Sunday, July 13, 2014

Remembering My Father

Dad was born on October 31, 1927, in Idaho Falls, Idaho., the youngest of three siblings.  A rather premature baby, his parents were surprised at his gender and hadn’t picked out a boy’s name. The attending nurse suggested “Richard” as a manly name. Another nurse thought “Del” was ideal middle name. And so he was named Richard Del But was known by all as Del.


He showed musical talent at an early age and was rewarded with small change for singing for relatives and friends, but he was shy and never really enjoyed performing this way.


As a typical young boy he roller skated and biked with friends. He remembered walking on the frozen Portneuf River on a dare. One friend stuck his tongue to the frozen metal bridge necessitating a fire department rescue.

He recalls an invitation to stay at a friends farm which was a novelty to him and very exciting. There he learned that “hitting the hay” had nothing to do with work, but with sleep. 

His enthusiasm for music began in the 5th or 6th grade. His teacher, Miss Olsen had her students learn about and listen to the music of great composers. It was then that he whittled his first baton.


Dad attended Pocatello High School where he was involved playing clarinet and saxophone in the bands and orchestras. His first feelings of a testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith came at about this time as his father helped him to understand that Jesus Christ was Jehovah of the Old Testament. His testimony resulted from pondering section 87 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Joseph Smith prophesied the beginning of the Civil War 28 years before it’s occurring. If this was true, and it was, so were the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price. The Restored Gospel had to be true.



In 1945 and shortly after graduation he joined the U.S. Navy, serving for a short period as World War II was winding down.  It was while serving in Bremerton that he wrote one letter to our mother to be, Julienne. He had never really been interested in her because she had red hair and freckles, and she happened to be dating one of his best friends.

His mother encouraged him, “You ought to date Julienne Hill.”

“But she has red hair and freckles!”

While he was away he got thinking, “What difference does hair color make?” He decided right then and there that he was going to see Julienne when he got home. There were four guys he had to fight off to get her, but he had the advantage because they played music so often together.


Mother and Dad were married in the Logan Temple on May 22, 1950. They spent their honeymoon in Sun Valley where mother was broken in as a new wife, nursing Dad who had acquired food poisoning.

Dad graduated from Idaho State University and earned his Masters in music education from the University of Utah. Mother and Dad spent most of their waking hours over their entire lives together making music and teaching music to young people.


This is when David, Linda, Mark, and I came into the picture.

I learned at a very young age that there was something special about being a Del Slaughter’s daughter. For one, my neighbor, Mr. Alexander would greet me with a, “Hey there Slaughter House!” then he’d laugh and laugh. I was taught to answer the phone, “Slaughter House, Spareribs speaking.” For years I didn’t even know what a slaughter house was.


My dad was famous! When I was very small, I would walk the couple of blocks from our house to the high school stadium or gymnasium look at the big men at the door and declare (as if I was a princess or something) “I’m Del Slaughter’s daughter!” They would give each other a quizzical look then glance back at me and part the way. That declaration was my ticket to join my father and his Twin Falls High School Pep Band for all the football and basketball games. Mine as well. I never felt so important!


Dad taught band and orchestra in public schools in St. Anthony, Boise, and mostly in Twin Falls for for 32 years. He taught private wind and brass students before and after school, He was also the conductor of the Magic Valley Symphony, the Twin Falls City Band, and the pit orchestra for the Diletante productions. Our family vacations most often consisted of attending various music camps in Idaho and Utah where mother and dad were asked to teach.


Dad was handsome and dressed smartly in a dress shirt and tie every day of school. His shoes were polished and always looked brand new. He knew that his students would respect him if he dressed the part. He always carried a pen and comb in his front pocket, both of which he used often. On Saturdays, he dawned his jump suit and on Sundays his Wool Suit


Dad loved mother, and we kids knew it.  He loved us because we were part of her.  We came in about third.  Mother, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it was a tie between his love of music and his children.  We were fine with that, in fact when we would see Dad catch Mother at the sink with her hands in the dishsoapy water, and bend her backward for a kiss, we would be outwardly embarrassed and inwardly delighted!  Dads favorite quote was from Pres. David O McKay:  "The most important thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother."



Dad taught at least one of his children in both High School Band and Orchestra for eleven consecutive years. It was a very special experience. We learned to know our dad and he could depend on us to perform well and set a good example. Both Linda and I served as Concertmaster of the Orchestra. After each performance, Dad would have the orchestra stand and receive an ovation. He would walk over to me and give me not just the traditional handshake, but also a kiss... on the mouth. The violinist who was to take my place when I graduated, came to me seemingly a bit worried, “When I’m concertmaster, is your dad going to kiss me too?”  


