What can you do to cover everything about a loved one when they pass away? The short answer….You can’t. You want to celebrate their life as much as possible and share stories with everyone who knew him. My Dad passed away on October 15th, 2017. I had the privilege to spend several days with my brothers, sisters and my mom before he passed (all of them are awesome and unique! I could write an entire story about each of them, LOVE YOU GUYS!).
Over the years, there were many seasons in my Dad’s life. He was a son and a brother growing up. By his own acknowledgement, he didn’t have much in the way of money or material things, but he sure did have a lot of stories from this timeframe. As he grew, he joined the service and served our country in the Army. By his own words, “this changed my life and helped me grow up”. As he started on his journey towards adulthood, he became a father and husband. He had kids (five of them) and I can’t believe he had that many. He ran three businesses.
First, Jim’s Market. This was previously a small grocery store in the late 60’s, early 70’s. By coincidence, the store was also owned by a person named Jim, who apparently named the store. When my parents bought in 1975. They kept the name and put their own spin on the store. It started out to be a small grocery store because of my Dad’s previous 20 years working at Kroger. My Dad quickly found out this was not a store like Kroger rather a small party store (a convenience store by today’s naming). It carried beer, wine, chips, had a full deli and video games (my personal favorite for a few years). The store was famous for having Polish sausages (his personal favorite), BBQ chicken, ribs and pork chops. Oh and those mock chicken legs. For us kids, we spent many, MANY hours using this special “thing” that formed the mock chicken legs. The store was a central part of our lives for 10 years. It was a defining part of my life since I was six when they bought it. They sold when I was 15. While owning the store, my parents also ran a video game route with 200+ games, this was in the early 80’s.
As my Dad’s life progressed, him and my mom bought a restaurant in Belding Michigan. This was open for few years and along with having a food-service equipment business, he was the definition of a entrepreneur. It never ceased to amaze me the confidence my Dad displayed making something special and successful. He didn’t end up on the cover of a magazine like some do or being a wall street type business. My Dad was a hometown guy who liked to get to know his customers. He treated them with respect, integrity and could sell about anything to anybody.
And stories, he was probably most famous for his stories. If you went for a ride in his truck (1999 Ford F350 dually), you would be entertained by his stories. You talked the entire trip. Never once can I recall him just pondering about something, regardless if was me, my brothers or sisters, he was humble and could relate to each of us. Each of kids are different, over the last few days of his life, I realized we have more in common than I first thought.
Later in life, my Dad retired and took up his true passion: farming. He acquired 40+ acres to farm hay and did he have passion for this…OH MY. His lifelong friend Cecil was also a farmer. My Dad put many, many hours of love and passion into making sure the ground was just right. From putting lime on the right time of the year, to making sure the first or second or even the third cut was the best it could be. My Dad loved farming. He took pride in the long hours out in the field, fixing his tractor or painting so things looked right.
My Dad accepted Jesus Christ as his personal savior. Faith was an important thing in his life and he tackled learning all he could about God. He read several books as we studied in a small group. My Dad was always curious to learn. By his own humble words, he wasn’t educated, but that was just his own in-security. From examples in life, there is more than just being book smart. The last part of his life, he battled cancer with the same positive outlook as he tackled everything else in his life. There were a lot of bad days, there were a lot of good or so/so days.
During his final days, I was doing my morning devotions and ask the Lord “when” are you going take him home? The Lord, as he has done so many previous times, painted an absolute stunning picture. It went something like this:
“Riding his favorite 656 tractor, Red and White shining in the sun, which was setting to the west just over the treeline. My Dad in the field, east side of my brothers house, headed south taking care his hay. He only had a row or two left before it was time to go home to be with Jesus. I shared with my family Dad only had a couple of rows left. After he was done, a very loving person shaved, combed his hair and getting ready to see Jesus. It was 12:10 PM he went home to glory. His farming was complete, done with pride, joy and the best it could be”
Over the years, I’ve wrote many poems, including an entire book about his journey with cancer called 33 : About the Letter C It’s available on Amazon either in print or kindle version. Along with those 33 poems, here are some I found I wanted to share involving my Dad. Probably my personal favorite is called My Savior Wears Bibs. It was a project I did with my Dad in 2010. Here are links to them.
We all grieve in our own way, mine is writing. My brothers and sisters are so gifted in many ways. My sisters are gifted in painting among many other things. It’s incredible the talents and how easy they make it look. My one brother does taxidermy and each of his mounts are amazing, you can tell they are done with pride. My other brother is so gifted in many things, he can craft anything out of metal, build most anything yet is an artist in his own way. They have so many other gifts not even mentioned, yet I sit here and realize all of us were influenced by my parents. Each of us got a sprinkle of talents from both Mom and Dad. As I wrap up, I have shed many tears of joy, celebrating this occasion believing you are in heaven with your Lord and Savior Jesus, one day you’ll meet each of us at the gates welcoming us home into eternity! Love you Dad.
Love - Your son Steve