My Dad, Louis Albert Kirby

Louis Albert Kirby in High School
High School

It seems strange to think of my dad, Louis Albert Kirby, as my ancestor, but by definition he is. Regardless, when I saw the #52Ancestors prompt “Invite to Dinner,” I immediately thought of him. If I could invite any of my progenitors to dinner he would be my first choice. I wouldn’t invite him for my sake alone, or even primarily for my sake. I would love to see and speak with him, of course. I mostly would love to have him over for dinner so he could meet my family.

As mentioned in a previous post, I never knew my Grandpa Kirby. He passed away in 1960, years before my parents met. I have always felt like I was missing something not having my paternal grandfather in my life. When my dad passed away in 2010, years before I met my husband, part of my mourning was dealing with the fact that my husband and children would never know my dad. My children are growing up without a maternal grandfather, without their Grandpa Kirby. I still mourn that loss.

I have the luxury of knowing both of my husband’s parents. I notice quarks and habits, words and phrases, ideas and attitudes of his and can often identify which parent he picked it up from. It may not always be a good thing, but I like to think that my perspective on the matter helps him know himself better. I truly wish that he could do the same for me. There are certainly things that I recognize that I learned from my mom or dad, but I would love a third-party perspective. Fortunately he can point out when I am turning into my mother.

Here are things that I believe my children have inherited from my dad:

  • My first-born has clear, vibrant blue eye. So did my dad. I had forgotten. I was so grateful when my sister pointed that out to me. Now I can proudly say, when someone compliments my daughter on those eyes, that she gets them from my dad.
    Louis Kirby_00002A
    If you look closely you can see his blue eyes.
  • My second child has a quite determination that reminds me of my dad. Neither of them are high energy individuals, but my son seems to work through the physical challenges of growing without making a big fuss about it. My dad had debilitating pain much of his adult life, but pushed forward only murmuring under his breath (most of the time). He loved life and was going to live it as long as he could.

These are a few things I have inherited and learned from my dad

  • My dad loved show tunes and the music of the 1940s and 1950s. Maybe it was due to constant exposure, but I grew to love them too.There were only a few things he and I could agree on during my holier-than-thou teenaged years, but we could agree on what to listen to in the car. Fortunately there was a radio station that we could pick up that played music we both loved.
  • I have always admired and tried to emulate my dad’s loyalty. Once my dad was your friend, he was your friend for life. Sometimes he was loyal to a fault. For example, he would be loyal to a certain business even when he could get a better value for a particular product or service elsewhere. I try to be a loyal friend and family member like my dad.
  • I learned from my dad the importance of showing up. He was unfailingly supportive of ward (church congregation) activities. Brandon and I have carried on this tradition. I never regret going to a church activity and always regret not going.
    This was a church daddy daughter date. I distinctly remember insisting that we pose this way. He didn’t want to, but went along with it because he knew it was important to me and (let’s face it) he wouldn’t have heard the end of it if he hadn’t.
  • Along the same lines, my dad showed by example that if your children have an event or performance you support them by showing up. From soccer games when I was 8 years old through college big band swing dancing he came to all of my varied performances. When my dad was basically homebound due to advanced Parkinson’s Disease and he knew about a team dance performance I had he and my amazing mom attended. It was physically taxing on my dad and he even had to climb steep stairs with the help of some of my male teammates. Yet, he wanted to support me and attend. It still means so much to me. When I graduated from Utah State University my mom made all the necessary arrangements for she and my dad to attend with my dad in a wheel chair. Ironically, I walked in the commencement so my parents could be involved on some level in my college experience and they made the effort to come because they thought it mattered so much to me. It turns out that all of us would have been fine to have just stayed home that day. I am determined to be just as supportive of my children in their endeavors.
    May 2008 USU Commencement
  • My dad gave me a historic perspective. He was really into the news. He watched it faithfully and the newspaper is basically the only thing I remember him reading outside of the scriptures. If there was any big events we were not permitted to change the channel from CNN. As a result I remember many world events that most of my peers do not. I remember the Challenger explosion, the fall of the Berlin wall, the Waco Texas massacre. Not only did we watch the live coverage, but my dad talked about how he felt about it and the ramifications of the event. I can only imagine how riveted he must have been to the news on September 11, 2001 when he had two daughters living near enough to the Pentagon and the Wold Trade Center that we could have conceivably been involved in the attacks. He was so relived when he was able to contact us and know that we were safe. With the information overload that seems to be ever-present in our culture today sometimes I just want to hide, but because of my dad I also want to know what is going on in the world. I am, as a result, a faithful NPR listener.

There is, of course, many other ways that my dad is a part of me. So, although he cannot join my family at our dinner table, through me my husband and children can know Grandpa Kirby on some level. And one day they will meet him in heaven. Knowing that gives me peace because I will regret his absence from their life and mine until then.

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