Thursday, November 29, 2012

Dad


Every November we celebrate my dad’s birthday, and also mark the anniversary of his passing. This year was the ten year mark.



I rarely mention my dad in conversation, or on this blog, simply because it overwhelms me to describe to people who never knew him, exactly what they are missing. I just have no idea where to begin.

After ten years I still have no idea where to begin, but I’m finally willing to make an attempt. Here are ten things about my dad I would love for people to know.

10  My sophomore year in high school, an upperclassman passed me in the hall and said, “Hey Foutz! Tell your dad what’s up!” I didn’t know who he was, but later made the connection that he bagged Dad’s groceries at Safeway. It seems that during the time it took to load up his cereal and eggs, the two had become fast friends. That was very typical of Dad. He never met a stranger.

9  He was also the most popular kid on our street. When Dad’s car would pull into the driveway after work, it would be surrounded by bikes and scooters before he could even turn off the engine. He always made time to shoot baskets or pump up bike tires before coming in for dinner. It was not uncommon to answer the doorbell to a porchful of kids, asking if Jim could come out and play, or if he was available to attend their birthday party.  

8  Dad played guitar very well. From my earliest memories until I left home for college, he would sit at the foot of my bed whenever he had a free evening, and take requests.  Always at the top of my list were Puff the Magic Dragon, and Harry Chapin’s Cats in the Cradle. 

7  Dad learned Portuguese as a missionary in Brazil in the 60s, and thought that qualified him to strike up a conversation in Spanish with every Mexican we encountered. When he received high council assignments to speak in the Spanish branch, he refused to use an interpreter, but insisted on delivering the talks himself. I remember once he quoted a list by President Kimball of appropriate Sabbath day activities. When he got to “take a nap,” he paused, looked up and said “Gracias Presidente Kimball. Me gusta.”

6  Dad liked to say that his role in the family was to “drive and pay.”  He could spend an entire Saturday escorting my mom, sisters, and I on a shopping frenzy without uttering a single complaint. When asked if he was bored, or had any preferences, he would say, “Oh, don’t worry about me. I just drive and pay.”

5  His ability to retain knowledge was unmatched. In college, my coworkers and I invented a game.  We would go through the dictionary in search of the most obscure word we could find. When it was selected, I would call him, with everyone watching, and ask him to define it. If he could, I won. I was undefeated. 

4  Dad was a dentist, and I spent my summers growing up “working” in his office. From the front desk, I could observe changes in the demeanor of patients from the time they entered, to the time they left. No matter how nervous an adult was when they checked in, or how loudly a child was screaming, almost everyone came out laughing.  I was constantly coming up with excuses to wander into the operatory while he was working, because nothing made me prouder than being introduced to people as his daughter.

3  Dad was a talented athlete, and jumped at any chance to play. When the doorbell rang, he would say, “I bet it’s 19 guys looking for one more guy to start a softball game.” When my brother Jeff was in his 20s and joined a city league, Dad attended loyally. Once, when the team was short a player, Jeff suggested that his dad fill in. I’m sure there were serious reservations about a man in his fifties making any kind of contribution, but they had a need, and Dad just happened to have his mitt in the car. Not only did he surprise them with his abilities, but he became a permanent member of the lineup. One of the players later told us that they could be down 10 runs in 9th inning, and Dad would call out to his teammates, “Alright boys. We got ‘em just where we want ‘em!”

2  The saying goes that the best gift a man can give his children is to love their mother. There was no question how Dad felt about Mom. Every free moment was spent with her, taking her on errands, to movies, or cleaning up the kitchen as she whisked around preparing dinner. When Mom got fixed up and walked into a room, Dad would whistle so loudly we were certain the neighbors could hear. It was flattering at home, but a little embarrassing when we were out in public.  Especially when we were at Church. He wrote poems and hid them in the freezer for her to find, and showered her with praise in front of his kids. “Isn’t Mom the best cook?” “Doesn’t she make the house look so beautiful?” “Isn’t Susan a good-looking broad?”

1  I don’t have a single memory of my dad loosing his temper. Not one single memory. No matter how long his days at work, or how late into the night he was serving at Church, every time he walked through the door at the end of the day he would put down his briefcase, lay aside his troubles, and say the same thing. “It’s good to be home.”

Ten years ago, when he was suddenly gone, my family took great comfort in imagining him walking through the doors of heaven, setting aside the cares of the world, and declaring, "It's good to be home."

It wouldn't be heaven unless he was there.




29 comments:

Chrissy said...

Katie--thank you for sharing. Beautiful. Wish I could have known him.

Katie and Jeff said...

Made me cry Katie, you all are so like him. A joy to be around and if you still lived in my neighborhood, I would do what I did when we were little and come to the door every day to ask if Katie could play! #3 was my favorite.

Heather said...

What an amazing man your father was. He certainly raised an amazing daughter!

Memzy said...

This resonates with me in so many ways. It's been 2 1/2 years since we lost my dad and I often find myself trying to tell people what he was like and being overwhelmed by that as well. Though the stories a little different between our dads, the emotions connected to them are just the same. You started off my day with some happy and sad tears. Makes me feel grateful and very, very human and connected. One of my favorite things to feel. Thanks Katie.

