Let me introduce y'all to my father, Dr. G. Reed Holyoak:
Apparently, the only recent picture I had of him was from Spencer's graduation last year. How sad is that?I don't talk about my dad very often, simply because he's the modest type who prefers to just kind of stand by and let others take center stage. However, he is easily one of the most important men in my life (beat out only by Spencer). He's a theriogenologist (veterinary reproductive specialist) at Oklahoma State University and the smartest guy I know. To be honest, I can't really think of a way in which he hasn't influenced my life.
Growing up, I was the epitome of Daddy's Girl. We started with an early connection when, as a young veterinary student, he delivered me on our couch when the midwife didn't get there in time. From then on, Dad had me in his back pocket. All I ever wanted was his approval; to be his Baby Doll (his pet name for me). He was always there, striving me to reach higher, be a better version of myself. My siblings and I knew we had to live up to the Holyoak name, that we had a legacy of hard work to uphold. Whenever I had questions, he was the one I first went to, whether it was about the Book of Mormon, cell division, or my period (how many girls do that, really?!). I remember a time I was walking around B.Y.U. loudly discussing artificial insemination (and all the *ahem* preparation that goes into it) with my father on my cell phone. Spencer just stood there cringing and trying to shush me.
Really, my father is still the first person I go to with questions...I have to give a talk in church: he's the man I go to for quotes and direction. I have a question about ovulation or birth control: Dad again. I need to know to if I should take one of the mowglis into the doctor for a possible concussion or stitches: yep, Dad. I know when I get around to finishing up my degree, it'll be his voice I hear in my head egging me on.
Throughout my childhood, he'd sing "You Are My Sunshine" to me and it's still the song I sing to my children every night while putting them to bed. As a youth, my father was at every single Stake dance I ever went to (and that's A LOT, we had them every month!) because he was always affiliated with the youth in one way or the other (whether through the Young Men, Bishopric, or Stake Presidency). At every one, we'd dance together to Dixie Chick's "Cowboy Take Me Away" which has always reminded me of my cowboy father. He claimed it was because the normal young ruffians I danced with had no idea how to properly dance to a country song like that (which is mostly true...most Young Men do some version of a shuffle, speeding up or slowing down, depending on the song), but we both loved it so much I'd seek him out to find him when the opening chords came on. It's one of my biggest regrets in life that I didn't get a chance to dance with him to that song at my wedding reception.
My father, poor diligent man, always tried to keep me talking, even during the petulant teenage years. Originally, as a kid, we'd have Daddy-Daughter talks every first Sunday of the month ("Daughter talk, Daddy listen"), but once those youth years hit, he had to get creative. We sit together in the dark on our way to early-morning seminary and he's ask question after question about my week, school, work, wrestling (I was a manager for my high school team), etc. Even now, when he asks how I'm doing and I reply, "fine." or "good." he stills says, "What, only fine/good? Why not great?"
He's such a good grandad to my kids. Ezra, especially, just thinks the man walks on water (gee, wonder where he got that? ;). When we visit Mimi and Grandad's house, all the cousins can't wait to see him come home from work so that they can run out and feed the horses with him. My hesitant Ezra, who has to think everything out ten-fold before proceeding, doesn't hesitate to go anywhere and do anything with Grandad. He is one of those men that is like the communal father/ grandfather-figure at church, starting from a really young age actually, what with his going gray in his 20s. He always has a piece of candy in his suit coat pocket and exciting, involved stories about sheep and cows just waiting to be told (it takes some definite talent to make sheep and cows enthralling enough to keep a bunch of wiggly primary kids captivated).
Poor Spence, when we got married he had some big ol' shoes to fill. On the other hand, my father was one of the reasons I actually married Spencer. While they're very different in so many ways, they are also a lot alike and I recognized those much-loved traits in Spencer while we were dating. They're both extremely hard workers (almost to a fault), both mentally and physically. They're both very spiritually-strong individuals. Dad and Spence are very educationally-driven. They're also slightly more mellow personalities (although my dad definitely didn't start out that way as a young Montana cowboy with a red-hot temper), willing to let the women in their lives be opinionated and independent. Those are most of the things I love most about Spencer, and I know I first learned to appreciate them in my own father.
I love you, Dad. So much it gets me all teary-eyed just thinking about it. I'm so, so glad I have you in my life and you're young enough that my children will get to have you for so long in theirs. Thank you for being such a good father to all of us. Love you!
In case you're curious, here's a video of my dad in action: