Monday, November 16, 2015

Michael's Tribute to his Dad

Funeral Service for Jack Albert Brown
In contemplating my Dad's life, I’ve considered Solomon’s wise statement in the Book of Proverbs:  “As a [man] thinketh, so is he.”  I believe Dad was able to live a rewarding and meaningful life because he was able to develop constructive thought patterns, which in turn guided his conduct and actions. 
    
From my view, one of those patterns was the ability to maintain a feeling of gratitude in his mind and in his heart in all aspects of his life.   He was a happy, positive individual for a reason – he was full of gratitude.  

Jesus Christ taught that the first and great commandment is to love God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength.  Dad was intensely committed to his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and was grateful to serve in numerous capacities.  As a bishop here in St. Johns, he freely gave up many hours each week for several years presiding over and counseling with those who shared the common goal of trying to live a Christlike lives.  Although I was quite young during those years, I remember how he always kept a positive outlook, which I attribute to his ability to have hope and exercise great faith - he commented many times that “discouragement is one of Satan’s greatest tools.”  

In a nutshell, Dad was grateful for everything he had:  Family, church, ranching, farming, gardening, water – even politics.   Owning and operating a ranch and farm gave him great enjoyment and satisfaction, even though it required incredibly hard work.   Dad was always concerned about taking care of the things he had been blessed with.   He learned that you worked with the land, the water, the cows, and horses – not against them.  I learned at an early age about Dad’s seemingly unique approach to livestock. For example, he preferred that no one use spurs on our horses, and when working with cattle in the corral he didn’t like using a Hot Shot, which is a rod that gives the cows an electrical shock to get them to move.  Instead, he found that a small stick or branch would usually do the trick.  Also, I never once in my life heard him utter a swear word, not even when he was exhausted from loading about 90 recently weaned calves into a semi-trailer, one by one, for several hours in the dark, or when I watched our mare “Shortening” kick him in the chest so hard it knocked him flat on the ground for several minutes.  

  Now, I’m sure some of my cousins are thinking, is this the same Uncle Jack we knew when we came to help on the farm and ranch?   There is no doubt the decibel level of Dad’s voice increased when he was working, and admonitions such as “get out of the middle of the herd!” or, “don’t break that shovel by leaning on it”, “can't you see that water won't run uphill?” or the ever popular, “don’t pop the clutch!”, caused all of us to feel some sting at one time or another.   Regardless of the urgent delivery of the message during those times, I have little doubt we were able to learn and grow as a result of Dad’s efforts to motivate us to work harder and faster.  And there is no doubt that he enjoyed the opportunity to share with others the skills and knowledge he had gained throughout his life.

He was grateful for America, and especially the State of Arizona and the ranch land he was privileged to work with.  He made sure he was a good steward of the land – moving the cattle to prevent overgrazing, putting in dozens of miles of pipeline to provide water in more areas of the ranch.   When I was about 12, I remember moving cattle off of one of the forest permits. We finished lunch and dad was anxious to get the herd moving again; however, I wasn’t done drinking my can of pop, so I took it with me on the horse, which probably wasn’t a great idea.  A little while later Dad asked if I had finished the can of pop and I answered yes, but then he asked “what did you do with the can?”  I sheepishly answered I had dropped it on the ground awhile back.  He then calmly instructed me to get off my horse and walk back to find the can.  Eventually I found it and had a fairly long walk to catch back up with the herd, giving me plenty of time to reflect upon my mistake.  I wondered why he didn't let me take the horse to find the can.   Obviously, it’s because it would needlessly tire the horse for my dumb mistake.  I've often thought how he didn't have to lecture me or scold me or shame me because of my error, it was by his actions that I learned.  I had understood the message loud and clear that this is what we do to respect what God has allowed us to use while we live on this beautiful earth.    
   
I’m confident Dad's thoughts also focused on the second and great commandment, “love thy neighbor as thyself.”   Dad was rarely concerned about his own needs; instead, he wanted to help lift those around him.  He understood the meaning of compassion.  Throughout my years growing up, there were many times when individuals came to our house seeking advice or some other type of help.  Dad would chat for a few minutes and usually send them on their way with a bit of assistance.  He never made a big deal of this – he would just occasionally comment   that the people were a little down on their luck, and he wanted to help out where he could.  My father knew and practiced the scripture:  “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  
I hope and pray that I will be able to develop similar thought patterns that my Dad so effectively used in his life. 

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