Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rotten Peach and other Childhood Memories of my Dad

Today is my dad's 60th birthday, which, frankly, is very hard for me to believe.  Sixty seems old, and my dad has never seemed old to me.  He is active, hardworking, healthy, and, if I do say so myself, quite handsome.  I feel like it was just yesterday that he was not pleased about turning forty:

And now he is sixty.  Wow.

And if he is sixty, what does that make me?  Oh yeah--thirty-one next Sunday!  Why do I still feel like a little girl when I snuggle up to my dad and put my head on his shoulder??  (Yes, I definitely still do that.)

So in honor of feeling like my dad and I are both still young, I thought I would take a few minutes tonight to record some of my favorite childhood memories of my dad.  This is Part 1 of a series of blog posts I am going to do about him this week.  Yes, a series.  Because a sixtieth birthday is a pretty big deal--and he is a pretty awesome dad.  I want it documented for my posterity, and this is as good a chance as any.

So thanks for indulging me as I journey down memory lane.  I think by the end of it, you will love my dad *almost* as much as I do.


One of my earliest memories ever is scoring a goal for my recreational soccer team.  I was about seven years old, and I was so excited that I immediately ran off the field into my dad’s arms and he spun me around and celebrated with me.  I remember that he was wearing his suit because he had come straight from work, and I think he was walking up to the field just in time to witness my big moment.

My dad worked a lot when I was growing up and still does (we’d have to ask his secretary, but I’d say he averages 60 hours a week, even now), but he never ever missed the big stuff.  I always knew that he would be there.

In later years, my dad refereed some of the soccer games for my league.  He never played soccer growing up, so he must have taken on this responsibility because he wanted to spend more time with me and invest in what I was interested in.  I remember him running up and down the field with his dorky socks pulled high, blowing his whistle.

Another early memory happened when I was probably three or four years old and I woke up covered in throw up in the middle of the night (a lovely rite of passage for children and their parents, right?).  I remember calling out for help, and my dad came in and tenderly cleaned me up.  I remember him putting me in a bath and helping me get all warm and clean.  I felt so safe and cared for.

I loved falling asleep in the car because Dad would carry me into the house and tuck me into my bed.  As he picked me up, I’d always slightly wake, but I would hold very still and sink deeper into his arms, not wanting him to know that I was awake because I loved feeling the warmth of his arms and his kiss on my forehead after he tucked me in.  I’m sure he knew that I was awake, but he never let on.

When he would come home from work, he’d loosen his tie and yell, “Who wants to play BOOM?!” My sisters and I would run up the stairs shrieking with glee, and Dad would scoop us into his arms and throw us on our backs onto his bed, shouting “BOOOOOM!” We could’ve played that game for hours.

When my mom was in the hospital for three-months after her bone marrow transplant, my dad became a master of doing little girls’ hair. He was much more patient and gentle with our hair than Mom was (she would just rip that brush right through), and he would meticulously curl my bob under with a curling iron.  Even after Mom got better, Dad continued to curl my hair for special occasions and family photos. ;)

He taught us girls how to ski, and we loved it.  His little girls were dardevils and tried our best to keep up with him on the mountain.  He was always willing to ski the moguls with me, and I remember him shaking his head in amusement as Little Laura bombed down the hill with her long ski hat flailing out behind her.  Who needs sons when you have the crazy Westover daughters?

Though my dad comes across as serious and quiet, he has a silly side that he likes to pull out to amuse kids and teenagers.  He endeared himself to the children at our church when he performed “Three Blind Mice” at a Spring Sing and came in as the Farmer’s Wife.  He wore a blue dress and a pink bandana tied around his head. I will never forget his hairy legs and tennis shoes poking out from under that dress.  He let out these ridiculous woman-shrieks and jumped all around pretending to be afraid of the “mice” (the boys in his Primary class) and then he chopped off their tails with a cardboard knife.  I remember how everyone in the audience laughed and laughed, and I knew that I had the coolest dad of all.

When he later served as the Bishop of our congregation, he taught the young men and young women about a Prophet in The Book of Mormon named Captain Moroni who ripped off his coat and made a flag declaring the liberties for which he would fight and die.  In the midst of the lesson, to everyone’s surprise and delight, my dad ripped off his white collared shirt, pretending to be Moroni and declaring his allegiance to the cause of liberty.  (Don’t worry, he had a shirt on underneath.)  So classic.

