My Dad, the Overcomer!
I shared much of the following at the funeral home on December 30, 2015. Though it was just my notes with incomplete thoughts and sentences. I had some requests and have typed up so anyone could follow. And the testimony of Dad’s life just got longer and longer!
I Want to Share How Good and Faithful God was . . . in the Life of my Dad. He was A Master at Overcoming.
- My Dad was diagnosed with polio when he was eleven.
- He lived in a hospital for over eight months. Once admitted he was unable to walk for four months. He laid in a fetal position for months until the physical therapist could get his joints and muscles broken apart; because the polio caused his muscles and joints to lock up and were unimaginably tight and literally had to be broken apart. Daily he had grueling physical therapy and worked slowly and deliberately toward rebuilding muscle and strength. At night he would be covered with heat packs and lay on a board. He was told he wouldn’t have a “normal” play, sports, or work life like other kids or adults.
- When Dad was twelve, his doctor called his parents and said he wasn’t going make it. That they should come quickly and say good bye. When they arrived he was sitting up and said ‘Hi Dad & Mom”. God had miraculously been healed him!
- He survived polio. Dad’s right arm and hand was crippled. After polio he had 20% of original muscle remaining in his body. Was told by doctors that he should work in the office; so as not to use up his remaining muscles.
- Early on Dad decided to worked with Grandpa, Uncle Ted & Ed and managed 2,500 acres for decades.
- He loved his work as a farmer and worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known. The 20% of his muscle served him well until he had to retire at 50 years old; as post polio syndrome did not allow him to work any longer.
- Throughout his life his doctors told him he wouldn’t live to see 40, 55, etc. He lived nearly 81 years old.
- He married to my Mom in 1954
- had 10 healthy children, 23 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren (and two more on the way) along with all of their spouses whom he LOVED dearly and was proud of each one!
- All of his post polio friends from support group . . . who had worked in the office had all died many years earlier.
- Dad had severe stomach ulcers in 70’s and doctors didn’t know if he would survive from surgery. He not only survived surgery but was back out in field almost as soon as he was released from hospital.
- He had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and the symptoms disappeared for decades until last couple of years.
- His doctor told us last November (2014) that he had days and weeks to live due to aspiration. He fought to live for over a year.
- In the last five years he fell nearly 80 times and aside from stitches and staples he didn’t break any bones or major injuries. The staples were extremely painful and he told us so, repeatedly. He was not one to complain. I think that the staples cured him of attempting to walk or bend over again (he refused to quit doing what he had always done; despite being told by doctor for a number of years) because there were no more falls after the staples!
- Dad had a high risk of choking and we had been told that was a very real possibility. Many prayed and asked God to protect Dad from choking. We were all so very thankful he / we were spared.
- As you can see . . . after polio, Dad fought to live every single day of his life.
- God was also faithful in his final days . . . he was not in pain, but was very comfortable and at peace and died with Mom and all 10 children and several grandchildren by his side.
I want to Share How God Shined through Dad . . . I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Phil 4:13
- Dad loved God and his catholic faith. Many a night I saw him on his knees next to his bed. Up til recently, I would stay with Dad and Mom and in Port Huron. He loved when I asked him if I could pray with them as I tucked them in for the night.
- He worked incredibly hard his entire life . . . as if he had something to prove with the polio. What I saw throughout my life is he outworked everyone.
- More bushels of cucumbers, more rounds with the cuke picker, bags of cabbage, fix more equipment, plow and plant more acres, rent more ground, on and on.
- At the funeral home, I asked anyone who worked in cucumber or cabbage fields with Dad to quickly stand. Probably 25+ stood.
- He believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
- Dad always called me #1. In the last couple of months it was increasingly difficult for Dad to talk and swallow. He could definitely hear and tried to speak but his voice was so soft and often was impossible to hear. About three weeks ago, Dad wasn’t able to speak at all. I spoke with him as if he could. Before I left for home that day, I said “Dad, I’m your #1. And he looked at me, lifted his good arm and wagged his finger at me and said out loud “Don’t you ever forget it”!
- Dad loved going on crop tours for decades. Last summer, I wanted to take him somewhere he would enjoy and got the idea to take him on a crop tour. So off we went, by Grandpa’s grain bins, and other close farms. We stopped by an seen Dave and Judy Wronski and went to Uncle Ed & Mary Beth’s for lunch. Mary Beth had made the most amazing waffles and Dad loved them. It was a very special day.
- While I know there are many stories to share about Dad, the one non-family story stood out to me as a high school student in the ‘70s. Dad hired many students to work in the cucumber field that included one young man, OC Riddle who was a fine young black man. The first night after Dad hired OC, a car stopped in front of our home and next thing there was a bullet though a front window. The police came out and determined after some discussion that SOMEONE wasn’t happy that Dad had hired a black man and was sending a message. Did Dad fire OC the next day? Absolutely not. I’ve always been so proud of him for standing up for what was right. And God protected his family. I told myself on that day that would share this story at his funeral.
- Most of all, Dad loved my Mom.
- On Sunday, Dec 20th, we celebrated Christmas. We always had lots of photos taken at family events. To me the highlight of the afternoon was Dad in the wheel chair and Mom in her scooter, side by side. Dad was very present but unable to communicate with us and very weak. At just the right time, Dad lifted his left arm and put it around Mom. It was a precious moment that will be imbedded in my mind for the rest of my days.
- There were a number of years where Mom would struggle to walk up or down stairs. Dad would be right there making sure Mom was safe. I remember many times where their arms were stretched out and hands clenched. They were hanging on so tight there was not blood left in their hands.
And How I know that Dad is in Heaven:
There was an incident in Feb 2014 that Dad nearly froze to death. God protected him again as a policeman was doing his nightly drive through and found Dad in a snowbank early in the morning.
That night, I wrote both Dad & Mom a letter. I shared with them my unique perspective on heaven that thankfully most people don’t ever have to experience. And that that was the death of my daughter, their granddaughter, Stephanie in 1988 at 9.5 months old. After her death, I needed to know I would see her again. My heart ached to see her again. I shared with them my journey of how I come to know that I would absolutely see her again.
Scripture tells us in Romans 10:9-10 If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it by confessing with your mouth you are saved.
It’s so simple. It’s a gift, a free gift. But one has to reach out and receive it. Just like my Dad reached out to help Mom up the steps . . . Dad gave her a gift of love (assistance) and Mom received it.
It’s so simple. I asked Dad if he believed what I had shared. He said yes, and then prayed with me where he received the free gift that promised eternal life in heaven. Afterward, he had a couple of questions and I answered them for him.
I am going to share the prayer he prayed with me. And if you would like to join me, please repeat after me:
Dear God, I come to you today, just as I am and I give you my life. Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for my sins and that you rose from the dead and You live forever. Jesus, I say with my mouth, be Lord of my life from this day forward. I will do my very best to live for you. Thank you for saving me, thank you for forgiving me of all my sins. Someday, I know I’m going to heaven and I thank you for it.
[The angels in heaven are rejoicing as you said that prayer and received the most precious gift ever given . . . eternal life in heaven.]
When Dad took his last breath he entered heaven and met Jesus. No more pain, his body is now as God originally intended it. And Stephanie is finally able to sit on Grandpa’s lap. She is has given her Grandpa the grand tour of heaven. During our last talk on heaven, I shared that he would be able to tend to the fields and drive around on the Farm All before lunch and John Deere after lunch. No more toiling. No more weather issues. Dad said “that is really good” and I know it was of great comfort to him. He is at peace, fully relaxed and waiting to see the rest of his family and friends when it’s their time.
It was a blessing and honor to call him Dad!