Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Time

Today marks five months exactly since Dad's passing.

I love any time traveling movie:
."The Time Machine" (1960)
"Time After Time" (1979),
"Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" ( 1989)
"Back to the Future" I, II, and III (1985, 1989, 1990)
"About Time" (2013)
I even like "Hot Tub Time Machine
Thinking back to all my past Christmases, I never ever had to work on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I don't remember ever not spending Christmas with my Mom and Dad. This is the first Christmas Eve and Day without my Dad.  If I ever was away from either of them, I do not recall.

One Christmas I bought a trophy for horseshoes. He had won some trophies but they were used for second place  and lower. But everytime he was part of the winning team, he did not recieve a trophy. So I went to a local store in Fargo ND and purchsed a trophy. I don't recall what the troyphy says.

One Christmas I gave Dad a DVD with the best of the Andy Girffith Show. We stayed up late, 10 PM, watching it. He shared remembering watching television with his mother.

He never needed anything. Finding a gift that just said "I love you Dad." was not always easy to find.

Dad loved chocolate covered peanuts Candy was always a good buy.

If I could go back in time.  I would want to go back to Christmas 1968, my first Christmas. Now
But since time machinses to not exist we use pictures  We are so lucky now to have ways of caputring these moments.
During the project of scanning in pictures, I have discovered some pictures from Christmas 1968. We were spending Christmas at my Mom's father's home.

Now we are not talking about a quantum leap method where I would have to take the place of someone, but as I am now. I would be a stranger, but yet Dad would know who I was.

When I think of the past

 I don't recall there ever being anything like a car seat. Maybe Mom held me in her lap the whole trip. My two older brothers sitting in the back.

Weather Underground showed the temperatures for Aitkin Mn During this time as being a high of 18 on Christmas Eve. 16 on Christmas day.  The days surrounding that time 18-20 for highs.
Sharing a meal with them would
be wonderful.
To sit at the table and share a meal with them. 

Dad would be  47 years old. I am now
 older than him in this picture
 I would like to know what all the presents were. What was the music being played? I wonder if the tree was real.

Another method  to takes us back to those moments is diaries. Mom will allow to me look through her diaries after she passes, but maybe I could get her to review some entries now. I would love to learn about the past Christmases. Diaries can be the best thing let us know our history. I would love to see those Christmas pasts.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Advice from my Dad

Advice from my Father.
The advice I received from my Dad was both direct and indirect. The indirect were those things you would see him do. You knew it was important.
Here is some direct advice he gave.
Marry a woman who had her appendix out, has a fur coat and has lots of money. And if you could find a woman like that, why not?
Here is a video of Dad giving me that advice.

Dad was asked by my brother Paul about advice Dad would want to give to future generations. Here is a clip of that.

Indirect advice.
Use the scripture daily.

After breakfast, Dad would sit on the couch at his spot, open his Bible and go through a devotional. Looking through his Bible, I could see it was not a meaningless book to him. He would in color pencil underline scriptures. It was not an old book for use in the past it was something useful now.

Dad did not limit his prayers to before meals, but prayer was used during trials. Heading into breakfast one morning some weeks before his death, I saw Dad holding mom's hand as they prayed. Praying through the struggles coming with Aortic Stenosis.

Save money. A lesson learned during the depression staying with him throughout his life.

Get the most out of things you have. From adding a bit of water to the ketchup to get every last drop, to trying to fix glasses when they got broken, and turning two wooden grain bins into a wood shop and wood storage.

 Dad loved laughing. When I was young, and I thought Mom and Dad were both away from home, I quickly changed clothes turned on TV as I enjoyed my time alone. Some strange noise was coming from the living room closet. I approached the door listening for the sound. I opened up the door, and Dad let out a loud yell scaring me. Boy did I jump. Dad laughed. He loved laughing.

Don't be afraid to say you are sorry.

October 2015, after having fallen and breaking his arm, afterwardsDad was in Manor Care in Fargo. One day he had a fight with mom. The next morning, Mom told me about their fight as I drove her to Manor Care. She stopped at the front desk to see if an appointment with a heart surgeon had been made. I went ahead, to find Dad eating breakfast. I sat next to him. He tells me “I said some mean things to your mother.” I nodded to him and said “I know”. He asked about her, I told her where she was.
When Mom came into the room Dad raised his right arm, wrapped in the fiberglass cast, waving her over to him. He reached up to her hugging her crying as he said he was sorry.

When I was younger school had a Halloween event where we would dress up in costumes. When I reached fifth grade I was past the level for that event. Mom and Dad concerned I was missing out, gathered items to make a custome.
So err on the side of helping people and learning they had no need. Better than not helping, and learn of them having great need.

Our father was a very wise man, May his wisdom guide me the rest of my days.

