Our father died on May 1st 2008.
Murray, Neale and I instinctively remember him today. We each remember him frequently all through the year but on this day a couple of years ago, we said goodbye. It seemed at times he would always be here. Decade after decade in spite of aging, he was here. Even when Mom was no longer coherent and required the care of a nursing facility, Dad remained in his apartment looking after his own needs.
Our Dad was a small man and he raised big boys – too big right now. Thirty pounds too large. I speak for myself.
Dad gained a grade eleven education in the small prairie town of Hepburn, Saskatchewan. Then he worked. He worked at many jobs and hard work did not worry him. He married his sweetheart when he was 26. Their love took them contentedly through 66 years until Mom passed away. In his twenties he owned a gas station ) filling station it was called) and he an Mom set up a coffee shop. He enlisted in the Canadian Air Force for the conflict of WWII, an uncommon act in a town of Mennonite pacifists. When the war was settled Dad moved Mom and me to Ontario for the advertised job opportunities. I was four years of age. Factory jobs were available and he tried several, finally landing with Anthes Imperial, a furnace manufacturing company. He stayed with this company for forty years. He was always on the assembly line, never in management. I remember that he often came home tired and hot. He would clean up and settle down with his newspaper, sometimes draped over his face as he napped on the sofa. He modeled a commendable work ethic that instructed his three boys for our passage through adulthood. Well into our own manhood one day, we asked him why he stayed at such difficult work for so long. A six word reply revealed the man. “I did it for my boys.”
Dad never took a leadership position at church. If he was asked to be on committees or boards he declined. He knew his strengths and limitations. He enjoyed serving but he chose service in the areas of his comfort and competence. Smart man. Private man. Honorable man.
We miss him so much. He was 93 years of age when he died. He had been without his sweetheart for six months. I am sure his heart could not take the loneliness any longer. But as always he didn't show his emotions. He never complained. Oh perhaps he complained occasionally about the imaginary neighbours above him who made unnecessary noise and the imaginary boys whom he saw climbing trees in the back yards four floors beneath his apartment in the dead of winter. But we didn't fault him for these wanderings. In fact I have been hearing neighbour noise and seeing unusual events for some time now myself.
In fact right now I see you Dad.
“Five years between each one of your three sons means that we each have differing memories of you at different stages of your life. But you were unchanging so there is much that we recall that is the same. You did stuff with us, whether it was baiting fish hooks or walking through a forest or taking us on a road trip. Dad, you loved the ladies each of us chose to be our wives. You treated each one as though she was your own daughter. You were proud of us and what we were able to accomplish in life. You let us talk and you listened to us. You had a wonderful natural sense of humor that enabled you to say a comedic line so dryly to crack us up. You laughed with us. You remembered each one of our children by name and you inquired about them – even the ones you never saw in real life because of your years, frailty and distance. We loved the lady you chose to marry too. It broke our hearts when she had to go. But you were strong. We will never forget you as standing beside her then, you said, “Good bye sweetheart. I'll be seeing you soon.” Through the years we always paid attention to what you said and we trusted your word. On this occasion you were right again. 'Soon' came too selfishly soon for us, but really, we know the timing was good and gracious for you. How we loved you Dad. We love you still.
EDWARD RICHARD UNRUH, HUSBAND OF TINA; FATHER OF RON, MURRAY AND NEALE; LOVER OF GOD.
(See Murray's comment below)
Friday, April 9, 2010
Yesterday, Robert Genn sent his second letter of the week. Twice each week I am a recipient of this artist's newsletters. They are informative and stimulating. Further, his online site permits free listing of my website and for a small price an even better exposure online. Thousands of artists subscribe to his service.
His sent letters provide opportunity for comments and these are always worth a read. I occasionally respond as I did today. Genn cited a letter written by an American teacher of art named Charles Brooks. It can be read in its entirety at this web location.
Today I wrote, "The letter is a classic and it was worthwhile for me to read it but perhaps not with the results you expected for me. Brook’s advice to the artist was to disregard what critics might comment about the artist’s idleness of life when the world outside the artist’s own creative world is troubled, and to dismiss from one’s mind all of those temporal cares in order to focus upon the authentic and legitimate task of controlling that material world briefly in order to see well and then to nobly seize the opportunity to create something that becomes a portion of one’s legacy to others.
