A Christmas Tribute to My Father

My Father
My Father
Mom & Dad on their wedding day, January 5, 1942
Mom & Dad on their wedding day, January 5, 1942

My father, Stanley, passed away on Christmas Eve, 1996, so for me the holiday’s are somewhat bittersweet…especially so this year because my wife’s father, Nostriano, died on Christmas day. My wife's sister, code named Fireball* on these pages, wrote a beautiful tribute to papa Nostriano under the title, "Memoirs." So now that all the activity surrounding Christmas and the funeral are over and I’ve had time to reflect, I, too, would like to offer again this Christmas tribute to my father...words from his eulogy 13 years ago.

Shakespeare once wrote, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and each man in his time plays many parts…”

I agree. Slipping out as he did on Christmas Eve, dad surely knew how to make an exit.

My father lived for 80 years and during that time he was known by others as a son, a soldier, a father, a grandfather, a land surveyor and civil engineer. He was a good son, a good soldier, a good husband and father and a good engineer. But the thing that impresses me most about his life is that he was a good MAN. By that I don’t mean only that he was a good guy or a good friend or a good father. He was all of those...and more. My lasting memory is that he ASPIRED to good things…to great ideas,..to what is best in music, in literature, in our culture and in our human spirit.

From his days in high school he loved ancient history. He read about the lives of famous Greeks and Romans and was moved to emulate their finer qualities. He had a set of 52 books called The Great Books of the Western World and was the only person I knew who seriously attempted to read all of them!

Dad was drawn to the character of George Washington. I think he may have had a special affinity to George Washington because he was a land surveyor as a young man and dad was too. But more than that, it was the character of the man that he liked; Washington’s leadership abilities, the way he was scrupulously fair in all his relationships and courteous in manner to everyone. Dad tried to emulate that in his dealings with others.

He loved classical music, Mozart in particular. He was drawn toward the beauty and spirit of Mozart's music, its sense of symmetry and order, its intellectual clarity. He set out to collect recordings of all Mozart’s compositions, about 500 pieces in all, and I think he had most of them. He had a book where he listed all of Mozart's works and made a check mark by each one he acquired.

Dad admired good literature, especially poetry, and memorized a surprising amount of it. He would sometimes burst into verse at the dinner table, quoting one of his favorite poems…”Bobby” Burns, Rudyard Kipling, and Robert Service were his favorites.

He was reliable in that he took his responsibilities seriously. He was loyal to his family, to his friends and to his country because he believed that, no matter what your responsibilities were, you did your duty by them. When World War II started, he felt it was his duty to enlist in the army…and he did so. When his parent’s health failed, he felt it his duty to be there to help them through it…and that’s what he did. In his last years he volunteered for and served on his neighborhood’s patrol until he was no longer able to do so.

Professionally, dad was first a land surveyor and later a civil engineer. I think he was happiest leading a survey crew out in the boonies somewhere. He had a wealth of stories from those days. One night, for example, he and one of his crew were coming home from a Saturday night dance. As their car went over a hill and down the other side, they ran through a barricade, bounced over a pile of dirt and landed so that the car straddled a 6 foot deep ditch that had been dug across the road. The front of the car rested on one side of the ditch and the back end rested on the other side. It was pitch black outside.

Dad opened the door to see what the trouble was, got out of the car and just disappeared into that 6 foot hole.

Not hearing anything for awhile, his friend yelled, “What’d we hit?”

“Come on out and see!” Dad hollered back.

The door opened, his friend stepped out and he, too, just disappeared...

After the war, dad got his engineering degree at the University of North Dakota and became an engineering instructor there. He also started his own consulting business. The project I most remember involved the city of Devil’s Lake and their need for water. Before 1960 the water in Devil’s Lake was so bad it was undrinkable and the town was gradually losing its population. Drinkable water had to be trucked into town. Dad sold them on the idea of piping their water in from artesian wells 20 miles away. He designed the pipe, did the engineering and brought the project in at a cost savings of over a million dollars. The other day I noticed in the almanac that the population of Devil’s Lake is more than double what it was in 1960.

