Today is my dad's birthday. His name is George Wellington Ross Jr. How much more stuffy can a name get? I have always thought it was a curious name for him as he is quite funny. Funny in a Ha Ha way, as well as funny in a funny way. Although, now that I am thinking about it, maybe his name suits him perfectly as he too is quite an enigma.
My dad grew up in Detroit, and although he doesn't talk much about his younger years, I gather that he was a bit of a wild child from the wrong side of the tracks. He joined the Navy during the Vietnam war and pretty much hated it the whole time he was enlisted. When he got out, he met my mom, joined the church, got hitched, and never looked back. I think this is why my dad is such a contradiction. He's fabulously stubborn, but was able to make a 180 degree life change. He lived 100% in two very different cultures. He did the whole hard living thing-but when he joined the church he left it all behind. He read manuals and copied neighbors to learn what a good dad was like, then did his best to emulate it.
Let me give an example of the paradox that is my dad. My dad really likes peace and quiet which doesn't jive with the kid thing, but since Mormons have lots of kids, he had lots of kids (6). This made for some strange compromises. All good Mormon families had dinner together each night, so we did. Only our dinner table was renamed "The Quiet Table" by my dad. We had to sit quietly so we wouldn't drive him nuts. We could ask for the salt, but conversation with my parents or amongst ourselves was discouraged. We all found it quite amusing and rolled our eyes far too often! So weird. :)
My dad is an amazing public speaker. Really. He can hold an audience in the palm of his hand. He'll have you laughing out loud one second, quietly crying the next. He has a cool voice and can make even Management Training (what he used to do for a living) fun to listen to. He could talk to 10,000 people and not blink or be the slightest bit uncomfortable. Oddly, he is a bit of a recluse and finds it almost painful socializing one on one. Strange. The guy has perfect pitch but doesn't like listening to music. Curious.
George Wellngton Ross Jr. is a different kind of guy, and that is why I have so much gratitude for him. I have never met a convert to the church that was able to fully embrace and live the Gospel and assimilate into Mormon culture like my dad. It was definately contrary to how he had lived the first quarter-century of his life. But where the rubber met the road, he got it done. If there was ever a church anything, we were there. Monday night we couldn't answer the phone-FHE. Miss family prayer? Not a chance. You get the idea. I think it typically can take a few generations to get the whole Mormon thing down, but my dad learned what was expected, and he did it-which has made my life considerably easier than it might have otherwise been.
So thanks dad for being non-typical. I love and appreciate you and Mom and are so proud you are serving a mission in the West Indies. You two are both a tremendous example of service to your 6 loud kids and 20+ roaring grandchildren! Family dinners now are a BLAST!!!