I’ve been going through my dad’s belongings, slowly and tenderly, in the past few months since his death on October 28, 2016. As I find correspondence (he saved everything, including bills as far back as the 1990s), I open each envelope, because I never know what unexpected treasure might be stuffed inside.
I have found pictures of my children in various cute and awkward stages–Julie dressed up in various costumes and clothes, striking a dramatic pose (she’s always had the acting bug), an adolescent Daniel…I found one pic of him smiling as he sported his Mohawk his junior year of high school. I see the sensitive, artistic side of Daniel in most of the pictures. There are pictures of Daniel and Julie playing Yahtzee with my dad at Christmastime.
But then I found one letter written by my grandmother that left me tearful. It brings to mind the lyrics of a song, “Find Us Faithful,” that our choir at Crievewood Baptist Church often sang:
After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind
May the clues that they discover
And the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them
To the road we each must find
Words by Jon Mohr. Copyright 1988 Birdwing Music/Jonathan Mark Music (admin. by The Sparrow Corp.). All rights reserved.
My grandmother, who suffered from congestive heart failure, was writing to my aunt (April 15, 1977). A portion of her letter describes my dad so well:
I’ve had so much fluid at times I could not hardly get my breath. Walter came and stayed with me last night. We got up and fixed breakfast and he made his bed and carried in stove wood and pumped a bucketful of water and started home about 6:30. I think he goes to work at 8:00.
Also tucked in this envelope is a small envelope labeled “To Daddy from Anne.” Inside I found a card I’d bought, one of those that explains the meaning of a person’s name. I thought it summarized the kind of person my dad was:
an Old German name
He is quiet and enjoyable; a man who is very secure with himself; always gets involved in things; just to see him is heartening; is a very devoted person; has a captivating personality; he is a man sure of himself; he is proud of the things he does.
Okay, well, some of this describes my dad. “Powerful warrior” may be metaphorical. My dad was a World War II veteran, but he arrived on the battlefronts just after the battle was over, and he was enroute to Japan when the atomic bombs were dropped, so thank God he missed that.
“Quiet and enjoyable,” yes. He was one of those people who stays in the background in many situations, happy to let someone else be in the spotlight and willing to do whatever needed to keep things running smoothly.
“A man who is very secure with himself,” maybe.The rest of the description suits him to a T, except “he is proud of the things he does.” I think my dad took pride in his endeavors but he is one of the humblest people I’ve ever known. He certainly modeled for me how to live a quiet and Christlike life.
One of these days when I feel like it, I will return to my blog posts and add some visuals. But right now I just want to reflect on my dad, his strong belief in doing the right thing no matter how tough the situation, and I honor and cherish him in my heart and memories.
I am blessed to have had such a kind man for a father. Even last June when he was failing physically and mentally, he wrote me a sweet note expressing his gratitude for how I cared for him. Always faithful, that Walter. Powerful warrior too. He accepted the challenging situations in his life, faced them bravely, and stayed faithful to the end. I want to be like him.