As I read this letter, I projected the many unbearable life situations in which many artistic spirits find themselves today. This letter is written to someone in the almost idyllic North American culture where all one has to shut out is extraneous traffic noise or the rumours of wars on CNN. Yet internationally and even personally there are worlds of pain and hurt and destruction that are not easily dismissed in order to gain solitude for a creative moment. The letter caused me to reflect upon artists who have respected their craft so well that they did not have to justify it or even to find solace from a wild world in order to create. I think of the painters of the war experiences of our world, who like photo journalists today, recorded for us a material world coming undone, and faces of beautiful men and women dying, dead or fighting for freedom. I think of Vincent Van Gogh who early in his career tried to pastor the poverty stricken potato farmers and recorded their faces and gnarled hands because he could not ignore his world but found something to be treasured there. An artist is far more than a recluse needing affirmation for a vocation that doesn’t hammer nails or build empires. An artist’s vocation is not merely for the good times, or for the times when you can escape a bad world. It is for every world condition and that is why it is to be respected."
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Jeff and Tim and I took Ryan and Jayden and Kale out for some Par 3 golf at my Golf Course. Ryan and JJ and Kale are seven, five and five years of age so it was a slower than normal round. Par 3's were played by these little guys as Par 20's.
As for me, at age 67 I am hitting the ball consistently straighter and with better contact and control than ever in my life. All the backyard practice with plastic golf balls has paid off.
And.......... The Master's Golf Tournament week has begun and with that the return of the now notorious Tiger. It might make for a great story for Tiger to win but I would much rather see Mickelson or Weir or Els win this big one.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
The Day dawned perfectly, a clear sky, sunshine later in the morning, the entire family showing up at my church so we could sit together in one long row at least one time each year. Grandma purchased T-shirts for the three grandsons, Ryan (blue), Jayden (yellow) and Kale (green) spring colors no less, and she sewed corresponding dresses and bought cute sweaters for the two girls - cousins, Kaylyn and and Kadence. The rest of us had to fend for ourselves. As we did last year, we made reservations at Northview Golf and Country Club for their Easter Buffet Brunch. Besides the good food there was a magician who made the rounds of tables and facepainting for the children. The afternoon finished with the girls watching a girlie kids flick and the guys (young and old) going to the nearby golf course where I have a free membership for four years, having done a painting for them and the T-B ox signs. A wonderful time. Little Kadence topped it off for me when she grabbed my arm and hugged me and said "My Papa!" and then she said, "hug and kiss" so we did it. Christine deserves so much praise for making this event like so many happen for us all, building memories of our family for our family.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Easter should be the most openly joyful time of celebration of the church year. Celebrated against the background of the shadows and darkness of Lent and Holy Week, this season truly becomes a living expression of the hope that God has brought into the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus. Since this hope of renewal and new life, both present and future, is at the heart of the Good News that the church is commissioned to proclaim and live in the world, every possible avenue of proclaiming that Good News should be utilized. No doubt that is why many traditionally non-liturgical churches are increasingly recovering the value of the various traditions of the Easter Season as a means of bearing witness to their Faith. Seen as Proclamation, the various aspects of worship during this season can become vehicles for God’s grace and transforming work in the world, and among his people.
Friday, April 2, 2010
“It's Friday, but Sunday's a comin'!"
Tony Campolo is the man who made this phrase famous. In a classic sermon he tells the story of a white pastor preaching at a predominantly black church and finally catching on to the cultural speak that communicates the great news of Easter.
“It's Friday, but Sunday's a comin'!
It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’. It was Friday, and my Jesus is dead on a tree. But that’s Friday, and Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, Mary’s crying her eyes out, the disciples are running in every direction like sheep without a shepherd. But that’s Friday, and Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, some are looking at the world and saying, “As things have been, so they shall be. You can’t change nothing in this world! You can’t change nothing in this world!” But they didn’t know that it was only Friday, and Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, them forces that oppress the poor and keep people down, them forces that destroy people, the forces in control now, them forces that are gonna rule, they don’t know it’s only Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, people are saying, “Darkness is gonna rule the world, sadness is gonna be everywhere,” but they don’t know it’s only Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’. Even though this world is rotten, as it is right now, we know it’s only Friday. But Sunday’s a comin’.”
The message builds to a powerful conclusion when the pastor simply shouts, “It’s Friday!” and the congregation responds, “But Sunday’s comin!’”