Mountain of a Man

Happy 60th birthday to my dad!


We’ve been anticipating this day for a long time. 60 isn’t very old, but it is a remarkable milestone in his life. Words can’t describe the gratitude we have for the miracle of having him here with us. We adjusted the celebration plans for his birthday this past Sunday, and it was exactly what we all needed. Because his health didn’t allow us to invite everyone for a big party, I’ve felt like I needed share in the wonderful feeling and tribute that day with our friends and family.


To start with, it wouldn’t be one of our family’s celebrations without fantastic food and great company. My mom flew Austin in from working in New York for the weekend and he and his darling girlfriend Becca made the evening complete. We upped even our usual Sunday Dinner with all of us contributing, prepping and plating a fantastic meal on my mom’s 14′ table Jake custom made and surprised her with for Mother’s Day last year. With a catered lemonade stand in front, steak grilled to perfection, and a grandbaby on each side I think my dad was pretty well served.




Thank you to all who shared memories, letters and birthday wishes for my dad. One of my gifts to him is compiling those thoughts into a book he and my mom can read as they’re home or as they wait at appointments and that we’ll treasure forever. It will never be too late to send an addition (to my email: barberbell @ to the ongoing collection. After we finished eating and the kids retreated outside I read a few of them, starting with one of my favorite funny stories.

We were living in Hess Farms and our house was two doors from the Church and I was was late as I walked down to the Church one Sunday and I met your Dad in the parking lot and I said to him…..”I live too far away to get here on time..what is your excuse?”…and he said to me without missing a beat…”I just washed my hair and I can’t do a thing with it!” -Dave Smith

Another fun one to share and to learn from was from my dad’s sister Eileen. She has always been one of my heroes, and I recognize my aspirations for serving my family and preserving our history more in her each day. She wrote a beautiful poem for my dad, with attributions to each memory. (See what I’m saying!)


The next part of the evening was my favorite. Aubrey had stayed at my house the entire week before to help and be with my dad. I really can’t say enough about how great she is (or about how nice it was to have another mom, friend, carpool driver and cook around the house!). She asked me to help her write a song for my dad. One night she couldn’t sleep and while she was awake she was inspired to write a beautiful framework for his song; “A Mountain of a Man”. She and I tweaked the words together and she worked her musical magic. It was a really neat experience for both of us seeing our talents and thoughts about our dad that we love and admire so much come together.


Aubrey sat next to my dad and played the song for him. You can see from the video that he is very weak right now, but his gratitude and sweet disposition are unchanged. I could listen to her sing all day long and I know we have all replayed that song over and over this week.

Dallin helped Aubrey record the song later with just the audio that is easier to hear. It can be played and downloaded here.

Mountain of a Man-background.jpg

I put the words together to gave them to each of our family. A PDF that can be download here.


I had completed a triathlon in Morgan, UT the day before and as I biked down East Canyon in those beautiful mountains I replayed and finalized the words in my mind, thinking about my dad and how he taught me to appreciate such beauty.

These two lines have been on my mind for a long time about my dad and I’m so glad to have them in his song.

Our dad is in the mountains, he’s in the breeze that blows

And when we are standing still, we always feel him close

We finished with eating his favorite carrot cake (with raisins! much to Dallin’s dismay) and a chocolate cake to celebrate Grant’s 12th birthday. Grant had been ordained a Deacon just before the party and I can’t think of a better gift to give his grandpa.



I am so thankful for my dad’s 60 years. Looking forward to each day more!











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