Choice memories of my dad go back to my earliest recollections. He has always been my best friend, my advocate, my hero.

A number of years ago, I went to a general priesthood meeting with Dad. I have been doing this throughout my life when I have had the good fortune of living in the same general area as he did. This became a sort of tradition for us, as it is for many fathers and sons. What was unique about this particular priesthood meeting didn’t actually happen during the meeting, however, but occurred instead afterward as we walked from the chapel to our car. These are his words as I remember them:

birthday-cake-380178_640“Walter, I have always wanted to teach that it is our ancestors and loved ones on the other side of the veil who are our guardian angels, but I didn’t openly promote it because I never heard the brethren comment on that as such—until tonight.

“Elder Eyring’s talk this evening was beautiful. Now I feel that I have justification to teach that very principle.”

Today is Dad’s birthday. It’s been eight long years since his passing. Of course, I miss him greatly, but he is by no means forgotten. In fact, he is part of my life now perhaps more than ever because his lack of proximity and ill health are no longer barriers to his involvement in our lives. For example:

  • He is part of my newly found job, guidance, and direction
  • He inspires me to endure to the end when the going gets rough
  • He helps me make good choices and rear a strong family to choose the right
  • His stellar example taught me the importance of following Christ
  • He is in the successes of my children

Dad always spent time listening, encouraging us, and making us feel important and self-respected.

I never saw him discouraged. My friends would ask “Does your dad always smile?” Yeah. Pretty much always. I asked him once why that was so. He said “When I consider all of my blessings, I can’t help it.”

missionary mormons

Missionaries

When my son served a mission to Argentina, he was two thousand miles away. I didn’t visit with him every day and spoke with him rarely—like once-a-year perhaps. But I received correspondence from him and wrote letters in return. Though we were miles apart and did not see one another for an extended period of time, I did not talk about him in the past tense. That would have been ludicrous.

I knew he was doing something important and that activity separated us for a time. Similarly, my dad is on the other side of the veil. He is assuredly serving the Lord in various capacities, I have no doubt. And like I received occasional correspondence from my son, I feel Dad is watching over us, just as he did when he was here on earth. True. We are separated for a time, and I can’t talk with him face-to-face as frequently as I would like, but I feel him in my life.

He still influences me through his personal history, through his many stories, his example, and my memories of him. Yet I know I will see him again soon. This knowledge influences my choices today.  I still can’t talk about him in the past tense any more than I can talk about my missionary son in the past tense. He is a great dad, setting an example I can follow today. He teaches me about the essential role of Jesus Christ and the choice blessings we have in store Because of Him.

Mormon men

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My daughter just got back from a humanitarian trip to the Orient. The whole experience was a joy, but I missed her while she was gone and honestly couldn’t wait to see her again. I anticipated her return and shed tears of joy as we embraced when we saw each other again. I expect it’s going to be a lot like that when I am reunited with Dad.

Happy Birthday Dad. I love you.

 

Questions and Answers

My memoir of Dad

 

About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.

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