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My Dad

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Blog entry by Don posted 01-03-2007 07:40 AM 1043 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

One of the greatest influences in my life was my Dad. I mention him in this blog, because I started thinking about him again as I often do in relation to woodworking. My Father was a woodworking enthusiast just like me. But since I came to this after he died, I never had the chance to discuss woodworking as one enthusiast to another, the way TimberJocks do.

I often question in my mind, “I wonder what Dad would think of this or that piece?” Or wish I could ask him how he would do something – like “Dad, do you cut the tails or pins first?”

Most men find it difficult to express their inner thoughts, especially to their dads. But after listening to some men speak of the missed opportunity of doing so after their fathers had passed away, I penned the following to my DAD.

I post this very personal letter in the hope that, if not too late, you too, may be motivated to write your Dad. Perhaps you could be thinking of this well before the next Father’s day.

You will note when reading, that I also used it as a eulogy to my Father at his funeral.

30 January 1999

Dear Friends, on behalf of my Mother, my brother and sister, and the entire family, I appreciate your attendance at this service as we meet to honor my Dad and our Lord he so faithfully served. Dad’s express wishes were that everyone know that he had a very blessed life – and his faithful wife was one of his chief blessings.

What I am about to read to you is a letter I recently wrote to my father without any understanding of the events that were soon to unfold. Whilst this is an intensely personal letter that reflects the thoughts of my heart, upon conferring with my brother and sister, it expresses their sentiments also.

We are sharing this with you, because, perhaps it reflects a side of our father that you may not have known.

Dear Dad,

At a recent evening church service the pastor asked three men to give testimony to the influence of their fathers in their lives. All three men gave glowing accounts of the many ways in which their fathers had shaped their lives, of the importance of their father’s example and the many different memories they had of their Christian influence.

But the thing that struck me most was the fact that two of these men expressed regret that they had not fully communicated their appreciation to their fathers. Dad, I do not want to find myself in their shoes some day. The things these men had to say moved me very much. There they were – so appreciative of their Dads, but feeling great remorse that they were unable to tell them.

So, Dad, I write this letter.

You are probably unaware of how frequently I think of you. I suppose a day seldom goes by that I don’t do so. When a problem comes up I want to call you and ask for advice, you are always so helpful and seem to know just what to do. Or I just want your opinion on something. You always bring a fresh perspective to any question. I can even recall that I’ve actually called you all the way from Australia in pursuit of a correct spelling. I could have asked someone else, but you have long known my poor spelling ability. Why would I want anyone else to know – and you never make me feel foolish or inadequate.

But the times I think of you most are when I ask myself, “What would Dad do in this situation?” I try to imagine how you would handle the major and minor challenges that come into my life. I can sometimes hear your advice without even having to ask. I have often thought I cannot go too far wrong if I do what I think you would do in any given situation.

I think back to my early childhood. How I would, with careless abandon, jump off the shed roof into your outstretched arms, with no fear, never once thinking I was taking a risk because I was confident that you would never let me go. What a wonderful picture this is of our heavenly father’s love and care for us. In this childhood experience, you were teaching me even then that God would keep me and never let me go.

Then there were the little adventures we delighted in. Our walks in Penticton to ‘Cowboy Country’ when I was still a child. You were my hero as you stood your ground against wild Indians and desperate outlaws. Pork and beans cooked in the tin over an open fire – never has a gourmet meal tasted so good since.

When a teen, there were walks in the woods with the family as we went on fishing excursions to mountain lakes. Opportunity to talk, share, and laugh, and as always, to learn. You were ever the teacher – drawing from the experience of life – teaching, as Scripture says precept upon precept. The day you swam across the lake as Bryon and I paddled by your side in air mattresses – it seemed then, and still does in my memory, like a marathon event.

I remember with delight how you make everything in life an adventure. You always heightened our anticipation of even the most ordinary events. You wove a story around each, and established routines whereby the whole family could participate in your adventures. Together, with you, we went through your many stages of life-interests: photography, farming, academic studies, Bible teaching, church leadership, boating, fine woodworking, film making – the list goes on.

You taught me how to think on my feet. You would challenge us to suggest any topic and you would speak on it for five minutes. You instilled self-confidence in us, the ability to speak in public, and the desire to do our best at whatever we did. You used to say, “Even if you are digging a ditch we should do so to the very best of our ability and to the honour and glory of God”. You taught us that there was nothing in life that we could not do if we put our mind to it.

Of course, Dad, the one area of my life I owe most to you is your example as a Christian father. You never waver, never compromise, never say one thing and do another. Many have been the times that you have discussed matters of faith with each of us. At your feet, I completed ‘seminary’ before I completed high-school, for so often our meal conversation was about faith issues and doctrinal matters. You gave me a hunger for the Word, and a desire to be a student of Scriptures, and perhaps even a lay Bible teacher, just like you. What impresses me most about you is the consistency between what you say and what you do.

