Wednesday, March 09, 2016

When My Father Died

Here are some things I wrote about my father in the days after his death in April of 2008.

If it is all right, I may just have some rambling thoughts the next several days. Like I said, I am still coming to grips with his passing. Here are a few things I remember about my father:

He is the only person I know who would heat our plates up in the oven before serving breakfast on them.

Every time we went anywhere, he always said, "Let's go, let's go, let's really go!"
He never quit trying to learn new stuff.

Dad was heartbroken about Mom but I think it made him love her even more.
Dad never quit on anybody, no matter how severe their problems.
Dad never passed up a soda can when we were out walking.
Dad loved his house well as the 'yard.'
Dad started buying me STARBUCKS cards for presents because he knew I would take him. As much as he loved the taste, he loved sitting and talking even more.
I remember waking up early and walking in their room to use the computer. I would stop short because I would look in and see Dad on his knees, pouring his heart out to the Lord.
Dad knew he and Mom were loved. I doubt he knew the half of it.
He was ready to die but he fought with every ounce of his might to live. He knew life is precious.
Although Dad traveled extensively (the Holy Land, South Africa, England, Venezuela, Guatemala) doing the work of the Lord, he never fulfilled his dream of traveling to his ancestral homeland of Denmark. That makes me sad.
Dad bought a new phone at Christmas which I helped pick out and subsequently inherited. It has his answering machine message and I can't bear to erase it.
Dad loved anything red with NEBRASKA on it.
There were a good number of folks at the burial in Nashville, Arkansas who were also present on that same spot on December 25, 1949 when Mom and Dad got married. I thought that was neat.
Dad had an incredible love for Mom's side of the family. The Chesshir reunions were a highlight of every other summer. At the graveside, Jay (our cousin) was in charge of singing and spoke of how he could still see Uncle Roger leading the clan in making music to the Lord.

I started re-reading one of Dad's favorite books this morning: The Knowledge Of The Holy by A.W. Tozer. I pray I learn from it the way Dad did.
Everyone in Uncle Monroe's family is a good speaker....and Aunt Julia reminded me of Barbara Hershey when she was a little bit younger. (The Right StuffHoosiers)
I have never seen a church serve a brother-sister-family the way the Lafayette Church of Christ has over the past year. I must have posted this fifty times, but it still isn't enough.
Being with Dad when he died might be the biggest honor of my life so far.
I will never blog with purple type anymore after I finish my thoughts on Dad.
When I was little, Dad would hide notes for me around the house on my birthday. The first thing I did when I woke up was to search for them. That was my favorite present...and it cost nothing.
Dad engendered unbelievable loyalty in his friends, as much as anyone I have know.
The most crushing blow to Dad this past ten months was not the loss of his health or even his independence. It was his inability to still take care of Mom. He was going to protect her until death....and he did, even though he had to cede the responsibility. I don't anyone who loved another more than Dad loved Mom.
In family crises, heroes emerge. In our family, it was Karis, who stayed with Dad when the rest of us could not. She sacrificed herself for her grandpa, although I doubt she saw it as a hardship. I think she perceived it as an honor.
The hardest thing for to me to replace will be the fifteen minutes I spent on the phone with Dad (and Mom up until the end) each night. Our conversations were not out of the ordinary. We just talked. The second hardest thing to replace will be the six weeks I spent in St. Louis each year. I almost felt like a Missourian.
I never saw Dad as a carpenter but he made a tile-inlaid table that he showed at the Nebraska State Fair...and I got to go with him! I was sure I would be arrested because I missed kindergarten!
Dad wrote down every purchase of gas in a tiny spiral notebook he kept in the glove compartment of his car.

Dad, ever the optimist, composted until the end. The new owner will have some great soil to work with.
Karen has become a celebrity due to the poll questions. People wanted to meet her at the funeral! No autograph seekers, please!
We left the Twirl-A-Squirrel for the new owners!
I am going to try to come with some little memorial for myself using that little blue therapy ball that I pulled out of Dad's suit at the funeral. It is a great lesson for me to never quit...NEVER!
Dad was a teacher until the end. After the ventilator was removed on Saturday afternoon, each of us went through telling Dad our feelings and he did the same. Shaun reminded Dad that he took a bride last Fall. Dad's final admonition: "STAY MARRIED!" I bet those two words are burned on Shaun's heart. Dad never passed up a chance to preach the sanctity of marriage!
Is is coincidental that STARBUCKS has fallen on hard times since Dad's passing?
The last thing Dad ate on this side of eternity was communion two weeks ago today. I think that was appropriate. (Thanks again to Jack Coffee for serving Dad in this way for nine months.)
One of the memories printed here yesterday was from Dad's good friend, Bob Lawrence. Bob's (and Ruth's) daughter, Melody, was my age. One time, we joked that our fathers would try to lead songs at church with the criterion being the hope that the other did not know one of the selections. If true, I doubt either one of them succeeded!
When I received my driver's permit, Dad taught me to drive by taking me to the Reformatory Road outside of York and making me get behind the wheel of our station wagon. The first Saturday, I was all over the road. The next Saturday, I did great. When I graduated to the Karmann Ghia, that was another struggle.
I am in possession of the tie Dad wore when he married Mom. It is brown, adorned with flowers, and short. In one of my York College yearbooks, my basketball teammate, Wayne Markus, is wearing it in the Sigma Tau picture. I can't remember why.
When we lived out on the edge of town in York in a very small home, Dad added value to the house by building a cupola on the roof and a brick patio in the front yard. Both lasted. Dad was a perfectionist in his projects. When we were going through boxes of pictures in the recent weeks, I took every picture of our Nebraska houses that no one else wanted. I have lived more of my life in York than anywhere else. I was surprised at Dad's funeral with the realization that he and Mom lived in St. Louis more years than anywhere else.
When Dad first came home from St. Luke's at Christmas, one thing he wanted us to take care of was to return his billfold and put some cash in it. It wasn't that he was going anywhere to spend it but he needed to feel like he was still a man and men need their billfold with some spending money inside. I will never forget that lesson.

I catch myself becoming choked up at random moments. I now feel a great empathy for elderly men using walkers.
A number of people have called the phone with Dad on the answering machine. Feel free to call! The number is 713-772-2142. You know Dad would love that! 

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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