It was a tradition in our family to go out for treats after concerts. Our favorite treat was a Cherry 7-up Float at King’s Food Host. The server had just brought our tall glasses of cold goodness, when Mother spotted friends in the booth behind her and in her happy excited manner. turned about to talk with them, unknowingly knocking a float squarely into Dad’s lap. With quick reflexes, he caught the ice cream and just sat there while she chatted merrily.

Dad was strict and principled, but fair.  He felt that students and his own children would rise to the level of expectation.  He  lectured like a teacher at home, but as we grew older, we realized that all that teaching was because he cared what kind of person we would become.

When Dad retired from teaching, mother was worried about what he would do with himself and thought he ought to have a hobby other than music, so she bought him a Band Saw. Maybe she thought he would take to it because it was a “Band” saw?! Nope. He just wanted to be with her.

While Mother was outgoing and gregarious, Dad was pretty quiet. He was a man of few words.  During summer break between my years at the Y, I met Randy Collier, dated him a couple of times, then went back to the Y and.... kind of dumped him for another.  The next summer, I realized my great error and expressed my concerns to my parents. My dad surprised me by asking, “Would you like me to speak with him?”

“Ummm... sure!”

We invited Randy over for dinner. Dad sat down with him in the living room.
A bit nervous, mother and I perched ourselves out of sight, but within ear shot in the kitchen.

I heard my dad’s voice, “Randy. We want you to know that whatever you would like to do with our daughter is okay with us.”

My mother and I “lost it” completely.
Randy was speechless.


Dad had some funny little quirks

I loved it when he turned his glasses upside down and did the highland fling in his bathrobe!

Every Christmas, Dad would agonizingly make us wait for him to shave before we could see what Santa had brought us!
 
We had just one car. When I asked him if I could borrow it, he would reply, “Let me think about it.” After what seemed an eternity I would give up on getting an answer and just walk or take my bike. I guess I didn’t need the car that badly after all.

Whenever I would ask Daddy for a dollar, he would pull one out, make his lip quiver and kiss it good-by.  Made it tough to ask him for money, which I think was Dad's intention

But Dad was perfect in so many ways.

He joined the Rotary Club and had perfect attendance for 27 years. I was born during one of those meetings. Mother thought she was just having heart burn and sent him to go have some lunch.

Dad was not only always on time, he was always early.

I don’t ever remember him missing school, or church meetings, or rehearsals. Maybe he did because of illness... then again, I don’t remember him ever getting sick!

I had no doubt that he loved our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and knew their gospel to be true, a testimony that he was not afraid to share. And because he loved Them so completely, he loved us as his children unconditionally. I believed in him as Patriarch of our family. The many Father’s Blessings that he gave me were inspiring and comforting.

The night before Randy and I were married, Dad gave Randy his very first Father’s Blessing, and me, my last... from him. I shed tears that night realizing that from the next day forward, another man would be the patriarch of my home. Randy and I and our children feel his example and influence each day of our lives.

When Mother became sick, he was there at her side.  We watched their true love change into eternal love.  Dad continued to be our example as he dealt with Mother's death in 1998 and as he grew older himself, aged by her loss.


For the past year or so, Dad slowed down and faded away. He passed away on June 26.


We looked through the manuscripts of his original music compositions and found a beautiful little love song that he wrote, “I’ll Know Her". The words are sweet and remind me of what it might have been like just before he left mortality to be with mother again. What a sweet reunion that must have been…

I’ll know her, the one I’m dreaming of;
I’ll know her, the one that I can love.

I’m waiting for her first hello
And her voice soft as it can be.

For when our eyes meet I know 
I’ll know that she lives only for me.

I’ll take her, hold her warm and close,
I’ll know her, the one that I love most.

And so I’ll keep on looking high and low 
‘Til I find her, to tell her that I know.


Today I am grateful for so many things. Especially for my dad who taught me what it means to love. You, dad, are my example of courage, faith, dedication, and honor.

Thank you for everything. I am so blessed to be your daughter.


Till We Meet Again!

3 comments:

  1. I'm sitting here in tears. What a special man, and such an incredible example. Thank you so much for sharing his story. It's easy to see how all of you Colliers turned out to be so amazing, with such a great example to look up to.

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  2. Ted & Patty HadleyJuly 14, 2014 at 10:41 PM

    Beautiful account of a beautiful man and woman! Wow!

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  3. A beautiful tribute to a wonderful man! I love him. I love you!

    ReplyDelete