Ann and I attended five Family Life marriage conferences early in our marriage. Those weekend getaways helped to lay a solid foundation for our marriage.
At one of those conferences, the speaker encouraged us to write a tribute to our dads, regardless of whether they were good or bad dads. I took the application to heart, but decided I would write one for my grandpa first, since he was my positive father figure. That letter is reproduced below.
I always intended to write one for Dad, but never got around to it before he died in November 2001.
December 25, 1992
My present to you this Christmas is this letter of appreciation, thanking you for special memories and for your influence in my life.
Although common place a hundred years ago, few in my generation have memories of their grandfather like I do. I consider it a blessing from God to have grown up within a few hundred yards of you. Thank you for these and many other memories:
- Racing “short distances” across the yard.
- Watching election returns late into the night in 1968.
- “Sneaking” up to the lower pond and shooting ducks, which turned out to be decoys.
- Seeing you cry as you read sympathy cards after Grandma’s death.
- Building tight fences on the land you once farmed.
- Riding the elevator, eating hot dogs and running on the football field of old Cyclone stadium.
- Receiving marital advice in the shop a few days before my wedding.
- Countering pressure to drink with a $2000 “excuse.”
- Being encouraged to be kinder to mom as we talked by an apple tree.
- Shivering with fear as we watched thunderstorms from your back porch.
- Getting pop out of the garage to make Root Beer floats.
One of the hotly debated topics in this election year was family values, which can be defined as “The family is the place where values are taught.” You have been like a father to me and have influenced me more than any other man. Thank you for teaching me these values:
- Honesty: Your father strived to be honest in his business dealings and he passed this value on to you. Through your example, I have learned the merit of being honest and am laboring to teach this to my children.
- Humility: You do not call attention to yourself or make others feel inferior, even though you have numerous achievements to your credit. I hope to demonstrate this quality throughout my life.
- Honey-eating: As a young boy I discovered that the tastiest way to eat bread was to spread on honey one bite at a time. Ann buys honey in gallon jugs and I continue to eat biscuits in your tasty manner.
- Humor: I remember listening to your stories while enjoying roast beef and Mountain Dew at Nellie’s. I admire your ability to make people laugh without tearing them down.
- Hard work: One of the greatest compliments a person can give me is to say that I am hard working. If more Americans had grandfathers who taught them the value of hard work, our country would be significantly stronger.
I hope that I earn the honor of overhearing someone say, “There goes honest, humble, honey-eating, humorous, hard working Howard. He is just like his grandfather.” Thank you for making these memories and entrusting me with these values. I love and appreciate you.