I decided to write a letter to my dad for Father’s Day, so I went to my parents’ house to find photos and reminisce. While there, my mom told me a really neat story about this “Wickey Mouse” photo. My dad, a part-time painter, loved this photo of 3-year-old Jody so much that he carried it around in his pocket. It ended up with some paint spots. I think the speckles add a nice touch. I’m sure Wickey Mouse agrees.
Remember when you and Mom welcomed me into the world at the same hospital where you were born, a coincidence that I always thought was pretty neat?
Remember when we visited our new home when I was 5 years old and I stepped on the wet cement and left the long-lasting footprints of a curious kid on our front sidewalk?
Remember when I started playing baseball like my dad but then you (rightfully) got furious at me after I threw my bat against the backstop and scared the daylights out of a woman? And how it was kinda fitting that I then sat in a big wad of gum?
Remember when we’d go to Dee’s Hamburgers on Mondays when they offered 25-cent burgers, but you’d tell us we couldn’t get fries or sodas because we had chips and drinks at home?
Remember when you’d take my brothers and me to work with you at Bonneville Junior High in the summer? And we’d think you were a cool spy when you told security your Charlie something-something password? And I’d think it was awesome to hang out with my well-liked Dad and play archery or golf and help you change sprinklers and explore places in the school students didn’t get to go? And I’d make sure people knew that you were a custodian, not a janitor? And adoring school employees would tell me how great you were and how you’d say funny things like when you visited an older co-worker in the library and joked, “I came to check out the librarian”?
Remember when we had a Scouts sleepover in the Peters’ backyard and I accidentally wet the bed and you lent me your to coat to wear and cover up my pants and then took me home so nobody else would know?
Remember when you called my dorky fifth-grade teacher a name and I blabbed out to him, “My Dad said you’re a fruitcake!” the next time I got in trouble and then we both got in trouble
Remember when we used to celebrate getting our income taxes back every year with a family dinner at Skippers for all-you-can-eat fish & chips, chowder and coleslaw?
Remember when you told us about having cool cars and had to sell your 1960-something Corvette to start a family and then ended up with an old station wagon with wood panels, a blue Falcon and that big brown cow of a car that I backed up into the corner of the chain-linked fence?
Remember when you helped us fall in love with the outdoors, camping and fishing each summer by taking us to Mill Hollow Campground for the best week of every year? And how we’d sit around the campfire and roast marshmallows and listen to your stories about the good ole days and gaze at the starry sky without a care in the world? And how your favorite place in the world became my favorite place in the world?
Remember when you’d come home from your tiring full-time job as a custodian — not a janitor! — and then you’d head off to the Karen Lee Apartments to paint walls (and parts of your head, clothes and my photo) to help make ends meet?
Remember when years later you’d work at the Rainbo gas station as a part-time job while Tommy, Kelly and I were on Mormon missions and you’d joke with people that you sold beer and cigarettes so that your sons could teach the Gospel?
Remember when we used to butt heads — I did inherit your temper, after all — and the teenage version of me would smart off and you’d let me know you were strong enough to throw me through a wall but thankfully you never actually did?
Remember when I was in high school and we sat on the front porch and you shed tears while explaining how tough marriage could be sometimes but how you always loved and took care of that cute carhop from FrostTop?
Remember when you teased me (over and over) about the time our dog ran off and I found a similar-looking dog that had been run over a few miles away and then you noticed that he had a certain anatomical part that our female dog didn’t?
Remember when I called you while I was freaking out about getting hitched and you made me feel at peace about my decision to marry Heather?
Remember when I was devastated after making a mistake with a girlfriend and I trusted you and Mom so much that we were able to have an amazing and comforting conversation about life
Remember when you gave up your Pall Mall cigarettes and beer and started going to church and becoming more spiritual after being hounded by Mom and us kids? And how you took our family to get sealed in the Jordan River Temple, which is a big deal in our religion? And how you would pray in your car in the driveway before leaving for work every morning at 4:30?
Remember when we used to go to Grandma and Grandpa Genessy’s house all the time and sit at the table chewing the fat and drinking Diet Coke?
Remember when you sounded great while singing Neil Diamond and Elvis and anything else on the radio or in our 8-track cassette player? And how, years later, Josh Groban became your favorite singer and the song “To Where You Are” was so special after Grandpa died?
Remember when we took that awesome family vacation in Hawaii when three guys asked me if I wanted marijuana while we walked around Honolulu? And other fun family vacations, school trips and adventures at a local amusement park, Lagoon? And Sunday drives to the Nu-Crisp popcorn place in SugarHouse and the airport to watch planes?
Remember when you couldn’t stay mad at Kelly and I after we gave away your big, furry, incredibly warm Army coat to a homeless man named Pierre?
Remember when we used to sit in the front room and watch sports and chitchat about this and that and tease each other about who was better between your Miami Dolphins and my far superior Pittsburgh Steelers? And how you threatened to stop letting me watch sports after I kicked a hole in your front room wall after my college football team lost? And how we went to a game in the 1997 NBA Finals between the Jazz and Bulls with Uncle Butch and Natalie?
Remember when you were in the hospital and I told you that BYU’s football team lost to Utah 3-0 on a cold, snowy Saturday in 2003 and the only words you could muster up were a soft and disgusted, “Oh, brother”?
And remember when I gave you a hug and started to leave the hospital room that same day and the last words I ever heard you say were, “Love you”?