High Priest Mints & Feeling Very “Dad”

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HP Mints

Happy Father’s Day!

I have been debating which of two posts to put up today- one short & sweet, the other longer and more thoughtful. My indecision has led me to post both. Feel free to read the short one and then move on. Or stick around for some navel-gazing.

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As I mentioned in a recent post, our family traipsed through a San Diego Dollar Store the other day. As I was discovering whacky playthings, my EC found something sweet, and well, sweet.  But first, some backstory:

When I was a boy, my father always kept a supply of mints in his suit coat pocket. Sometimes during Sacrament Meeting, he would reach his hand deep into his pocket, pull out a mint, and hand it me. Or my sister, or brothers. He never made a show of it. Never made eye contact, sneaky.

When feeling daring, I would reach into his pocket and find one for myself. He always had mints. They were either pink or white, and chalky.

I don’t know where the name came from, but our family always referred to them as “High Priest Mints.” When asked, I remember my dad answering that they were to “keep the High Priests awake.”

Fast forward 40+ years. Last week in the Dollar Store, my EC finds me and asks me about the ‘High Priest Mints” that I had told her about.

“I think they have them.”

I found this odd, because I had not seen them in years. But, sure enough, there they were hanging on pegs in the candy section.

HP Mint bags

They aren’t anything fancy – just normal candies, peppermint or wintergreen – and I don’t even think they are even that tasty. Apparently they are called “Canada Mints.” Who knew?

I bought some, and the next week, I showed the mints to my sister. The first words our of her mouth were, “High Priest Mints.” As it should be.

While they are just mints, they evoke memories of my childhood, and of my father. Funny how something so simple can carry such a wallop. Especially with Father’s Day on the horizon.

I find myself thinking of my dad often, and in this instance, I think of his constancy in being there in church beside us, where he should have been, where we should have been.

If the memory of a simple candy can trigger memories of my father, I can’t help but wonder what small things will evoke memories in my own children years from now.

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I’ve been a father for 27 years now – more than half my life. Over the years there are times where I have felt more “Dad” than others. For example:

Nothing feels more “Dad” than running behind a child as they are learning to ride a bike. Or cleaning up vomit.

When I was a young father, it all felt so new, and there was always a nagging worry in the back of my mind if I was doing it right.

• Am I setting the proper example?

• Am I loving enough?

• Am I too hard, or too soft?

• Am I equipping my kids with what they need for the future?

• Do my kids know what I stand for?

Now that I have been at it for almost three decades, I can comfortably say that I still ask myself the exact same questions. Not to beat myself up, or beat any of you up. Merely for an “inventory,” and perhaps an opportunity to make some adjustments.

I may not be pacing the floor with a colicky baby at 3:00am, but feeling “Dad” does not go away. In fact, the past month I have felt more “Dad’ than in a long time.

• Four weeks ago, my fourth FOML graduated from High School. We attended the graduation ceremony and the baccalaureate and were proud to watch him sing at both events,

• A few days laterI had the great privilege of laying my hands on the head of that same son and ordaining him an Elder.

• Three weeks ago I spent a week with  my youngest in the mountains as I was in charge of running his Scout Camp. I must say, camp was great, but the best part was sharing it with my son.

• Right on the heels of Scout Camp was our family faction. It was our only chance to get everyone together, so we headed to the beach. Nothing makes you feel more “Dad” than getting the entire family together under one roof, and burning through piles of cash.

• Home for four days, and we were on the road again – this time taking FOML4 to BYU as a new Freshman. (Cue tons of wonderful memories) Nothing feels more “Dad” than carrying stuff up the stairs to your kid’s dorm room. (Except maybe wearing out your credit card at Target buying all the stuff he might need.)

• Friday I saw the new movie “Inside Out,” which should make any parent take stock…

• Yesterday I spent the day with my eldest, my only daughter, as we ran around  Provo, visited some wonderful relatives, and just hung out. Sure, she is a remarkable, independent adult, but she is still my little girl.

