I grew up in Monroe, a small town of perhaps 1200 people in central Utah. Virtually all of the people were Latter-day Saints at the time.
One of the great social occasions of the year in our little town was the annual fathers and sons’ banquet. It was really a large affair held in the gym, and it featured a spectacular program. It was always well-attended by fathers and sons from the community.
In my family there are four boys (with a sister on each end). My father was a school teacher. Most of the time he could not afford to take all four of us boys to the banquet at once, so one year my father would take one or two sons, and the next year he would take the others.
One particular year it was not my turn to go to the banquet. But I had an uncle who came to live temporarily in Monroe. He didn’t have any sons, and he asked my father if he could take one of us. I was really thrilled to learn that I was chosen to accompany my uncle to the banquet.
I was number three in the line of four boys, so I always seemed to get the hand-me-downs. My mother fixed up an old suit for the big night. I was very proud of it. My uncle worked in his shop until closing time, and he agreed to meet me at the gym. We lived across the street from the high school. I could run out the door and reach the gym in a minute or two.
My mother first helped my father and two older brothers make preparations; then she helped me get ready. It started to rain hard just before time to leave the house. We had no umbrella. I could run fast, so Mother said, “I’ll open the door, and you jump off the porch and run across the street.” I made my break and leaped off the porch. But I hit some soft dirt, and my feet went out from under me and I landed in a mud puddle. I was drenched and muddy all over.
I went back into the house, crying. I thought, That’s the end of the banquet. Mother, however, took off my muddy clothes and dried them. We did not have electric irons in those days, so she put the flatirons on the coal stove to heat. In a matter of just minutes, she had me clean and dry and my suit pressed and dried. By that time, the rain had let up a little bit, and I made my second dash for the gym.
As I think back on that night, a mother with less determination would have given up and written it off as a bad experience. But my mother wasn’t going to let that happen, because she loved me and knew how disappointed I would be if I didn’t attend the fathers and sons’ social.
Although he was a school teacher, my father raised animals and cared for a large garden and fruit orchard. In the summertime, it was a rule that we worked in the mornings in the garden or orchard; in the afternoons, we could play.
My father had a way of making our work pleasant. He could turn any chore into a game. He knew that we loved to play baseball. One day he told us to pick up fallen apples in the orchard and feed them to the pigs. We didn’t particularly enjoy that job. So he placed boards in the form of a man on the back of the pigpen. Then he stepped off the distance from the board form to a pitcher’s mound. From that point, we threw the gathered apples at the pretended man just as a baseball pitcher would in a game. Of course, the apples crashed against the board and split into pieces, and the pigs had a feast.
Children, appreciate your parents for all that they do for you and for all that they teach you. Show your love for them, express your love openly, and hold them in cherished memory.