“The Gift I Can’t Remember,” Liahona, Sept. 2007, 47
One of the greatest gifts I ever received from my father is one I don’t even remember. He never talked about it. That was Dad’s way. I learned about it many years later from my mother.
Both my mother and father had been raised as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but Dad’s habit of smoking had kept them from being married in the temple. The loving bishop who performed my parents’ civil ceremony encouraged them to set a goal to marry in the temple before their children came. They were still working on that goal when I joined the family.
By the time my second birthday was approaching, my parents still had not been to the temple. Mom really wanted to be sealed as a family before a second child came, but Dad was still using tobacco.
Sometimes I wish I could remember what happened on my second birthday, because that’s when I received the gift. My father came home from work that night in early November, and after setting aside his lunch bucket and taking off his coat, he picked me up. “Gary,” he said, “I have a special birthday present for you.” Mom said she was surprised because she knew Dad didn’t have extra money to purchase a gift for me.
Reaching into his shirt pocket, Dad took out a partially used packet of cigarettes and handed them to me. Mom started to object, but Dad held up his hand as if to say, “This is between my son and me.”
Quietly, he then said to me, “I have thought about this for several days. I have decided I don’t want you, my son, to ever remember your father smoking. My gift to you today is that I am giving up my cigarettes, and I will never smoke again.”
And that was the end of his tobacco habit. He must have struggled to quit smoking so abruptly. Although I don’t remember it, that was his special gift to me. But it was more than that.
A few months later, with my mother pregnant with my brother, we made our way to the Logan Utah Temple, where we were sealed together as a forever family.
I am truly grateful for that gift given many years ago from my loving and caring father.