Good morning and Happy Father’s Day
When my father passed away now eight years ago this past May, I wished I would have had this prepared but I didn’t so I will share it with you today.
My father was an individual that I find hard to describe because he had so many attributes and some were not always the best – like, throwing tools and speaking in a not so friendly language when things didn’t work out right. However, for every bad attribute, there were many sterling qualities that made him the person he was. My dad always had a positive mental attitude (PMA) no matter how bad things looked. I watched my father the way he carried himself, how did things, speaking to people, and being a voice of reason. I remember when my parents were looking at a house in St Paul Park that they eventually bought, Dad asked us what we thought and I said, “it is dark in there”. My Dad responded, “I think it is a great home and I am going to put in a patio and more windows”. My Dad especially loved being out in the woods with his family. Even when it rained, he enjoyed the time and many fond memories were made.
My father and I were both retired military service veterans; he was in the Air Force (I guess you can’t win them all) and I was in the Navy. I left for boot camp in February 1980 and I remember it being a very long and very difficult time being it was my first time leaving home. Dad, Mom, and my brothers came down for my graduation ceremony in early April. I remember marching with my battalion over to the parade grounds and catching sight of his brown and white Dodge van amidst all of the other cars in the parking lot. One of his proudest moments and mine was the day he administered my final oath of enlistment in 1995 onboard the U.S.S. Mississippi (CGN-40) where I was currently serving; we could barely get through the words without laughter. Dad was in the Navy for two years between 58 and 60 and acquired the rank of Personnelman Second class (PN2) so coming to visit me on the ship was a special privilege and I reveled in it.
I never knew what my father was going through in life or how hard marriage can become when storms cross our paths until I married and raised a family of my own. My father taught by personal example that the marriage is sacred and is so much more than affectionate names and sex. I don’t know if I could have had a successful marriage for now over 33 years if it wasn’t for my parent’s example. I would watch them in church holding hands and the way they looked at each other. There is nothing more uplifting than to hear from your children, “I want a marriage like yours”. There is a cost to marriage and the more you work towards being “one” the cost goes even higher. Book-learning or online blogs are great sources of picking up tips and tricks but, nothing will ever do more to build a marriage then “self-sacrifice”. Because, from self-sacrifice, you learn how to stay the course through the worst of storms, being willing to listen when you’d rather “have it your way”, being willing to forgive when you’d rather hold a grudge, over-looking hurtful words rather than lashing out and working for the well-being of the family knowing you may never hear “thank you” until the child goes through the same struggles. My Dad was a steller role-model
I never knew how hard raising a handicapped child was and then having to bury the child until we were blessed with one of our own and then burying the child before his 20’s. Our sister Liz was profoundly Downs Syndrome and lived in a group home all of her formative years so, we did not see her more than a handful of times. I remember our sister’s funeral in 1988. For Mom and Dad, it was one of the most gut-wrenching ordeals. Because our sister was in a group home when she died, my parents never really got a chance to say good-bye to her before her passing; they just got a call in the early spring that Liz fell asleep and never woke up. Janine and I were more fortunate in that we had time to say good-bye to our son and had 18 wonderful years with him. If I had never been privileged to have a handicapped child, I would never be able to fully appreciate the sacrifice it takes, the prayers you would pray, the sorrow that would grip your heart, or the frustrations you face; in fact, I would most likely have become judgemental about it.
My father and I disagreed on a lot of things but the few things we did agree on, the importance of prayer, remaining true in our relationships despite the circumstances, and raising our children in the admonition of God we highly prized. Dad and Mom didn’t win every battle with us kids and, more then once, it came down to words and actions that we would later regret. One of our biggest battles, for me anyway, was “Bean soup” – Mom made it and I wouldn’t eat it no matter how dire the consequences or how hungry I became. The part I failed to understand was that Dad was not making a lot of money because he was in the Air Force making a measly $100 per month so money was tight, and we ate what our parents could afford. When our boys were young, we did not have a lot of money; in fact, Janine took on the role of stretching meals in order to feed the family and have enough for another day. After the battle I had over bean soup with my Dad, I did not push my kids to eat something they tried and did not like, and I WILL FOREVER REFUSE TO EAT BEAN-SOUP; in fact, I gave it up for lent over 50 years ago and still holding strong today.
Mom and Dad were a team and they worked together on many projects; one of them was at a camp that they maintained until Mom’s passing in 1999. From watching Mom and Dad, I learned how to work with my own wife and the two of us teamed up to raise our family. Because of our son’s handicap, Janine and I became “tag team parents” so that one of us could get away from the routine at various times. Mom was Dad’s Queen and he treated her as such and expected us, kids, to treat her the same. My wife has said on many occasions, “when the children see their father, they see what God is like” and there is a lot of truth in this statement. There is equal truth though, “how the wife treats the husband, is how the kids learn to honor God”. Mom honored Dad and always sought to uplift him and made her point very clear that, “no matter where Dad got stationed even if it is on the moon, that’s where we are going”. For over 20 years, Mom went where Dad went accept when he spent a year remote in Tahkli Thailand in 1969.
My dad was my hero and I looked up to him and he never accepted less from us than our very best. Happy Father’s Day Dad, I miss you and I love you.