When you took my hands on Monday and expressed your love and gratitude for me and told me it might be about 50 years before you see me again, I now realize you knew your time here was just about complete. I thought I would have another day to give you the written words I couldn’t speak. Only tears came when I tried.
We had a lot of time with you, but there is never enough time. I am thankful we have eternity to look forward to, to say all the things we didn’t get to say here on earth.
Dad, I love you. I could not have asked for a better dad. You were my biggest cheerleader. Always, no matter what, you encouraged me, supported me, loved me and you did that for so, so many.
Some might say since I came 9 years after Greg that I was an “oops”, but you made it clear that you and mom prayed for another child about 1 1/2 years before I was born. Thank you for praying for me then, and praying for me non -stop since that day I was born.
Thank you for making God and family your top two priorities and how that was evident every day. Your steadfast, strong faith was lived out and an example to all who knew you.
You were devoted to mom and to all of us kids. You taught me how to work, how to love, how to give, how to stay positive and firm in the faith even in the midst of difficult, hard times. You were an example to me and all those around you.
Thank you for carving out time for camping trips and family vacations. Memories of sleeping in a tent, cooking outside, starting campfires, fishing and the most vivid memory of all those trips? — getting rained out almost every time! Of course the most famous of our many rained out camping trips was in Yankton. It rained so hard, the tent leaked and everything was soaked. The floor ballooned up with the water beneath it like a waterbed. Big storms were looming, so we got in the car to drive to shelter. With everything at the campground soaked, you took me into JCPenny’s in my nightgown to get some new clothes to wear. We continue to remember and laugh about that time to this day.
Of course the other one we always talk about is in Wyoming, when I woke up very sick and you had to drive me down the very long mountain road twice during the night to the nearest hospital, only to return in the morning to several inches of snow weighing heavily on our tent.
Our road trip to California is also one of those memories we will never forget. I enjoyed sleeping in the back of our old station wagon, making the time move along quicker. While driving through the desert, our car began to overheat. Apparently if you turn on the heat in the car, it is supposed to cool the engine down. We will always remember the words I exclaimed from the back as hot air was blowing on us in the middle of the dessert, “Dad, Are you trying to kill us?”
I will always remember the two of us driving over to your school in the evenings. You would catch up on school work while I shot baskets in the gym. You got me started in a sport I loved. You helped coach me, and you were always my number one fan. And then you became such a fan of all of my kids, supporting and loving them in everything they did. As a coach and PE teacher, you especially loved going to so, so many of their sporting events. You traveled all over the place to get to see them. You always found positive ways to encourage their efforts.
Then of course all those summers I spent with you painting houses and occasionally barns. You’d get me and whoever else was there to help, all set up, and then you would go run errands. You always had so many errands.
You took me to several colleges, but I know you must have been praying pretty hard that I’d choose the University of Sioux Falls. The school you and mom went to and loved. That was one I had pretty much eliminated from the list, but when visiting it, I knew that is where I belonged. You continued to support me there, coming to all my games. It became such a special place to me. That is where I finally decided to learn about the game of football, when I started dating Brad. I’m sorry to say, I don’t think I even knew what a first down was until that year. When Brad’s team made it to the national championship, you eagerly volunteered to drive me and a couple of my basketball teammates all the way down to Tennessee to the watch them win that national championship.
Church was always an important part of your life. I grew up here in this church, we were here for every Sunday morning and evening services, then on Wednesday and sometimes in between. It wasn’t something we had to do, It was just such an important part of your life, it became important to us too.
You walked me down the aisle here, then Brad and I made this our church home for many years. My kids and I often joke that you and and grandma’s favorite pastime is going to church. You loved people, and you loved to worship and pray and I love how you found ways to do this throughout the week. I can only imagine how you must be enjoying the worship in heaven right now.
I am amazed at all you did to stay healthy and enjoy life to the full until the very end. You went swimming twice a day until this fall. You missed it so badly and kept hoping to get back to it. You did so many different breathing treatments to try and keep your lungs healthy enough to participate in all the things you loved.
Our meeting not that long ago with the Palliative care nurse summed you up well when she heard all you did in your life. She said, “Will – you do life really well.”
The thing I think I will miss most of all is your calls. Seeing your name on my caller ID was a regular occurrence almost everyday. It might be to check on the game last night if you weren’t able to make it, to see what vegetables were ready in the garden, or just to tell me some great thing God just did. I keep waiting for you to call me and tell me what heaven is like.
Thank you dad for showing me how to live life well. I pray that I might carry on your great legacy.
To all of our many family and friends who have reached out with your love, care and support, we thank you. I know we could all think of one more thing we’d like to tell my dad, just a little more time to tell him how we feel, but I know my dad would not want us to have any of those regrets. There is only one regret he does not want you to have, that would be to not accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. My dad was great, but that was because of a great God that he allowed to work powerfully in his life. It’s when we have Christ in our life, we then have the hope of eternity together in heaven, and yet also an abundant life of hope, peace and joy here on earth. The grace my dad so abundantly poured out on all those he met, is available to each one of us through our Savior, Jesus Christ.