Thursday, January 17, 2008

Tribute to a Quiet Leader - My Dad

This past week, my father died. He was 101 years old and whoever knew Dad would say, "He lived a long and wonderful life."

My Dad was very simply a good man. He lived a wonderful life as a husband, father, community leader, farmer, relative, and friend. Always kind and thoughtful, people just appreciated his company.

His favorite pastime was cards. You name a card game and he could play it. When the Frederiksen family got together, a favorite card game was "Oh Hell." Now we know that Dad's gone to heaven to play "Oh Hell."

Dad was always accepting of the whatever life brought him. Even the mistakes made by his family didn't matter. He accepted it. After describing an event with a bad outcome, his likely response; "Well at least nobody got hurt." With those words, it was hard to be glum.

Dad was very intelligent, very practical, with great common sense. He was very aware of the world around him. He was an avid reader of news. He used to brag that he was smart because he graduated in the top ten of his high school class. Yea, and he'd always confess that his graduating class only had ten students.

Dad outlived two generations of friends. He had no peers. When asked what was the secret to his long life, "No peer pressure."

Dad was a hard working farmer for all of his adult life. He did very well for his family. And he taught us kids the value of hard work. I can still remember him saying, "When there is work to be done, you have to do the work." He occasionally pointed out the work of farmers that weren't hard workers. It clearly showed.

As a family we went to church most Sundays. He taught us to treat people well. There was no prejudice in our rural Minnesota home. As for church, I never heard him sing, I never even saw his lips moving during the hymns.

Dad gave me lots of freedom and encouragement to try new things. There was always lots to learn on the farm and he always encouraged me to take on a new task. Whether mechanics, carpentry, livestock care, electricity, farm business, or the obvious field work, he imposed few limits. Made me a well rounded person. What a great teacher!

At the end of his life Dad was legally blind. He suffered from macular degeneration. During the last six years of his life, he couldn't read. television was a blur, couldn't even visually recognize the people he met. But boy did he adapt. Many people didn't even know he was blind until he'd ask the people he met, "Who are you? I don't see very well." Macular degeneration is a life changing disease, especially for the readers and learners among us. For his memorials, we encourage people to contribute to the Macular Degeneration Research fund at the University of Minnesota Medical Foundation. We need to find a cure.

Dad lived a long and wonderful life. His passing is sad. Did I remember to tell you about his long and wonderful life?

Thanks for reading.

Please lead quietly.

No comments: