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Memories of my Dad

Posted by MDViews on November 28, 2008

All of us come from somewhere and none of us are here by accident. The sins of the fathers and the righteousness of the fathers can have a great influence for generations. God chose to bless me with a Christian father, not a perfect one, but a solid Christian man. He passed away about 2 months ago, the victim of longstanding coronary artery disease, diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure). His funeral was a glorious affair attended by a large number of family, friends, work acquaintances. I said a few words at his funeral which I publish now to honor his memory. I hope you enjoy learning something about my dad.

MY MEMORIES OF MY DAD

Memories—they tend to be colored by our emotions and blurred by time. As such, memories are always unreliable representations of actual persons and events. Because of that, my recollections, although true to me, may not be true to you. So, forgive me if what I say about Dad doesn’t fit with your remembrances. It’s just my memories.

Dad worked hard. All his life, he worked hard. I’ve joked that if you looked up ‘work-a-holic’ in the dictionary, you would find his picture. But, it’s hard to imagine being so young with so many children, as was his lot. Dad started work at Terrace Park Dairy in the plant as a milk bottle washer, the lowest job there. He worked his way up until he finally got a milk route, the worst one they had. He grew it to the biggest—they cut it in half. He grew it again, they cut it again. He kept doing that until they made him a supervisor. As a guy, I know he must have felt tremendous pressure to put food on our table and a roof over our heads. But he met the challenge by working hard. In fact, working hard was probably Dad’s defining feature. He never apologized for it. He didn’t have to; it was the right thing to do. I remember him saying to me on more than one occasion that his goal was to teach his boys how to work hard. From chores on the farm by Tea, feeding chickens, picking eggs and general helping, the message was clear—hard work was a virtue and real men worked hard. When Larry and I reached the teen years, Dad was always finding work for us, (much to my disappointment, I might add, as I would have rather watched TV). But we worked. We mowed lawns, swept the entire Terrace Park Dairy parking lot by hand many times and even tore down houses. He was so proud to have volunteered us for any work, any where, anytime. Manhood and hard work were synonyms to Dad. Proverbs says, A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands, and poverty will overtake you like a bandit and want like an armed man. Dad was never rich, but we never faced poverty or want, a testimony to the truth of the Bible. Dad worked and provided—no small task.

Dad was never lazy. He took pride in showing up early to work, especially when delivering milk. He was often there, loading his truck at 3:30am. That was back when the work week was six days long, not five days. He would tell me how much he like his job and would talked about the importance of loving your work. He found a work home at the dairy, for 31 years. He was so disappointed when Terrace Park sold out to Land ‘O Lakes. My dad, the quintessential conservative, even helped form a union to try to save his job but he lost it anyway. I know little about his work at the Lutheran church or the school system since I was grown and on my own. I just know he always landed on his feet working. I knew that retirement for Dad would just mean different work. With retirement, he concentrated more on small engine repair. When mowers became harder for him to fix, he went to work at HyVee. What a surprise that he lobbied for the job starting at 3:00 in the morning. He worked until the end, to the very day he passed on. He finish well and with honor.

Dad was an athlete. I don’t know where Dad got his love for baseball and softball, but love it he did. The Twins were always on the radio at home. Church league softball was his love. He pitched and was pretty good at it. One summer days, he would get home from work and start throwing to me or Larry. For hours, it seemed. He worked on his fastball and curve. He was a good hitter and fast on the base paths. He had a level swing and hit line drive base hits with regularity. His arms were strong from lifting milk all day. Dad even coached our teener ball team.

Dad was generous to a fault. I’m sure he was taught that from his youth. He taught me to never borrow something without returning it in as good or better condition than I received it. If I borrowed a vehicle, I should always return it clean with a full tank of gas. If someone needed help, go help, no questions asked. I was so blessed last night as person after person told me how my Dad had help them in a time of need.

Dad was a salesman. He was a great salesman. But he wasn’t a great salesman because of some artificial desire to sell. He was just friendly, whether selling or not. He always made friends easily. He was genuinely interested in people and not afraid to introduce himself and and strike up a conversation. He could gain peoples trust because he was trustworthy. He was real and genuine and cared. And those qualities showed.

Dad was smart—way smarter than I was or am. He could remember names and faces. He was quick with numbers. His memory and ability to work with numbers was the stuff of legend. I was interested to read the letter he wrote to Ross when Ross was in second grade. He told Ross that in his one room grade school, he read all 80 books in the small library there. Dad never went to college, but I’ve no doubt he could have mastered any topic.

Dad loved to sing. Singing was part of our lives. When we were little and all in the car, Dad would often sing while driving. He loved choir and he really loved the quartet. He was the glue that held it together.

God, in his wisdom and grace, visits upon us all calamity and struggles. I had already left home when Dad’s failed relationships and untreated depression were nearly his undoing. By God’s grace, he was somehow able to survive the next many years. Then, 25 years ago he married Lois. Even looking from a distance, Bea and I could see that Lois was the best thing that happened to Dad. She had a concept of family and pushed him to the family gatherings. She became as much a twins fan as he was, which must have provided for hours of lively conversation. She loved him dearly and it was easy to see that he shared that emotion with her. Lois, for your influence on Dad and your many years of love for him, we will always be grateful.

Dad was committed Christian, as long as I remember, a tribute to the faithfulness of God and the faithfulness his own mom and dad and the generations before which was populated with pastors. He loved God. He worshiped God. He served God. He lived his life for God. He encouraged his children, all of us, to seek out a Bible-believing church and make worship and service a regular part of our lives. For that commitment I am so very thankful. Being a father and grandfather myself, I know that getting the family to church and providing for their spiritual training is no small task. But Dad did it. Growing up, we were in church every Sunday morning, every Sunday evening and every Wednesday night prayer meeting. I know that my walk with Christ would not be where it is today without that discipline. I never got to see the end of the Wonderful World of Disney or the Wizard of Oz until I was an adult because they were always shown on Sunday night. But Dad’s dedication to my Christian upbringing was a blessing that I cannot overstate. His commitment to Christ was a gift of immeasurable worth and one I have tried to pass on to my children and grandchildren. So, thank you Dad for your commitment, your dedication, your faithfulness and your love for God. You ran the race. You fought the good fight. You persevered to the end. Now, by God’s grace, you will receive your reward and enjoy the glory and majesty of the God you served so faithfully.

One Response to “Memories of my Dad”

  1. Larry said

    I’ve just finished reading your memories of Dad blog. It brought tears to my eyes. I have had a number of people mention what a celebration service it was. Even though they did not know Dad before the service, they felt they had a good picture of him afterwards. Other comments were about how we as family interacted. Some were surprised that we got along so well. They had not had that experience.
    I am glad that during the last few years I had a chance to see Dad mellow a bit. He was willing to sit and listen and not feel that he had to be on the go. He took the time to spend time every day with his friends playing golf or going out to eat. When I would come over and use his workshop to work on wood, he would come out and sit and visit for the entire time. He always spoke positively of Lois and was intent on showing her he loved her.
    I’ve been over to help Lois clean the garage, organize tools, clean out the used small engine parts, rake leaves, and mow the lawn. She really misses him. So do I. I’m going over tomorrow to help pack up his clothes for the Salvation Army. At first she asked if anyone would want some of his clothes and then she laughed. “His clothes probably wouldn’t fit any of you, but he does have some nice ties.” Thanks for memories, Matt.
    Larry

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