Monday, June 26, 2006

Posting Comments

We cannot tell you how much it means to us to have the visitors to this site leave comments about Dad; we know he had an impact on so many lives, but to have that confirmed through a perusal of your wonderful comments gives us great joy.

Some people have expressed confusion with the process of leaving a posted comment - it's not terribly obvious, so here's a short tutorial:

1) Go to the bottom of the entry you'd like to leave a comment for (entries are each section with bold-faced, large lettered titles);

2) Click on "Comments" as if you were wanting to read the other comments left by other people (the "Comments" link is likely another color);

3) To the left of the page you reach through that link is an empty field where you can input and post text, as well as read what others have written.

Thanks again!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Some Pictures from Iowa

Dad would have appreciated the tour of his stomping grounds that we all took after his services on Wednesday. Steven and Kathey gave a narrated tour of the farmlands, and we all got to see the actual building where Dad was hatched -- it's still there, but looking much the worse for wear.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Dad's Yearbook

A friend at the Iowa services on Wednesday contributed this yearbook page to Dad's memory -- certainly, an invaluable contribution.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Memorial Program from Sunday's Services

Monday, June 19, 2006

Memorial Services

Roger's memorial service in Bethany Beach, Delaware was held on Sunday, June 18, 2006. It was attended by friends and family, and was beautifully done. The family greatly appreciates the time and energy donated to my father's memory, especially on Father's Day, by those in attendance.

Roger's Iowa memorial services will be on Wednesday, June 21, 2006, at the Sietsema-Vogel funeral home in Hampton, Iowa. The viewing will begin at 11:00 AM, and the graveside burial service will begin at 1:30 PM. Any and all are welcome.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Tribute to Dad (Brian's Memorial Eulogy)

Many years ago, the four of us were in Iowa, on one of Dad’s many “returns to the homeland”, where we learned the virtues of dairy farming, the history of roadside hemp cultivation, and gained the remarkable insight that, but for Iowa, western civilization would, quite simply, cease to exist.

We had been trying to find something or someone in the maze of Iowa corn and identical rural roads, and my brother and I were in the back seat. One of us was always assigned the task of navigating, and had the map folded out in front of them.

My father, of course, was driving, and my mother was in the front seat, getting increasingly concerned by the growing agricultural nature of our surroundings, and the fact that the corn was getting closer and closer to the sides of the car as we proceeded.

Finally, one of us took the initiative to check the map, cross check the route number, and ascertain that we were firmly in the middle of nowhere. Someone suggested this to Dad, showing him the map, and trying to convince him that a U-turn and 30 miles to the East would get us back on track.

After receiving what some would consider a sermon on the infallibility of his internal Iowa cartography, and the fact that he had lived here for years, and could never get lost, he turned to the front of the car and, in the process of taking his next left, which he was certain would arrive us at the front door of our destination, and stated loudly “Driving in Iowa is like riding a bike – I’ll never forget how to find my way around this State. I know this country like the back of my hand!”

And, true to his word, he took his next left ……. directly into a nearby cornfield.

Now some may see this as an example of stubbornness. You wouldn’t be wrong. In fact, my father may have been one of the most stubborn men you would ever meet – once he made up his mind to do something, nothing could deter him. Presented with a compromise regarding a course he had set, he would get a look on his face and a set to his eyes that heralded a fruitless attempt to divert him from his goal.

However, in my father, as in all of us, this personality trait had an alter-ego. While stubbornness carries with it what some may deem a negative connotation, the Superman persona to this Clark Kent appearance was my father’s refusal to surrender.

He never backed away from a challenge, and he never compromised. His sense of integrity and his commitment to what was right was simply infallible; his honesty and steadiness, coupled with his absolute conviction in everything that he did, were central to who and what my father was. The longer I live and work, and the more people I encounter in life, the more and more remarkable do I consider this.

You see, my father didn’t know how to be beaten. It’s not that he never lost, or that he didn’t like to lose -- he simply wasn’t acquainted with the concept of being defeated. During his life and career, this sense of purposefulness, this refusal to acknowledge the possibility of being beaten, saw him, and us, through countless difficult and seemingly hopeless times.

In the darkness that life can present, his dedication and absolute conviction to success and perseverance were always a light that outlined a pathway to redemption and hope.

