Thursday, November 15, 2012

To Dad, With Love


In the days leading up to Thanksgiving 1964, Dad was sicker than ever we'd known him to be.  He had battled leukemia for well over a year; a battle we knew was drawing near to an end.  Or did we?  In some remote regions of the heart there was that hope:  He's not REALLY going to die. 

We had just celebrated his 62nd birthday on November 17.  Surely he was simply too young for death to claim him.  Surely.

(Dad & Mom at his last birthday celebration.
Notice the cake's mountain & river;
mother's touch to Dad's love of nature.)

(Dad, far left, at age 7 - #5 among his 10 siblings)

Once a robust man - a lover of all things faith, family, athletics,
& outdoors - his life had been relegated to the couch in our living room.  He slept there.  He ate there (if he could even eat at all).  He watched TV there.  He witnessed the happenings of our home from that one locale.

(Dad, left.  Here we have
evidence of the origens of his
penchant for all things dapper.)
(Dad, center at age 14 - a friend among friends)

(Dad , center with the ball -
forever the enthusiast of basketball,
football &
Friday night's boxing matches)
(Dad, center - the naturalist)
(Dad, 2nd from Left - forever the classy collegiate!)
(Dad & Mom ... their early years; their early love)
(Dad, ever the fisherman)
(Dad the skier)
(Dad, hiker & mountain climber)

My three sisters were each married & no longer living at home.  So it was my cherished duty (and sometimes burden) to spend Saturdays by Dad's side while mother worked.  I'd prepare his lunch, change TV channels, steady him as he rose or reclined, or just sit quietly by his side while he slept.   

Each day he seemed to shrink smaller-and-smaller.

(Dad's last days, with Mom & his brother, Elmer)

But on Thanksgiving, this now frail man of 90 pounds made his way from the couch to the banqueting table.  There he gave thanks.  What more could he want than to be among the collection of treasures that were, ever-and-always, his joy:  His wife, daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren? 

Outside a snowy wonderland had settled upon us - - an unusual condition for Washington State, and all the more so because it was not yet Winter.  From our paned dining room windows the soft glow of snow's glory only added to the beauty of that particular Thanksgiving. 

(Snowfall on the family home)

Following the meal it was painfully obvious something was terribly amiss with Dad.  Mother called for help; an ambulance.  It had grown dark outside, and the muffled silence of a snow-laden world intensified the moments we waited for its arrival.  In procession, the entire family followed by car to the hospital.

For the next several days Dad slipped further & further away; his illness now made tortuous by the staff infection that was attacking his body & the pneumonia that insisted upon taking his breath away altogether.  Leukemia leaves its victims with nothing to fight off such mortal enemies.

One evening we were all summoned to Dad's bedside.  With a surge of energy and courage, he spoke of his love & bid his farewell.  He knew he must leave, but couldn't do so without these finishing & noble gestures.  Once accomplished he moved from the land of the lucid to the comatose.  Within a few short days, December 4th, he left our snowy realms to walk streets of gold.  

This Saturday is my father's birthday.  He would be 110 years old were he alive today.  And, while I prepare for & rejoice about the season upon us, I cannot do so without remembering the days of his life, and of his leaving.  It is a bittersweet tincture.  

A man larger-than-life to most of us left a huge & gaping hole where once he stood.  Today I remember, and I honor him.  

He loved the Lord and the whole of God's creation.  He gave context to the concept of grace.  He loved & served his family humbly; his church body too.  Every night of their married life, he & mother would knee beside their bed to pray - - an image my sisters and I will never forget.

(Terry & Me; the day of my Dad's funeral
 - only 16 and 2 years from being married)

As a youngster my father followed me to bed every night, where he tenderly tucked me in with a story.  He played hide-n-seek better than anyone I ever knew or have known.  He could be stern, especially if lied to or sassed.  He smelled of aftershave & Clorets gum.  His hands were broad & strong, and warm.  I loved placing my small hand inside his, then again inside his coat pocket whenever we came or went from the house.  For endless hours I could ride my trike around his basement workspace and never incur his impatience.  I loved sitting on the backside of the couch, legs draped over his shoulders, and pat his bald head.  I can still see him doing dishes in the kitchen so mother could sit, or working in our backyard garden.  

I was his Palsey Walsey, and his Beetlebom

(Daddy & me.  He was 46 when
I joined the family)


He was, and will always be my Daddy.

(Dad & me; my first communion)

Missing you today, Dad,
and wishing you a Happy Birthday.

November 17, 1902 - December 4, 1964
Comment from my sister Barbara (#2 daughter), who sent me a separate email that's well worth the sharing: 
I just read your tribute to dad, it touched my heart and brought back so many memories. How blest we were to have such an amazing example of all that is good, honorable, humble, industrious, patient, honest and oh, so many other attributes, I could go on and on. He was so special and he was our father. What a gift God gave us to be his daughters, cherished and loved beyond measure. I treasure all the memories I have of him (and of mom) and thank God every night for both of them. Oh, the joy when we meet again in the Heavenly place where there is only all things good and never ending. I can hardly wait...
Much love to the little sister he was so proud of.


Denise said...

Such a beautiful tribute to your precious dad. Happy Birthday to your angel dad my friend.

Debbie said...

This was just a beautiful tribute to your dad. What a wonderful man it sounds like he was, and what sweet memories you cherish. How blessed you must have been to have him!

Renee Regnier said...

Yes, a wonderful, sweet tribute! I thought of my own father as I read it. Many thanks!

Sonja said...

Such wonderful words of tribute to your dad. He would be so proud of his palsey walsey...

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

What precious memories you have. A true treasure! Especially all the pictures. Pictures have a way of holding on to the special memories!


a portland granny said...

What a special treat for me today to see all of your pictures of your precious Dad who was the same age as my own dear Dad. I have pictures of Dad that look exactly like your pictures--the fishing outfits, etc.
I must dry my tears now and give thanks for such a heritage as we had through our fathers!

Blessings as you remember!

Patrina's Pencil said...

Honored to know your dad... through your treasured memories. Dads are so very special....I love hearing these priceless stories of 'daddy's little girl'. I've always called mine 'daddy' too.

Hugs to you this you are remembering and missing your daddy.

I'm certain you feel his hugs too.

Patrina <")>><

Haddock said...

It was really interesting going through those old pictures.
He seems to have lived his life to the fullest. said...

Pass the hankie! I love your investment here, the way you give your story to us so that we might feel the love all the way over in our little corners of the world.

I think your dad and mine would get along handsomely.