Monthly Archives: November 2011

All the Greats!

All the Greats!

The daughters-in-law got all seventeen great grand-kids settled on the steps of the church and bribed them with candy to keep them happy and quiet!

It worked! No one is even crying in this picture.

Most of my grandkids and some of the kids plus a cousin at the cemetery!


Remembering Dad


Last week my cousin in Texas had a conversation with me in Scotland (I love the internet!) and stated that my dad was an honourable man. I had to stop and think about that because sometimes people use words that we’ve never thought of using in that way about that person. Honourable is a word we use about soldiers and statesmen and important and highly educated people. My dad never fought in a war or anywhere else that I know of. He wasn’t a statesman. He didn’t hold important positions. He wasn’t highly educated. He was an ordinary Midwestern Norwegian farmer. But I knew that she was right. My Dad was an honourable man.

He had strong principles and lived according to them. He was honest. He worked hard. He had a strong and uncomplicated faith in God. The child-like faith so praised in the Gospels. We always had family devotions and going to church was something we never questioned. Playing the organ and singing in the choir was part of that devotion to God. For him and for us. Even though he had had very few organ lessons and very little time to practice, he did the best that he could every week – and he did well. We listened to organ music every Sunday after church. He went to church music seminars to learn what he could – and sometimes took us along. He encouraged us and others to use their talents and to take the lessons he never got a chance to take. We learned to offer our music to God first by playing duets with him or mom and then on our own at rather young ages. I remember becoming a substitute organist when I was 17 because I had a job and I had stayed home from the family vacation, and therefore, I could cover for Dad. Later on he would play for his grandchildren and show them how the magical stops and pedals worked, just like had shown me. As an adult, I knew other musicians more competent than I was in various churches, but they refused to play in public. But, I had always played in public, that’s just what we always did.

He loved farming and fixing things—which, of course, goes hand in hand with farming—and what he fixed worked well. When we had that ice storm in the winter of ’65 (I think?), we had heat when few others did because he had brought in all the tractor batteries and wired them in series so the furnace would run. If things didn’t go well, he didn’t complain that he had gotten the bad end of a deal. He didn’t complain constantly about taking a factory job to tide the family through the lean years. He just went on and dealt with it. He never shifted the blame or complained about how the world would be a better place if everyone did things his way. The only time I ever heard him swear was when the canners had gotten stuck with a full load of corn in the peat slough even though he’d expressly told them to stay away from that apparently firm but deceptive sod. He said “darn it.”

Dad loved his wife and family. Even though my parents had been married for over sixty years, I never actually heard them have an argument. I knew there were disagreements sometimes, but we never heard them argue. Dad and I argued all the time. Loudly. Daily. Habitually. I think my siblings learned how and why not to argue through having to live through those suppers. I had been blessed to inherent my dad’s strong and determined will. And, it wasn’t until I left home that we stopped arguing.

It wasn’t until I had the first grandbaby that I realized how much Dad loved little babies. He would hold and cuddle a newborn unlike most other men I saw around me then. He loved his grandchildren and played board games with them like he had played with us. He also taught the grandkids to hold and pet kitties and be nice to the puppies that he loved so much. In pictures of Dad as a child, he was often seen holding a kitten. And his dogs were his best friends, too. Especially Pal and Benjy. He had at least one dog who would follow him to the field and stay there to wait for him to drive home again.

Besides little cuddly animals, Dad also had a collection of matchbox tractors that he kept on a special shelf. Sometimes–some very special times–he would get out his tractors for the grandkids and play with them on the dining room table. And then he had great-grandchildren to hold and cuddle and play on the table with tractors. And we have pictures to prove it!

My life didn’t take the expected path or the ordinary one that my folks had hoped for all their kids. I did things backwards, going back to college after my kids had left home. But, the determination that has gotten me through the long years of study and life overseas was– I am sure of this — by God’s grace inherited from my dad. He was a strong man, a good dad, a loving husband, a faithful Christian.

My dad was an honourable man.

Remembering Uncle Bill



Our heart goes out to the Grover family at the passing of our Uncle Bill.
He was 85 years old and certainly enjoyed a full life. He gets to see his
sister again (my mom) and son (Jimmy) along with other friends and
relatives that have gone on before. I just thought I would reminisce a
little bit about his life.

We seldom know or understand how much our lives affect other people. Most
of Uncle Bill’s life influence on me was when I was young. Once I
graduated from college I didn’t get to see him much but I always enjoyed
his sense of humor and openness. We all remember going to the Grover farm
and we all witnessed his life. I never saw Uncle Bill get angry or upset.
He always had calming words of encouragement. I never heard him speak evil
of anyone but he was always about his work and family. When my mom was
battling cancer and a tumor, his family was one that took us in when both
mom and dad were in the hospital. Whenever they had supper he would open
up his daily devotion book and have a word of prayer before eating. There
was nothing pushy or overbearing in it but just a quiet, dedicated faith
of a farmer.

I remember one time when my parents were in the hospital we were on the
farm for several weeks. One day he came to me and said, “Want to ride in
my new tractor?” “Wow!” was my response. What young boy wouldn’t want to
ride in a brand new John Deere tractor? It was a beauty too. It had an
enclosed seating area, complete with AC, radio, and lots of gadgets. It
was an exciting moment in my young life as we rode up and down the rows
plowing the fields that day. He didn’t say much but when he did you would
listen. I asked about why he liked to be a farmer. He answered that it was
just him and God spending the day together. He enjoyed growing things God
had created. He didn’t say much more but now that I am older I envy him
and the time he had out there.

After I came to China, I would use various family members to illustrate
points I made in teaching. When I did my two week presentation on
Christmas I had a picture of a sleigh and horse riding over the snow. I
would teach the students Jingle Bells and tell them how my Uncle Bill
would hitch up his sleigh and take us out for a sleigh ride. I would tell
the students that yes I have actually done the song, complete with the
jingle bells along with the hot chocolate and cookies afterwards. It is a
memory I have never forgotten.

Uncle Bill was a great organist and I used to love playing the organ in
his house, (when he wasn’t looking of course). He often would have all of
us sit and sing songs while we were there. I would guess my greatest
regret is that I didn’t get to see him much after I got older. I will miss
my Uncle Bill but I look forward to meeting him again along with the rest
of the family.

Thank you Uncle Bill for your faith and life,