Which brings us to today – Father’s Day. Due to this odd sequence of events, I find myself in a hotel room with my EC, with nary a child in sight. The last imd I was not home for Father’s Day was 26 years ago. As for the kids, two are in Provo, two are at home, and one is at his home with his almost-ready-to-deliver wife.

While it may seem that being away from home wouldn’t feel very “Dad,”  It still does. My kids had the forethought to celebrate Father’s Day with me last Sunday. (And I saved myself a BonaFide Box. hehehe.)

On this quiet Father’s Day morning, sitting in the dark, I have time to type, and reflect. And ask myself those same questions that i mentioned above.

And I can’t really answer any of them.  Maybe one day my kids can answer them for me. The only question that I am confident  about is “Do my kids know what I stand for?”

One advantage of being opinionated, loud and a blogger, is that my kids never have to wonder what their dad believes in. And I am glad about that. If that question comes up at the Judgment Bar, I won’t sweat it.

I have a friend who once told me that he tries not to discuss religious matters with his kids, because it is such a personal thing that he wants them to work through it for themselves, without his “interference.”

I told him that was the stupidest thing I have ever heard in my life. What? He will gladly teach them how to fix a car, do their taxes, or myriad other things – but the single most important thing they need to learn on this earth is “hands off?”

Ridiculous.

Satan, and the world, have absolutely no problem whatsoever in trying to define, teach and influence what our kids believe in. They will gladly fill the vacuum left by absentee parents. If we are not willing to push back, we have already ceded the battle.

One of the key responsibilities of Fatherhood is to find out what is true and right, live it, and teach it to our kids, using both example AND words.

I think when I was younger, I underestimated how much the “Dad” feelings of responsibility and worry would still exist even after the kids have left the nest and are successfully living their own lives. I’m guessing that it never goes away, merely alters the way it is expressed.

I love my kids. I love being their Dad.

I love my Dad, and I miss him terribly.

In three weeks I will be feeling very “Grampa” as well as “Dad,” which opens up a whole new world I have yet to experience.

Happy Father’s Day to all of you men out there. I hope you are feeling very “Dad,” and relishing the privilege.

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15 COMMENTS

  1. I always enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for sharing your feelings about wondering if you are doing it right. I ponder those same questions regarding my four daughters, each of whom is now grown and married, three of them with a child of their own. Yes, the questions remain much the same throughout their lives and, yes, how they are expressed is altered. I suspect that is an eternal thing.

    (AND — thanks for spelling judgment correctly. One of my personal pet peeves is reading “judgEment. It’s just a personal thing…)

  2. PS – my dad carried those same mints when I was a kid. I don’t remember their having a name, but throughout his life kids at church knew Brother Richards as the candy man.

  3. My Grammie kept those pink mints in a special dish in her china cabinet and you could only have one if you were being good. We called them “Poppy pills” because my great-grandpa who was called Poppy by his grandkids always had them too.

  4. Aww, this was such a comforting, sweet post. Thank you so much for the thought and time it took. I really appreciate your viewpoints and experiences. My husband carries altoids cinnamon mints in his suit coat and passes them out to me, our daughter, and the kids sitting nearby during sacrament meeting. I see now this will result in treasured memories for me and our daughter. Our youngest daughter heads to BYU Provo this fall and it is feeling bittersweet to me. She has been for us the same as your youngest, an unusual ray of sunshine. One of her favorite activities is to go to the dollar store and enjoy the craziness there. She has even taken dates there for fun. It is a sure fire fun activity for herself and her friends. I’m not sure when she started doing this. It just matches her personality. My husband really enjoyed his Fathers Day Bonafide box. Your guarantee was indeed fulfilled. Thank you! So again, thank you for your sweet reflective post. I enjoy hearing the thoughts and experiences that parallel my own.

  5. Thanks again for this post. I want you to know that even though I have never met you personally, you are high on my list of men I consider to be a good example for me. I thank you for that.

