On February 6, 2007 we had a blustery snowstorm. And that evening Dad, not knowing this would be his last time, routinely prepared himself to clear the sidewalks. For the last time he put on his shoes and galoshes, donned his winter coat and gloves, flipped on the back porch light and opened the back door to take his last walk down the sidewalk to the garage.
He then unlocked the garage door for the last time. Inside he pulled out the snow blower from his excessively organized garage units and then suddenly and unexpectedly had a stroke collapsing on top of the snow blower.
If this walk had been a clip from a movie, he would have been portrayed walking in slow motion down the sidewalk with a replay of his life while the song “And Now My Lifesong Sings” by Casting Crowns would play. Clips would be shown in the background of a black-haired, young 38-year-old man and his wife and young children moving into their home in 1964.
Next would be shown a hard-working man, in his blue work pants and white t-shirt with a blue railroad handkerchief tucked in his back pocket with sweat dripping down his face while mowing the lawn with his muscle-powered lawn mower.
As he walks further down the sidewalk, clips of an understanding father patiently listening to his now teenage children handing him back his car keys and explaining how his car was unavoidably involved in an accident.
At the end of the walk you would see clips of a now, gray-haired loving middle-aged man and his wife with his adult children and their spouses sitting under the shady trees in the backyard while his young grandchildren are either running, playing or helping their Papa with yard work.
The last clip would be when he unlocks the garage door for the last time. You see an honored, elderly, white-haired, 80-year-old man surrounded by his wife of almost 60 years, his five grown children and their spouses and his many grandchildren and great-grandchildren showing love and respect for what he unselfishly did for them.
In his lifetime this highly esteemed man had taken care of and provided for his wife and family. He quietly taught his children a strong work ethic, by example rather than talk, and prioritized his love for God, family and friends in that order.
Dad never recovered from the stroke and died February 12 at 12:26 a.m. I will never forget that moment, and I find preserving the many cherished memories of my dad important for my descendants so he will forever be remembered. If you are fortunate to be able to interview your father, grab an audio recorder, pull out your laptop or pen and paper and begin with the questions below to start Keeping Your Memories of your father recorded:
- What’s something you know now about happiness that you did not know when you were 18 years old?
- What has brought you the greatest sense of meaning and purpose in life?
- Share a few of the major “crossroads” moments in your life, times when you went in one direction or another and it made a large difference in terms of how your life turned out?
- If you could go back to when you were a young adult and have a conversation with yourself, and you knew you would listen, what would you tell that younger person about life?
- Now that you have lived most of your life, what are you certain or almost certain matters a great deal if a person wants to find happiness and live a fulfilling life?