“You can do it, Keish. I promise I won’t drop you.” The words weren’t much of a comfort as I stood on the floor looking up to my dad’s smiling face as he said them. We were at the top of the stairs that went down to the basement, I took a big gulp of air and swallowed hard as I looked down into the darkness. I shook my head, “I’m too scared daddy.”
He assured me that everything would be fine once more, and mustering every ounce of courage my four-year-old self had, I let him hoist me onto his shoulders. My mom was giggling at my fear-filled face as she handed me the new light bulb, “Just screw it in really fast sweetie,” she smiled.
I concentrated so hard on not dropping the shiny glass bulb that I started to feel my hards get sweaty as my dad carefully found footing on the wooden molding lining each side of the stair well. He stood up straight and I found myself face to face with the grey-looking bulb that had burned out earlier that day. I put the new bulb in my left hand ever so carefully, and then unscrewed the old bulb, putting the new one in its place.
As my dad set me back down on the floor, I felt the shakiness leave me, and the nervousness disperse. Finally, I was able to take a deep breath and I looked up at my parents offering them a sheepish grin. “See, that wasn’t so bad. I told you I wouldn’t drop you,” my dad said in response to my shy demeanor. I just giggled, thinking it was still scary. I was so grateful for the new light bulb, because I was terrified of the dark, and all of my toys were down in the basement in the toy room. Since our basement was unfinished, it was already creepy enough down there, but I didn’t even attempt braving that place in the dark. I was sure that something scary was going to grab my legs through the open spaces in the stairs every time I went down there to play.
That’s my dad, though. Always assuring me that he wouldn’t let me fall, always making sure I’ve had enough light to see where I’m going and always showing me that there are no monsters hiding in the dark. It wasn’t just new light bulbs to guide me to the play room though, my dad offered me a guiding light all of my life in his shining example of love for our Savior, Jesus Christ. My dad strove to embody the example that Christ set for all of us in His time here on earth. Namely a love for his fellow men, a devotion to serving others—even at his own expense, and an unadulterated hope despite trying circumstances, disappointments, set-backs, or the disparaging words of his peers.
I was lucky enough to watch him all of my life and learn from his example of striving to grow each day; and sacrificing good or fun things, for better things. My dad has always shown me the difference between want and need, and led our family with an unmatched work ethic. My dad possesses a confidence in his actions and himself that is awe-inspiring, and a love for my mother that I have admired from a very young age.
As I grew, my dad tried to teach me all of these qualities that I could see him trying to develop in himself, and just like any kid, I fought him the whole way. I didn’t want to go brand cows when the last day of school got out for summer vacation. I didn’t want to wake up at 5 in the morning to move sprinkler pipe before school, and later, I didn’t want to wake up at 5 in the morning to attend seminary most of the time. In high school I drug my feet on the way to church, and I drug my feet on the track, but he never let me quit and I will always be thankful for that. It wasn’t until later in my life that I realized how much quitting anything, even small things, can hinder you from achieving your goals and dreams.
When I left for college I know my dad hoped that I would hold on to the lessons and the light of not only his example, but also Christ’s example that I had learned so much about. It was a trying time for me and my family, and for the first time in my life, my dad wasn’t there to show me there were no monsters in the dark; because when I stepped out of the light, there were many monsters there to greet me. Luckily, my dad’s light continued to shine for me. He never judged me, or gave up on me during these trying times. Instead, he loved me fiercely and was a loyal and reliable friend—while still being a parent. I know he isn’t perfect, but he loved me perfectly in my hour of need.
I am so thankful for the prayers of my father (and of course my mother) on my behalf during that time. As each year passes I am continually more grateful for the example that my dad has always been to me, and for all of the truth that he has continually taught me. It was all of those things that helped me find the greatest love of all—the redeeming love of my Savior, Jesus Christ.
Out of all the accomplishments in my life, my most treasured are the ones that happened under the beaming, proud smile of my dad. I strove, most of the time, just to make him proud. I know that our Father in Heaven will one day look upon my dad with that same beam if only for the way that he loved me, and helped me grow closer to my Savior. My dad isn’t perfect, but he has taught me an eternal and invaluable lesson to always strive to be like Jesus—to love others as fiercely as I can, and to always rely on Christ’s example of pure love as a guide for my life. You’re my hero, Dad.