Susan said...

Katie, I love this. You captured Dad's uniqueness perfectly.

Jenny B said...

I still can't walk out of a dentist office without feeling a little disappointed that I didn't laugh. Jim is one of a kind. And yes, Susan IS a broad.

Aileen said...

crying...crying...too overcome by this perfect description to say much

Marilyn said...

Scott misses his best buddy. Jim was quite a guy!

Kris Croft said...

Katie, thank you so much for sharing these thoughts about your dad. He had such a special spirit about him. I was so blessed to know him and to have him serve as my Bishop. He truly was loved.

Jen Garbett said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE! Katie, I can only imagine how 10yrs feels like an eternity and like it was just yesterday! He built an amazing family and like everyone has already said...you are all a reflection of him and giving joy to all you encounter. I distinctly remember the day of the funeral you got up to speak with SUCH AMAZING confidence, I remember thinking I couldn't comprehend how well you all seemed to adjust to his life on earth being cut short...but I know it's because your testimony is strong and you know he is doing good things in the heavens. It's interesting, I always picture heaven as such a quiet, reverent place and this post just made me think that maybe it isn't all that different and your dad is there, with kids and people flocking around him, making them laugh...

I hope the 10yr anniversary brings you extra love and peace...grief is so real and hard and sad...love and prayers for your family at this time!! You are amazing.

Maryann said...

I'm with Eileen... crying, crying, crying. I could totally picture him doing these things and hear his voice as you quoted him. He left such an impression on so many people, me being one at the top of the list!

Kristin said...

Really cool post. Tears, and I did not even have the pleasure of knowing him. Your dad sounds like an extraordinary person. I am sure he is proud of the amazing woman you are today!

Jenae said...

That was really beautiful. He is so inspiring.

jj

Allen and Amy Waples said...

Oh, katie I got to number three and I am stopping because I am now sitting here in a waiting room with tears running down my face. I have vivid memories of your dads laugh and genuine smile. What an amazing man. With love to all of you foutz. -amy

Jordan Hall said...

The Hall's sure love him! And y'all of course :) I remember him sneaking candy to me many times when I was upset or my parents said no. If I remember right, m&m's, candy corn, and suckers were the usual. And I remember thinking he was the funniest guy I knew and was always playing some kind of joke. He is mentioned quite a bit in our house. One of our favorite stories of him and your Mom was the marriage permission biker gang story. He was an amazing person! I remember thinking when we heard he had passed, that it must be because he was just too perfect to be part of this earth.

Mary Karlee Mullen said...

What a sweet tribute. I've often thought of the story you shared in Sunday School about finding your dad on his knees praying in the middle of the night. I'm so sorry you had to lose him at such a young age.

Dawn said...

Love it! Absolutely perfect! (The description and Jim himself) it never fails that I think of Jim every night as Jeff picks up the guitar. If the kids are restless and won't go to sleep, I tell them to quiet down so they can hear Daddy play the guitar, it works every time. I love that Jeff imitates him in so many ways, especially in how he loves to make kids laugh by running into walls and such. 10 years, and it still stings like it was yesterday.

Lexy and Jared said...

I love that thought that it wouldn't be heaven without him there. So beautiful and simple, and it resonates with everyone who's ever lost a loved one. You are a gorgeous writer, Katie. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Julie Knowlton said...

Beautiful. This post. Your Dad. You. All of it. The incredible legacy he left behind is only a reflection on him. I truly feel honored to have been able to call him my uncle. :)

Estella said...

Such lovely, inspiring thoughts, Katie. Your father was obviously an amazing man. I know he has an amazing daughter! The beautiful memories you have of him will stay strong and bright as you continue to share them with those who didn't have the opportunity to know him in this life, especially your children. You are giving them a priceless gift.

Kristin said...

crying. Being a "daddy's girl" myself, I can't even imagine what that must have been like to hand him over early. sweetest post ever, Kate. thanks for sharing.

Taylor said...

this is really great.

Becca said...

Soon after I was married your dad passed away, so Ben never got to meet him. After the funeral Richard or Aileen sent me the most beautiful eulogy about him. Probably the best I've ever read. Anyway, I showed it to Ben and told him that I know eulogy's are supposed to say positive things about people and they are usually exaggerated, but that his was not exaggerated at all! He was such a blessing to this earth. One of the most amazing people I've ever met!

Lisa said...

Katie, this explains your own greatness. And your dad makes me want to be a better parent. I want to leave the same kind of legacy he did. Bravo.

Mike said...

A tribute that would make any dad proud.

Flem said...

Of course he would be that kind of father. Though I have heard you talk about him, I was really touched by some of these small daily gifts he gave.

It truly is reflective of your nature, the kind of curiosity and fun that he represents in these little stories.

Though I miss my parents when I read about such things, what it really makes me miss is a daily opportunity to see you.

KB said...

That's so beautiful. The world needs more men like your father.

Jeannie said...

Oh, Katie. This tribute was so touching and so beautiful. I wish I could have known your dad! He sounds like the kind of person you'd want to have in your life. Aren't you lucky you'll have him through eternity. Love you, friend.

Cathy Leavitt said...

What a wonderful tribute to a great man. You definitely have a special way of expressing things that are dear to you.

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