Father’s Day 2007

I’m not what you would call a "Father’s Day" kind of guy. Oh, I don’t have a problem with everyone else honoring their dads . . . I just don’t like being the object of honor myself. I still have a long way to go in the fatherhood department before I feel worthy of any honorifics.

When I think of truly great patriarchs, I think of Cassia’s grandfather Verland Glenn Kofoed, who passed away of causes incident to age at the end of March. Grandpa Kofoed was one of the sweetest and kindest men I’ve ever met, and the more I learn about him the more I admire him. The number of descendents (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even a few great-great-grandchildren) who came for his funeral in Fruitland, Idaho, practically filled all of the padded benches in the LDS chapel proper. No kidding. At the close of the service, we all stood and sang a song called "Good and Kindly Parents" to the 30 or 40 people who were unrelated to the man seated toward the back of the hall. It’s a beautiful piece of music. The final phrases of the chorus describe being able to comprehend a home in heaven with loving heavenly parents because of the love that was nurtured within the home on earth. Singing those words in a family choir of over 200 people, I literally felt my soul expand. It was a powerful experience.

For the past three years, I’ve found it hard to separate Father’s Day from the birth of my firstborn son, Jonathan, who unexpectedly entered this world the night before Father’s Day in 2003. Now every time I think of Father’s Day I think of his birthday, and try (unsuccessfully, I might add) to divert Cassia’s attention to that day instead. She insists on honoring me, though, so I usually let her. Usually.

This year she gave me Criterion’s new three-disc DVD set of Kurosawa’s masterpiece Seven Samurai (now somewhat amusingly nestled between Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Shrek on my impeccably alphabetized film shelf) and a truly lovely homemade Father’s Day card with pictures of Jonathan and Emma, with individualized scribblings from each child on the inner pages and a heartwarming personal note from her on the back. That woman still manages to melt my heart.

This year The Wall Street Journal printed several thoughtful essays on fatherhood. Thankfully, the best one is also freely accessible to non-Journal subscribers. I won’t tease it for you, but please take a moment to go read it. I’ve already created a PDF of the article for permanent inclusion in my archive of inspirational talks and stories (a category usually reserved for LDS authorities). I think the author holds out a lot of hope for people like him and me, men who want to be great fathers but rarely sense any greatness within them. The secret is to do as Glenn Kofoed did: be there for your children (and later, their children) every day. Honor them as they learn and grow, stumble and fall, and they will return to honor you.

"Boys to Men," by Tony Woodlief (15 June 2007)

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