Friday, September 5, 2014

Advice I Might Not Always Give (so, run with it)

I'm in a mood.

I don't know if you would call it reflective, or nostalgic, or contemplative, or goofy -- but I feel the need to pass on some advice to my children, that I might not otherwise share. So, I thought I'd write it down before the mood passes.

To my children,

Life is short.

You don't realize this yet. But before you know it, you'll be staring down the barrel of forty, you'll have a spouse and a mortgage and kids of your own. You'll have responsibilities and cares. That's the way of life, and it's okay. In fact, it can be wonderful. But, right now, you're very lucky -- childhood is a precious gift. Mine certainly was, and if I could grant you one wish right now, it would be for you to have the magical childhood that I had.

There are things that I want you to do....but not necessarily while I'm watching...

My advice to you is to stomp in the rain puddles. Make the biggest splash you can.

Pour glue into the palm of your hand, let it dry and peel away your new skin.

Eat snow. White snow.

Climb higher than you think you can. Higher than you think I would want you to.

Play with your food.

Run fast and walk slow.

Jump out of a swing.

Destroy your toys in creative ways (just not your new toys).

When you play games, make up your own rules.

Dream big dreams. You may never be an astronaut, or a secret agent or a superhero, but aim in that direction.

If you find something that needs coloring, color it.

Get dirty.

Get wet.

Sing out loud.

Sneak a kiss, when you get the chance.

Make good friends and big plans.

Build rockets and dig for dinosaurs and have tea parties.

If it's beautiful, stop and look at it a little longer. If it's not beautiful, make it so.

Dance badly, but enthusiastically.

Get to know your world -- hold it, taste it, feel it, take it apart, put it back together (disregard the left over parts), conquer it, stand in awe of it.

Hold every experience in your heart, and make memories.

Write a grand story. Tonight you have my permission.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Twenty Years (and counting...)

And was twenty years later.

On a cloudless morning, in the waning summer of 1994, my life changed forever.

On September 2, 1994 -- a skinny, aimless, hopelessly romantic kid -- I married the most beautiful girl I'd ever known. Sharon was the girl that moved me, that took my breath away, that made me smile, that made me want to be a better person.

We met on a pile of laundry, in Jupiter Hall, at Southern Utah University. She was an RA, I was a vagabond, existing between my aunt and uncle's home in Enoch, and my best friend, Aaron's, dorm room, and the gas station where I was working graveyards every other night. It was Aaron's laundry that I was sitting on, after a long shift overnight at work, when he introduced me to a blurry image of a girl -- whose name I didn't quite catch ( I thought her name was Shannon for the first week I knew her).

Our first date was a week later, on a Friday night, when I thought I'd been stood up by someone else (it was a miscommunication, and it turns out I was the one doing the standing up -- but you don't stand in the way of destiny). We stayed up all night, watching movies, and laughing...and we never looked back.

Three months later, I asked her to marry me.

Three months after that, I held her hand across the altar in the Salt Lake Temple, and pledged myself to her for time and eternity.

And then she finished school and I didn't.

And then we moved.

And then we had jobs, and pretended to be grown ups, though we were still children.

And then we had our first child -- a blonde, blue eyed beautiful daughter -- and we thought we were getting old. And we didn't know how to be parents, and it was the hardest thing we had ever done. But we got through it, and we got better at it.

And then we rented a small house in Kaysville, and with our little daughter, we were now a family, instead of a couple.

And I learned to see life through a lens. And Sharon worked with troubled youth.

And then, on a cold December night, a week before Christmas, my dad died. He died before we could tell him that our family was going to get bigger. And six months later, but earlier than he was supposed to come, we had a fat little boy, who I gave my own name. And we were the parents of children.

And the kids grew. And my hair started to thin, and Sharon developed silver highlights. And I loved her. And, despite my failings, she loved me too.

And then we moved to Farmington, and fell in love with it too.

And we made good friends. And we cleaned the house, and mowed the grass, and washed the laundry and watched the kids grow. And we were frustrated, and tired, and happy, and lucky. And we had another little girl, and the doctor said no more -- and we agreed.

And it was hard being parents. And it was not always easy being married. But we laughed more than we cried, and we embraced more than we withdrew, and worked through the hard times, and we came out stronger.

And one Christmas Sharon gave me the most amazing present.

And then our children went to school, and I tried to go to school again. They succeeded and I failed. And Sharon loved me anyway.

And then we bought a house, later than everyone else, and it was a home to make memories in. And our children grew, and we loved them more than anything. And we went to Disneyland four times.

And I stood by Sharon's hospital bed more times than I can remember, and wished that I could take away the burdens she bears with such grace. I saw the doctors surgically remove all of our children from her body. I saw her deal with infections, and other diabetic complications. I saw her have parts of her body removed, so that she could stay healthy.

And then, in 2009, her doctor said cancer, and I thought our life was over. I thought my life would end -- because Sharon was my life. But, she beat cancer too.

And then I lost my job, and Sharon told me it would be okay, and I found another one.

And the earth went around the sun twenty times, and the sun rose every morning, and it set every night. And the rain fell, and brought life, and the snow fell, and took it back. And the warmth of spring brought it back again. And seasons brought us joy and sorrow, and then joy again.

And I grew a beard, and Sharon thought I was weird. So, I shaved it off. And she still thought I was weird.

And I learned to ride a unicycle.

And Sharon learned to crochet little dolls, with big heads, and lots of hair --- and won a big award at the county fair.

And a million wonderful things happened to us. And a million everyday things happened to us. And we learned that you can't have one without the other.

And we had amazing children.

And a super family.

And the story of our lives was written in our eyes, and told in the places we went, and the things we did, and the things we didn't do. And the wind, and time, blew gently into our faces, and the stars shone down softly upon us.

And loving Sharon moved me, and took my breath away, and made me smile, and made me want to be a better person.

Loving Sharon made me a better person.

And twenty years was just the beginning....

Thank you Sharon, for the smile on my face, for the hope in my heart, for the dreams in my mind, and the love in my soul.

I love you, as I have always loved you, and will always love you...more every day.