Living over 2,000 miles from your family is an interesting thing. At some point you realize that almost everyone in your day-to-day life has never met the most important people in your life. You catch yourself telling stories (some would say too many stories) about them in hopes that the people around you will understand just how wonderful they are to come home to. It may seem like you’re talking them up, but you just can’t do some people justice.
Such is the case with the man we call, “Frankie J.” I must do a pretty good job of making him sound awesome because it is not uncommon for people to say, “I’d like to meet Frankie J.” And they should want to meet him. He doesn’t disappoint. He’s the greatest.
When I was a baby my mom wrote in my baby journal that one day she overheard my dad in my nursery talking to me in my crib. “If I had known what you were going to be like, I never would’ve wished for a boy,” he whispered. And ever since then, we’ve been best friends.
I sometimes think about how he was just 22-years-old when I was born. That’s five years younger than I am now. He was a baby! And yet, when he became a father he didn’t miss a beat. He was what every little girl should have in a dad.
You see, it was my dad who told me stories and sang me primary songs every night until I went to sleep. It was my dad who taught me the Articles of Faith when I was 4-years-old. It was my dad who took me with him to a college basketball game when I was 5 because he got offered tickets but had promised me a daddy-daughter date and he didn’t want to let me down.
It was my dad who taught me how important it is to keep the Sabbath Day holy by getting up at Midnight to study for Monday morning exams in law school. It was my dad who taught me about priorities by coming home almost every day to have lunch with us and by almost always coming home from work by 6 p.m. It was my dad who taught me how a woman deserves to be treated by always opening the car door for my mom and by always having her back.
He’s the guy who drove 20 minutes almost every night for months to take me to play practice so that I could be in “Annie,” even though I only had three lines in the whole play. In the end, we could quote the entire play together.
He is also probably the only grown man who read every book in a series called “Silver Blades” about teenage ice skaters just because he wanted to spend time with me. It was my dad who played countless games of one-on-one in the driveway with me. It was my dad who cried with me when Kelly Clarkson won “American Idol,” and who took me to see her in concert at least four times. But his love didn’t stop with his kids. It was freely given to everyone around him. I’ll never forget watching him make highlight films of the girls on my AAU basketball team in high school, which he then mailed out to colleges in an effort to help them get scholarships.
I never doubted that my dad loved me and my siblings but my understanding of his love changed when I was a senior in high school. My little brother, Spencer, had just measured in at over 6-feet-tall, a day my mom called the happiest day of her husband’s life, when he hurt his ankle and subsequently learned how to play the guitar. Basketball, the sport my dad loves almost as much as us, was immediately history as music became Spencer’s love. I expected my dad to be disappointed but I will always remember the night he drove 10 hours round-trip just to watch my brother’s band perform their first gig: a church dance.
Perhaps the greatest thing my dad has taught me is how much our Heavenly Father loves us. My brother Spencer was very small for his age as a little boy (hence my dad’s joy over his high school growth spurt) so when he went to his first midget football practice, it was a less than enjoyable experience. Poor Spencer could hardly do a jumping jack and the other boys were twice his size. After giving the first half of his first practice a valiant effort, Spencer came over to my dad’s car and said, “I don’t think this is for me. Let’s go get some milkshakes.” My dad told him he didn’t want him to be a quitter and to get back out on the field. My brother continued to make his case for why he didn’t think it was a good idea for him to play and why he really thought milkshakes sounded like more fun but my dad told him to go finish the practice and then he did the unthinkable. He cranked the car up and drove away.
It wasn’t until years later that my dad and Spencer compared notes on this experience. Spencer felt like my dad was being totally insensitive and that he didn’t care about him but he was left with no choice but to return to field. My dad explained to Spencer that driving away and leaving him there was one of the hardest things he had ever done. He told Spencer that he didn’t actually leave, he just drove to a spot where Spencer couldn’t see him and watched the rest of the practice just to make sure Spencer was OK.
Sometimes our lives are kind of like that. We feel like we can’t go on. We’re done with football practice and just want to go get milkshakes and yet, our Heavenly Father tells us to get back on the field. He tells us we can’t quit and sometimes we feel like He gets in the car and drives off, leaving us alone. But the truth be told, sometimes He is just parked somewhere we can’t see Him, making sure that we’re OK.
I wish every little girl in the world could have an earthly father like mine. I recognize that not everyone does and just thinking about that makes my heart hurt. But I do know that we all have a Heavenly Father who lives and loves us. Anything that is important to us is important to Him. He always has time for us. He will never leave us alone. We are separated from him for a time but nothing can separate us from his love. For now, it is up for us to tell others stories about Him so that they will want to meet him. He is the greatest. He will not disappoint.
Messages of Faith
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