Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Weird Father's Day


The day before it, actually

It started out very early, as I got Jake ready for his day and Cub Scout Day Camp. It was kind of a landmark day for Jake, as we spent time together, shooting BB guns, making rope (he and his powered wheelchair were the hit of the day when he helped them win the Tug-of-War), and doing Archery. Even though it drizzled and rained most of the day, he had a great time.

I, of course, came home exhausted.

...Only to find out that a couple of neighborhood boys had broken into our home while we were out a couple of days ago and stolen a camera and our two boys' laptop computers. So, we had to confront the boys with their parents.

I approached that with a certain amount of trepidation. One boy is constantly over at our house playing with Brendon, and another is one we don't know. With the first boy, we knew the news would be very hard on his father. With the other boy, we didn't know how his family would react. We'd never met them before.

We were relieved to find that both sets of parents were upset at their kids, but in what we felt were the right ways. They were eager to resolve the issue and to put harsh enough consequences in place so that the boys actually learned something from that. Without going into detail, I left the experience saddened for the families, but encouraged that there's still a lot of examples of what I feel is good parenting in the world.

Typically, when a kid breaks the law, people are quick to judge the parents and label them bad. After all, if they were good parents, the kid wouldn't have strayed, now would he? Well, keep in mind that Lehi's kids weren't exactly the best, and Alma's son went around actively harming the church. Yet no one would accuse those fathers of unrighteousness.

I mean, the kids just made some mistakes. Now they have to deal with them.

Then, later, as we were driving home from my Father-in-law's Father's Day BBQ, my kids spontaneously started singing primary songs in the back seat. I suddenly noticed that they were singing, "Love is Spoken Here."

They got to the second verse: "Ours is a home where every hour/Is blessed by the strength of Priesthood power..." I just cried. Literally, tears were rolling down my cheeks.

I can't say what helps the other families run their homes, but I can say what a great strength the Priesthood and the Church has been in mine.

Happy Father's Day...

Mark Hansen

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dinrist, My Guitar

Sometime around 1980 (memory fuzzes after all those years), I was at the used rack in a music store in my hometown of Terre Haute, Indiana, and I saw this absolutely incredible guitar. It was a natural finish maple, a "beautiful blonde". It had the coolest shape I'd ever seen on an electric guitar. It was like a mandolin with a scroll. An absolutely beautiful guitar. The price tag was $300, a huge sum for me in those days.

At that particular moment, I had my then-current guitar (a no-name or small-name strat copy) in to have an intonation done or some such minor stuff. I had paid about $75 for it and a reall bad amp from a friend in my ward.

Kind of off-the-cuff, I asked him how much he'd give me for it in a trade-up toward that Epiphone. I kind of remembered trying to play down my interest in the guitar that had caught my eye. I didn't want him to think I wanted it TOO bad.

He looked over the two guitars and hemmed and hawed, and finally pronounced, "Ohhhhhhh, I guess I'd give you a hundred fifty for it."

"Okay!" Done. I put it on layaway, with my old guitar as a down payment. I had absolutely no idea how I was going to pay it off. But over the course of that summer, I managed to earn the remaining $150, and it was mine.

Right away, I named it. I was big into fantasy literature, and I morphed a couple of elvish words into it's name: "Dinrist" The Silence Cleaver!

I soon found "my sound". By using the coil tap and the pickup selector, and tweaking the settings on my amp, I could make it sound pretty much like Brian May. It was a sweet axe. I used it in garage bands, and once, when a poetry writing class assignment was to write a romantic poem, I wrote to it.

I can still clearly remember playing that guitar when I had my epiphany that I needed to set it aside and go on my mission. When I realized that music, as important as it was to me, wasn't as important as my burgeoning testimony.

When my mission in Honduras neared its end, people started teasing me about going home to my girlfriend. Like so many others, she and I had parted ways about half-way through my adventure. Instead, I told them, "La unica q' me espera es mi guitarra!" (The only girl waiting for me is my guitar).

I've bought, sold and traded many guitars since then. I've played in many failed and floundered bands. I've recorded songs with it and other guitars. But this one has been with me, faithfully, the longest of them all.

So, the other day, my son picked it up, and I showed him how to make a rock power chord shape, and play "Tom Sawyer". A few days later, he's got it pretty much down.

So, all those years that I played this guitar, and all the years that I'd hoped for a son suddenly converged. Here was my son playing my guitar, and making it sound good.

Here's to you both!

Mark Hansen


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