Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More Valuable Than Gold

“No man is too rich or too poor to play with his children.”
Bryant S. Hinckley, Not by Bread Alone [1955], 84

Just as mothers have a unique role in a child’s life, fathers are important and influence children in a way that only they can. I am grateful for a father who was willing to spend time with me when I was growing up. I remember him teaching me Army exercises like keeping my arms up on my sides until they ached when we lived in Georgia, eating his Army ration peanut butter (gross!), playing baseball in the backyard and handball on the porch on Phillips Avenue, him being willing to wear a wig during a silly game at a daddy-daughter primary activity (too bad I can't get my scanner to communicate with my computer!), and him waking up when it was still dark outside every single day to take me to early morning seminary and even going outside before me so he could warm up the car for me in the winter. I love you, Daddy.
My children adore their father and love to spend time with him. I love to see them laughing and playing together. I hope that they have many sweet memories to pass on to their children.
“When I was called to be a mission president, I was fearful that at a most critical time in the lives of my eight children I might not have sufficient time to be a good father. I was determined that being a father was a more important call from the Lord than being president. That meant that even though I would dedicate myself to the mission, I would double my dedication as a father. I knew that in order to preside effectively in the mission, I must first preside well at home. I spent much time with my family, knowing they were the only ones who would still be mine at the end of my mission. If they felt secure and happy in the early days of our mission, things would go from good to better.
“One of the first orders of business was to throw a big rope over a high limb on the huge ash tree that towered over our front yard. [A missionary] climbed the rope and tied it to the limb. Thus the giant mission home swing was born. With the swing came instant neighborhood friends for our younger children.

“A few months after our arrival, we attended a mission presidents’ seminar. Each president, asked what he felt was his best idea so far, reported on some program which he felt had enhanced the work. When my turn came, I said, ‘The best thing I’ve done so far is to build a swing.’ Everyone laughed. President S. Dilworth Young was amazed and asked, ‘What?’ I described the swing and explained that my major goal was to be a good father. … The swing became my symbol of this setting of priorities. Later came a basketball standard and a sandpile. Our yard became a park where I spent much time with my children and where they settled for three happy years. I believe they will forever remember with joy their time in Kentucky and Tennessee.”
George D. Durrant, Love at Home, Starring Father [1973], 18–20

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