It hard to pick out just a few memories from a lifetime of them but here are just a few thoughts of my dad.
Dad loved Mom’s cooking! He enjoyed a good meat and potato meal but Sunday suppers he would sometimes give Mom a break. I remember him making tuna salad sandwiches served with potato chips, no meal was complete without potatoes, red jello with real whipped cream and Pepsi and we would watch The Wonderful World of Color in black and white.
I remember Dad with a pencil behind his ear. Usually one of those wide carpenter pencils that he had sharpened with his pocket knife. When we were cleaning out his nightstand we found 6 pocket knives and some pencils in the drawer. He would stick the tip of his tongue out when he was concentrating hard or drawing, I have seen this same trait in my kids and grandkids. I remember the sketches he would draw for us kids, mostly horses and dogs, he loved animals. I am sure my sister Cheryl’s artistic abilities were passed down from Dad. He was so proud of Cheryl and her art.
Dad was a hard worker and a lot of my early memories were of his after dinner naps which I now also seem to take. Dad could sleep through just about anything except turning the channel on the show he was ‘watching’.
Dad was a builder and had always wanted to build his own house so in 1971 Dad started building our house in Lakeville. Dad with the help of a few guys built the whole house while continuing to work full time. We moved in when school started my junior year without windows or running water and we were SO excited when the main level was mostly done by Thanksgiving!
I really started to get to know Dad when we lived in Lakeville. I was very involved in my youth group at Oxboro Free church in Bloomington and Dad would drive me into church very time they unlocked the doors, it seemed and then came back to pick me up. He never complained to me, at least, even though gas had gone up to 65 cents a gallon. This is when I discovered Dad was a great listener which was good because I was a great talker! We had 80/20 conversations, I talked 80 % of the time and he talked 20% but I started to get to know him in that 20%.
I was a young adult when my parents moved away from home. Dad, Mom and my brother, Mark moved up to the farm where Dad had grown up after my sister, Cheryl, graduated from high school. Dad loved North Dakota; it was home to him even though he lived in Minnesota more years of his life. In his final days he was there in his mind and talked of it often. All three of us kids got married during this time and started our families. In 1991, due to the economic conditions in North Dakota, my parents moved back to Minneapolis.
At the age of 65 Dad didn’t want to start back into the carpentry union again and my husband, Peter, was looking for another person for the maintenance staff here at church so Dad started working here. While there were many aspects of the job he did not enjoy he did enjoy the building projects and the people. You could usually find him at break time having coffee and chatting with someone. Dad and Mom were a part of my family’s daily lives. Peter and Dad worked on the maintenance staff and Mom and I worked in the kitchen here. Whenever my family did something we always included Dad and Mom.
We went on many road trips together and in 2006 we took a road trip to Virginia and Washington DC with Dad, Mom my youngest son, Andrew, and niece, Chelsa. We knew it was going to be one of the last ones Dad would be able to take as his health was starting to decline. He had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure the year before.
We had so much fun! One of my favorite memories of Dad was the day we went to the White House. We were staying in Virginia so we got up early and took the subway into the city. We walked long and hard to get to the White House in time for our tour. It was such a thrill for us all but Dad especially enjoyed it. After the tour we walked many blocks to the Senate offices for our tour of the Capital. On the walk Dad started to really slow down and that is when we realized while the rest of us had worn our tennis shoes Dad had put on his dress shoes because he was going to the White House!
Mom and we kids have gotten to know the ER at Methodist hospital quite well over the past few years as Dad’s health continued on a downward spiral. Dad’s activities now revolved around games with his family. He loved being surrounded by his kids, grandkids and friends while playing King’s Corners, Oh Shoot, and Mexican Train. He loved the fun and laughter and could still win at King’s Corner at least.
Dad never went on a mission trip but he loved hearing about the ones his children and grand children went on. His heart was tender to the stories of people hearing about Jesus.
The last couple of months even simple games were too much for him so I would pick up a book of Bible trivia and we would do the finish the verses. I would start a Bible verse and he would complete it. Sunday, November 6, was the last conversation I had with Dad. I prayed over him and read many psalms as he lay with his eyes closed. When he opened his eyes I started, ‘The wages of sin…”
“Is death” he whispered.
“But the gift of God is …”
” Eternal life” he replied.
“Our lord.” We said together.
Because of the truth of this I am confident Dad is with Jesus now!