A Tribute to our Father … Obituary February 23, 2008
When a thank-you is never enough, And the joys still remembered, But the sorrow has quietly gone…Love lives on.
Before saying a little bit about his biography, let me share some personal reminisces as I sat with him in his final days.
In a small quiet room with only two breaths heard, Dad showed his final lesson to us. What matters at the end is peace of mind of a life well lived on your terms of strength and integrity.
There were no feelings of regrets about harsh words once spoken, or lack of efforts not tried, or beliefs not sustained.
It was a long goodbye in many ways because in his later years, Alzheimer's took its toll on his memory, probably worsened when Mom died 7 years earlier and life was no longer normal. But it was special to sit with him and realize his unique character.
Dad represented a whole generation of time spanning 85 years and the changes he’s witnessed and experienced were enormous … from living on a pioneer homestead to all the modern trappings of convenience, technology and even a credit card!
Dad only knew the meaning of hard work. He had one job where he was paid a salary (75 cents an hour) working for a construction company digging holes for posts. However, he soon noticed that he was digging several more holes than the other men and when he asked for a raise to be more fair based on his work effort, he was told No.
That was the end of his working for a boss and all his life he has been self-employed and self-supporting. He started out with dairy cows and build a new barn for expansion but was closed down due to quota restrictions. He gradually merged into raising beef cattle and bought acreage in the Pend Oreille valley for summer pasture. As the herd grew larger, he had actual trail cattle drives like in the Old West along the highway and over the pass to the valley.
He was a good neighbor and one of the first farmers to have a hay baler when many people contracted him to cut and bale their hayfields as well as his own several fields to cut and haul.
In the wintertime, he was a one-man, one-horse logging operation selling logs to the local sawmill. In the springtime, there was manure to haul (best organic manure), creek run-off to drain, beaver dams to break, fences to fix, cows to freshen and many other tasks. He didn’t work with an alarm clock by his bedside but he knew time to get up was when he opened his eyes.
Some of my most valuable memories are the time I traveled with Dad and shared little discoveries like that one day we spent in an old museum near Drumheller filled with old tractors and equipment. We travelled to Alaska on a cruise ship, where listening to poetry by Robert Service was a highlight and making sure he brought back some Husky toys for his grandchildren.
His culture embraced both the Doukhobor principles of peace and work and a modern Canadian lifestyle.
His core values always remained strong. He didn’t seek material things for the sake of getting more or vanity. He didn’t punch a time clock to measure time by how much money he could make but how long he could work … from dawn to dusk if necessary. He didn’t judge by the cut of your coat or the size of your bank account. He didn’t criticize if your opinions were different.
Respect was important for traditions, family and animals.
Appreciation was not always spoken but acknowledged even with a smile.
Be thrifty … a penny saved is a penny earned … buy the basics and use them up ... don’t waste or be greedy.
Be newsworthy, pay attention to what happens in other parts of the world and be thankful for our country.
Take your work seriously, no matter how small … a job well done is its own reward ... it builds confidence and pride.
Do your best in school because it will take you places you can’t imagine. A good education is hard work and hard work is its own success.
Even in old age, when things may have appeared confusing at times, be kind and patient.
His real nature was to give compliments and smiles and he was always feeling “not bad” even if he wasn’t feeling so good.
Love your parents for they will offer guidance all your life in good times and in poor. Spend time with family because these will be your golden moments to treasure.
Many of these principles I’m sure you’ve heard before but sometimes in our fast paced society and commercialism we forget our roots and our basic needs that span all generation and cultures.
He was a true pioneer, a self-sufficient farmer, strong, resourceful with a ready handshake. He was a devoted husband for 54 years who enjoyed family gatherings, good food, and lively conversations.
Mortality has a way of sharpening our focus in a different light in a quiet room when memories are all that matter. What you did for love is all that matters.
Thank you, Dad, for all you have done for us and forgive us if we didn’t measure up to your expectations at times. Together with Mom, you have nurtured a strong family that will pass on the principles that have worked so well for you.
It’s our world now to use our time well and leave something good behind.