My dad recently passed away. He was a good man. A good husband to our mother. A good family man. A Christian. I’ve been compiling a list for the past couplea weeks, that even though it’s not entirely complete, I’m posting now. I’d like to take a moment to thank him, in no particular order, for the following:
- For his love of our family.
- For teaching us to honor our parents and elders by watching him honor his.
- For wrasslin’ us boys in the middle of the living room floor, then years later…wrasslin’ his grandsons and granddaughters in that same living room.
- For leading us in prayer before meals. You and Mom taught us to pray.
- For playing catch with me until your arm dropped off. Then showing up at our ball games to watch us play, or ride the pine…either way…you and Mom were there if you could be. For teaching me your “running jump shot” while cutting through the lane.
- For teaching me (and my two brothers) to drive…on gravel roads with a manual transmission no less. For teaching us to counter-steer when we started to fishtail, and teaching us that if we accelerated then popped the clutch we could peel out. (maybe he didn’t teach us that….but he didn’t discourage it either).
- For buying me my first car, so I could have something to drive to school and take to college. It wasn’t Camero or Mustang, but it sure beat walking.
- For letting me use your cologne when I started dating. Cedar & Scott counties women were never the same after that.
- For providing for our family, both with your city job and on the farm.
- For teaching me and my two brothers how to pick out a woman as a wife; to love, cherish and respect her. Dad and Mom were married for 55 years. He adored Mom. He backed Mom’s decisions (at least in front of us boys). He and Mom were a team. Teams sometimes have disagreements…but at the end of the day….they were still a team and they still loved each other. I remember a time when Mom left for a week to help with the care of one of our newborn nephews. Upon her return to our farm Dad had made a big banner that said something like “Welcome Home Marcy!! I love you!” I was a teenager at the time and thought to myself “Jeez…the old guy still has it going on for Mom.”
- For welcoming our fiancées into the family as genuine daughters that he and Mom never had. Both Mom and Dad made our wives feel accepted and loved, because they were. It’s a true testament of that loved returned when I saw my sister-in-laws & my wife sitting with Mom at Dad’s bedside at the hospital and at the nursing home. When the chips are down, love shows up and waits it out. Love.
- For taking time to listen to me, and encourage me when the situation called for it.
- For letting us know that being “disciplined” is a form of love.
- For teaching your sons a strong work ethic. One’s a captain on the fire department with 30+ years of service and a medal for valor in the line of service. The middle son travels the world for the company that he works for, and has several patents in his name and has worked 20+ years for that company. And me…I’ve worked 22 years for the company that I’m employed by. I may not have the technical brilliance or book smarts of many others, who surround me, but the good Lord gave me a quick wit and enough commonsense to stay out of trouble….and that’s been enough up to this point.
- For saying to an eight year old Rich Ripley “sure you can try my snuff! Take some!” For anyone who hasn’t tried snuff…it’s horrible tasting finely cut tobacco that burns your mouth and gets into every crevice, makes your nose run and your eyes water. I couldn’t wash it out of my mouth fast enough at the barn water hydrant! I haven’t touched the stuff since. Lesson learned Dad.
- For allowing me to try alcohol at home. I found out that it, too, was nasty tasting stuff. And when I was old enough to drive he’d square up with me, look me in the eye and tell me “if you’re going to drink tonight, call us….we’ll come get you. We love you.” I doubt that it was reverse psychology…my parents never made any bones about telling you what was on their mind and what they expected out of you, but when Dad said that, I was usually home, sober, by ten at night.
- For being a super Grandpa…dollhouses and toy farms built for our kids. For wagon rides behind the lawnmower for our kids.
- For Dad and Mom showing up and helping out at countless moving in’s and moving out’s at colleges, first apartments, first homes and second homes.
- For the free technical advice/service on home and car repairs.
- For loaning, sharing or just giving us whatever Dad and Mom had that we needed at that moment. Whether it was a hug, advice, a loan or some kind of tool….if you two had it….we could use it.
- The interest-free loans in college and life from Mom and Dad.
- For the advice…whether we wanted it or appreciated it at the time. It was given out of love and concern. I know that now.
- For the love of hitting the road early when leaving on vacation. I don’t remember how many times we’d leave on vacation in total darkness. Mom and Dad in the front seat, my brothers and I piled into the back seat. One of my fondest memories is waking up, a couplea hours later, the sun rising, smelling coffee that Mom was pouring from the Thermos for her and Dad to drink. I don’t necessarily like to travel far for vacation, I didn’t inherit this from my parents….I don’t know how as my two brothers love the open road. In my childhood Mom and Dad drove us to Disneyland in California, then four years later drove us to Disney World in Florida (from Iowa) There were other trips too, though I was too young to remember, but old timey super eight movies prove that I was present…a scowling tow headed toddler that looked none to pleased to be away from his dog and cats on the farm. Mom and Dad drove us to places far and wide in either a pick up truck camper or in a ’72 Ford LTD with Aristocrat trailer in tow. Lots of miles behind the wheel for his wife and boys. I’d go back to school in the fall and tell the other kids where I’d been and what I’d seen only to find out that they hadn’t gone anywhere. I realized at a young age that I was blessed to have these parents.
- For serving our country during the occupation of Germany after World War II. His love of our country was wide and deep.
- For letting me know how proud Mom and he were of their sons and their families. Some people never hear those words come from their parents, but I heard it just about every time I saw them.
- For comforting me as I tried to comfort him in his final days. Try as I might….I couldn’t not cry as I told him “it’s okay to go Dad. We’ll take care of Mom. You’re work is done here. You and Mom did a great job of raising us boys.” He’d look up at me, hold my hand and whisper, “I know. I know.”
- What gives me great comfort is a conversation that we had a couplea years ago. I was taking him for a drive one morning, out in the country. We weren’t talking much; just me driving, him looking out the window at the snowdrift covered farm fields. I asked him “how are you doing spiritually Dad?” He replied, “Jesus is my Savior.” That’s what gave me comfort then. It’s what gives me comfort now. Thanks for showing us the way Dad. We’ll see you later.