There is no way to fully capture they way I felt about my dad in just a few minutes. He meant everything to me. He was the person I went to to make sense of this crazy world and to talk to about how to navigate life’s problems. He was the best father in the world. I love him and miss him more than I can say. I will try to highlight a few things that I loved about him knowing that it cannot possibly do justice to such an amazing man.
One of the things I loved about my dad was how he made the mundane everyday tasks fun. Matt Haggard wrote a wonderful tribute to my dad after his passing. I want to share a quote from that tribute.
”There are some people in life who seem to have just figured it out- who truly succeed. Dr. Vogel is one of these. I think he probably earned some awards for being a good dentist, and he performed life-changing dental work for people in various parts of the world. But, more than those successes, he succeeded at the living part of the life- the normal part- the daily mundane part. From my perspective Bro. Vogel lived a thoroughly, consistently, pervasively, good life. He took upon him Christ’s name and honored it.”
This was so true of my dad. He made daily normal chores fun and made us a part of them with him. When he was flattening the dirt in the yard to put in grass, he had us sit on a big wooden pallet and pulled us around giving us sled rides. Instead of just mowing the lawn, he would let it get long and then mow mazes into it with prisons and safe zones and then pull all of us outside to come play tag in the maze with him. For Halloween, dad got the idea to build a giant mouth that opened and closed on the porch complete with a foam rubber tongue that you had to walk across to get to the door. One year, he even put up a bunch of gross dental pictures all over inside the mouth and recorded seth screaming while a dental drill was going to add to the effect.
Dad was always thinking about his kids. When I was 9, I had to stay after school for a dance practice. My dad used to ride his bike to and from work and that day he decided to stop at the school and see how I was doing. When he saw that I was not done with practice, he told me he would come back later and took off again on his bike. I did not want to be left behind so I grabbed my backpack and ran after him. He heard me and stopped and gave me a piggy back ride all the way back home on his bike, which was no easy task since I was a rather tall and gangly 9 year old. But he did it anyway, and it is a fond memory I have of him.
Dad loved to tease us and had a great sense of humor. When I turned 16, he arranged to have on the young men come over and hand me a large thing of balloons making it look like he was asking me on a date. My friends at the party all danced around laughing and teasing while my dad just smirked. When we popped the balloons it showed my dad’s name. He wanted to be my first date. I loved that.
In high school, I used to stay up late doing homework and would lock up the house when I went to bed. One night, I locked up the house as usual not realizing that my parents had gone on a late night walk. Instead of calling the house or knocking, my dad thought it would be funny to jump down in the window well of my basement room and start scratching at the window. I did not think it was so funny…. He finally apologized…. after he stopped laughing.
Dad had a unique way of seeing the world. He was spontaneous and did not follow convention.
One of my mom’s only memories of my dad from high school was him walking around school with an iguana on his head all day.
He was interested in the world around him and always shared that love with us. I remember being a kid and going through his gross dental pathology book with him. He would point out all the grossest pictures of weird dental diseases to me and talk to me about them.
When I was in fourth grade, my dad chaperoned us to Espanolandia at BYU. He took me and a couple of my friends over to the Widstoe building to go see the cadavers, because he thought we would think they were interesting. The teachers were not too thrilled with him, but we thought it was so cool.
During our long road trips in the motorhome, my dad and I had a ritual of staying up late after everyone else had gone to bed and talking while he drove late into the night. We talked about everything but especially loved to sit and talk about unique solutions to the world’s problems. We used to talk about how you could theoretically plug into plants to harvest the excess energy from photosynthesis to get truly clean energy. He was always thinking outside the box like that.
My dad taught me how to love people and see them as children of God. When we first moved into the house in Orem, dad got called as the Young Men’s president. The group of priests he had was a pretty rough around the edges. He used to have them over on Sundays after dinner to play basketball and make cookies. I remember walking out into the front yard as a small girl on one of those first sundays they were there and feeling frightened of these big rough looking priests. But then I watched my dad with them. He treated them just like they were normal and fun, so I figured it was ok for me to as well. I have many fond memories of those young men and playing around with them on Sundays. I know he had a great influence on many of them simply because he loved them and could see past their challenges. He was like that with everyone.
I had privilege of working with my dad from the beginnings of Share a Smile. I have fond memories of helping him push back tables in the lunchroom of the homeless shelter and then then providing dental care to the homeless. I was only a teenager then and I felt nervous about some of the people we were helping. They were not always easy to be around, but Dad never saw them like that. Watching him with those people was a life changing experience for me. He was always kind and loving and treated them the same way he would treat his brothers and sisters. He truly loved them. I have never seen such Christlike love.
Despite going through cancer for the last four years, dad kept living a full and wonderful life. After his last major surgery in Miami, Vivian and I went to go visit him. Even though he was only a week out of a huge facial reconstruction surgery and in a lot of pain, he came out and played with his granddaughter all over Miami and even went canoeing with us through the mangroves singing songs and looking for manatees. He was the most wonderful grandfather to Vivian. Even though he rarely felt good, he always played with her and loved her.
The last four years for my dad were not easy. I have watched him walk through hell and back over and over again with this cancer. His suffering and pain were tremendous and yet he never wavered in his faith. He never complained. He simply loved and trusted God. Watching him go through this cancer has taught me more about faith in God than anything else in my life.
Many of you prayed with us for four long years for my dad to get better. We all prayed and begged for his life for a long time, and if you are like me, it may be difficult to understand why it did not work. I do not have an answer to that question.
When it became obvious that things were going very badly and that the cancer was progressing despite everything we could do, I was devastated. One night, I was praying downstairs for a miracle and thinking that there was simply no miracle big enough to fix what was happening to my dad. After praying, I looked up and saw a picture hanging on the wall that had been there for many years but I had never really noticed it. It was of Christ in garden of gethsemane. I immediately had the thought come into my mind, “there is a miracle big enough to cover what is happening to your dad and it has already happened. It happened 2000 years ago.”
We may not have gotten the miracle that we wanted in having my dad healed, but God gave already gave us the miracle we really needed. Through the miracle of Christ’s sacrifice, I know I will get to see my dad again. My dad will live again, and we will be together as a family. What greater miracle is there than that?
The pain of losing our dad now is difficult, not only for us but for many of you who loved him. But I know through the atonement we can be healed from those wounds. One of my favorite scriptures is Isaiah 53: 4-5 it says:
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
Brothers and Sisters, I know that we can be healed from this pain. The world is full of horrible things that happen that are not fair. What happened to my dad is only one of those things. Christ’s atonement is the only miracle that can make all the awful things in this world right someday. His stripes can heal all the wrongs in the world, and he can heal us from this loss. I know that, because of that miracle that happened 2000 years ago, our Savior’s atoning sacrifice, one day I will see my dad again, and just like that day when I was 9, he will again carry me all the way home.
I love you dad.