them on Mark, who was lying in bed in a coma. I noticed the boots came from a Payless Shoe Store and commented how much Mark disliked Payless Shoes. Dad tapped Mark’s foot as a gesture to wake him and said, “Good! Mark, you’ll have to wake up and take them back yourself. I’ve still got the receipt, but you’ll have to hurry to meet the return policy.” Dad has a great sense of humor and uses it often to lighten the mood.

A couple of weeks after the accident, Dad was driving me home from the hospital and I asked him if we could stop by the house Mark and I were wanting to buy. It was under construction and I was curious about the progress and if the home was still for sale. Dad hadn’t seen it yet and I was anxious to show it to him, so he agreed. He thoughtfully listened and was interested as I told him of our plans for each room as we walked through the home. Not once did he stop my rambling to remind me of our present situation and how those dreams would not be a reality. His understanding and allowing me to share my dream with him helped me come to my own realization, in my own time, which helped me make closure when I was ready.

Dad is compassionate and thoughtful. Several months after the accident my parents thought I needed a break from the rehab center. Dad wanted to take me to dinner and a dance. I don’t think Dad realized this was at the same location Mark and I had taken ballroom dance lessons. We ate our dinner and then Dad took me out on the dance floor with his famous Fox Trot moves. I really did love dancing with him and in my youth we even won 1st place in a Polka dance at a church Daddy-Daughter Contest. But at the moment, I was missing Mark and started to cry. Dad was surprised by my emotion and asked me what was wrong. I told him it didn’t feel right for me to be there and I was missing Mark. We immediately left the dance floor and our dinner date ended without dessert. I’m sure he was disappointed the evening hadn’t turned out the way he’d planed, but he didn’t try to change my mind. He took me right back to the rehab center to be with Mark.

Scan0093Dad’s construction knowledge made it possible for him to direct my brothers in building an addition that would allow Mark to have care at home. He is a hard worker and never dodges a challenge. He has taught his children to do likewise and after a full day’s work, my dad and brothers spent many evening hours building our addition. Without Dad, it would have been nearly impossible for me to bring Mark home.
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Whenever Mark hears me say “my dad” he corrects me by saying, “You mean our dad.” I know Mark’s right—their bond couldn’t be stronger if they were blood related. In fact I tease Mark that he is the favorite child because “my” dad didn’t have to raise him. There isn’t anything that is more endearing to me than to have two of my favorite men love and respect one another.

Dad, Mark & IDad is our hero and a perfect example
of giving unconditional love.  I’ve been blessed my whole life to be his daughter. He’s the best dad I know and I’m so glad he’s mine.

Happy 86th Birthday, Dad. I want to grow up to be just like you with the ability to love others as they are while helping them to be better. I love you!

Some fun old pictures of Dad working and playing.

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Dad playing horse

Dad shoveling snow

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Dad building shed

My Angel Mother

My MotherAbraham Lincoln said it perfectly and I couldn’t agree more about my own mother. Her example and unconditional love has brought me to where I am today, and I definitely know that everything I am or ever will be I owe to her. May is the month we honor our mothers and today just happens to be my mother’s birthday. She is also the world’s best caregiver so it’s triple fitting that I write about her today.

I’ve always known my mother loved me, but since the car accident it has become even more evident. She has been by my side nearly every day since then.

When I was eighteen I was anxious to be independent and to experience life as an adult so I moved out to be on my own. I was going to the community college, which was no reason for leaving home. I knew it broke my mother’s heart, but she loved and supported my endeavors even though she didn’t agree with them. They knew I would have been better off financially if I stayed home a few more years. We talked on the phone often and had Sunday dinner together nearly every week until I was married. I will be forever grateful to them for not giving up and for loving me even though I know I disappointed them.

My mother knows and understands me better than I do myself sometimes. When the car accident happened she knew just what I needed and gave me the love and support that carried me through some very hard days. I remember she even had to help me in the bathroom until my broken collarbone (in two places) healed enough that I could manage by myself with one hand. My mother would do anything for her children no matter their age. As I get older, I realize she would still do anything for her children no matter her age.

Since our car was totaled in the car accident and I was unable to drive with a broken collarbone, my mother drove me 120 miles every weekday so I could be with Mark during the day and our children at night while Mark was at McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden, UT . Weekends she took care our kids, Christopher and Katie so I could stay overnight at the hospital with Mark.

When Mark was transferred to Western Rehab in Sandy, which was located not far from my parent’s home, my mother was able and made it a priority to visit nearly every day. She was either watching the kids or visiting at the hospital. Because of her daily visits and Mark’s mother living out of state, many doctors, nurses and therapist thought she was Mark’s mother and was often called her Mrs. Wilson. My mother loves all her in-law children and treats them as her own. She calls each one a bonus child.

Mom, Dad, Mark & IIn 1996, five years after our car accident, we built a home together which is wheelchair accessible for Mark, so for the past eighteen years we have lived together. It’s brought some challenges with health issues, raising two teenagers and differences in how things should be done, but it’s been a great blessing for both Mark and I and we hope it’s been for them too. I can’t imagine how we would’ve gotten along without them.

My mother is a great example to me and some of my favorite traits about her are that she is:

Insightful – aware of others needs

 

Loving – unconditionally to all
Obedient – to God’s commandments
Virtuous – honorable and trustworthy
Educated – always seeking to learn new things

 

Youthful – care in her beautiful appearance
Organized – everything is always in its place
Unique – to me, for she is the best mom ever

 

And I’m so lucky that she’s mine! My world is a better place because of her.