My dad is amazing!  Like my mother, he passed from this world in recent years, but he lives on in our memories and in our characters.  Dad personified one of my most important, ongoing lessons:  actions speak louder than words!  His actions spoke beautiful tales, while it seemed to me that his tongue rarely did.  When we got him talking, he had wonderful stories to share about his life, tales of hunting and fishing adventures, getting stranded solo in a schoolhouse during a snow storm, growing up during the Great Depression, and a simple life in a large family.  The television show about “The Waltons” is believable to me.  Dad was not a persistent talker like me, and many of my siblings, however.  Maybe it was his humility, or his preference, but he spent a lot of time being quiet.  Maybe that’s how he learned so much.  Dad was a handyman, a mechanic, a farmer, an equipment operator, and whatever he needed to be.  So he was an electrician, plumber, appliance repairman, groundskeeper, painter, framer, concrete worker, welder, carpenter, bean counter and planner as well.  Dad was not afraid to take on new occupations.  He saw needs and filled them.

Dad loved science so much.  The Apollo space program was riveting for him.  Now that was some low definition television!  At least we only had three channels to surf.  This left much more time for important things.  Our virtual lives were based on imagination, without the computers.  I imagined being a professional quarterback and rivaling Jack Nicklaus on the links.  In retrospect, golfing with wounded body parts would have been tough! 

It was fun to see Dad in a relaxed state, because he was busy so much of the time, providing for our large family.  We got to help provide, by irrigating the farm, burning sage brush to clear the “back forty” acres, picking rock from the fields, weeding the garden, picking strawberries and raspberries, collecting the dreaded crab apples from the lawn, etc.  Who was the idiot who sold crab apple trees?  Must have been a make-work project after the Depression?  I think I still have a resentment against that tree!  Dad was most relaxed while fishing.  If you were lucky enough to be roused by him at 5 AM for fishing, you got his best, along with nature’s best.  Whitetail deer, bald eagles, loons, beavers, osprey, bears, bass and trout would fill your senses!  Now that’s a good life! 

Golfing was another of Dad’s passions that revealed his fun-loving nature.  He loved competition as much as I do.  His swing became consistent and he scored well, around the age that I am now.  I was a young whippersnapper with a penchant for overswinging.  My balls visited strange places, while his usually enjoyed the manicured grass of the fairways.  If you saw Bubba Watson’s incredible recovery from the woods to win the 2012 Master’s golf tournament, you can relate to some of the places I found myself.  My lessons were many, eventually leading me to a shortened, more consistent swing, that helped me to some excellent rounds of golf.  And to a better life.

Pinochle games were high on Dad’s list of fun too.  Except when someone took too damn long to play.  Make a decision and move on!  Are we going to waste our whole life waiting for overanalysis?  Rumor has it that I was one of the worst offenders.  I believe that I’ve grown a bit in this regard, so the rumors about me have morphed into tales of wild, outrageous bidding.  I don’t know how to confirm or dispute such claims, except via my mind’s reassurance that I’ve taken in more quarters than I’ve paid out.  This may be a dispute that is never settled, but continually researched?  I wonder sometimes if I’ve made bigger life decisions like a fast-moving pinochle game, when I should have tried a bit more analysis?  And the opposite as well!

Dad lives on in many beloved family members.  He is an awesome patriarch, even after death.  He died with dignity, setting right everything he could think of, and passing without fear.  Without fear!  Did he save our greatest lesson for last?

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