As a hobby dad had a lifelong interest in the game of chess. He liked the one-on-one competition and was a good player…several times a state champion in North Dakota and later a member of the San Francisco Chess Club. Two or three of his games were published and he once finished sixteenth in a national postal chess tournament. For him Chess was more than just a game. It was an arena of intellectual expression where the idea behind a move or (better still) a combination of moves could be called “beautiful” …a concept I never quite understood.

What I feel most for him now is gratitude…gratitude for the time he gave to my mother, me and my children. He loved my mother and was a great admirer of her. He was happy when he was in her company and I know she missed him greatly after he died. They were together for 54 years and shared a lifetime of memories. Especially important for mom were the wonderful conversations they had from the beginning of their courtship and throughout their lives.

With mom at home in Hayward, CA
With mom at home in Hayward, CA

As for me, I’m grateful for the time he gave me as a boy…the summer nights at the ballpark…all the hockey games he took me to…and those special times he took me to chess tournaments in Minneapolis. I got to spend a whole weekend with my dad and it was great! And when I went the wrong direction as a teenager, dad saw the trouble I was getting into and organized a youth group “just for me.” I’m grateful for that. I’m also grateful for the times he extended his hand to help when I needed it later in life.

I’m glad that he got to know his grandchildren, Micah and Joshua. He enjoyed telling Micah stories about his family and his childhood, and although he didn’t really know Joshua until the last few months of his life, the two of them developed a very special bond. On December 22nd, two days before he died, they had a chance to say goodbye. Dad said to him, “It was nice knowing you.”

Well. It was nice knowing you, too, dad. Farewell. We'll miss you.

With Granddaughter, Micah
With Granddaughter, Micah

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Comments 34 comments

Unchained Grace profile image

Unchained Grace 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

TJ, I'm not one for tears, but that one did it. Your recount of your Dad was so heartfelt. To truly aspire to good is that which is Godlike unto itself. Your Dad is the quintessential husband, father, friend and man as is described in God's Word. What we all should be.

I miss my Dad. Like yours, he aspired to good and had all the qualities you mentioned. Know what? Night after night, he'd lie in bed before sleep and read his Bible. Never made a big thing of it. No fanfare. It was just Dad doing what Dad liked to do. His favorite was Rev. Billy Graham on TV. His others? Bonanza, John Wayne, Gunsmoke and anything involving WWII. He was a Chief Master Sergeant in the USAF and was part of forming the 95th Heavy Bomb Group in London.

So, yeah, I know what it all means and the honor you have given your Dad here is priceless. Your Mom and Dad were obviously very special to one another. You can see it by the looks they traded in the picture. Those memories are to be the real treasures of our life. Thank you so much for sharing!


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

A beautiful tribute to your father.


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Thank you, Unchained Grace, for your kind words; they come from the heart and mean a lot to me. So your dad read the bible, too..! The best advice dad ever gave me was to read the bible "prayerfully."

Thanks again and blessings to you and your house.


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Thank you itakins. I appreciate your kind words. Blessings to you and yours this day.


fireball* 6 years ago

Hello,Manong..I am speechless.So I will just said..this is great! and i am glad you're a part of my family.I am happy to know a brother like you.

God bless always.


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Hi Em... Thank you; and I am glad you're a part of my family also. Blessings to you!


coffeesnob 6 years ago

TJ

Great hub and wonderful tribute to yoiur dad. My dad died in Nov 96. Every Thanksgiving I remember him especially and the times we had together cooking dinner. Thanks for reminding me of my own heritage and blessings.


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Thank you coffeesnob. And I see you wrote moving tribute to your father, also. Remarkable, that both passed the same year. Peace to you and blessings in Jesus!


Heavensgates profile image

Heavensgates 6 years ago

TJ, I just got around to reading you hub and was just blessed. So when your dad and his friend disappeared into the hole what happened? How did they get out? Your tribute is wonderful. I immebsely enjoyed your writing. God Bless you and keep the hubs coming!


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Hi Heavensgates. Good question! Sorry but I don't recall how they got out. I guess I just assumed they climbed out and got all muddy in the process and didn't ask your question...which seems obvious now that you mention it. LOL

Thanks and blessings to you in Jesus.


chrismarva profile image

chrismarva 6 years ago

You are your father's son and a fine son you are.

Very, very nice.


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Thank you for your kind words, chrismarva... They are appreciated.


