"I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents” (1 Nephi 1:1)
I’ve read those words a thousand times. I have to admit I have sometimes had a difficult time relating this particular scripture verse to myself. I mean, my father wasn’t a prophet like Nephi’s father, Lehi. Yet, when I stop and ponder this idea of a goodly parent, I recognize myself very well. Or, more accurately, I recognized my Dad.
As a small child, I thought my dad was perfect. I loved spending time with him, going to hardware stores, fishing (well, once or twice, anyway), fixing things (well...sort of...I think I was more of a nuisance than a help). I wanted to do anything with my dad. As I grew older, my teenage angst stretched his patience, I’m sure.
But as an adult, I recognized the gentle treasure that he was. My mother was painfully shy, and despite her many talents and intelligence, she often found it difficult to make friends. Enter my Dad, who would ask her about people she admired in their circle or friends. Then, he would carefully cultivate friendships with the husbands of the women my mother admired, initiating double dates and family get-togethers, so my mother could socialize and make friends in a comfortable way.
This goodly parent is one of the two images of my Dad that remain clearly in my mind. It goes with this picture of my dad, with cigar clenched in his teeth. The picture reminds me that even when our parents aren’t perfect, they are still goodly.
My Dad took his goodly part and added to it. In the same way he served my mother, he served others. I remember accompanying him as he delivered a repaired television set to friends, repaired because he knew how, “I just thought I could help." He allowed God to make him a better man.
40 years later, I found myself a parent of six rambunctious boys and an adorable daughter. We packed our seven children into our fifth wheel, drove from Arizona to Washington for a one week visit with my parents. My children filled my parents home with noise and laughter (and a little bit of mess making…ok, maybe a little bit more than a little). One morning, I awoke early to take care of a little one's needs. As I crept quietly to the kitchen and back to our room, I passed the front room and noticed my dad, scriptures open on his lap, hands folded in prayer.
"Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.” (1 Nephi 1:5)
This is the the second and final image of my dad in my mind. The man who loved, served and prayed. Three weeks later, Dad died suddenly of a heart attack, while making his weekly delivery of food to the needy near his home, an act of service he had performed faithfully every Friday for eight years. God made him better, and he passed it on.
I recognize my weaknesses a parent, just as my Dad had weaknesses. My hope and prayer is that my children will recognize the goodly part of me, but will also understand that there will be things I did not teach them well, but that goodly part of them that came from my dad will help them have a desire to be better, despite my mistakes. Now I clearly know the goodly parents I had, evidenced by a lifetime of service. And I think to myself, “I, Kathleen, having been born of goodly parents…”