“I Love Him, He’s My Dad,” Friend, Sept. 2004, 29
The tall yellow weeds in the big field behind Grandpa and Grandma’s place look pretty. When the wind blows they’re like a yellow sea that rolls and whispers. I like to lie in them, especially when it’s windy. Especially with my dad. He said that when the weeds are all rustling, it’s like they’re telling a story. He listened to those stories and passed them on to me. He called them his tall-as-a-yellow-weed tales.
Sometimes we played hide-and-seek in the field. I liked that, too. Dad closed his eyes while I hid. Then he had 10 minutes to find me and tag me. If I won, he took me to the soda fountain in Hadley and bought me a milk shake. I usually won. I think he let me sometimes. He knew how much I like chocolate shakes.
I miss those times. I still like Grandma and Grandpa’s place, but the yellow field isn’t the same. It looks the same, but without Dad, it’s just … different. It’s just a field.
Mom and I live with Grandma and Grandpa now. At least for a while. Until Mom can make enough money at her new job, or until Dad gets better. Dad has a drinking problem. It got pretty bad, and he wouldn’t get help. We prayed and prayed for him, but Mom said Heavenly Father can’t help us if we don’t try to help ourselves. I know she’s right, because once I asked Him to help me on a school test that I hadn’t studied for. I failed it anyway. Mom said that if we do all we can do for ourselves, then ask Heavenly Father for help, He will then assist us.
One day my friend Barry said that if his dad were like mine, he wouldn’t love him anymore. Because if my dad cared about us, he wouldn’t keep drinking.
I couldn’t sleep too well that night. My mom came into my room and asked what was wrong. When I told her, she explained some things that helped me to feel better.
The next day when Barry and I were looking for arrowheads in Baker’s Canyon up behind the yellow field, I told him I still loved my dad. When he asked me why, I said, “Remember when your brother didn’t tie up the chain that was hanging way down from the siren on his bike?”
“Yes,” Barry said, “and I told him it could cause an accident if it got caught in the spokes, but did he listen to me? No!”
Last month Barry borrowed that bike. He was flying down a hill when, sure enough, the chain got caught in the spokes of his front wheel. All of a sudden the bike stopped, but Barry kept going, right over the handlebars. He banged himself up pretty badly. In fact, his arm was still in a cast.
“Do you still love your brother?” I asked.
“Of course I do.”
“Well, because … because he’s my brother. He didn’t want me to get hurt. He was just being careless.”
“I’m sure your brother feels bad about it,” I said. “My dad feels awful, too, after he sobers up.”
Barry and I sat down on a rock to drink from our canteens. Grandma’s cold lemonade tastes so good that it makes getting thirsty fun. Dad always said, “On a hot day your grandma’s lemonade takes all the discomfort out of being alive!” And he was right.
I looked at Barry seriously, trying to get the deep down inside of him to listen. I had written down some of what Mom said the night before so I wouldn’t forget. Now I read it to Barry: “‘God loves all of us, even when He doesn’t love all of our actions. It’s called charity—the pure love of Christ, and we need to try to love like Jesus does.’”
Barry nodded his head and smiled. I could tell that he knew my mom was right. Her words made me feel good inside, too. About my dad. About a lot of things. It was as good a feeling as Grandma’s lemonade going down on a hot summer day.
Mom and I kept praying for Dad. He stopped drinking, and he’s in a special program that’s helping him. He’ll be coming home in a few weeks. He says he wants to play hide-and-seek with me in the tall yellow weeds. And he wants me to win, because he misses those chocolate milk shakes as much as I do!
“We cannot repent for someone else. But we can forgive someone else, refusing to hold hostage those whom the Lord seeks to set free!”
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Repentance,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 32.