We celebrated Dad's 95th birthday this week. If you were to ask him how he's doing , he will tell you that he's got the best life under the circumstances.
What are the circumstances? He is a child of the depression. He learned early to work hard. He milked cows, helped farm, delivered newspapers, pumped gas and worked in a grocery store. He worked two jobs in high school and did schoolwork at night so he could graduate with his class. He enlisted in the Navy and served in World War II. He was a SeaBee, in a construction battalion, and eventually was on one the first ships in Sasebo, Japan, helping with reconstruction after the bombing of Hiroshima.
After the war, he married his sweetheart. He worked a few jobs until he settled in real estate. He always worked hard to provide for his family.
I recall late night knocks on the door from people down on their luck who heard that if they came to our home, they would receive help. We didn't have much, but there was always something to share. Mom worked hard too. It wasn't unusual for Dad to bring new “friends” home for dinner. There was a naval base close and many sailors enjoyed a good meal and a place to call home while stationed there.
Dad has 95 years of experiences and friends for each experience. He often looks for the underdog. I remember arriving at the airport with a group of missionaries who’d been serving overseas. While we were celebrating, Dad noticed a young man who was alone. (This was before cell phones.) Dad helped him find a pay phone and made sure he connected with his family before we left.
With all that Dad did to help others, our family was always most important. Children and grandchildren learned to work hard and celebrate family. Water fights, BBQs and ballgames in the backyard were the best.
When it wasn’t smart for Dad to live alone, he moved in with our family. I believe it literally broke his heart to leave his home, family and friends he loved and move to another state. Not once has he complained.
How has my life been influenced by a hardworking, military serving, family loving, friendly man? Here’s what I’ve learned.
Life isn’t just about you. There’s always someone you can help. People are inherently good. Look for the common ground and value the relationship.
Life is worth living to the fullest. Don’t waste time dwelling on other’s faults. We are who we are because of the experiences and choices we make. Dad owned each experience---and they weren’t always positive--- and moved on without looking for someone to blame.
Family is most important! He’s shown us by example.
Peace comes from within. A belief in Jesus Christ has guided Dad and brought inner peace in a tumultuous world.
Thanks, Dad, for teaching us how to enjoy the good life!