One year ago today, we laid my Dad to rest.
I had the honor of writing the Eulogy for his funeral. This morning I returned to it, and after editing a paragraph by adding a list of his accomplishments, I want to share it in memory of him.
The floor bears dark scuff marks from his chair skidding in and out from the table. If you visited our home, you likely visited with Dad at his spot in the kitchen. Meal after meal . . . day after day . . . year after year.
Dad read the Bible and led prayers before meals from that chair. To his left, at the corner of that table, one by one, sat a dozen babies in a high chair with him sharing his love of food. Sure, mom fed the babies more often, but Dad was there with the dessert. Most often ice cream. His eyes twinkled when he smiled at the reception from eager, round eyes wanting more.
The marks on the kitchen floor are emblematic of the indelible marks Dad has left on our hearts . . . the lasting impressions that will continue to impact our families and our world through the ensuing generations. No doubt his life has marked yours as well.
It’s safe to say that even with his many accomplishments, his military schooling at West Point, his service in the U.S. Army, his service to his hometown of Hugo, his main occupation of dairy farmer, and following that his service on the Conexus Energy board of directors, the hub of his life was faith, family and friends.
Dad delighted in his people.
In “Dad’s dairy school”, he was always teaching us to do the jobs that were age-appropriate. We “graduated” from the first level job of feeding calves to the next, washing cows in prep for milking. Moving up was a big deal and ultimately culminated in fieldwork.
Many of us and some of you experienced hours under the open sky on one of his International Harvester tractors, including his father’s first tractor, a Farmall H, acquired in 1944. Dad maintained and we continued to use it as we worked the family land that he loved, cutting, raking and baling hay, plowing, planting and harvesting oats and corn.
We are marked by his love of farming and his work ethic.
The demands of a dairy farm and large family never kept Dad from enjoying his love of hunting and fishing. And even there he was our teacher.
To bait a hook, cast a line and reel it in . . . To row a duck boat, build a blind, to wait in quiet expectation – often beneath grey skies. To get a shot and hit your target . . . or not . . . To freeze your tail off in pursuit of a deer, and succeed or not, Dad was there applauding and cheering for you.
His joy in our success as well as his own, has marked us all with a hunger to enjoy, advance and succeed in life and cheer others on as we do.
Whatever our need or pursuit, if he was able, Dad invested. Whether college, car, or business … recovery program, farm, land or equipment . . . encouragement, wisdom or humor, he has marked our lives with hope, laughter, perseverance and the means to move forward.
And who will forget his light-hearted, mischievous jokes or his colorful tales that often stretched in the telling. If he could get mom to blush a little, or a face to break into a smile, his heart seemed to dance.
It was with the same joy on his face that we saw when he was on the dance floor waltzing with mom, when he was talking about, holding or visiting with one of his grand children. When he was teasing one of us… or one of you…
We will all fondly recall the glimmer in Dad’s eyes when he succeeded in bringing joy to others.
Like the marks on the floor from the frequented chair, his love through teaching, rejoicing, working and giving has marked our hearts, which will continue to bear a bit of him here through our lives.
We can only bow our heads and thank God now for such a father, for such a man to celebrate today.