Tribute to Dad by Jason

I woke up early this morning my mind full of thoughts about Dad. No surprise there. But, I thought I'd write some down. Its not as good as Darin's horse story. 

For all of us, Dennis Barney has carried a part of our load. He never did anything that he didn’t do huge. So, I’m certain that what he carried for each of us was huge. This loss seems so crushing and incomprehensible because we each are wondering how we will replace who he was for us and what he did for us. We hear constantly from people that they thought they were the most important person in the world to Dad. In most cases, we don’t have the personal strength to be for ourselves and for others what he has been. Facing this reality is not only deeply saddening, but also frightening. There will not be another Dennis Barney and no one person has shoulders big enough to fill that void. However, of all he did for all of us, the thing that mattered most to him was to teach us and build us up. He taught us what is right and how to live by that. He built us up to be strong and to build up others. So, in the face of loosing his physical companionship, we have not lost the essence of him. That is his example of righteousness and love and support of each of us. On this foundation, the thousands of people who have been carried by our Dad must take the love and service he has given as a charge to pass it on. Together we can not only fill the void he left, but multiply by many times the magnitude of impact he has made. By all of us giving back with increase what he has given us: his love, compassion, building of up people, his reach, teaching, and optimism will go on and on an on.

Dad’s most famous quotes are an example of how he lived life: 

- Top of the morning! 
- Up and at ‘em. 
- Rise and shine. 
- Onward and upward. 
- How’s the world treating you? 
- We’ll make it work. 

Dennis lived huge. For every year, he crammed in five to ten years of living. My first emotional reaction to loosing him was anger at loosing him so soon and so young. Of all people, surely he deserved more time here to enjoy the fruits of his labors (family, ranch, friends, most of all, Mom) and surely we needed more time with him. But, in these past few days as I’ve reflected on his life and our time with him, I realize he lived more in his 62 years that most of the rest of us can hope to live in a hundred years. Yet, he didn’t live for himself, but for all of us. In his short 62 years, he gave each of us a dozen lifetimes of love, friendship, service, parties, weddings, wedding receptions, horse carriage rides, trips and vacations with all the cousins and grandkids, a million trips to a million places with Mom, the Ranch, Pinetop, Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm, Sea World, Nauvoo, Utah, snow skiing, Mexico, Hawaii, England, Scotland, Italy, Japan, Alaska, the Dennis Barney restaurant guide service good for any city in United States and most cities in the rest of the world, furniture markets, carpet markets, piano recitals, dance recitals, ball games, parties, the lake, days at the beach even though he didn’t like the beach, hunting trips, monster excruciating horseback trail rides at the ranch that would have made John Wayne cry like a baby, round up, branding cattle, roping, brushing horses, saddling horses, unsaddling horses, tractors, dogs, the meadow, more parties, campouts, firesides, boy scout trips, suburbans that smelled like boy scouts, youth activities, quad rides, sand dunes, barbeques, movies, The Man From Snowy River, Silverado, Doctor Zhivago, The Legacy Movie, swimming, the best Sunday roast dinner know to man, clam chowder, biscuits and gravy, apple juice from the old coke machine, Santa Claus, Christmas, donuts, Thanksgiving, El Charro burros, parties, Waylon, Willie, Heehaw, the horse farm, the horse races, hot walkers, beautiful wood, brick, paintings, and leather, long talks on long road trips, more horse rides, red trucks (how he died with a purple suburban we’ll never know), old cars, Little Red, the Packard, Big Red, the 29, the 32, the 33, Sunday School lessons at the ranch, going to church, falling asleep in church, speaking with immense power and humility in church, testimony meetings, “nose in the carpet” or “grab you’re your ankles” for kids who needed a “whopping”, more parties, prayers where we were each called by name, private counsel and encouragement, assignments, opportunities to work, learn, and grow, instructions, expectations, church assignments, more horse rides, work projects, horse stalls to clean, weeds to chop, dishes to wash, meals to prepare, people he needed us to go help, people he needed us to go help, people to include, things to clean up, things to build, places to make beautiful, more parties, getting ready for a party, cleaning up from a party, grass to cut, more flowers to plant than Disneyland, Interfaith service, community service, kids, grandkids, stories about pioneers, stories about his Mom and Dad, Grannie and Grandpa, his sisters, and stories about Jimmy, ditch banks, irrigating, and cars, Hop, Gunner, Sheba, Rebel, Blue, Tea Tone, stories about his mission in England, stories and testimony from the scriptures, Luke 2 for Christmas, Book of Mormon tapes in the car, worship, faith, obedience, consecration, charity, giving, teaching, vision, direction, missionary service, perfect loyalty and devotion to our Mom, talk of Christ, hope in Christ, rejoicing in Christ, becoming like Christ, love and friendship with our mother, and, of course, more parties and horse rides. 

It was exhausting to be with him. Can you imagine how exhausting it must have been to be him? However, until the very end, he didn’t seem to get tired. The doctor told us that over time of such intense living, it caused his heart to literally enlarge to the point that it could no longer function. It is suiting then that my Dad died of having too big a heart. His heart got too big because he did so much for so many people. My daughter Jaci heard this and said, “Hey, that’s just the opposite of the Grinch!” Is there not anyone more opposite the Grinch than my Dad? Is there not a better way to live than to literally wear yourself out giving and giving and giving? So, I’m not angry that he was taken too soon. I’m grateful that we had so much of him while we had him. There is nothing I wish we’d have done or said or felt together because did, and said, and felt so much.

Having such a powerful, respected, capable, and giving father has been the greatest imaginable blessing for my brothers, sisters, me, and our children. We have been blessed with incomparable opportunities, experiences, teaching, guidance, support, forgiveness, encouragement, strength, and love. However, it has also posed some interesting challenges to each of us. Our Dad has set a super-hero standard so high that it is likely unachievable for us mere humans in this lifetime. None of us will become or replace Dennis Barney. Not only is it not possible, that’s not the way is supposed to be. We each are strong and gifted in our own individual ways. Dad faced the same combination of opportunity and challenge. As the son of Talmage and Clarene Barney, the grandson of Grannie and Grandpa Robson, and a pioneer lineage that includes Lewis Barney and Charles Innes Robson, he was blessed with teachers and models of the highest standard and ability. It was their shadow that taught him to work, to love, to give, and to serve. But, he also had to learn to find his own gifts unique to him so that he could grow tall enough to cast his own shadow even beyond that of his remarkable heritage. Dad’s greatest wish for each of us is to do the same. He changed the world for the better by knowing and living up to his own purpose. Everything he did in life, the ranch, the horse rides, the work projects, the parties, the teaching and the testimony was all for the single purpose of helping us find our own purpose and strength. For each of us, that will be unique and individual. Yet, he also taught us that there is a common foundation of purpose and strength for all of us. That is, of course, the truth he taught and taught and taught and meant and believed to his very core. According to our Dad, faith in, and discipleship to Jesus Christ is the one true source of purpose, strength, happiness, peace, prosperity, and hope. As each of us build our distinct and diverse lives and missions upon this foundation, our shadows will grow not to replace but to expand Dad’s shadow. Through us his children and through all who know him, the shadow of his giving, service, and love can only continue to increase and spread.