Things I learned from my dad

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Dad and I – August 7, 2017

Having spent more time with Dad these past few years has given me time to talk about the past with him, look at pictures of family, and remember the things my he taught me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve answered the question, “How did you learn to do that?” with “My Dad taught me.”

Dad taught me

  • How to throw, catch and hit a baseball.
  • How to keep score at a baseball game. (We went to a game about once a year at Connie Mack stadium in Philadelphia.)
  • How to drive.
  • How to drive a car with manual transmission. (My first few cars had a stick.)
  • How to tune up a car (When cars had distributors, points and carburetors.)
  • How to do a brake job. (Again, when cars were a bit simpler to maintain yourself.)
  • How to plant, weed and harvest a garden.
  • How to play pinochle. And double-deck pinochle.
  • How to sing and harmonize. (My mom would play piano and we would sing in harmony together. We sang a lot of parts in church, too.)
  • How to hang dry wall and mud it.
  • How to prep and paint walls and woodwork.
  • How to wire basic electrical circuits. (Dad was an electrical engineer by trade.)
  • How to solder.
  • How to make Hamburger Helper. (When we got older and my mom went back to work as a nurse, she would work weekend shifts when my dad was home. We had Hamburger Helper for supper about 90% of the time on Saturdays and Sundays.)
  • How to be there for all your kids’ events. (I can’t remember a concert or other event he didn’t attend.)
  • How to build a fort. (When I was about 9, he bought a whole pile of scrap wood and let me and my friends build a “fort” at the bottom of the back yard.)
  • How to eat Wheaties. (For most of my childhood, dad ate a bowl of Wheaties with milk for breakfast before he left for work.)
  • How to eat sardines. (He always spread them on white bread.)
  • Hot to tie a tie.
  • How to be faithful (to God, to wife and to family.)

That’s a pretty decent start. I’ll be back to add more from time to time.

Thanks, Dad!

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Two fingers with Dad

FullSizeRender (1)At the breakfast table this morning, Dad held out the pinky and middle finger of his right hand, holding the ring finger in with his thumb, looked at me and said, “When you order two finger of something, do it like this.”

Good advice, Dad. But where did that come from? I’ve never seen you drink more than a glass of wine. Now you’re sharing some drinking hacks with me. I’m going to remember that one.

It’s been than kind of a morning. The night nurse told us he didn’t sleep at all last night. Sitting at the kitchen table, he suddenly began talking about his graduation from high school (1942) and then his job at the mill (loading up carpet for shipping) until Uncle Sam summoned him for service in the Army Air Corps (1943-44). He then marveled at the good education he got at Villanova after his return, courtesy of Uncle Sam.

“Yeah, I’ve come a long way since Smedley Park.” Smedley Park, now a very nice recreation are in Delaware County, PA, was the boyhood home of my dad and his family. Back then, it was where he and his brother Tommy hunted rabbit. Dad then mentioned how they got water to the house. They pumped water all the way up the hill from the spring on the other side of the railroad tracks. From there, gravity took over and carried water down to the house.

I always learn something new from and about Dad whenever I come up to visit and help take care of him. Definitely worth the airfare.

Top ten ministry moments – #1: “Pastor Dad”

Finally, here’s the one you’ve been waiting for. My number one ministry moment, though, is actually a series of moments when being a dad intersected with being a pastor and I had the unique privilege of baptizing, confirming, marrying and ordaining my children. Continue reading

Pretty sneaky, Dad

If you’ve been reading my posts lately, you know I’ve been spending a lot of time with my Dad, who, as far as we can tell, isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. One of the perks of this experience has been the chance to spend time with my brother and sister. But when the call came that Dad might be cashing in his chips, we converged.

We hadn’t been doing much of that lately. Continue reading

It’s a small world after all

you-are-here_2These past few weeks I have noticed how small my Dad’s world has become. This came to my attention last week when at supper, we made sure to keep the bread out of my Dad’s sight. It’s a food he often chokes on, so we don’t let him have any. If he can’t see it, he doesn’t ask for it, and life is good. His reality is quite small, limited to what is in his field of vision.

His daily commute is quite small, too. It’s only a few steps from his bed to his bathroom and about as far to the kitchen table. This is his world now, about a 10′ x 20′ space. He has little interest in the weather, the upcoming presidential election, the news or even baseball. He doesn’t realize all who involved in his care. It’s a small, small world.

I like to think that my world is much bigger. After all, I’ve been doing a lot of traveling these last few years. I know what is going on and keep in touch with people around the globe. I am interested in the weather, elections, the news and sports. But is my world really that big?

The expanse of my experience is really just a small slice of a universe that we see more and more of each day, whether with telescopes or microscopes. I’m not always aware of how much care God provides for me through his angels and other people. My attention is quite often focused on that which is in my field of vision or in the realm of my self-interest. Hmmm. Maybe my world is pretty small, too.

Once in a great while, a window opens and my Dad remembers some of his experiences and travels to places I’ve never been or even heard of. All of a sudden, he’ll begin talking about places he was stationed in the South Pacific during World War II. Or a world where you built furniture by hand, as opposed to putting it together from pieces packed into a box. How about a world where you tuned up your car in the driveway?

For now, though, Dad’s world is pretty small. But just for a while. Before long he’ll get to experience a world without end, that much larger eternity that we were created for.

 

More time to hang out with Dad (part 3)

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Dad doing what he does best: enjoying a snack

For those who have been following the story, it’s been a month now, and we’re still hanging out with Dad. Perhaps it would be better to say that Dad is still hanging out with us. And he isn’t planning on going anywhere soon. Recent tests show that his kidney appears to have regained some function, which we suspected as he resumed much of his daily routine.

Yes, this is good news. And yes, this is hard news. Continue reading

Still hanging out with Dad

It ‘s only been two weeks. But it feels like it’s been two months. Two weeks since the doctor said Dad had 10 days left to live. Two trips to Springfield to see him, be with him and now help care for him.

After getting Dad back home, I spent a week with him, expecting a gradual decline and preparing myself for the end. I flew home for the weekend, worked feverishly to get a bunch of stuff done and came back on Monday. Upon my return, Dad mentioned he couldn’t remember the last time he had seen me! Dad seemed to have improved a little. He can stand up on his own; he just can’t go anywhere. For the most part, we only need one person home to take care of him. Dad eats well — especially dessert — but wears out quickly and sleeps a lot. The overnight CNAs are wonderful and a blessing so we can get some rest.

So where do we go from here? Continue reading

A winter visit with Dad

With Christmas put away and the season of Lent looming (a pocket of calm between two busy seasons), I knew I needed to get up to Springfield, VA to visit my dad whom I haven’t seen since since last spring, when I helped clean out his old house in Ridley Park. Poking around on Expedia, I discovered a round-trip flight out of Jacksonville for $100. That’s crazy. That can’t be right. It was. I booked it. Continue reading