As difficult times bring to the surface of each individual the traits that carried them through or weighed them down during life, this survivalism – stubbornness, as I called it earlier – emerged in this, his final battle.

From the day of his diagnosis until the day he died, there was about my father a palpable sense of resistance and struggle – inside himself he fought a battle more difficult and more dreadful than anything he had ever faced before. And in this fight, as never before, he persevered – a truer exhibition of courage and dedication than any that had come before.

Whenever I called or visited, this strength was there, on the surface as plainly as in the core of his person, maintaining his will to fight, his determination to succeed, and his constant, stalwart ethic of courage and strength. The answer to the constant inquiry of his condition was never that he wasn’t feeling good, or that he was a little off – it was always “Feeling great”, “Doing better today”, or “Getting better every day.”

In the end, my father succumbed to his illness. But, even after years of fighting, and months of constant battle, he was not defeated. In this, his final battle, those of us that knew him well choose to think that the peace he has finally achieved was his election by right, rather than an imposition by powers outside his control. He was never beaten by this disease - no ground was ever ceded, and no quarter shown. His time was now and he was ready to be at peace.

During our lives, my father always attempted to impart some portion of the knowledge he had accumulated to his children.

Sometimes, this knowledge was the definition of a “frog-strangler” (a heavy downpour) the meaning of “watering one’s foot” (a euphemism for something one might do in a men’s room) or the quickest route between destinations in Iowa (which, apparently, is often OVER rather than AROUND the ever-present cornfields). My mother suggests in retrospect that he may have missed his true calling as a teacher – indeed, his breadth of knowledge and desire to share that knowledge with others was always evident.

Sometimes, his knowledge was received, and his teachings appreciated. Other times, as in any normal father-son or father-daughter relationship, his knowledge was discounted, or altogether ignored, by those of us who, remarkably by the mere age of 2, already far surpassed the mere mortal intelligence of dear ole dad.

Whether my father knows it or not – and I believe he does -- he succeeded more in his last days than in any that preceeded in teaching not just me, but my brothers, sister, wife, mother, and anyone that had the privilege of being in his presence, the meaning of perservearance, the value of courage, and the beauty of love.

It might not have escaped anyone's notice that today is father's day. While some may mark this coincidence as unhappy, I choose to think of it as an opportunity -- not to mourn my father's passing or to grieve his loss, but to take from his death what we may never have learned from his life: the true value of perseverance and courage. Father's day is a day to honor one's father and to mark the invaluable contributions that these wonderful people make to our lives. It is a day to reflect on the value of their love and sacrifices, and should make no difference whether they're with us or not.

For those of you who knew my father in his last days, this ceremony is more a celebration of his struggle and an acknowledgement of his extraordinary resilience than it is a mourning of his passing. Even for those who knew him in his healthier days, none can but agree that my father would want us to celebrate his life and his contributions to this world on this day.

I could stand here and tell you all stories about my father for hours. I could tell you he was one of the great ones, that he was a good, honest, solid and dependable man. But you all know that.

Instead, I'm going to leave by asking you to take home the lesson my father would have wanted to come from his life: Nothing you do can stop life from trying to get you down - but never let anything life throws at you keep you from always standing back up, as the true measure of courage is not how many fights you win, but how many you simply refuse to lose.

Dad Pictorial

I've created this blog so that those away from us during the memorial services can not only view some of the images but also share some of the thoughts that we have shared in remembrance of my father.

We welcome posts, emails, or images you'd like to share with the family, and appreciate your thoughts.

I always liked wrestling with Dad - he never suspected that my firetruck rolling on his belly was a little-recognized sign of toddler-dominance...

Get a room.

The reason they all look so grim is that Sam had just rolled his firetruck over both of their bellies, thus surprisingly establishing dominance at a precocious age.

Dad didn't much care for the beach, but never let it be said that he showed too much skin when he decided to go.

It was rare to see him "get down" or "boogie" but apparently, if my mom dressed like a banana, he'd play that funky music, white boy.

Always in style, rarely in time.

Boy, Patrick looks comfy, doesn't he?

I know I always enjoyed a good pick up...what isn't shown in this picture is how quickly he put me down when he realized my diaper was full...

There seem to be a lot of pictures involving Dad and cake...

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