Most of you who know me know my Dad, and you’re already aware that he possesses quite a few great qualities. You probably already know that he’s incredibly smart. He’s so smart that people have to call him Dr. Kowallis, instead of just Mr. or Brother. Every Sunday, when we have family dinner, he and my Grandpa (also a doctor) inevitably get into some conversation that I’m much to stupid to participate in. And he was always able to help me with my homework, even if he was so smart that he would try to teach me easier ways to do math problems than how I learned to do them in school or how the book was saying to do them, and I would ask him to please just show me how to do math like all the other kids my age were doing math and not at a PhD level (this was a great source of stress for me in my younger days).
You probably also know that he is good, and kind and dependable. He always fulfils his church duties and callings without hesitation. This included dragging me off to do home teaching (for those people unfamiliar with home teaching, this is a practice in the LDS church where the men are called upon to visit different families and see how they are doing…even if the families don’t want you to visit them) every month without fail, serving as a Bishop, and now in the temple, as well as many others too numerous to list.
You also probably know that he loves his wife and kids and he loves gardening and taking care of his yard.
But I want to fill you in on just a few (of the many) things about my Dad that you may not already know.
First, my Dad, on top of being a brilliant scientist, is actually extremely artistic, and a talented writer. Here’s a link to his blog: http://urthreport.blogspot.com/
You can clearly see that the talent I have, if any, for writing, came straight from him. As for the art, he was always just as helpful with other projects I had in school as he was with math. Actually more so. He basically did my projects for me in most cases. The one’s that come to mind are my prize winning Valentine’s box in 3rd grade (you can read more about that here), and I remember one time having to make a covered wagon for school (WHY?!?!), and he somehow, with only household materials, built me the most amazing covered wagon replica you’ve ever seen. Like, it could have been in a museum. He sewed, actually sewed, the canvass wagon covering, and even made tiny little bags of sugar and flour to go inside of it. I wish I could have instagramed it. But, yeah I got A’s on most of my projects. And he also writes and illustrates children’s books in his spare time (this is true)!
(Side Note: my poor, poor, future children. I will neither be able to help them with their math nor any of their artistic projects).
My dad could survive a zombie apocalypse, for real. If some catastrophe actually happened, I would go straight to him. You could honestly send him out into the woods with nothing but the clothes on his back, and I’m confident he could survive. He can identify pretty much any plant and tell you whether or not it’s edible. And, due to many years working at scout camps (and this is back when scouts actually learned stuff) and camping, hunting and fishing with his own dad, he has an array of other skills that would blow your mind. If you’ve ever watched the show ‘Survivor Man’ that’s kind of how I picture my Dad, only not insane. Sadly these skills have not passed on to me either.
He’s also constantly working on something. Most of his free time is spent doing family history work. He teaches a family history class at BYU, is in charge of Family History in his stake, works at the temple at least once a week, and is constantly doing genealogy work from home as well. Even when we sit down to watch a sporting event or a TV show he will usually have his laptop with him to work on something. Or, mainly when watching sports with me, he will watch for 5 or 10 minutes, and then go back in his office to work and have me call him out if the game gets close or if something exciting happens. He’s passionate about genealogy work.
But without going into too much detail, my Dad had some amount of money set aside that he specifically wanted to use to travel around and find out more about our ancestors. Well, unlucky for him, God blessed him with an idiot son (me) who bought a car right off his mission, and then totaled it just a few months later…and didn’t have insurance…and was going to be stuck making payments for the rest of his life. And my Dad, probably against his better judgment, but out of compassion, sacrificed what he wanted, something much more important than a car, to pay his son’s debt.
I think though, that the most important skill my Dad has shown me (yet to be seen if this gets passed down to me), is how to properly treat his wife. My Dad has always worked full time, and has always had a job to support our family. But I’ve never known him to be the type of husband that comes home from work, kicks of his shoes, and relaxes in front of the TV. My Dad cooks (actually spectacularly well), and a lot of the time he would either cook dinner for the family, or would at least help my mother prepare it. And even when he wasn’t helping cook, I have NEVER known him to not clean up and do the dishes. Unless he was sick or had some other extenuating circumstance, I honestly (honestly) can’t remember a single day that my Dad didn’t do the dishes. I know it seems like a small thing, but for some reason, to me, it may be the most impactful example he’s set for me.
I could go on. But my guess is very few people, including maybe my Dad, have even made it this far, so I’m going to try to wrap this up.
I guess, Dad, there are just a couple things I want you to know about me as well.
Just in case you and Mom have any doubts, I am still attracted to and interested in women. I like women. In fact, just the other day I was with a woman. One that I really like! Oh, she’s not interested at all. But at least I was interacting with a female. One day yet I might still give you a grandchild. So don’t give up on me.
Also (you know I’m not great with feelings…and sharing them and stuff…but here goes) I am truly grateful for everything you’ve done for me in my life. I don’t say it often (or ever), but I think you have been a great father. I’m sorry that it seems like you might have done a bad job with me, but any mistakes I’ve made are probably a direct result of my stubbornness and doing the exact opposite of what you told me to do. Someday I’ll make you proud, even though it will have to be as something other than a geologist I’m afraid.
I love you Dad! You are my hero!
And I know this isn't a great gift so yes I will help you chop down those Aspen trees…