Monday, October 31, 2016


I have been thinking about Halloween's past. Using a Cheerio box, and some green construction paper to make a Frankenstein mask Remembering all the candy.

But one Halloween sticks out.

I was in either 4th or 5th grade, in previous classes on or near Halloween the classes from kindergarten to 3rd or 4th grade would dress up in costumes and run around in the gym. In my current grade we did not dress up But Dad and Mom were not aware of this fact.

So concerned I was going to be left out they gathered together items to make a costume including some Halloween make up. Dad drove into the school to give me the items. I, being a stupid kid, feeling embarrassed was more mad than thankful.

If I could quantum leap back in time to that moment, I would thank Dad for bringing it in, and I would want to give him a hug.
Thank you ,Mom. and Dad.,

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Always Look On The Bright Side of Life

Some things in life are bad,
They can really make you mad.
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle,
Don't grumble, give a whistle!
And this'll help things turn out for the best 
Always look on the bright side of life!

If life seems jolly rotten,
There's something you've forgotten!
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing,
When you're feeling in the dumps,
Don't be silly chumps,
Just purse your lips and whistle -- that's the thing!
And always look on the bright side of life 

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” is a song I have come to love. Is Life treating you poorly? Find the bright side. Find joy.

Philippians 4:8&9
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

Paul encouraged the people of the Church at Philippi to think of the best.

Think of something that makes you laugh.
Think of something that makes you smile.
Think of something that makes you dance.
Think of something to sing.
Think of something to whistle.

Before Dad passed, I considered the day of the funeral would be full of Joy.

I had reached and passed by more than a year the age my father was when I was born. I did not believe I would reach that age with him alive, but I reached it. I remember having lunch on the day I passed the exact age year, month, day, and minute. He was living in his nineties. I was surprised he lived through his seventies, through his eighties, and now he had reached ninety-five. I had many more years than expected. I was blessed with time.

So many more hugs. Even a few fist pumps. Just siting with Dad. I experienced great blessing with so many moments of love expressed. I learned to express love better. To show love and not be afraid. What a wonderful gift Dad gave me.

I imagined I would go from table to table collecting memories. But I only collected one new story. It was a great story however.

Funerals are how we begin to say goodbye. The beginning of remembering. For it is not enough time from a person's death to funeral It never is. So you move forward and continue the process of grieving and of remembering.

Remembering the laughter shared. The smiles shared.

The time spent in the shop with him.

All the great memories. Looking through and scanning all the pictures mom has at the farm is helping to see the bright side of life.

Always look on the bright side of life.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Weird and Wonderful

Two words, weird and wonderful, are not words I would have expected to describe theses last two months. Weird I can understand, but wonderful?
But I found many moments of wonderful?
Hugging my brother Jim was wonderful as we briefly cried together next to dad's body. Most of my hugs were with Dad and Mom. It was the first time I hugged Jim. I was hugging a lot that next week and month. Even hugging some other men who are not huggers. Dad had helped me with getting comfortable with hugging. One time a couple of years back I did not hug someone because I was not feeling the freshest, and I regretted not giving her a hug. I feel a need to hug others now.

Singing the Beatles song “Good Night” as I lay next to his body. With Spotify having the Beatles available, I have been able to hear all of the Beatles recordings. “Good Night” is a song I had not heard until Spotify carried it. Golden Slumbers seemed to be for a female, while “Good Night” works for anyone. We say rest in peace when talking of those who have passed, and a lullaby seemed so appropriate.
Putting together the videos we had with Dad for the funeral and then reworking it again afterward when I had more time. I so enjoyed the creative expression. I am not good at making something requiring an artistic touch; I don't eyeball things well. Making a video is very precise, but yet it allows for creativity. I need to interview Mom and put together a video of mom telling of her and Dad's story.
Holding my mom's hand while sitting at the table in Dad's chair and saying his prayer before the meal. I loved hearing Dad pray before lunch. I made a couple of recordings of it. While it may have slight variations at different times, it is the same.
Dear Lord.
We thank you now for this Day.
We thank you now or this food.
We ask now that you be with us, and guide us.
We pray this in your precious name.
Not that it was the only time I saw him pray. One morning when I was home, shortly before he passed, I walked into the living room looking into the kitchen seeing Dad holding Mom's hand while they prayed. It was so sweet I wanted to take a picture, but it seemed very private as well. In 2008 after Dad had broken his hip while at Church camp during the healing service, I asked to pray for Dad. So I prayed with Dad for his hip. During times of struggle Dad would pray. So it was not just before meals.

A good talk with my brother Paul. As I took him to the Airport, we had a good discussion. I don't talk with him too much, and we had a good conversation as I drove him to Fargo.

