Saturday, May 12, 2012

I Remember My Dad

I remember my Dad teaching me to mow the grass at four years old. Well, maybe I was five or six. Not much older than seven. But he taught me how to check the gas and oil, how to start it, how to mow around the edges of the yard and house and garden, and then how to mow straight lines.

I remember the neighbor boy Jason saying his dad would only let him mow if he was wearing a suit of armor. I was glad my dad wasn't that paranoid.

I remember my Dad attending our high school soccer games, pacing back and forth behind the goal net, advising the goalie, encouraging the defense, and rallying our team to never give up.

Considering we didn't win a single game my senior year, my Dad's presence and belief in us became ever more valuable.

I remember my Dad coming in at night when I was in grade school, I slept in the top bunk, and he would lean over to give me a good night kiss. Except that it was more of a good night whisker rub. Which, as a boy, I kind of appreciated.

I remember Saturday nights with my Dad as a kid, watching Hockey Night in Canada on the TV, and us relaxing together a bit before bedtime. I remember Sunday nights with Mum and Dad and the family snuggled up on the coach watching the Wonderful World of Disney: Davey Crockett, Shaggy Dog D.A., and Herbie the Love Bug.

I remember going through a real dark period as a man, a husband, a pastor; my Dad and I started meeting for breakfast every Friday at Kahganns Korner, a little gas station restaurant on the corner of 69 and Highway 6. We'd walk out of that dingy place smelling like a smoke stack! But I cherished those times with my Dad, talking about gardening, the news, politics, ministry, marriage, life.

I remember dinner time, Dad at the head of the table, Mum at the other end, and us boys on both sides. Mum would have us help set the table, and then we'd sit down, Dad would pray, and then we would feast. It wasn't long before things got loud and obnoxious. Ben would sing a silly song he heard on a commercial - usually the most annoying one. Matt would be making odd sounds and comments. Jerm would be telling funny jokes, the punchline timed to when I would slurp up some soup or take a swig of milk.

I'm still impressed that Dad managed to grin even as I spewed the contents of my mouth all over the supper table. Every once in awhile, Dad would say, "Enough!" We'd quite down real quick, but then, as Ben would say, we were starting to get on our own nerves anyway.

I remember, soon after we moved to Montgomery Michigan, Dad was given an opportunity to start a second garden at the Ferrier's farm down the road. Dad dragged us boys along to help weed a large plot of neglected dirt. Dad set about his work with determination and diligence. It's almost as if he enjoyed transforming this unused piece of land into something productive and nourishing.

Though at the time we didn't quite appreciate the scope of Dad's vision, nor the hardiness of his work ethic, we did have fun trying to yank out weeds that were taller than us! It'd take three of us to pull them out of the ground! We wondered about what kind of country we had moved to that had weeds like this! Dad was undaunted, and by the end of the summer we were savoring sweet strawberries, feasting on fresh corn on the cob, harvesting cucumbers, potatoes, green beans, peas and watermelon. It was always impressive to me what Dad was able to grow.

I remember when we were real little, we went to go visit Grandpa and Grandma Hallman on the farm. It was a cold, snowy, blustery Canadian day. Thus, the four grown ups bundled up us four kids and shoved us outside into the blizzard to play while they sat around the fireplace sipping hot tea. We trudged over to the barn for shelter.

While huddled there we tried to think of something fun to do. We noticed that the snow drifts were so high and solid that we could walk right up onto the barn roof. Which is what we did. We then noticed that there was enough packed snow on the roof that if we climbed high enough, we could slide down the barn roof and land in the snow drift. Which is what we did. Now we were having some fun in the blizzard!

After awhile we noticed that the bottoms of our snow pants were shredded to pieces. We couldn't figure out why. Then we noticed little nail heads sticking up out of the roof. It was then that we realized that we were busted. We doubted that our parents would have approved us in climbing up a barn roof in the middle of a snow storm to use as a slide, and now we would have to tell them about it. It was a somber moment. So we decided to keep sliding, if we were going to get in trouble anyway.

After awhile, when we got really cold and there was nothing left on the bottom of our snow pants, we single-file headed back to the farmhouse, prepared for doom. You can imagine my mom's shock when we entered the kitchen with shredded snow pants. We timidly awaited my father's follow up comment of "You what?" But instead it was if the heavens openend, the angels started singing, and my father responded with a laugh, a huge grin, and: "Yeah, that's what I used to do when I was a kid!"

Oh, we were so happy, I had never been more thankful for my dad then in that moment.

So now, when I mow the yard, I remember my dad. When I cheer my kids on at soccer, I remember my dad. When I kiss my daughter and sons goodnight, and every once in awhile give them a whisker rub, I remember my dad. Sometimes I'll turn a hockey game on just as a way to remember being with my dad as a little kid. I doubt I'll every eat another meal at Kaghanns Korner, but every time we drive by on our way up to the Lake, I remember my dad.

Every time my kids get loud and obnoxious at the dinner table, I remember my dad. Every time I plant a bearded iris or marigolds, I think of my dad. When I plant huckleberries and asparagus, rhubarb, strawberries and pole beans, I think of my dad. And when my kids do something crazy dangerous, like climb to the tops of thirty foot trees, I remember my dad.

I remember my dad studying the Bible. I remember my dad preaching Scripture. But mostly what I remember is my dad living out his faith - as a dad, as a husband, as a friend. The first sermon of my dad's that I remember being interested in was about 1 Corinthians 13. Like my father, I've preached through that text many times. Like my father, I've meditated on those words of God for many hours.

Like the Apostle Paul, when reflecting on all the words of the Gospel, on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, here was the conclusion that we have come to: without love, anything we attain is worth nothing. In imitating the life of Christ, we would, like Paul, describe love by first saying that love is patient, and that love is kind. And when I read those words, I remember my Dad.

And when I remember my Dad, I will remember his faith in Jesus, I will remember his hope in God, and most of all, I will always remember his love.


Marc Spanjer said...

Tim, very powerful. He was definitely a good man.

chris said...

Tim, what an inspiring post. You dad has taught us all many things, and as it would seem, you dad is still teaching us through you. your a good man my friend. Love ya brother