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When I think of my dad, the words that the Lord said about Hyrum Smith come to mind: “I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:15).

Loving that which is right, my dad taught me many life lessons as I was growing up. But I’m especially grateful for the things he never taught me.

He never taught me to curse. I have a brother just a year older than I am, and the three of us would go camping or hiking as “just us men,” and Dad never used that as a time to be profane or tell dirty jokes. He was as respectful when he was around us boys as when he was around my mom or my sister or his mother. I remember one time he was having a particularly bad day, working long hours on a Saturday when he probably would have rather been relaxing. With my brother and me in the backseat of our station wagon, he backed up into a curb, and in the heat of the moment he yelled an expletive. Then, getting his calm back, he turned to us and, with the most brokenhearted look I’d ever seen, apologized for what he had said. In the 30 years since, I’ve never heard him repeat it.

He never taught me to be selfish. When my mom was pregnant with me, and my dad was in college, hoping to become a doctor, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She went downhill quickly, having to quit her job and having trouble taking care of my older brother. My dad, knowing where his priorities lay, went to his school counselor to figure out the quickest way to graduate: they found that instead of pre-med, he could graduate soon with a degree in psychology. It wouldn’t get him to his goal, but he’d have a degree and maybe he could get a better job. He did it in a heartbeat. He gave up his career dream because he loved his wife more than that dream.

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