I know it's a day late, but I spent all day yesterday trying to figure out where I belong on Father's Day and how I should celebrate, so that's why I'm just finally giving tribute to my wonderful father. This July will mark the five year anniversary of when my dad passed away. This caused me to think about my life and where I am now compared to where I was when my dad left this earth.
When my dad passed away I had just turned sixteen. My friends were sort of all that "mattered" to me, and of course I had all sorts of crushes on boys and dreams that I hoped would come true. I wanted to feel accepted, just like all girls in high school do. I wondered who I would marry, where I would go to college, and where my life would take me. My life was just like every other teenager at the time. When my dad passed away I was still a child living under the direction care of my parents at home. My dad always wanted me to spend time with him and learn about cars (he was a car dealer/mechnic). That very rarely sparked my girly interest.
A week after I turned sixteen, my perspective changed and all that really mattered to me became clear. I had always known that my dad loved me and wanted the best for me. My dad loved all five of us children, as well as my beautiful mom, so very much. Although many people would only view the passing of a young 43-year-old father as a tragedy, I've finally been able to view it as a blessing. My dad had poor health and couldn't do all that he would like here on Earth anymore. The night my dad passed away, prior to his passing, I was saying my nightly prayers and prayed that my dad could be happy. My dad was a very bright and happy person normally, but his health hindered a lot happiness to be experienced by him. Though I wish he could be here on Earth with my family now, my dad's passing has given him the opportunity to live and be happy without the restrictions of a sick body. I don't doubt that I would have learned the things my dad wanted me to learn in life if he was still here, but as I've had to have a relationship with my dad from afar for the past few years, I've learned many things from him in many different and special ways.
This is a video I made when I was sixteen after we finished the project. I never thought I would really need to know the things my dad desired to teach me in the garage all those times that I didn't want to be there. My dad also prided himself in his "slim-jim" abilities. "Slim-Jim" is a name for breaking into cars (for purposes that are not illegal, don't worry :) He used to narrate a scenario and time himself to see how fast he could do it. Little did I know that in the five years following his passing, I would need this skill to unlock my own car 5+ times, Lydia's car twice, Nicole's car once, my friend Lindsey's car (after all the men around walked away because it was almost impossible to break into), and probably others that I am forgetting about. I always thought my dad would be the one to help me jump a car if needed. Since my dad has been gone, I've jumped several cars, including cars of strangers, which has always been an adventure. Although these things are simple tasks, it always brings a smile to my face to do these things because I know my dad is happy I'm using skills that he so desperately wanted to teach me.
When I was in elementary school I was teased constantly. I was chubby and awkward--to say the least. However, my dad ALWAYS made me feel like I was the most beautiful girl always. Finally in high school I grew a little taller and got a little cuter. When I was a senior I was very surprised but very excited to learn that I'd been voted homecoming queen. I definitely wasn't the typical person who was expected to win, but I knew my dad was smiling down, because even though it took others a few extra years to see something in me, my dad always believed in me and thought I was pretty. Although this is just a high school thing, I remember being so excited because I finally felt accepted by others. My dad was the one who got me through all the years of teasing and me coming home in tears.
I've already posted here about how protective my dad was with his girls when it came to the males :) Even though my dad hasn't been here physically to remind me how boys should treat girls, he made it pretty darn clear how he felt about the matter, so much that I've always felt like he's been there for me when my heart has been broken, and I know for a fact he was there when I was able to marry the love of my life.
Something my dad always taught me was to always make time to smile and have fun. When I was in seventh grade I struggled with severe migraines because of stress (strange, right?). My dad would always make an effort to plan something fun for me and my friends to do. He has instilled in me a love for living life and enjoying being healthy and able to be active. I've had my ups and downs in my life, but I have so many fun memories because I've always tried to remember to enjoy life and try to make others happy like my dad taught me to do.
My dad was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and I taught me many gospel principles. Recently, even though he is not here, my dad helped me to better understand and gain a testimony of Christ's atonement for all of us. My dad suffered from severe back problems. He had many slipped and herniated discs that constantly gave him problems. He even underwent back surgery to try to help some of his problems. Two years ago I began having some back problems (not as severe, but problems nonetheless) after attending a dance intensive. I've dealt with the problems on and off for the past two years, but recently they got a lot worse. Two months ago my lower back problems flared up again at dance and caused me to have severe muscle spasms that caused me to collapse any time I tried to stand or walk on my own. I've never felt so frustrated and vulnerable in my life. I remembered my dad always talking about how much it hurt to sit for a long period of time because of his back, how much he wished his back would be better, and how much pain he was in. I never ever understood his pain or why he was always in such discomfort. My back problems have basically ended my dance career which breaks my heart. I can hardly do much exercising which has caused me to not be in as good of shape as I once was when I was dancing 24/7. This has been physically and emotionally exhausting for me at times, but when I looked back and thought about my dad and the pain he went through, I was reminded that my dad is watching over me and that he knows exactly how I feel. Although I should be just as easily reminded of the Lord and that He knows exactly what I'm going through, I'm human and I'm still working on becoming perfect. This experience has reminded me of Christ's atonement, and just as my dad knows exactly what I'm going through, my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know what I'm going through just as well.
It's been a long five years since I last saw my dad, and things are very different. However, I know that my dad is still my father and he still teaches me things every day just like fathers here on Earth do for their children. I still have many people in my life who show my dad's love to me for him. On my wedding day when I walked out of the temple, my Grandpa Nielsen, my dad's dad, came and teased me about how I used to tell him that I didn't believe that there were any good guys out there and that I would never find one. He reminded me of my dad at that moment. My Grandpa Nielsen also danced with me in place of my dad for the daddy-daughter dance at our reception.
So this was my tribute to my daddy. Even though it's been a while since I've seen him, and it'll be a while till I get to see him again, he's taught me so many things and he's been the best dad I could ever ask for. I love and miss my dad, and wish him a Happy Father's day. No matter how far my dad is, I'm my daddy's little girl always, and that's all. :)