"Serious MomSense" column published for the Motherhood Matters section of KSL.com
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The flood of recent stories about prominent men committing crimes or being unfaithful to their wives makes me wonder to what degree such behavior is beginning to be tolerated or even expected in our society.
As a mom of three sons, the current media trend of dedicating an inordinate amount of air time detailing the bad behavior of prominent men is alarming. If one were to rely solely on media coverage for information about dads these days, it would be easy to wonder where all the good dads have gone.
Luckily, I don’t have to look far to find that they’re still here. So as Father’s Day approaches, I want to turn the attention of my boys away from these poor role models and toward all the “ordinary” fathers who live remarkable lives, quietly flying under the media’s radar.
One such man was my father-in-law. After spending 2½ years as a missionary and later receiving a Purple Heart during World War II, Lawrence married his sweetheart at the age of 44. They had sixchildren, a daunting challenge at any age.
Mandatory retirement at age 60 with all of his children still home required that Lawrence find further employment. The search was especially difficult without the benefit of a college degree. After many rejections, he was hired to be the custodian of a nearby church meetinghouse, a job he approached with hard work and dignity.
Lawrence’s biggest trial, however, was his wife’s bone cancer diagnosis. She lost her battle after five years, leaving her children in Lawrence’s mourning yet loving hands. He was 70 years old and the children were in junior high, high school, college and on LDS Church missions at the time. When Lawrence passed away last fall at the age of 90, he left behind a legacy of faith, perseverance, determination and dignity.
Another such man is my brother-in-law, Dale. My boys love to visit their uncle because he’s hilarious and keeps them laughing. But this Father’s Day I will remind them about the courage and determination their uncle has shown in the face of extreme challenges.
Shortly before graduating with his pre-med undergraduate degree, Dale was in a car accident that rendered him a quadriplegic. The days, months and years that followed were at times nearly unendurable.
Based on experience and solid statistics, the health care professionals involved in Dale’s recovery expected his marriage to fail and his lifelong dream of becoming a doctor would be abandoned.
But Dale didn’t take the expected, easier roads. Due to pure determination and hard work, he became the 10th quadriplegic in United States medical school history to be admitted to medical school and graduated with honors. Dale is currently working as a highly-respected nuclear medicine specialist and will be celebrating his 20th wedding anniversary this year.
Lawrence would often state that he lived an unremarkable life. Dale says he’s nobody special. Scores of good men my sons know — fathers, grandfathers, uncles, teachers, and friends — also feel that their lives are mundane and unremarkable.
I beg to differ.
It takes unusual courage and hard work and determination to avoid the easy roads in favor of roads that build character, maintain trust and create true role models.
The way I see it, the only remarkable thing about prominent men behaving badly is the amount of media coverage they get.
On behalf of my sons and so many other impressionable boys out there — boys who desperately need to know that the world is still full of honest, faithful, good men — thank you for not taking those easy roads. Although you may never catch the media’s attention, you truly are remarkable.