    My dad wasn’t a member of the church. I am a convert and joined the church in my 20’s. We attended a church growing up but dad got his feelings hurt and we stopped. I considered him an awesome dad. He was always there for us. Sitting in church today our mission president gave a talk and mentioned that anything that takes the fathers away from their families (clubs, sports, bars, any reason some can think of to get away from home) is a breakdown of their responsibility to be a good father. When I look back, my dad was always home when he wasn’t at work. There wasn’t anywhere he would rather be. When he passed away my brother talked at his funeral and mentioned his obituary didn’t list any associations, clubs or anything else for my dad. He lived a very simple life. But it was powerful. He let us know every day what was important to him by being with us.

    I am more emotional today than other Father’s Days I remember, but as I get older I realize just how blessed I am. Happy Father’s Day!

  6. My dad calls any mints in his suit pocket high priest mints. I think he usually carries life saver mints these days. You remind me a lot of my dad. Like if he blogged, it would be very similar to this.

  7. Never heard of High Priest mints, however, my grandma did carry the white ones in her purse and I would get them if I got car sick which I did very often as a child(“for real”-my brothers always thought I was faking so I could sit in the front seat). I didn’t realize I could get those large mints for getting sick, they seemed to help.

  8. It’s interesting how little things stir up memories. I posted a picture of my father on Facebook and one of my daughters came right back and said when she thinks of Grandpa, she thinks of Luden’s cough drops and Juicyfruit gum. He used them to substitute for smoking but used spearmint when I was a kid. He kept cases of it in his dresser and I would beg for it but got so tired of it that I still don’t like spearmint flavor to this day. He must have gotten tired of it too, since my daughter remembers it being Juicyfruit.

  9. This reminded me of my Grandma whom I would snuggle up to in church, she would invariably be wearing her fur stola that smelled faintly of Chanel nr 5, and she would aways have candy for us in her purse… thank you for this post. Every time I read your posts I think ‘Yes – he just gets it!!’

  10. After having a wonderful Father’s Day with 2 of 3 children (our eldest daughter is living in the USA) and a fantastic Primary activity for Fathers on Saturday your post has reminded me of the good times I had with my Dad. He was never really active in church attendance from about when I turned 12 and so I am grateful for the gospel lessons taught me by my Priesthood leaders. However my Dad was never slow in teaching us to show respect for others, or to share what we had with those around us. We seemed to spend hours growing fruit and vegetables to give 80% of it away to neighbours and those in need. Now, while we don’t grow much that attitude has rubbed off as I sneak items out of our store cupboard to give away, sometimes to my wife’s exasperation:) Is it weird to say that although I can’t recall my Dad saying he loved us I never doubted he did? Hearing it would have been nice but feeling it is so much better.

  11. My grandpa always had those exact same mints in HIS shirt pocket as well, but Brachs made them at the time. They don’t anymore, of course. He wasn’t a High Priest (or LDS even), but I have fond memories of climbing on his lap and finding mints in his pocket. Thanks for the trip down memory lane along with the gospel message!

  12. I had a friend who felt the same way about sharing her religious beliefs with her kids. I also told her she was crazy but she felt her example would be enough. Any time I see her now and she asks about my kids she bemoans the fact that none of them are active or care about the church at all and wonders why they didn’t turn out like mine seem to have. I don’t want to send her on a guilt trip but I always think “well, duh!” My grandma always carried “mint puffs”.

  13. for my grandfather, it was warm Hires root beer in his truck. He was a rancher and carpenter. Aside from water, that was all I ever saw in there. And it was always warm. Next was my great-grandfather, who lived to see three of my children. He was a candy maker. Almond Rocha was his signature candy, and you knew you were special when he let you have 2 pieces. You knew he considered you an adult if you received a whole canister. Even more, I miss his anise flavored popcorn balls at Christmas time. Just thinking about that as I typed brought a feeling of sorrow as I miss him…..and it’s been 20 years! Someday I will have to tell you about a temple experience with him.

    A few more weeks? You thought that seeing your children born and holding them for the first time was incredible….you are in for a treat. There is nothing in the world like having a child pull away from their mama because “grampa is right there!” or telling mom & dad to go home, they are going to stay with grampa. Even more is that first time you hold them as a new born, and realize that the paternal instinct is even stronger when it is a generation removed. It’s kind of funny how you think that you would do anything to protect your kids….and you would do even more to protect their kids..

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