His silliness perhaps became even more exaggerated within the walls of our own home.  He was the king of bedtime games.  One of his earliest was “rotten peach.”  He’d get us all calm and tucked in (or he would come into the room after Mom had gotten us all calm and tucked in), and as he leaned over to kiss us goodnight, he would say, “Mmmm, I think I smell a juicy peach.”  He would then pretend to take a big bite out of one of our arms or legs or something, and after a moment of “chewing,” he would pretend to violently vomit and then shout, “This peach is rotten!!  Put it down the garbage disposal!” Then he would pick us up, toss us on the floor, and start spinning us around wildly while making disposal noises.  As you can imagine, this charade put us into fits of giggles, and I’m sure it wasn’t easy to fall asleep afterward. ;)

As one of my most random memories, I vividly remember my dad giving himelf a swirlie in the toilet on a dare from his daughters.  (What in the world, Dad??  Did you clean it before you stuck your head in there?!)  Of course we thought it was so hilarious that we had to try it too.   And to top it off, we had some friends over that night who also got in on the action.  I cannot imagine what their parents thought when they came to pick them up and heard what Mike Westover had allowed us to do!  Naaaasty!

His bad influence continued as he took his daughters and our friends “toilet papering” late at night and taught us how to get the TP roll up high in the trees.  Apparently he had done a lot of this as a teenager, and he was a master.  This is so funny to me now—we would probably get arrested or something in this day and age.

When we were littler, he would let us jump off of our big stairs into his arms.  Again, all of our friends got into it as well, and we kept climbing higher and higher onto the steps and then throwing ourselves into his arms.  We never doubted he would catch us, though I think there were some close calls.

For some reason, my dad hated the song “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston.  He couldn’t understand why it was so popular because he said it sounded like a howling dog when it got to the part where she started singing “I-----ei-----ei!” over and over.  Of course he played up his hatred and we totally fed into it.  We would blast the song at opportune moments to get a reaction out of him.  One time we turned it way up on the car radio, and he kicked us out of the car and made us walk home.  Too good.

When my mom threw Halloween parties for our friends or family, my dad played the part of the vampire mixing up the “potion” (which was actually rootbeer).  He wore vampire teeth and fake blood, and, in a dramatic vampire voice, he told all the kids the different things he was adding to the pot, such as “frog brains” and “witches’ fingernails.”  For the grand finale, he dumped dry ice into the cauldron and shouted that it was “NUCLEAR WASTE!”  None of us knew what nuclear waste was, of course, but we all screamed in terror as the potion started to smoke and my dad threw back his head and bellowed out evil laughter.

Can you believe how fun my dad was??  It's even more hilarious when you know him in person because he is quiet, intelligent, and introspective.  But deep down inside, he is a nut.  Either that or a really good sport and a total sucker for his daughters.

In the midst of all the fun, he was sensitive to our needs and had serious talks with us at times. The first Sunday of every month, he had daddy-daughter “interviews” where he would take us individually and snuggle on the couch and talk to us about our lives.  Of course we loved it as kids, but as we became pre-teens, I remember groaning when he called us for our turn.  We thought it was so awkward (and it was), but he persisted and laughed good-naturedly at our moaning.  We even nicknamed our Daddy Interviews "Torture" and everyone in the family, including Dad, started referring to them as that.  "It's time for Torture, Girls!" ;) Despite our teasing, my dad wanted to make sure that he had at least one serious, one-on-one talk with us each month to get some sense of how we were doing emotionally and spiritually.

In classic Dad fashion, he sometimes drifted off to sleep in our interviews.  Hahahaha!  That man works like a dog, and he is always always sleep-deprived.  It is a running joke in our family that if Dad sits down anywhere he will fall asleep (it has happened at major league baseball games and even on a Tilt-o-Whirl).  It kind of ruined the whole “undivided attention and interest in my daughter” vibe during our interviews when Dad started snoring beside us, but it just makes the story even better.  Hey, he was trying!

My dad is endlessly patient and calm, and it was very rare for him to lose his temper with us girls.  We always joked (and still do) that you know when Dad is annoyed or angry because his shoulders twitch.  Yet he would never yell or say anything unkind to us.  He disciplined us with firm but patient love.

In 30 years of life, I only have one memory of my dad losing his temper with me.  I was about 11 years old (way too old to be having a temper tantrum) and in a fit of rage because my parents wouldn’t let me do something, I stomped up to my bedroom and slammed the door so hard that it broke.  Yes, the door broke.  I then heard my dad stomping up the stairs (not a good sign) and he came into my room, swatted me on the behind, and picked me up and put me in my bed.  Then he walked out.  I remember lying there and thinking, “Well, I deserved that.”

As I relive all of these memories, I am reminded again and again that I truly had a beautiful childhood.  And that is all thanks to my amazing parents.  My dad was so loving, so patient, so fun, and so invested us.  I adore him, and there really aren't words to communicate how much I admire him.  I hope the memories that I share this week will capture that.

HAPPY 60th BIRTHDAY WEEK, DAD!  I love you!!

(Part two here.) 


  1. You are an amazing writer. And I loved this post. I obviously don't know you're dad but reading about him made me want to know him. :)

  2. LOVE the part about Whitney Houston and your dad making you walk home. Best ever. Beautiful memories. I can't wait to read more!

  3. Love these Dad stories! Would love him to do a follow up blog from his point of view!

  4. This is the BEST. And I know how much your dad loves peaches!! Rotten peach - so funny.


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