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  • Blessings Recounted: Contentment

    May 24, 2013

    Today is my dad’s birthday.

    As I think of him today and the many odd and unexpected blessings that were gathered to me in this last year of his life, the blessings that I am trying to capture here for Sean and for me so that we might recall them on some distant day, what comes to mind is how contented he was in all circumstances and the goodness it added to my life.

    My dad was a simple guy.

    That’s not to say he wasn’t smart.  He was good with numbers and had an intuitive knowledge of words, thanks to the Latin he learned as an altar boy.  He was loaded with common sense and had a terrific memory – some of the same qualities I see in Sean.

    He never went to college, he never had an important job, never ran a company, never managed any one, nor did he want to.  But he was smart enough know this:  It’s not the finer things in life that bring joy but the simple things.

    As a foolish teenager, I saw his contentedness with his modest middle-class life as a lack of ambition, and it is with shame that I confess that I had some resentment about that, that he was not terribly concerned about seeing to it that I get the material things I craved.

    Eventually, after life knocked me around a bit, I learned that no amount of stuff you can accumulate will add one drop of goodness to life, but rather will usually get in the way of it if for no other reason than the pursuit of such things robs you of your most precious resource – time.

    I’ve often wondered what is it that makes some people content and others restless?  For Dad, I think the fact that he always thought of himself as a pretty lucky guy was at the center of his contentment.  He wasn’t one of those annoying perpetually “glass is always half full” sunny side up guys, but he was grateful for the good things that rolled his way and I guess he felt like more good came his way than bad, or at least on the important matters.

    In the early 1950s dad went into the army with three buddies.  There is a picture of the four of them standing together on the day they got their orders.  Three were sent to Korea or elsewhere where they were either killed or witnessed unspeakable horror.  But Dad shipped out to Germany, where he said it was like being on vacation.

    He went skiing in the Alps, he went to Oktoberfest, he saw the great cathedrals and historic sites of Europe – but most importantly he came home.  He was lucky.  The only part of being in the Army that he didn’t like was the boat ride over and back.  One time I offered to take him and mom on an Alaskan cruise and he shook his head.  “No thanks,” he said, “I was on a big boat once in the army and I have no desire to do that again.”  I could have argued that a cruise boat was not exactly like the army, but sometimes Dad could be stubborn.

    When he got out of the Army, the first thing he did was marry my mother, and if not one other thing went right in his life, marrying her would have made him feel like the luckiest guy who ever lived.  They bought a 50-year-old fixer upper and spent the next 58 years fixing it up and tending to the details of middle-class life:  three kids, boy scouts, bicycles, too much week for too little paycheck,  too cold winters, too short summers, old cars replaced by newer old cars, employment and unemployment, grandkids and then great-grandkids.


    And it seems to me, and to those he left behind, those 58 years passed more quickly than the time it took you to read these ramblings.

    When the cancer diagnosis came in April of last year, he didn’t feel so lucky.  He was having a great time in his retirement years with my mother and wasn’t ready for that to come to an end.

    In time though, when the shock wore off, he came back around to seeing that even in the midst of awful, he was a lucky guy.  He had a wife and three children who would see to it that he felt well loved and well cared for to the very end.  He had seen his children raised and he knew he knew he could count on us to look after our mother.  He had outlived all but one of his life long friends.  He had enjoyed much sweetness and little bitterness in life.  And somewhere, beyond this life, he knew something wonderful was waiting for him.  What more could one hope for?

    So on this day that would have been his 82nd birthday, I think of my dad and what a blessing it was to be raised by a man who thought of himself as a lucky guy and how he lived his life in pursuit and appreciation of simple things that neither rust nor moths will destroy.

    It is a rich inheritance.



    1. Kay says:

      I’m so happy you’re writing your story. I know the words aren’t easy to write but I also know they will be cherished by your sweet family for years to come. Thank you for sharing this journey. Hugs! : )

      May 24th, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    2. Debbie says:

      What a lovely tribute. Thanks for sharing.

      May 24th, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    3. Kim says:

      He was such a kind and gentle man. I am blessed to have known him. He is smiling down on you Tina with pride. If only there were more men like him today.

      May 24th, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    4. Melanie says:

      You are one of my favorite writers. And this post is an example of why. A beautiful tribute to what was obviously a great man.

      May 24th, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    5. Jenna says:

      Thank you for this reminder … Of many things. I just love that picture.

      May 25th, 2013 at 7:37 am

    6. Amy Sue Nathan says:


      You, my friend, are blessed with his lessons and his memory. And that makes you lucky too, even in sadness.

      May 25th, 2013 at 8:23 am

    7. Hope says:

      Thank you for such a wonderful piece…as you remember your father. So wonderful to hear your perspective. Very enriching.

      May 25th, 2013 at 8:37 am

    8. Jeanine says:

      It is so true that being grateful for the simple things makes one feel blessed and enables one to bless others. I’m so glad that you have wonderful memories of your dad being blessed and of being a blessing as well. I have seen the opposite in my family, and it is so hard to see someone grow old and bitter.
      Thanks for sharing this, and I pray that you will always be comforted by your memories of your dad!

      May 25th, 2013 at 9:39 am

    9. Jake's a Girl says:

      Just Beautiful. He layed up the right treasures. What a wonderful dad you had there.

      I do have to mention that your Mom is stunning. Blessings to you all.

      May 25th, 2013 at 11:16 am

    10. Janette says:

      Simply beautiful. My kids need to read your words and hopefully gain perspective. Your Dad was lucky, indeed.

      May 25th, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    11. heidig says:

      Beautiful tribute to your dad!

      May 26th, 2013 at 7:03 am

    12. Roxanne says:

      This is a gift. . .this ability to share your thoughts in words. Thank you for sharing your dad with us. I especially love the wedding photo–all of the possibilities it held. . .you and Sean two of them.

      May 27th, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    13. Lisa Beth W. says:

      What a lovely post.

      I love their wedding photo. Your mom is gorgeous, and your dad’s hair is great! My dad and mom were married in 1966, and my dad’s hair looked a lot like that. 🙂

      May 27th, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    14. Amy says:

      What a beautiful tribute.

      May 28th, 2013 at 8:58 am

    15. Monica @ The Writer Chic says:

      Lovely, Tina.

      May 30th, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    16. Tom says:

      He sounds like a man who had honest to goodness wisdom. He is an example for all dads. Thank you for sharing your memories!

      May 30th, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    17. edj says:

      A lovely tribute. No wonder you miss him!

      June 1st, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    18. karen says:

      So beautifully written. . .

      June 6th, 2013 at 4:49 pm

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