Happy Birthday Dad! It would be your 95th birthday today and I am thinking about your past life, and what it would possibly be today. If you wouldn’t have had to begin suffering strokes and then finally die at the age of 82…what would you be doing now if you were healthy? So many things I wish I would have asked you. Now I would sit at your side and record you and ask you questions all day long. Were you hurt that I never took more time to listen to your stories?
You worked hard as a farmer without question. It was what you always knew since you were a small boy. Your father began that farm, building the farmhouse around 1905. It was your passion and purpose. Being born in 1920, you were a teenager during the Great Depression trying to keep a farm afloat. Do you know that I can’t imagine how you did it dad?
Meeting the “city girl” Martha, briefly when you were a teen, piqued your interest I believe, from what we can assume from mom’s diaries. She actually was a housekeeper for you and your parents for a very short period of time because grandma Bertha was weak and not very healthy. A friend of the family had gained her that job. She penned in her diary, “there’s a 17 year old son, he seems nice.” That was all. Do you know, I’m sure she saw quality in your hard work ethic dad?
After the sudden passing of your father, Gerrit, when you were only 18, you took over the farm and cared for your mother. You lived dedication. A couple years later, we see that Gordon was calling on the beautiful young city girl, frequenting Holland more and more. You finally convinced her to come out to the country and be the farmer’s wife marrying her on June 5, 1942, with a simple service at her father’s home, with parents as witnesses. She must have been afraid, and that was a huge leap of faith in you and God. Dad, do you understand that she must have seen commitment in your eyes? What did you admire about her the most?
The early years of your marriage was an adventure of traveling, working hard and visiting with neighbors, relatives and friends. Little ones came along and you completed your family with six of us. Except for your beloved daughter Audrey, you saw all of us develop our lives, until I, as the youngest was 39. You saw many fruits of your prayers with mom. Do you know that all of us have many of your qualities such as dedication, work ethic and faith in God?
You suffered the loss of our mom, then a daughter. You married again, losing her after only ten years. You had so many heartaches in your life. Mostly keeping them all inside must have been hard. A woman who loved farming was your last love, as Pauline brightened your days. Did she help you get through all the struggles and losses you had in your life Dad? Could you talk it all out with her? What was the saddest moment in your life? What made you the happiest?
Dad, I’m so thankful my own sons can remember their “Grampa K!” You took them to “John Deere Days,” climbing up on the tractors, and out to eat on Sunday noons. You had Andrew up on the ladder at 9 years old helping you put siding on the farmhouse. You considered James too young at six, and he had to pick up nails, which did not make him too happy. You paid them a very small sum. But they got to know what hard work was, to earn your pay. Even though they’re vague memories, because you died when they were 13 and 10 years old, they knew you. Do you know what it means to me that they knew their grandpa? Do you think I did a good job of mothering them? Do you know that you and mom have 20 great-grandchildren today?
I’m melancholy today, as I remember that you could have had a vibrant life even today, at 95 years old….a few people do….but it wasn’t God’s plan for you. Your time on this earth is past and now I’m in the oldest generation. What is the most important thing you’d tell me today dad?