Lessons From My Fathers

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Dad and I followed this pattern each time we attended the priesthood session together. Over the years, as my younger brothers turned 12 and were ordained deacons, they joined my dad and me in our tradition of attending conference and going out for milkshakes afterward. It became a special time for the priesthood holders in our family to gain strength from each other and from leaders of the Church.

What’s the best thing you learned from your parents?

My earliest childhood memory is of my father exploring bluebells on a peaceful hillside with me. Father loved to share the beauty of his surroundings, so he and I often enjoyed the outdoors together when I was young and eager to discover what the Lord had created. One day while exploring, my father showed me where a blackbird had nested. I remember his gentle reverence as, in breathless silence, he lifted the green branches of the tree so that we could peer in awe at the perfect blue eggs. Other days held more discoveries. I also learned to recognize beauty in the people with whom I associate.

I have become a more understanding wife, mother, friend, daughter, and teacher because I can see each person individually as a cherished son or daughter of God.

I had just gone through a painful divorce. Dad did the best he could to help heal their broken hearts. Often he took my son, Devin, to Scouting and other activities to provide opportunities for him to have good experiences. Dad picked up the girls from school and helped them get to their activities. Dad helped get my oldest daughter to her piano lessons and took all of the children swimming and sledding. Dad encouraged me in my youth to develop my talents and skills, including my abilities in sports and other physical activities.

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My Dad Turns 100: 13 Critical Life Lessons I Learned From My Father

I remember playing basketball with him in the driveway, with him teaching me how to dribble, pass, and shoot. We would play catch in the backyard, and he taught me how to hit a baseball. When I was old enough, my parents signed me up for Little League, and my dad was often there to cheer me on. He supported me when I wrestled and played tennis, and though he was never much of a Scouter himself, he always encouraged me to be involved and go on bike rides, hikes, and camping trips. Additionally, we often worked in the yard as a family and always had our individual inside chores.

These things have helped me become who I am today.

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There was probably only one thing my dad loved more than work, and that was getting me and the other kids to work alongside him. On the dairy farm we had to get up at a. He would whistle through the foggy air as he walked to the milking parlor. Most important, Dad taught me that work for the Lord deserves and requires enthusiasm, energy, creativity, dedication, and quality. He inspired me to be dedicated to working for the Lord and His family. My father was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer when he was only Our family was devastated.

The tumor in his brain made simple tasks and abilities, like using silverware and buttoning up his shirts, very difficult for him. I remember trying to hold back the tears one morning as I watched him struggle to spoon cereal into his mouth. One rainy weekday afternoon I discovered Dad having difficulty dressing himself in his Sunday suit. Finally I realized he was preparing to go home teaching.

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I worried that Dad would lose his balance and fall while out in such a condition, so I tried to discourage him from going. The family he was supposed to visit would surely understand, I told him. But he was determined, and go he did. As a result of his excessive absences from school, my father failed several grades. His motivation to learn evaporated, and at the age of 16, he dropped out. He seemed so ashamed and saddened to not have been able to help his five children with their lessons in school.

He explained that he memorized the passages that my mother read aloud to him over and over. When I heard that, I loved my father more than ever. He was a remarkable man and it was at that moment that I vowed to teach him how to read. Whatever lessons my teacher gave me at school, I shared with my father. I taught him the sounds and patterns of language as I learned them.

Postscript: Joe McGinniss (1942-2014)

When I read a story at school, I came home and taught my father to read it. When I struggled with a new concept, he struggled along with me. In return, he helped me find mnemonic devices to memorize items that I needed to pass tests. Soon he learned to write simple stories and poems.

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Then he was able to write quotations and jot down notes that he needed for his sermons. The proudest moment of my life came when my father read the scripture—really read it— for his Sunday sermon.

My Dad Turns 13 Critical Life Lessons I Learned From My Father

In doctors diagnosed my father with terminal lung cancer, and he died nine months later. During those final months, he read the Bible from Genesis through Revelation. His proudest moment was when he closed the Bible, knowing he could read all that was written inside it. Before my father died, he thanked me for the gift that I had given him. Because of my father, I believe that if I can spare one child the heartache and humiliation of illiteracy, my career as a teacher is wholly worthwhile. Thank you, Father.

What My Dad Taught Me

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