|In loving memory of Raymond T. Park, "Dad"|
I'm going to start by reflecting, for a moment, on my Dad. He passed away October 17, 2008. Dad was my hero as I was growing up. I thought his words were gospel. His interests were mine. He was always cheerful and willing to help others. He wanted to save the world and frequently befriended those who had few friends. He loved to make people laugh and was always cracking jokes.
When Dad had a very unexpected heart attack, people came out of the woodwork to show our family love and support. We were overwhelmed by the love shown to us. Although there are many I could mention today, I want to spotlight two men: Larry Russell and Curtis Sagers. I don't know that they ever knew what a comfort they were to my family at this trying time.
Larry was with Dad when he suffered his heart attack. He was hauling Dad's herd of goats to the auction to sell. I know that Larry always wished he could have done more to save my dad, but I also know that there wasn't anyone else in the whole world that would have tried harder to do so.
By the time all of the reviving efforts were made and the paramedics drove off with Dad, Larry knew that he would be too late to get the animals he was hauling, to the auction. He called ahead and they promised him they'd wait for him and sell the goats.
As we went through this trying time, Larry was a valued part of our family, conveying his love for Dad in all of the stories he shared and actions he performed. He took over the ranch duties for Mom and made sure we could solely focus on Dad. Words cannot convey the feelings of gratitude we feel for Larry. He spoke at Dad's funeral and gave us lasting memories to hold onto until we see Dad again.
Curtis was the bishop of the Rush Valley Ward at the time my Dad passed away. When I got to the University of Utah Hospital, Curtis was already there. He met me with a big hug and words of comfort that were so valuable in the days ahead.
We didn't expect Dad to be in the hospital long. He was very healthy and active and we knew that it was just a matter of time before the doctors would allow us to go in and talk to him. Curtis shared this optimistic view with us and his light comments and support added peace to our hearts.
To make three very long and emotional days short, Dad never regained consciousness. Curtis was there with us throughout. I'm sure he missed work and other obligations to be with us. He was so intuitive about when we needed some space and when we needed words of comfort. The respect he showed when he thought we needed family-only time still causes me pause and I know that he was guided by Heavenly Father at that time to help us get through our ordeal.
Larry and Curtis, thank you for being true disciples of Christ, for bringing a little bit of heaven to our lives when it was needed most, and for going "above and beyond" what we could have ever expected.