My father went home to be with the Lord in January of 1997 at age 79. His illness and death triggered the onset of my mother's dementia symptoms, although she managed to live on her own for another seven years or so. I always think of Dad's death as heralding an end to one phase of my life and the beginning of another, as these past fifteen years I've made the transition from being my parents' beloved only daughter to becoming the primary caregiver for my beloved mother.
Today is the anniversary of my father's birth. He would have been 94.
On this, his birthday, I want to pay a special tribute to my dad for the positive impact he still has on my mother's life and my own. At age 50 my dad, who did not complete high school, realized that his wages as a meat cutter at Iowa Beef were not going to provide adequately for a family that included a daughter who wanted to go to college. He applied for acceptance in a program that trained government meat inspectors, and was told if he could manage the entrance exam and subsequent training (which included classes in biology, math, and chemistry) that he would be accepted. They probably didn't think he could do it.
They were wrong.
He did a very brave thing to quit his job and take the year's training which included traveling to various locations around the country, and completing an internship. He then worked for 15 years as a government meat inspector, during which time he paid off his house loan and set up a savings program. He also got me started on a college education that he hoped would lead to my becoming a doctor. That's right, a physician. He thought I was smart enough to complete medical school, bless his heart. But I think he was proud when I became a teacher. I know he was proud when I became an employed teacher.
Nearly every day I think of my father's foresight, hard work, and planning that have allowed his best girls, my mother and me, financial security even through the devastating diagnosis of my Mom's Alzheimer's disease.
Dad's favorite color was yellow, which is appropriate for someone born in September, when the light turns golden and the very grass and trees are tinged with that hue. In honor of my dad, here are some photos I've taken the past week featuring his favorite color: