I sometimes have to wonder about God's sense of humor, giving a guy like my Dad 4 daughters. He was the oldest of 3 boys, spent much of his growing up years in rural Pennsylvania with his brothers for companions and hunting and fishing his favorite pastimes. None of this would prepare him for years of living with a pack of women, the mysterious ways of little girls, strange garments drying in the bathroom and, later on, the phone always ringing, never for him.
Still, he did the best he could with us. He read to us, taught us to love animals and the out of doors. He showed us the constellations and how to do dishes. He gave us an interest in history and travel. He taught us to dislike golf, and to eat trout with the heads on.
There were failures in his life. To his dismay, we preferred cats to dogs.
He was never able to win us over to stamp collecting, the NRA, or the Republican Party, but he tried. Even though our politics differred greatly from his, I have a good memory of discussions at the dinner table where we all got to air our views. Mom and Dad together gave us the freedom to determine our own course. Many times over the years I have thought about how they dealt with parenting issues and been guided by it..
Probably the event that gave all of us girls our first adult perception of Dad was watching him care for our mother through her long illness. For that he earned our respect and gratitude.
Looking back over the last 10 years, we are so happy that he was able to fall in love again. Married to Helen, and free of the pressures of child-rearing and career, he truly had the opportunity to do the things he loved - hunt and fish with his friends, travel and study. He continued to give service to the community through his church, his Lodge and his other volunteer activities. Whether we liked it or not, he always modeled responsibility to us.
Our Dad had little joke routine for each of us daughters that began when we were small and never changed even after we became adults. This was always the way he greeted us, and I personally found it very irritating. Only now (through the corrective lenses of hindsight)do I see it was his way of reminding us, and perhaps himself, that although he might not know perfectly who we are now , he did know who we used to be and that he loved us, even though we turned out to be Democrats. Of course, now it seems a bit bleak to know that is gone.
Last winter I read The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens, and a passage struck me so much that I marked it, and it seems appropriate to share it now. He wrote: "When Death strikes "ÃÂ¦ a hundred virtues rise, in shapes of mercy, charity and love, to walk the world and bless it. Of every tear that sorrowing mortals shed "ÃÂ¦ some good is born, some gentler nature comes. In the Destroyer's steps there spring up bright creations that defy his power, and his dark path becomes a way of light to Heaven." Our thanks to all of you who shared in our Dad's life and made his years happy ones. And especially thanks to Helen, who has reminded us that when there is love, and faith in something bigger than ourselves, we can face the future with hope and assurance.