I have learned more from my dad than probably any other person in my life. My most recent discovery about my dad came during a family vacation when he was speaking to his four children, their spouses and his ten grandchildren in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. Getting this information was kind of like finding that missing piece of the puzzle that you knew was somewhere but you couldn’t find. It didn’t change the puzzle, because you knew what the whole picture was, but it sure made things more complete when that last piece was placed.
My brother died in a farming accident when he was eight years old and being only six at the time, I do not remember much; however, I do remember my dad holding me and seeing tears roll down his cheeks. There have been very few times I have seen my dad cry over the years and I have never heard him talk about the death of my brother. But on this vacation he did; he shared how hard this was on him and how he and my mom grieved differently.
But what came out of that death was how my dad learned of and came to know the Holy Spirit in a way that changed his life forever. I knew that my dad loved God as evidenced by the way he raised us and things he said: “You don’t go to church to pray; you should be all prayed up by Sunday.” I never saw my dad read a devotional, write in a journal, read from scripture, teach us the religious stuff (prayers, commandments, saints). I just knew my dad had faith.
He has ALWAYS had such a peace about him, a calmness, a drive, a happy spirit, a joyful nature. He never yelled, but you by golly knew when he was serious. There is this magnetism, this sense of never getting enough time with him. You just always want to be around him because he is wise and teaching and strong and, well, he’s my DAD!
I just learned or maybe always knew, but now have a “take a step back” view of this. He is a reflector (I like to think that’s where I got it). He is not a man to be pushed or hurried in a decision. He gathers all the information he can; he takes time to think about it, quietly, mulling it over, often sleeping on it (daily naps help too) and then seeking counsel from people (always from his own father up until the day he passed away), and then when he is ready to talk about it, he will. But he has to do this on his own time. He taught that to us! I realized last week that my youngest son, Ben, is JUST LIKE THAT!
He has been on school boards and bank boards and dairy boards and church boards. He has always been in a position of leadership and has taught us to be forward thinking; to have vision, to plan for today, but look ahead to your two and five and twenty year plans.
He has had some health challenges (that’s an understatement) in the past couple years that would have most people tired and giving up and resigning themselves to getting old. Not my dad. He is amazing, quiet, courageous and continues to live by example. Oh sure, he has a stubborn German streak in him; that’s to be admired too. He found humor after his heart surgery and even energized his nurses during his recovery. He has chosen to get back out on the tractor to work and take care of his farm and still flirts with my mom after 50 years together. He continues to instill his values and beliefs in his grandchildren. He teaches them, patiently and with that steady wisdom no matter their age.
You see, he’s my dad: the most genuine, most courageous, wisest, most joyful, peaceful, and faithful man I know. I know that I want my own sons to be like him in their faith, decision-making abilities, careers/professions, as dads, for sure as husbands, and citizens of their communities.
If you ever have the opportunity to meet my dad….you should! You’ll leave a better version of yourself.