Talkin' with Trav: What I learned about fathering, from my mom

By Travis Hansen

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, March 14 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT


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Men, we’re getting outdone by many of our mothers and wives.

It seems they’ve got this nesting thing down pretty good. They nurture like they are on steroids, they foresee needs like oracles and their boundless energy with the small things that have big outcomes in our families belong in the Super Hero file.

It seems to me that a lot of women get it and a few of us guys do. In some homes, fathers are MIA.

My mother knew something I didn’t, you could see it in her actions and in her smile. She taught me many important attributes over the years, among them being charitable, kind, and full of love; when to be serious and when to have fun, and how to learn to love the savior Jesus Christ.

I was also taught by the wonderful examples from my mother-in-law, whom we call “Rockin’ Ruth,” because of her contagious personality, and my amazing wife LaRee, who continues to teach me how I can be a better husband, father and man. Women get it. It seems they are smarter, more sensitive, more loving and more beautiful then us. The list could go on and on.

That begs me to ask the question: How can we be better fathers, brothers, sons and men? A simple answer would be to strive to be more like the wonderful women that surround us.

It was December of 1995, I was 18 years old and a senior in high school when I was called out of class. My English teacher, Mrs. Jones, whispered to me to go down to the front office and that my parents needed me. I grabbed my book bag, checked out and ran home as fast as my legs could go.

As I rushed through the front door I noticed that all my brothers and sisters, minus my older brother Tyler who was serving a LDS misson in Japan, were home from school as well. We gathered in the family room, my younger brother and I, my younger identical twin sisters, who were 11 years old, at the time and my wonderful parents. I had no idea what the meeting was about but I knew it was serious.

My mother began to talk as she wiped the tears from her eyes and said, “We have just met with the doctors at Utah Valley Hospital and I have cancer. It is pancreatic cancer and we don’t know much more than that.”

Devastation, sadness and fear filled the room as we learned about the tests, procedures and treatments she would undergo over the next few months.

In March of 1996, just three months later, my parents master bedroom upstairs had been filled with medical equipment as her body began to shut down. Two days before she moved from this life onto the next, she sat down with me, and told me of her love for me, that I was a son of God and I was capable of doing great things if I worked hard and believed in myself.

The last words out of her mouth to me were that I should go on a two year LDS mission. I was playing basketball at the time, I had many scholarship offers to play at the next level and I was contemplating whether to go or not. After our wonderful conversation I made a promise I intended to keep.

I turned 19 the next month and within four months I was in the Missionary Training Center learning Spanish and preparing to serve in Santiago, Chile. One of the best decisions I have ever made.

My mother taught me so many wonderful, important lessons about life. My mission, my mother-in-law and my wife have taught me even more.

Abe Lincoln once said: “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my Mother.”

Why is this topic on my mind?

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