Last night we went up to Bountiful to celebrate Father's Day. I went up with a pretty loaded agenda. Right when we rolled in we headed down to the church for some basketball. Seth and I played Jesse and my dad. I have very few basketball skills, but I am tall, so I just lurped out with a pseudo-hook shot that magically went in two thirds of the time. I also had about a million rebounds. After Seth and I won by two, we had a stellar Father's Day feast, with salmon, steak, pilaf and a wonderful salad. After dinner Ashton helped me clean out a bunch of junk in my old bedroom, where Lauren and Jesse are currently staying. We probably saved more of it than we should have. Everyone protested when I tried to toss a junior high yearbook (I wasn't overly fond of junior high). Sheesh. It was fun though to reminisce and try to figure out why there were so many lanyards in the top drawer. By eleven o'clock the stormy skies had cleared up (quite miraculously) and we took out Big Bertha (a nickname I just coined for my dad's midlife crisis -- an enormous telescope) for some stargazing. We had a little dance party to a Canadian band called Metric while my dad got the laser scope working, and then we practiced sighting stars and finding them in the scope. Did you know that the second star in the handle of the Big Dipper is actually two stars? We also had a good time spotting airplanes and watching them fly by upside down.
Today we visited Grandpa Jenkins on our way back from Bountiful. He's such a great guy. Every time I visit him I wish I had a tape recorder for some of the stuff he says. He always tells at least twenty stories and swears at least four times. He's 87 years old, almost 88, and he recently went to the doctor for a checkup. The doctor asked what was wrong with him, and my grandpa replied that he had come to the doctor to find out just that. The doctor looked at him and said, "Lars, you got out of the car by yourself, you walked into the office by yourself, and you still knew who you were when you got here. I'd say, for your age, that's pretty good!"
My grandpa showed us some navy pictures and shared some stories from his youth. He told a funny story about working the night shift as a radar repairman on the U.S.S. Independence in World War II. All the men had to shower in salt water, to preserve the fresh water for drinking, but after they showered they were covered in salt, which "just about killed you because you'd itch so bad." Since it was two in the morning and no one else was around, my grandpa grabbed some pliers from his tools and switched the valve so that freshwater came out of the shower. He said he was taking a shower, having a great time, when he was busted by "one of those ninety-day wonders" (a derogatory term for dumb officers). He was informed that he would have to meet with the ship's captain and marshal, and that he would likely be demoted. He replied that he would love a demotion, because then he wouldn't have to work the night shift anymore. I guess there weren't any other first class repairman that could work the shift. Needless to say, he never got demoted.
Grandpa took us downstairs to get me a copy of the short histories he'd written for his parents. While he was digging around in the cabinets he found a copy of a short document entitled "Memories of Larry." Here are some excerpts:
"To record my memories of Larry, [in] whom I am well pleased, would take a volume or more. The times since he was five years old and could beat me hands down with concessions in the concentration game. The thousands of knocks on the bedroom wall when he needed help and the hundreds of nights we looked at the stars through the upstairs bathroom.
"I have chosen to tell of his work that few know of. When he graduated from high school and was looking for a job, I was considering building some sort of garage and at the time there was a building boom so no one was interested in a small job. So I asked Larry if I paid him the minimum wage would he build a garage.
"Larry took to learning and planning what he would build. I obtained a building loan from the bank so he could buy what he needed. No one could have worked harder and longer than Larry did as he broke up the two small concrete strips that had been the driveway for many years . . . Each strip was over 40 feet long so there was a lot of concrete to haul away. When we loaded the blocks I was amazed at how even they were. Larry had hit each square in the center and broken them into almost the same size . . . He built the frames for the driveway and we poured 28 yards of cement before we were done.
"Larry's skills of planning became obvious when he designed the position of the garage. Larry planned the garage so that we could have the breeze way covered and tie the old carport onto the back side of the garage. When we got the rafters I marveled at how accurate he had them measure so the roof of the garage and the breeze way and the roof of the old carport came together in a flowing manner and they became one roof.
"When we finished the cost of the garage was only two thirds of what a smaller garage would have been. . . I seldom spend time in the garage without thinking of the summer Larry built the garage. We did have fun and enjoyed doing something that neither had done before. The memory of his love for the gospel and for our family is always a constant as we think of the past."
As Ashton gets closer and closer to having our first baby, I think of my grandpa and dad, and hope I can be the kind of father they've been to their kids. They're both solid, faithful and selfless men, and I am proud to carry on their legacy.
Ashton's Speech for the Natalie's Wish Event 2017 - Here are the full remarks that Ashton gave at this year's Natalie's Wish Event: A few weeks ago my four-year-old, Lars, who has cystinosis, got home from...
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