Listening over and over again to the songs selected for the funeral. I made a playlist of the songs sung at the funeral and two songs used as music before the service One being “Good Night” by The Beatles. The others were “There is a River”, pre-service music, then “I'll Fly Away”, and “Life's Railway to Heaven”. (I remember watching RFD-TV show “Country Gospel Reunion” when she told me of that being a good song for either of their funerals.) Finally “God Be With You.” Those songs now hold such precious memories and give me such comfort.

Sitting at Dad's spot on the couch, and looking through his Bible at scripture he underlined. He did not just read his Bible he worked through it, underlining passages and studying it. The Bible was not a passive object to him but something that was living.

It was wonderful to wear his BetaSeed hat as I worked on the farm. Touching, wearing or sitting what he touched, wore, and sat connects me to him. It makes him feel close to me. And it brings me comfort.
Many things are not as I thought they would be, many of the things I have experienced are weird and wonderful.

Dad would hold Mom's hand while they would pray. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

“...Dad passed away”

Dad wanted to have a garden so we purchased some seed  and did some planting.
I had thought about the many scenarios when dad died. What would I do if I was at work, at my apartment or my parents home? My brother, Paul would have to be told by phone, and it would have to be voice to voice, not text and no leaving a message. I did not want to tell Jim by phone but face to face.

But things don't always go as we wish.

When informed I was not alone. I was with mom, and in a sense with Dad. Jim was alone. I did not want him to be alone when I told him.

Now, two months later, I am not 100% certain who I told first. I suspect Jim. He would have been the one brother who would be able to do something immediately. I told each one the same thing.
“Sometime between 4 and 4:30, Dad passed away.”

It was straightforward and to the point, but yet seemed like it was not the right words. But what else could one say?

Many other people I imagined telling face to face. As many cousins as possible, and the pallbearers. Also, I imagined I would tell his sister Doris, face to face. News like this seems too impersonal over the phone  But I was home already. So phone calls were used.

When Jim arrived at the farm, about 8:30 in the morning, Tim Anderson of the funeral home was discussing things with Mom. I greeted Jim at the front door, walked with him to the bedroom.
He looked at Dad and began to sob. I joined him in sobbing. It has been the only time cried since his death. I don't know why that was the only time I cried. It was brief but beautiful.
I opened up my arms; he approached me, and I embraced him. In the many years before Dad passing, I would give my father many hugs. I was now a hugger. During this moment of sadness, It was splendid to hug Jim and sob with him.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

He's Gone

Good Night Dad, Sleep Tight

Here is my first entry. It is now two months since Dad left us.

4:20 AM, Monday, July 25th ,2016 An emergency alarm set for calls from my parents awakened me. I reached the phone, but voice mail had picked up. I begin calling them back and after three busy tones, It finally connected

Mom answered.

“ Your father had another fainting spell, and he ended up rolling out of bed. I need you to come home.”

“Alright I will gather my stuff and head straight home,” I replied

“Take your time. You know it takes awhile for your father come out of these spells” With Dad's aortic stenosis fainting had become more familiar.

After the call had ended, I gathered together my items, loaded up and drove home to my parent's farm.

I arrived home around 5:40 AM. I saw someone in the driveway standing outside. He was not Stuart, the renter of my parents land. Who he was I did not know. I parked in front of  the garage, headed to the front door of the house and into my parent's bedroom.

I walked to the west side of the room by the side between the wall and Dad's side of the bed. I saw him face down next to the bed and no movement.

“He's gone.” My mother said.
For a brief moment, I thought she was talking about the person who was now standing outside. Then I realized what she was saying. My Dad had died.

I turned to her and said “Oh you mean he's dead”

I looked back at my Dad's body, Shook my head and said “Hm.”

I shrugged my shoulders and bent down grabbing my Dad's body and worked toward moving him back to bed. If it were on film, it would be very comical, as I wrestled with my dad's body while moving him back to bed. Once he was in bed, I placed a blanket over him as if he was just in bed sleeping. For three brief moments, I laid next to my father.

The first time I laid next to him and sang the Beatles song “Good Night” as I had planned to do.

Now it's time to say good night
Good night, sleep tight
Now the sun turns out his light
Good night, sleep tight
Dream sweet dreams for me
Dream sweet dreams for you

For a couple of more times, I laid next to him. One time I just laid next to him and the other time I rubbed his neck as if it had been just another fainting spell.

I was surprised dad lived to be 95. But for many years prior, his passing was continually on my mind. Each time I would say goodbye, I thought it would be the last goodbye. When I would tell him good night, it was possible I may not see him alive in the morning.

The final goodbye was the Tuesday before his death. I had been home to take them to a funeral. While Dad wanted to attend, he did not feel up to going. As I head out, Dad stood up, I wrapped my arms around him and held him tight. I said,“Goodbye Dad, I love you.”

It was a good hug and an excellent last goodbye.