“A man who holds the priesthood regards the family as ordained of God. Your leadership of the family is your most important and sacred responsibility. The family is the most important unit in time and in eternity and, as such, transcends every other interest in life.”
-Pres. Howard W. Hunter
It was an oversized red plastic bat. On the west side yard outside of our small house in Orem is where I learned how to swing that bat. I was five years old, and it was just me and dad. He showed me how to hold my hands on the neck of the bat. Patiently guiding my right had to fit on top of my left as I gripped the plastic toy. That was lesson one. Then came the process of teaching me how to stand. “You don’t stand straight on toward the pitcher,” he instructed. He placed his hands on my small shoulders to show me the proper way to stand. I looked at my feet to see if they were lined up correctly with the paper plate that was acting as home. Yes, they were set. He reminded me about my hands as he showed me how to raise my elbow up, almost to my shoulder. Hands were in place, feet were set right, elbow up, now my head needed to turn towards the pitcher. Okay, set. There was a lot to think about. He helped me a few times get into the stance, then made me do it on my own while he stood on the pitcher’s mound (which was about 10 feet away) with an oversized plastic ball. I concentrated as he instructed me to and kept my eye on the ball. It took a few pitches and me swinging and missing until I finally connected. Whack! The ball sailed over his head. I was amazed, It actually worked! He looked at me with smiling eyes, “Nice hit! Now run!” So I ran around the tree, then to sprinkler on the corner, then to the edge of the orange flowers and back to where I started. And we did it again. Sometimes I missed. Sometimes I hit a grounder. Sometimes a pop fly. (Try not to hit it in the air like that.) But each time I swung, I received more instruction, or praise or encouragement to try again. Later lessons included a real glove. (We also had plastic ones – maybe they came with the red bat.) My dad was the one to teach me how to get down for grounders and never pull my head up or be afraid of the ball. Charge the ball. When you’re out there in the field, hope the ball comes to you. Stay low. Know how many outs you have. Know where you are going to throw the ball if it comes to you. Where are your runners? If you make a great play, don’t get too excited. Don’t forget to overrun first base. Then even later, a lesson in pop up slides, pointers on how to throw someone out at second from home plate. Dad’s lessons in my head each time I took the field, from tee ball to varsity softball. And even now, in the occasional diamond pick up game.
This is one small example of what my dad has done for me. He would probably say an occasional baseball lesson now and then wasn’t a big deal. He enjoyed baseball anyway, it was fun for him. But for his second born daughter, it was a gift. On Father’s Day, and everyday, I celebrate having a father in my life who cared about me. A father who wanted to teach me. A father who worked hard so I could grow up with teams and clubs and activities and interests.
Some people have no problem picking out a Father’s Day gift for their dad. Their dad might have hobbies. Wrap up another golf club, or a new fishing pole. My dad’s hobbies were his kids. So on Father’s Day, it’s hard for me to go to the store and pick out the perfect gift. My dad’s gift is, well, me. I married a wonderful man because I had an example of what a good man was. I love sports and being active because my dad played games with me and taught me soccer, baseball, raquetball, and black ape. I have a testimony that Jesus Christ is my Savior because my dad taught me from the scriptures and he himself lived a Christ-like life. I am fulfilled in serving others because my dad did. I am honest. I am loving. I am hard-working. I am competitive. I like spicy food. Everything in me that is good, I can give back to my dad, because he had it first.
Thanks Dad. Happy Father’s Day.