Jun 21, 2009

Father's Day

It wouldn't be right for this day to pass without my thinking out loud about my dad. Spending this holiday without him is still very new to me. Last year was my first Father's Day since he passed, and thankfully we were out of state visiting our older son and his family. That helped so much. So this was the first year we were doing all the usual things EXCEPT going over to visit dad.

I went many years buying dad ties and shirts, and then he really did not need any more of those things. So a few years back I started a new tradition -- I got him black licorice and ginger snaps. I can still hear his voice..."ohhh, THANK you, Jacque" as if it were some new idea each year. I don't know why he loved black licorice so much, but there is a story that goes with the ginger snaps.

Back in the days of the Great Depression, dad used to go to the grocery store with his mother. So many times, he told us, she would get to the check out and not have enough money for what she wanted to purchase, and she would always put something else back and keep the ginger snaps for my dad. He continued to love them throughout his life, and always remembered my dear grandma's sacrifice of love every time he ate some.

As I've written before, there will never be another dad like mine. I miss him so much but I have so many really wonderful memories and I was unbelievably blessed to have such an awesome earthly father.

My dad worked for the B&O Railroad (Chessie System) for 39 years as a desk clerk. He never had a 401(k) or any other substantial money, but I can tell you he was a wealthy man and he knew it. His wealth was his loving family which gave him more joy than any bank account could. He also had a zest for life and learning that money couldn't buy. Above all, he possessed a faith in God which he lived out on a daily basis.

When my dad was 60 years old, he was given an option to retire early. He never dreamed he could do it. I clearly remember encouraging him to "go for it", and he did. It proved to be one of the best decisions of his life. He took up several hobbies he never had time for when he was busy putting food on the table for his large family, sometimes working very long hours. For one, he started to paint with acrylics. Most of his work he gave away as gifts to family and friends. He sold a few paintings along the way too, and even had a collection displayed at the local library and he got written up in the newspaper. Later, he had some printed for notecards, selling some and giving away many.
The clock tower in our home town, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

Dad and Mom celebrated 50 years of marriage with a large party and a cruise we kids gave them. They also celebrated 60 years of marriage in 2007. We unveiled our plans for them on Memorial Day of that year, which consisted of a series of small trips with each of us (grown up) kids, spread out over 6 months. When November came we had one last celebration weekend--a family dinner and a party for extended family and their many friends. Dad was so sick that weekend, but no one outside the immediate family would have known it.

A weekend trip to Amish Country in Berlin, Ohio, June '07.

From left: My husband, Bob, me, Mom, Dad, my sister-in-law, Lynn, and my brother, Bob...

Whenever we had a family meal, my dad always was the one to return thanks to the Lord for our provisions. However, the baton was passed at the 60th anniversary family dinner, and my brother Don, the oldest son, stood to say the prayer. I quickly snapped a picture and didn't realize until later when I saw it that I had caught dad wiping away a tear. I think he knew his time with us was short.

Dad lived almost five more months. He enjoyed 24 years of retirement, mostly in very good health and without too many of life's struggles. He lived to see 12 grandchildren and 6 of the great-grandchildren. He knew he was a blessed man.

Elylah sharing her ice cream at her second birthday party,
December 24th, 2007.

Today while I remembered my dad, I also thought about my husband, and what a great father he has been to our two sons. They are both now fathers themselves. And so it goes...one generation passing on, the next growing older, and then the next and the next. I'm reminded that every day is a gift and the older I get, the more I try to live each day to the fullest.
Our two sons with their oldest children in the summer of '06.
Left: Sam and Elylah Right: Andy holding Deacon.

"Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on our business and make money. Yet you do not know the least thing about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are really but a wisp of vapor, a puff of smoke, a mist that is visible for a little while and then disappears into thin air. You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that thing." (James 5:13-15 Amp)


Wanda said...

Jacquelyn...As I sit here early this morning reading your post...it moved me deeply...life is so short...wish we had longer to share the different stages of our lives with all of our loved ones...I have long known to be appreciative of what time we have...but the loss of parents still saddens me...but life goes on...as you so well expressed.

I am a fellow Ohio resident...live in Warren County...in the southwestern part of the state...the southwestern part is in my profile...

Smile and take care!

Jacquelyn said...

Hi Wanda, and thank you for your kind words. Well that explains it...I'm in NE Ohio and we're usually cooler a little longer up here. I so wanted to put a garden in this year...have many times in the past but not recently...but simply do not have the time right now with watching the 3 yr old and the 6 month old, who appears to have allergies and so far has been very high maintenance. BTW, I LOVE your music on your blog...you are SO talented!

Wanda said...

Thank you also Jacquelyn...We use to have a larger garden at the back of the field...but the wild life wouldn't co-operate and it was too much to deal with also when I was watching grandchildren...Now, it's just a very small area close to the back door...much easier!...We deal with allergies too!
Take care!

Rose said...

Jacquelyn, This touched my heart in so many ways. I am wiping a few tears of my own when I read it, mainly thinking of my father as well. Memories of him flooded my thoughts. He has been gone 8 years and I still think of him daily.
From the artist in me, I was happy to see a painting your father did. How wonderful that he got to do something he loved. I have been to the Cuyahoga Falls area several times on business, but that was a long time ago, but I still remember how beautiful that area is. You have a lovely family especially those beauftiful babies.I know you enjoy having them in your life! Be blessed!

Jacquelyn said...

Thank you Rose...I was so blessed that in the last years of my dad's life that I was the one who, by circumstances, was able to spend so much time with him (and mom) and drive him to his dr. appts. etc. On our final trip to the hospital, and I think he knew the end was near, he turned to me and asked, "do you think we're making the right decision?" (he HATED hospitals!) He was able to come home to die though, with all of us near him, and that's another story. He wrote a note to the night nurses and said "don't bring me any breakfast, I'm going HOME!" Thanks for reading, and I hope you'll come back soon! I', anxious to know you better too!

Shirl said...

Oh wow! What a beautiful testimony to your father...the man he was and the love he shared with all of you!