If my 30th birthday was an event- then my dad’s 60th certainly must be. February 14th, 2009 is not only, yet again, Valentines Day but, Val McOmber’s 60th birthday. In my life, Valentines day has always been Val’s day. I am very grateful for my father’s birthday because I have always had something to celebrate that day. Yet, how do you celebrate Val McOmber’s big day, the 60? A big bash is not his style and he is emphatic about not wanting gifts. He has charged me to a technogical deed as my gift to him. He knows technology is not my thing. It’s not that I’m not tech savvy or that it is difficult- I choose not to be tech savvy. And that is a discussion that qualifies as –not the time or the place. But that just does not fill the tab. My brother David suggested we all write something about Dad and then put it in a book for him. I thought- I can do that. So… these are my words I chose to share about my dad.
Dad will always help. He will put off his own pursuits and join you in yours. The only exception is if he thinks it is better for you to do it yourself- (or if a Star Trek(ish) show is on, but I think his DVR has changed that. =) ) Even then… And there is very little my dad cannot do. It does not matter what brakes or needs to be built- Dad knows how and just does it. I had no concept of a repairman as a child. "Don’t all Dads know how to do that…?"
Dad prefers to teach by example rather than by word. I remember at the Rinaldo house when a storm teamed up with time and took out a significant portion of the back fence. As with all our fences, we shared it fence with one of our neighbors- in the back to be precise. It is a memorable fence because it had been climbed many times to retrieve balls that had been thrown with our childish accuracy. At home there had been some discussion on how to proceed to take care of the situation. You just do not, not have a fence in California. If I remember the details marginally correctly, Dad decided to buy the lumbar and fix it himself. I over heard Tim and Jordan talking one day about it and they were mildly upset that Dad did not at least make the neighbor pay for part, if not all the cost, considering Dad was doing the labor. This sounded reasonable to me so I mentioned it to Dad. I may not remember the exact words- but I will never forget the substance of what he said. After what may have been a sigh of sadness he said- I’m hoping Tim will learn from this that it is about doing good to your neighbors that is important, not money. I do not know if Tim learned this lesson- although with some time and distance he just may have- but I know I did. He did not want to tell Tim- he wanted to show him. And that is how he has always been.
Dad wants the best for his children- end of story. It is one of Dad’s greatest strengths and also one of his weaknesses. The hard part is that life doesn’t always deliver what appears to be the best case scenario-, which leads to a bit of grief. I know Dad understands that we did not sign up for a sorrow free, picture perfect life when we chose to come to earth. But his love is so great; he struggles when we struggle and y excepting life’s dole and at times- our personal choices may be challenging. For this I offer my own advice. This is my new favorite analogy, probably because I made it up. Life is like a roller coaster- filled with ups and downs, twists and turns. Once you get on, it does not stop until it is over. So trust the seat belt of the gospel- learn to let go and enjoy the ride. (And… it is okay to let out a scream every once in awhile.) As a parent watching your child’s ride, remember they wanted this ride. Trust the engineers who put the ride together and smile. They waited a long time in line for it. It will all end up okay- even if they lose their lunch over the edge.
Dad’s testimony of the gospel is one thing I have always known- no questions asked. I do not have any specific memory of my father bearing his testimony to us/me apart from listening to him at church. He probably did, and if he did unfortunately, I do not have a specific memory of it. But I never once questioned his testimony. Never. It was borne daily in his actions: kneeling at his bed at night to say his prayers, doing his home teaching, getting up at 6am every Sunday- his day of rest- for years for morning meetings, reading his scriptures, obeying the word of wisdom… Simply always "living" the gospel. There is a strength and trust in the gospel that a child inherits when they have never questioned their parent’s testimony. I have never witnessed either of my parents questioning the gospel.
Not to say that my father and I have not had our moments or disagreements, however few. But, I have never questioned his love for me and I hope he has never questioned my love for him.
Happy 60th Birthday Dad