I called Bill Routt the other day to see if one of his girls could babysit for me. Bill's oldest girl was born on my birthday, and she'll be turning 16 this year. Time flies on wings of lightning, a saying of my dad's. Bill's been a close friend of the family since the 70s. He now lives in American Fork with his wife and three daughters, and he's also probably the nicest guy on the planet.
Bill started working for my dad's custodial business when he was in high school. He graduated in 1977, so basically around the time I was born, Bill was already a member of our family circle. Before Bill left for his mission, he played nanny for me, my older sister Kathy, and my brother B.J., who was the baby at that time. (Side note: Kulani says the Christenson's tell time based on the baby. "Who was the baby at that time?" and then we'll finish the story.) My mom taught school on and off when we were younger. According to Kathy, Bill was the best babysitter of all time. I remember very little about that time, except I do remember him putting me down for a nap. I also remember that before Bill left for his mission, he bought Kathy and I our very own bottles of strawberry shampoo and toy vacuums and brooms, so we could help mom with the household chores. My older siblings count Bill as their favorite babysitter. Bill made up a song for us that we still sing in our family. After watching my brothers hoover in mouthfuls of Ramen noodles, Bill created the Manners Song. It goes something like this:
Manners are important,
Use them everyday.
For you want to look nice,
When you hold your spoon.
Bill was also left in charge of the house with my brother Doug when my parents went on their only trip to Hawaii. He kept the lawn mowed and the house clean. When Bill returned from his mission, he went to BYU to go to school. He stayed in Provo, working at the MTC in the visa and travel department. My sister Amy and brothers Brian and Doug loved seeing Bill at the MTC. But then he got a job in the computer industry, and that's where he is today.
It was always great having Bill around. He married later than most LDS marry. He was in his 30s. So we got to see a lot of Bill when he came home. He'd take us to the movies, or he'd come to Thanksgiving dinner. His wife, Allison, is a really nice woman, and they come to all of our family's weddings and baby blessings.
Bill embodies why education is the key to success in America. Bill had a sparse upbringing. His father was abusive, and his mother divorced him. She was left on her own to raise six kids. My parents and surrounding community members helped Bill and his family. Bill went on to get a bachelor's degree and later a master's degree. Some of his siblings have done similarly. They have made their lives better for themselves, accompanied by help from good friends. It's said that we have two chances at a family; one we were born into and the other is our own. If one wasn't great, we can be instruments in making the next one great. Bill is a big part of why my first family was so great. And it's a joy when I see him around the community and we visit for a while.