||[Jan. 8th, 2007|05:52 pm]
My dad was always a very strong man. He grew up on a farm and being strong of body and strong of character were natural bi-products of that environment. He was small in stature, so his physical strength was surprising to many who dealt with him away from the farm. Three and a half years ago, he had a heart attack. By the time he decided something was wrong and went to the doctor, they figure he'd been having the heart attack for about two months. The doctor asked if his chest hurt. He said, no. The next doctor asked if his chest hurt. Again, no. About the third doctor, and the third "no", my mom said he has a high threshold for pain. So the doc asks if his chest felt strange. "yes". He had seven bypasses. He never really regained his strength. He seemed to get better, but not up to par. Not where he thought he should be. Finally, he just started getting tired all the time. He would just sleep. The doc told him he needed to build his strength, that if he didn't, anything could take him. A cold, the flu, anything. So he walked, and he went up and down the stairs. He was still as strong of will as ever. Then he got a bad pain in his back. Pain meds helped a bit. But the meds and the pain really took their toll. the day after Christmas, the pain was too intense for a man who never noticed pain before, and my mom took him to the hospital. He had a staph infection in his blood, among other things. His body started to shut down. Saturday morning he was beyond the pain, and he died. I was there. This man who had been so strong all my life, looked so frail and tired. I miss him, but I can't stand the thought, even now, of him living like that for any longer than he did. A week and was enough.
So many people commented they didn't realize he was sick. Really, he wasn't. Not until the last 5-6 weeks. And it wasn't until the last week that he was so sick. I guess he figured once you buy your ticket, you might as well get on the bus. He was a man of action.
He was a man who would decide to do something, and he would do it. If he didn't know how to do it, he would figure it out.
He was a man of learning. He taught for 37 years. Three years he taught vocational agriculture, the rest of his career he taught seminary for the LDS church. He taught the 9th graders. Most people thought Seminary was an easy class, and a lot of the teachers taught, but didn't ask much of the students. My dad figured the gospel was important. It was as important as anything else you would learn in school, so why not work just as hard at it. So he took students in their first year so they wouldn't expect to skate through. His students had homework, and had to study, and they learned more from him than any other teacher, and they loved him. I saw this when he taught in Louisiana. And I saw what a good teacher he was when he filled in for the sunday school teacher who was unable to attend that week, and he taught us so much, in such a short amount of time. And we didn't just hear it, we learned it.
He was an educated man. He had enough hours for a doctorate, but because he hated bereaucracy, he never got his Masters. He loved learning, and teaching, and the gospel and the scriptures, and his family, and nature. He was quite the gardener. Many an hour I spent picking fruit in the orchard, or beans, or carrots, or berries, or tomatoes, or peas, or weeding the flower bed. His brother pointed out that at eighty, my dad took out a cherry tree. Not because he was bored. Because the tree was ill and dying, and it was a matter of safety, and a matter of health for the other cherry tree.
He loved to fish and hike and camp, and passed that love of nature to his children. He hated hypocrisy, and passed that on to his children, as well. He stood for what was right. Sometimes in the face of great opposition. He was also forgiving, and understanding, and gentle.
He loved to play games. He was smart and enjoyed games that took some brains. Many a night we'd spend playing cards at the kitchen table, or in the camper. And his love of logic puzzles and brain games found its way into many family parties, and was also passed to at least a few of his children.
My dad knew everything. A lot of things he learned because he had to. He didn't make a lot of money, but we didn't know that as kids, because we had what we needed and a lot of what we wanted, because my dad learned hoe to do things himself instead of hiring someone else to do it. He built his house, raised or hunted his food, fixed things. If I had a question about building something, or fixing something, or growing something, my dad knew the answer. If I, or my husband, had a question about the gospel, my dad knew the answer. Who will I ask now?
When Chance first started having his problems, and no one else could get anything through to him, and he couldn't seem to learn anything, or remember anything, my dad could teach him. My dad could take him into the garden and teach him about the garden, and Chance could learn. He could calm down, and remember. And Riley is so like him. Always wants to be outside, no matter the weather. And always into some mischief.
It has been only a little more than a week since his passing, but already I miss him. I miss his sense of humor, his vast knowledge, his interest and understanding for my life. I miss him, I miss him.
How sad I am at his passing, yet, truly, how much sadder the world that they will never really know him.
He was, and is my dad.