Friday, December 19, 2014
remembering dad: in my sister's words
i wanted to share some words of gratitude and a bit of remembrance that my sister wrote to the people of our little hometown for their kindness after dad died (complete with capital letters and everything):
Each year, a small bank in Eastern Iowa runs a holiday spending campaign around which they’ve developed a nice logo. It’s called the “Shop Local” campaign and that is a theme I’ve heard from my father for my whole life. I see that logo and while the concept warms my heart, but I can’t help but feel annoyed by Hills Bank for the grammar error. “Shop” is a verb and it needs an adverb descriptor. You know your adverbs often end in “ly” because you watched those Saturday morning Schoolhouse Rock videos. It should be the “Shop Locally” campaign, but I digress.
Hills Bank points out that each dollar spent in your hometown stays in your hometown a few more times before leaving. But each dollar spent elsewhere is gone forever. It’s easy for me to overlook the significance of this while living in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, we’re near the intersection of two Interstates and money probably moves around pretty easily. But when you imagine the consequences of those dollars leaving Platte forever, you can’t deny the significance of that for your local business owners, your friends and neighbors.
I might have chosen a more glamorous way for him to go. But Dad perceived himself as healthy and able to the very end. And while shocking for us, it’s good for him. No lingering or withering away. He had a life well-lived and it’s surely best that he never had to deal with the word “leukemia.”
My heart is full of love and gratitude for you fine people of Platte. When we phoned from McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls to say that it was time to say “goodbye” to Ralph, you walked into his room two and a half hours later. When we threw a party to tell stories about Ralph, you filled that clubhouse with laughter and gave generously to the donation jar.
Dad’s service featured flowers with garden vegetables and a brilliant hand of poker cards. A wonderful young trumpet player gave us his remarkable rendering of Taps. The Presbyterian ladies brought Dad’s favorite pecan pie and folks lingered afterward and then they went on with the business of the day. I think Dad might have approved of the whole thing, and trust me, gaining his approval was no easy task.
Mom has extraordinary friends looking out for her. Cards and long letters have come in from far and wide because my father seemed to make a lasting impression on the people he encountered.
I’ve always been proud of the clean streets, storefronts and yards and back yards in Platte. There are young entrepreneurs in Platte and folks who know how to get things done. And you’re raising money to build new community attractions. This is not a community in decline, it’s a thriving and vibrant place.
The Platte Avera Health Center was near and dear to my father’s heart. Please remember to donate to the hospital in his name. Maintaining that hospital is good for your family and generations to come.
When you’re finishing up your Christmas shopping this year and next, cancel that trip to Mitchell or Sioux Falls and look for the things you need in Platte. Do this and think of the dollars that stay at home and benefit your friends and neighbors. Do this and think of my dad. He’s somewhere smiling on you.
And from the bottom of my heart, thank you for your love and support.