Friday, October 25, 2013

John Anderson: One of a Kind!

My father, John Anderson, turned 76 years old a few days ago.  I just can't go another day without writing a few words and stories about this marvelous man.

Service & Energy

I have never, in my life, known a man at his age who works harder and serves more than he does.  Every single time I talk to him, he is digging a hole, helping somebody in jail, or giving somebody a ride.  We lived near my parents for a year and a half, and my father left his work several times to come to my aid.  Anywhere we go, he is the last to leave because he's busy helping everybody with everything.

His energy seems endless!

He chases the grandkids around the yard like a wild animal just like he did to me when I was little.  I remember one time he chased me like a wild bear a half a mile up the street!  I was a teenager and was laughing hysterically, but I actually ran as fast as I could from the "wild bear!!"

The grandchildren adore their Papa because he's so actively involved and plays with them at their level.


My father has helped so many young men stay in the gospel; I can't even name them all.  He works tirelessly with kids who have no support elsewhere.  Last time I was visiting my family in Missouri, a young man preparing to leave on his mission said in front of the entire congregation, "Brother Anderson is the strongest person of our faith that I know." This young man gave much credit to my father for helping him get to the point where he was in his life.  When I was leaving on my mission, a member of the stake presidency interviewed me.  He said, "Now make sure you have a balanced life."  Jokingly he said my father did not have it balanced because ALL he wanted to do was church work. :)

My father certainly does have the strongest testimony of anyone I know.  Although he served in the bishopric as a young missionary and college student, most of his callings in our church have been to work as a teacher, director over stake activities, sports,  and the scouting program.  He magnifies those callings and reaches out to every lost soul he can find.  Even the incoming missionaries have said that Brother Anderson wears them out.... in a good way.  They're excited when they get called to his hometown because they know there will be a lot of missionary work for them to do with my father around.:-)

I grew up going on trips with him, and we would talk for hours about the gospel.  Even now, if I have any question about the scriptures or the doctrine of my church, I call my dad.  If he doesn't have the answer, he prays and studies it out until he finds the answer.  Then he usually mails or emails his findings.

His greatest desire is for his children to stay close to the Lord, Jesus Christ.  He's tells me of this desire almost every time we talk on the phone.  There is no doubt in my mind where my father's heart is.

Unconditional Love

My dad thinks that everybody is wonderful.  On purpose, I've tried to convince him of people's obvious faults because I've accused him of being too naive.  He refuses to judge anyone.  I tell you... everybody should have a John Anderson in their life.  When I have felt that the world was against me, he sees the beauty in me and helps me to see the beauty in others... just as Jesus would.  When I've done really dumb things, I always know my father is not holding a grudge against me or judging me because he doesn't judge anyone!  He just loves me deeply, and I can't help but feel that love when I've needed it most.


My father was a band teacher, and he still substitute teaches in band rooms (and just about every other classroom actually.)   As a kindergartner, I waited in his office when my morning classes were done.  I took a nap on his floor and then watched him teach from his window.  He was the best teacher ever!  He danced these crazy foot moves across the front of the classroom, and the kids were ALWAYS impressed.

A couple of years ago at a dance recital for my kids, volunteers were asked to go on stage to dance.  My dad went up!!  He shook his body all around in jerky motions as fast as he could.  He made it to the second round and was then voted out.  For the next few days he kept showing me new moves he could have tried to have won the dance contest.  I giggled every time he asked me about it again.  (He really was the best one on the stage, and I loved his zest for life for doing it... so did his grandkids.)

I grew up listening to my father jam out the Boogie Woogie on the piano. His whole body got involved while his fingers flew across the piano.  When finances got hard, we didn't have a piano anymore, but he still rocked the house.  He is an excellent trumpet player and still plays in an orchestra at 76 years old!

No exaggeration:  I remember in high school, I was trying to go to sleep, but I was awakened to some wild noises just after midnight.  My father had an array of my mother's pots and pans spread out across the table, and he was making some amazing music banging them like a wild man!!  My mother was laughing and videotaping his masterful work of musical art.

Grape Juice

Again... no exaggeration:  My father believes that grape juice is the cure-all.  In My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the father is always talking about "Windex."  My father ALWAYS talks about the health benefits of grape juice.  It doesn't matter the ailment!  He thinks for a moment, and then he very thoughtfully says, "You know, if you add a little lime juice to your grape juice that will really make you feel better."  We call that "Jungle Juice."  He also loves mixing grape juice and milk- that's his "Purple Cow."  The grape juice curdles the milk... Yuck!  ...but he loves how it curdles!

My father drove a car out to us from Missouri to Utah a few years ago.  We knew he was supposed to be coming in soon, so we worried when he wasn't driving up.  

Apparently, when he was less than a mile away from our house, somebody flagged him over because his car was on fire!!  He jumped out of the car, and he could see the fire was behind the tires.  People were watching.  He had to do something before the fire trucks could make it to him.  He didn't have any water to put the fire out... BUT HE HAD HIS GRAPE JUICE!!  Yep, he poured his precious grape juice all over the fire and saved the car!  When the firefighters came, they investigated the cause.  They concluded that his breaks had locked up through the mountains... but they were very confused by the sticky substance that had formed all around the tires.  My dad explained his use of grape juice to put the fire out.  We made sure to buy him some more grape juice for his stay at our house.

My sister-in-law made him a t-shirt that says, "Grape juice saved my life, and it can save yours too."  I LOVE seeing him wear that wonderful shirt. :)

I love my father with all my heart.  I really could go on for days about Dad.  I'm eternally grateful I have a father whom I can turn to for unconditional love.  He is a shining example of testimony and service.  I also love his quirky ways.  That's my dad!  I hope that if you have not met him yet, you will have that opportunity some day.  You will be blessed. 

Happy Birthday Dad!!!  I love you!!  We love you!!  You are ONE OF A KIND!!  

Mom and Dad make a marvelous team!!