Fannie and I had a big outing to the Post Office this week. I thought ahead, and stocked up on Christmas stamps while I was there. Last year, I sent out all the cards from the boxes that had collected in the attic over the years, so I still need cards. My parents were good at making their own…
But I wasn’t there for stamps, I was mailing a copy of Conversations with Dad, the book I wrote with my dad. I entered it in a contest. It never had much visibility. That’s my fault. But Dad and I had a great time working on it!
Some of you might remember, it all started by sharing a story on Facebook that he had told Todd and me. We had taken him to a restaurant in Riverwest, the neighborhood in Milwaukee where he up. “This was called Charlie’s back then,” he said. And soon he was talking about Wilke’s Dairy down the road, and how the milk was delivered on carts drawn by horses, which he would feed carrots to.
Fast forward, before long we outgrew FB, so I started a blog called Sundays with Dad, which led to a book. It was at the suggestion of my friend Martha who said, “The stories read like parables, you should write a book.” So there you have it. We need each other.
Dad talked, I typed, then I wrote and he reviewed. When we got into some of his designs, he was such a stickler for detail, a serious stickler!…”Did you get that? Did you get that?”…at one point, I told him he could record a story and give it to me, but he wanted nothing to do with recording. He said, “Why being with you is the best part!” My sister experienced us working together once and told me he was treating me like his secretary. He was used to dictation. He did get a little intense at times, but our conversations were priceless.
You have no idea how much it meant to Dad at that time in his life, to connect with so many family members and old friends that he’d been out of touch with. I’d read him the comments and, honestly, I think your love helped keep him strong. And me too. I am forever grateful to you. And I know he was too. Thank you for being a part of that time of his life, and mine. You carried me through grief, it wasn’t easy. And you were there with me when he finally “went home to Jesus.” That was a wonderful gift. Writing has been my 2nd Act gift.
The book was written on a prayer. It was edifying for me to write and now it’s a treasure, especially this time of year when I miss my parents and brother deeply. Whenever I need to be reminded of tidbits of truth, lessons learned, people and parenting skills, have a good laugh or get the inspiration of Dad’s deep faith–faith which grew mine–I have the book to return to.
Here are three takeaway “Billisms” that stick with me: 1) always remain humble, 2) don’t forget to take the Fruits (of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23) with you wherever you go, and 3) keep growing in the Lord.
He was walking, talking proof to me that Eternity begins on earth not in heaven. My friend Nancy says, “He just kept getting sweeter.” He was intense, had a heart of gold and one heck of a creative mind.
On Day 2 of the Advent Calendar in 2019, I shared the Christmas card above, when he had the idea to stick three little kids in the feeding trough in our barn, to recreate a sense of the Manger scene.
Here are is the poem he wrote to go inside the card:
“The air is full of promise
To the humbleness of the manger
The brilliance of the stars.
Our lives can touch the beauty
Of the holy time
If we will let the love of
God descend upon us.”
Dad visiting his hyperbolic paraboloid, thin-shelled concrete roof built in ’55. Now that’s a story. He was 27. (It’s in the book.) Later, the church sat empty for years and that was a sore spot for Dad. But God! Not long before he died, it was sold, and he was invited to give a talk for the new congregation.
Sounds like your dad was a great man.
A great reflection about a great dad Deb. My dad wouldn’t write, but he would talk and I would write.
Oh Gary, sorry if I didn’t make that clear. It was the same with us. Dad talked; I wrote. Maybe I need to fix that. When we got into some of his designs, he was such a stickler for detail, a serious stickler!…”Did you got that? Did you get that?”…at one point, I told him he could record a story and give it to me, but he wanted nothing to do with recording. He said, “Why being with you is the best part!” My sister experienced us working together once and told me he was treating me like his secretary. He was used to dictation. He did get a little intense at times but our conversations were priceless. (Thanks for that memory, I’d forgotten. There’s so much I could share. I could write a book about writing a book!)
Thanks, Larry. Your dad sounds like a great man too! 😉
Memories are golden Debbie
Glad we have shared so many, John. ❤️
I was raised in a wonderful corner of the universe to funny, fabulous parents, so your love and loss of family resonates. When I spotted the postcard of your dad’s church I thought it was the one I was raised in. (I did a triple take) Ours is another hyperbolic paraboloid built for the 1960 Olympics in Squaw Valley, Ca. We attended that church when I was young. Then it too sat empty for years until it was lovingly restored.
You brought back such wonderful memories!
And you reminded me I used to be funny now and then. My husband would call me Lucy Ricardo or the ADD shopper. We don’t get out like we used to. Hmm. I just adore your stories and artwork. I used to paint, I used to draw. I have a bag of paints sitting under the piano. I was playing around with sketching pictures and poems for gifts this Christmas. Maybe I will. And maybe I’ll start painting again! You’ve inspired me. Thank you. (You were raised in a wonderful corner and so are you!)
I just ordered the book! Can’t wait to read it.
I’m laughing. When I hit the directional shift of energy you so aptly portray in your comment, my husband yells “squirrel” and we laugh. I have a guitar I can’t play but it sounds lovely when I tune it. Maybe it’s procrastination or maybe it’s a lifelong love affair with doing. Isn’t everything a celebration?
Laughing again! 🤣 And yes, everything should be a celebration. 🎈Working on that.
Stephanie! God bless you sweet friend. You’ll know more about hyperbolic paraboloids than you ever dreamed possible. Lol. And hopefully a few other things. Thank you! Sending a big hug. 😄🙏🙆🏻💛🌻