Happy Birthday Dad

Dear Dad,

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?

My mom and dad's wedding picture.

My mom and dad’s wedding picture.

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?

A pile of my mom's many diaries.

A pile of my mom’s many diaries.

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? 

Love, Myrna

 

 

About Myrna Folkert

Myrna is an author who desires to use her gifts to glorify God. She's created this blog to tell stories of her childhood, musings about life, motherless daughters, grief and loss, faith in God, her family history, and facts about the Long QT syndrome. She also has a hearing condition called Tinnitus. Doing interviews with motherless daughters like herself are of great interest. Join in discussions by following this blog and commenting. She would love to hear your stories about life. Myrna is a Christ follower, wife, mother, sister, friend, aunt, and cousin. She was an elementary school teacher for 27 years; now works in her church, and a few other volunteer activities such as Hospice doing "Life Reviews" and Vigils. Myrna loves to read, write, listen to music, go to concerts, and take pictures. Her favorite pastime is boating with her husband near the beautiful shores of West Michigan.
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12 Responses to Happy Birthday Dad

  1. This is sweetly poignant. You are making me realize I need to talk to my dad more, while I can. It is hard to talk to the farm men sometimes. Seems we need to catch them at just the right moment. Hard to do because they are always working and when they don’t work, they quickly fall asleep in their chairs (if yours was is like mine is)!

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s very true Karen! My dad wasn’t a talker about personal emotional things. He would talk anyone’s ear off about farm things, the weather, or relations, etc. I wish I had been able to ask him these kinds of questions, but I’m not sure if he would have been able to express answers very easily. He was a very old fashioned Dutch man who worked hard and didn’t have much use for “mushy” kind of talk. But try to talk to your dad now, and ask him if you can record him. I do Life Reviews for Hospice and it’s wonderful for families to have their voice after they are gone. You think you’ll remember what they say and what their voice sounded like, but they fade. Get it now! Remember, men talk looking forward a lot too, like when driving a tractor or car….

      Liked by 2 people

  2. tabitha59reachingout says:

    Lovely post, Myrna. My folks are still with me and in their 80’s now. I often wonder how much longer I will have with them. It makes me sad to think of them dying.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Look at the reply I gave right above….get them to talk, and record them….you’ll never regret it!! Thanks for commenting. God is so good!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lois Blanchard says:

    My Dear Myrna: This is such a lovely tribute to your parents, & esp. your father on his birthday. I do remember him, even after so few visits. I remember mostly how important it was to get to worship service every Sunday. And, how he meant that everyone in the home would go—even visitors. That quality left many fond memories for me. It was so great to met another family which knew the importance of family worship. Thank you for sending this to me via email. Love, Aunt Lois

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dear Aunt Lois,
    Yes, that is so true, that worship was such a normal and important time to him, that he would absolutely expect everyone to go, and I’m sure that meant visitors too…:) I really need to call you and get stories from you. Thank you for commenting and giving such encouraging words when I write stories. You don’t realize what it means to me, and that you knew my parents.
    Love,
    Myrna

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Donna says:

    This is beautiful. My dad would also be 95 this July. I miss him every day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. What a beautiful post. We never know how long we have with people we love. I’m so grateful that there is forever waiting for us.

    Liked by 1 person

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