Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Dad--Man, Myth, and Legend...

With Dad's 80th birthday this year, I knew I wanted to write a tribute of some sort for him, so I made a simple prayer asking God to send me the words. As many of you will know, I have spent a lot of time writing the last few years, and as has often been the case many times in the past, God delivered the words… but for this occasion, he gave me just three—Man, Myth, and Legend.

Dad—The Man

I would like to tell you a little bit about Dad who was born the fifth child in large homesteading family in 1936. I would like to tell you that, as a boy, he was the same mischievous, hard-working person we know him to be today, but, let's face it, I have no idea because that stuff all happened before I was born. And, I'm sure any of his siblings would more equipped to provide information of that sort, So I’ll leave that to them.

Anyway, as Dad is fond of saying, “Your parents don't raise you, your kids do.” so, instead, I'll tell you a little bit about “The Man” I had a hand in raising. And Dad, “The Man” I have known for the last 35 years, I can only think to sum up in three simple values…

1. Hard work – I remember going for a run one day down correction line road, as I did many times. Dad was already living in town by this point, and I see the old Brown Ford dusting down the road, and I know I'm in trouble. Now some parents, other parents, might have been proud to see their daughter taking an interest in her health, getting out for some fresh air and exercise, but not MY Dad. The truck pulls up, “Get in,” he says, “there's strawberries that need picking.”
Anyone who has known Dad for longer than 10 minutes can attest to his tireless work ethic, if that's what one calls 80 years of devotion and long hours of farming, gardening, fixing, finishing, building, and raising a family, community, church, and so on.
Well, to this day, Dad has not actually succeeded in thwarting mine or any of his kid’s obsessions with physical exercise, but as I've grown older, I have really come to appreciate Dad's dedication to hard work. Which brings me to the second value that Dad, the 'Man' embodies...and that is

2. Generosity – All of Dad's hard work is not for naught. The fruits of 80 years worth of labour are rich and plentiful. You may ask what one does with such abundance… Well, they share it of course! Whether you’re his daughter receiving a trunk full of produce, or the Friendship Inn intaking enough garden potatoes to feed a small army, or whether you are the church basket or the new guy in town, or a stranger needing a hand with some household task, or a community member or one of the many others that I suspect no one will ever know about, we have all been on the receiving end of Dad's generousity and selflessness—A truly 'divine' quality.

3. Faith – What does my humble Dad or any of us for that matter know of faith? Well, have 16 children who you intend to raise on a farming income, and you will know faith--Faith in God's providence, Faith in the goodness of family and love, And Faith in sacrificing for others. I think I speak for all of Dad's children when I say that the gift of faith in a God that loves his children through anything this life has to throw at us and no matter where we roam or stray is the greatest gift anyone of us could hope to receive.

Dad- The Myth

Well, if you’ve lived 80 years and there isn’t a myth or two circulating about you, you’re probably doing something wrong, so I’m here to dispel a few.

Myth: With all those kids and a big farm to run, Dad didn’t have time for much else.

Fact: This is simply not true, and if you don’t believe me, just ask the Knights of Columbus, the Pro-Life Association, the local priest, or any newcomer to town if Dad doesn’t have time…

Myth: Dad was once caught throwing out a piece of rotting fruit at the Eastgate mall

Fact: The local Co-op stocks ‘cooking bananas’ just for Dad and in his 80 years not a single piece of fruit, ripe or otherwise, has gone to waste under his vigilant watch. Just as a side story, I remember walking in front of Grandma’s one day, and stepping over a little package or saran wrapped watermelon, complete with ants and such. Later, I was at Dad’s and he brings out a little plate of watermelon which I am eagerly tucking into, when he says, “Do you know where I got that?”

Myth: Years of hard-work, farming struggles, and difficult trials have left Dad a hardened man--stoic, and with opinions that are stuck in stone.

Fact: Dad unfailingly treats anyone he meets with kindness and compassion. When new people come into his life, Dad embodies the most true and pure definition of ‘acceptance’ I have ever witnessed—acceptance of different faiths, different nationalities, different walks of life, and different values. For me personally, this is one his most unique and proudest characteristics.

Dad—The Legend

Dad is a legend for two reasons:

  1. I’ve never met anyone like him – The world over, I’ve truly never met anyone like my Dad. Dad does not wait for good to happen. He doesn’t cast his vote and wait for politics to achieve some distant goal. He doesn’t utter things like, “Someone needs to cut those ditches,” and then wait for Ted Gartner to do it. I’ll bet the shirt on my back that he isn’t active in ‘awareness’ campaigns or frequenting benefit banquets for newcomers to Canada. No. The banquet is in his home, THEIR home, literally. If he is ‘aware’ of some problem, some good that needs doing, Dad does it himself. He cuts the ditches, he and Rita grow food, prepare it, and share it on a near daily basis. He changes the church light bulb himself, addresses the golf-course litter problem personally, and he lends his tools, his time, even his cars without blinking an eye, even when those items occasionally return from, say, Edmonton a little worse for wear. It may seem a simple quality, but can you imagine how different the world would be if more people approached things this way?
  2. He is an inspiration – For all the reasons I’ve talked about—generousity, hard-work, faithfulness, compassion, acceptance, and for any other reasons anyone else has in their hearts, I’m sure we can all agree Dad has inspired each of us in our own ways. I see little pieces of you, Dad, in all of us. Like Jesus, you are and will be a gift that keeps giving. Happy birthday and more to come.

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