Dad, of course you know I have learned all I know about being a father as I have observe you interact with each of us. Your tenderness towards Mom and Anne – the countless ways by which you model sacrificial love. You have never stopped courting Mom, it is your practice to take Anne on dates, and she cannot walk through a room of her home without being reminded by the many things you made for her in your workshop. Your love and care for your Grandchildren – what an important part of your life they are – and you of theirs.

These are practical signs of your love for us. But I am also very much aware that you have spent many hours on your knees with Mom bringing to God your heart-felt concerns for your children and grandchildren. The phrase ‘man of prayer’ is most appropriate to you. Thank-you, Dad.

I know that your commitment to serving God, was, in part, born out of an experience when as a young father you knelt at my hospital bedside and bargained with God to spare my eyesight in exchange for a lifetime of never saying ‘no’ to opportunities of service. And I know you have never once broken your pledge which to you is a sacred trust. You are a living example of the kind of Christian man I want to be.

But I cannot do justice to you without honoring the wonderful example you have been as a husband. Completely devoted to Mom, always showing her how much you love her in so many, many ways. Dad, I doubt that I will ever know a man who after more than fifty-eight years of marriage is so completely and absolutely devoted as you are to Mom. Of course, an equal portion of credit for this belongs to Mom as well.

I still seek your approval. And though I am now a mature adult, your blessing on the things I do has always been, and remains very important to me. Whilst there have been times when I found your black and white view of life maddening, there have never been times where I doubt your love for me or the rest of our family. There have been times when I wish you were less clinical, more emotional, but there have never been times when I felt you did not honour my self-esteem. You have not always agreed with the things I’ve said, or the decisions I’ve made, but you have never criticized the choices I’ve made. You always make sure my self-worth is intact. You treat each member of our family in the same thoughtful and tender way

Dad, you are a man of principle, a man of conviction, and a man of great integrity. Please know that I affirm you as a man, love you as a son and am and will always be thankful to God for you.

Your loving and appreciative son, Don.
__

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/



7 comments so far

View oscorner's profile

oscorner

4564 posts in 3775 days


#1 posted 01-03-2007 12:03 PM

Don, I feel honored that you would share this letter to your Dad with us. My Dad, like yours, guided me and influenced me to be the man I am and I ask his advice and look for his approval in the things I do, too. I’m sorry that your Dad is no longer with you as my Mother is no longer with me, but we can both take comfort in our faith that they are sharing in the glory of the Lord. Thanks for sharing your feelings with us.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 3763 days


#2 posted 01-03-2007 02:17 PM

Thank you Don, that was a very touching letter. I lost my Dad over 51 years ago, but it still seems like yesterday.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2008 posts in 3869 days


#3 posted 01-03-2007 04:05 PM

Hey Don: I got so choked up and such a painful lump in my throat that I had to quit reading. I will come back when I feel better. What a wonderful letter, I will finish it when I can take the emotion.

what an example for the rest of us,
Mark

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 3710 days


#4 posted 01-03-2007 08:07 PM

Very touching story Don, I’m sure it affected anyone that read it in a loving and affectionate way. My father was a drunk and ran out on my mother and 5 little sisters and little brother while I was in Germany, the friggin Army would’nt give me a hard luck discharge so mom had to take care of them till I got home. To this day she’s been my hero, until she passed 2 years ago, but set a good example for us all. Mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View jockmike2's profile

jockmike2

10635 posts in 3710 days


#5 posted 01-03-2007 11:36 PM

I wish I could touch on the envy I have for you guys that had a dad that you learned a lot from. My dad was good to us 3 older kids and I never got to understand why he was like he was until mom told me after he died and gave me a bronze star and told me that he had entered the Army at age 15. because he was living on the street in Toledo, Ohio. He was in the 99th infantry division and if anyone knows about WW2 the 99th infantry were a new unit of young untrained young guys thrown into the Northern section of the bulge for fodder, in the “battle of the bulge” It was’nt until I saw Saving Private Ryan that I realized no person could go through something like that without being dramatically changed forever, and I forgave him immediatly. He did leave me a legacy of bravery, honor, and I know he loved his family. He lost 2 brothers in the war too. Thanks for letting me vent. your bud, mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Don's profile

Don

2603 posts in 3641 days


#6 posted 01-04-2007 12:15 AM

Hey, Mike, I’m sorry for your pain over your father. Yes, I am blessed to have a good example in my father. But it sounds to me that you, too learned some valuable life lessons from you Dad. It’s not what happens to you in life that counts, but how you handle/process what happens. I’d say you’ve handled it well.

Take care, buddy.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4012 posts in 3527 days


#7 posted 09-28-2007 03:22 AM

Thank you Don for linking to this blog entry in my reminiscence of my departed Father. I wandered through work today looking like a goggle-eyed snapping turtle, up too late, weepy, but feeling cleansed for having penned my feelings and sharing them with people I trust to accept my statements without ridicule. Your memories are special to you, and now to me as well. Just a few more tears tonight upon reading this. Again, I thank you.
Douglas

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

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