Dr.Baines profile image

Dr.Baines 6 years ago

Very nice TJ. Have a blessed 2010 and beyond. http://www.RobertBaines.com


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

And blessings to you and your house, Dr Baines.


Naomi R. Cox profile image

Naomi R. Cox 6 years ago from Elberton, Georgia

A wonderful hub and beautiful tribute to your dad. I enjoyed reading this and thank you for sharing some of your memories with us.


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Thank you, Naomi, for your kind words. It was a both a pleasure and an honor for me to remember him in this way.

Blessings to you and your house this day.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

nice and touching one TJ< good hub, and welcome to HP too, youre nominated for the HUBNUGGETS< Maita


Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

Good hub. Congratulations on the hubnugget wannabe nomination.


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Thank you prettydarkhorse and Tammy... This hubnugget thing was a surprise. I appreciate your taking the time to comment. Blessings and peace to you both.

TJ


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 6 years ago from Long Island, NY

Very touching. I think it's really nice and meaningful that you wanted to write a tribute to your dad. Congratulations on being nominated HubNugget Wannabe.


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Thanks for your kind words, Glenn. Blessings to you.


uliveulearn profile image

uliveulearn 6 years ago from Canada

What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man. My father died Dec. 29 nine years ago and this was my grown daughters first Christmas without their father. I have considered doing a hub on how we managed but I could not do such an eloquent job as you did. Good hub and congrats on the nomination.


Elven  Hottie profile image

Elven Hottie 6 years ago from USA

This is an incredible tribute to your father - he seemed to be a good man.

Congrats on your nomination


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

TJ, I was teary eyed reading this hub. I especially laughed out loud when your dad and your friend disappeared into the hole. And the photos of your dad with your mom and granddaughter is so special. Thank you for sharing them with us. Families ought to be celebrated and you did this so beautifully.

In behalf of the Hubnuggets team, we send you our fireworks of love and congratulations. Do invite family and friends to vote for your hub. Yes even non members are allowed to vote. TO VOTE: http://hubpages.com/hubnuggets10/hub/Presenting-Pr...

I pray that your lovely memories of your dad will make your Christmas bright through all these years. God bless.


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Uliveulearn, Elven Hottie and ripplemaker... I hardly know what to say; I am grateful for your kind words and happy to think that I may have communicated something that was in my heart.

Peace and every blessing to you and your families this day.

TJ


Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

This is an awesome tribute to your dad. There's nothing better than being able to see pictures of how our parents looked when they were young and then seeing the gray that comes from endurance, the grace of God, and wisdom. Congrats, TJBaruch on being nominated as a HubNuggets Wannabe! :)


jayjay40 profile image

jayjay40 6 years ago from Bristol England

A brilliant piece of writing, a lovely tribute to your father


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Money Glitch and jayjay40, Thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoyed reading this hub...that I was able to share a little piece of my heart with you.

Blessings!

TJ


Mekenzie profile image

Mekenzie 6 years ago from Michigan

TJ, what a loving tribute to such a fine man. You were blessed to have been raised by such an incredible man. He is the type of man most kids dream of when they think of a perfect Dad. I really laughed when you described the two that disappeared - you did a great job of relaying that story. The pictures are priceless. I look forward to reading more of your hubs - I suspect you are very much like your father ... Blessings.


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Thank you for your words of encouragement, Mekenzie. They are deeply appreciated. Let me say that your hubs have blessed me, too. I remember "An Encounter With God" in particular. You write beautifully, powerfully...and I pray you come to know more and more and more the love of your heavenly Father and all the riches in Christ, Jesus.

Thanks again and blessings to you and your house.

TJ


mpurcell10 profile image

mpurcell10 6 years ago from Arkansas

This is very beautiful. Thanks for letting us be a part of it. Your father would be proud.


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

Thank you, mpurcell10, for your kind words. I am happy to think this story may be a blessing.

Kind regards,

TJ


Laura Spector profile image

Laura Spector 6 years ago from Chiang Mai, Thailand

What a beautiful tribute. Thank you so much for sharing.


TJBaruch profile image

TJBaruch 6 years ago from Clearwater, FL Author

It was my pleasure to share. Thanks, Laura.

Peace and blessings to you and your house this day.

TJ

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