Friday, June 17, 2011


My dad was a good man. He was easy to love.

I can remember him being angry only a couple of times. Once it was with a man who was troubling my mother. Another time it was with me as a youth and I deserved his annoyance.

Edward was his name. Edward Richard. English names bestowed on a Mennonite boy born on the prairies of Canada. His father Cornelius, a more common Mennonite name broke with custom. Only the oldest son carried the father’s name and it was Anglicized as well to Neale. The middle brother was Harry. Three sons, the eldest five years older than the second and eleven years older than the youngest who was my dad.

Dad and mother Tina had three sons, me Ronald James (the eldest) and I am five years older than Murray Dennis and eleven years older than Neale Bryan. In the early years of his fatherhood Dad wanted us to be thoroughly Canadian, hampered in no way by any hang-ups derived from the heritage. Little could he know how important the connection with our family history would be to us when we were adults. He and Mom spoke the Low German dialect at home with which they themselves had been raised in their Saskatchewan homes of Hepburn and Waldheim. Since I was almost five years of age before Dad and Mom moved to Ontario, I was familiar with the dialect, understanding much of it but not able to speak it. For years I did not let on that I understood what they were saying when Mom and Dad spoke privately using Low German.

Our Dad never struck us as a complex man. He was intelligent, interests in politics, current affairs and sports. He completed grade eleven, had no skilled trade but worked at available manual jobs. He was enlisted in the Canadian Air Force, never saw overseas action but was posted in the Yukon. Following WWII, our Dad, a hard working man, began a lifetime of work in factories. He was in love with his wife, committed to the care and provision of his three children, appreciated his church and what the Sunday lesson gave him for the week ahead.

He was not an ambitious man. He respected himself yet he may not have understood how well he was liked by others. He was friendly, helpful, kind. He never owned very much yet he shared what he could. He was satisfied easily. A day’s work and a day’s pay, and supper meal, and a newspaper, a nice place to sit in the back yard, a car to move the family around, a couple of weeks of summer vacation, a small pension at the end of a long time with the company.  He expected no more than that. God was good to him.

I respected him very much. As a young man if I was tempted to do anything that was at all wicked, my esteem for him, held me back. Of course he was much younger then, and most of our memories are of him advanced in years, still with a wonderful sense of humour and a pleasant spirit and endearing love for our Mom. I miss him a great deal. He died at age 93 and that was three years ago.

June 19 Addendum: Father's Day came on Sunday and I was asked to preach at our local church. I chose to speak about "God the Father" and I used the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6. The prayer begins with "Our Father who is in heaven..." Christine had prepared a light lunch and my son's and daughter's families came. After dinner I took my five grandchildren for a long walk to the school yard to play on the apparatus and then to the corner store for a slurpy. We hung around until early evening snacking on lunch leftovers. We enjoyed a good family day. I like that. 

1 comment:

  1. Ron, thanks for honouring Dad today. No one can say it better than you and I always look forward to your memory postings. I miss him too!