A Mile In His Shoes: My Dad
Well friends. We’re in our new apartment. It has a balcony with a view of the Freedom Tower. It’s next to a train line (we can hear the train running by every 9 minutes or so — good thing there are only 2 cars on it!) And I finally made it out for a run with Madison (and the kids) this morning — after an entire week of just not having the time. Things are slowly but surely coming together and maybe (just maybe) in a couple of months our new place will be put together enough that maybe (just maybe) I’ll give a little tiny house tour. (Little and tiny because that’s how much space we have.)
But. It’s been months (months!) since I asked my dad to let me spotlight him here and I thought that now, with Father’s Day right around the corner (and with my notes from Women in the World still packed away), would be a good time to share the results.
So, without further ado, here’s my dad.
Who are you?
I have graduate degrees in Economics and have taught at universities both east and west of the Mississippi. Spent most of my career working at the administrative headquarters of a religious organization. Currently retired. I live in Utah, am married to Barbara Sue and have 12 children (7 boys, 5 girls).
Can you walk us through your typical day?
Being retired, I now spend most of my time doing things I always wanted to do but never had the time for. I just finished a multi-year project to renovate one-fourth of our large home to create a separate apartment.
Once each week I go to the homes of my grandchildren who live nearby and read to them. I’m once again training to run a marathon, so I try to work in a significant run nearly every day. I allocate time every day for intellectual stimulation. My favorite is home-based college lectures on a broad variety of topics. I’m the leader of a men’s group at my local church and am involved in other service opportunities as well.
What is your perfect day?
Making progress on something that matters to me. That involves me in activities I don’t necessarily enjoy in and of themselves, but I do immensely enjoy their outcome (see “do-it-yourself projects” indirectly referenced above). My perfect day includes some of this kind of progress, plus physical activity, intellectual stimulation, and making at least one thing just a little bit better.
What is one of your biggest challenges as a parent/person? How do you deal with it?
I want it to be easy to be me. But the me I want to be is better than the me I am. Closing the gap between the me I want to be and the me I am is my biggest challenge.
What is a story you always tell?
My memory no longer warns me that I’ve told a story before. I would have to consult my children to find out which are the stories that I repeat.
(As his daughter, I can say that there a couple of favorite stories. One of them is the time he was on a Boy Scout campout (possibly a Jamboree?) and he and a friend noticed that the Dutch ovens had just a few coals on them. Realizing the food would never get cooked with so little heat, they piled on a bunch more hot coals. Enough that not only was the food cooked, but the cast iron was too. If my memory of the story serves me right, it melted. The scout master was so amused he had the melted lid etched with their names and the dates of the scout trip — or something like that.
I also like the stories about when he was a kid and his mom never took him to the hospital — even when he got in a bike accident and nearly cut his ear off.
And it’s always fun to hear the birth stories from his perspective. All 12 of them.)
Do you like to run alone or in groups? Why?
I always run alone. The obvious reasons are that I’m slow and have trouble keeping up with a running partner, and that I become so winded that I can’t carry on a conversation with that person anyway. But there’s another reason behind these. I’m towards the introvert end of the scale. Some introverts, and I’m one of them, are best able to replenish their reserves when they are doing something alone. So I run for rejuvenation and renewal.
What is your best running moment?
When I feel like I’m at, or tying into, a beginning. So I love to run in the morning when the sun is rising over the mountains.
If you could do anything over, what would it be?
Raising a family, but not because I feel like I didn’t get it right the first time. I really enjoyed raising my family. There was always tons of energy flowing around me, emanating from my children. I got involved in new, interesting things that they were interested in, and that I wouldn’t otherwise have been part of.
(That’s Dad, nearly jumping the fence to cheer on his kids!)
What is your favorite mantra? (or what would you put on a t-shirt?)
[Drawing a total blank here.]
Do you have a power song? What is it and why does that motivate you?
When I was a teenager I read science fiction because it opened my mind to the biggest stage I thought there could ever be. Then about ten years ago a human resource consulting company came to my office and asked me a lot of questions that didn’t seem relevant to anything. Several weeks later they told me what they had found out. They said I was a person that always had to be involved in the most important thing, whatever that was. I thought nobody knew. It was true, and it was why science fiction thrilled me. Anything, including music, that opens the drapes of my mind and allows me to see a long ways off, either in space or in time, is a thing that motivates me and gives me power. At this point in my life, looking back at what has already happened and forward to what is yet to happen, just about any spiritual anthem is my power song.
What is your favorite book?
Good to Great. How small and unheralded things–consistently applied over a long time–can bring about big and beneficial change.
What’s for dinner tonight?
Whatever Barbara Sue fixes.
Here is a bit more about my father the runner . . . something I started a long time ago and still plan to finish— maybe even this year. Let’s give it up for my dad! (And thanks, Dad, for letting me spotlight you! Love you.)