Happy Valentine’s Day…..I guess. For me, this is just one more day. I am the most unromantic person I know, next to my friend Doug aka Heather Douglas 😉. Right Doug?
For confirmation you can ask my hubby Bru. I will add further that he’s not exactly big on this day either, but I believe he’s remembered it more than I have through the years.
So….why does my sister Ally think this day sucks?? Recently, she did a hilarious blog post called ‘February, Anderson Style’. Mostly, it’s about the joys of being a mom to active young kids 😳. To say the least she’s had a challenging month.
In her story, she alluded to the fact that basically, she can’t even look forward to Valentines Day…..because big sis (me) ruined it for her for ALL time……(so dramatic!).
Today marks 16 years that we buried our dad. Yes, on Valentines Day.
In my defense, it went like this: dad died on a Sunday morning (the 9th) and somehow picking a funeral date fell to me (mostly)……
See, dad and I spent A LOT of time together those last months. He was at my house almost entirely toward the end, in fact he died here, in my home. I took him to every appointment and saw his decline…and I saw his physical deterioration and his mental Hell. He wasn’t ready to die but honestly, I wanted him at peace. There was to be no cure, and I loved him too much to watch him suffer any longer.
So my point to all of that is that I think my family was just so thunderstruck that he was gone, that most everyone was numb. So the planning tasks largely fell to me. I had prepared myself those last couple of months. Emotionally, I started to protect myself for what was to come. Probably the only other person that was somewhat prepared was probably ally, because she was also with dad a fair amount as she lived here in Rochester also.
Back to the story, so we lose dad and now we have to decide a funeral day.
I called the funeral home and we realized that it wasn’t going to work to bury him the following weekend because the church had a wedding on the Saturday (15th), and the funeral home was booked for the Sunday (16th) and the Monday (17th) (he was buried in a small town).
I didn’t want to wait any longer and so the options came to be that they could do the wake on Thursday (13th) and then funeral Friday (14th), sort of quick, but better that than waiting too long, I think. “Ok let’s do that I say”, and I make the arrangements. Then I tell everyone….
And Ally says…….
“WHAT? That’s Valentines Day!! We can’t do that!!”
😳 too late….🤷♀️……with everything going on the last thing I thought about was Valentines Day……and in my mind I’m thinking ‘who the hell cares that it’s Valentines Day?’ but I didn’t say that.
Keep in mind, Ally was super young and newly in love (with her now hubby Matt). I was old and married for two decades. 😂 Valentines Day was as I said, just another day for me.
To top it off, dad went out like a lion. It totally was a blizzard the day we laid him to rest. Another fact that didn’t escape my sister, and it gave her still another chance for a dig, “see, even dad thinks it was a bad idea….”. 🙄
So…for 16 years, Ally has managed to NOT let me forget any of that. Every year, I am reminded how I’ve made this day a bittersweet day for her (as I said, dramatic!).
I always say, ” can’t you look at it like we buried our sweet dad on Valentines Day….a day to remember those we love??”. She never falls for that….
Anyway, today…..a day that before February 14th 2003, was a day that I usually forgot and was like any other day, is now a day that I think of my amazing Pa.
I asked my siblings to share a couple memories about dad.
Lonny shared how he saw the country with dad when he drove semi. Being with him on the farm, ever in dad’s shadow.
Randy has so many memories that it’s hard for him to even narrow it down to a thought. They were best friends.
Chad, remembers the stoic man who when he was little, would sit on dad’s lap and listen to Lon and dad talk farm and car stuff in the kitchen.
My sisters shared how when they were young and would go to the store with dad, they would hold onto his belt loops. For him, I’m sure it was a way to wrangle in the small tribe he had to watch 😂
I remember that. I also remember my sister Ally standing on dad’s feet and hanging onto his belt loop.
They all commented how they would sit on his lap and run their hands on his whiskers.
He took us to our first movies. The first movie we ever saw was with dad, The Jazz Singer. To this day we remember that and we loved it. To this day I remember every part of that movie. And then as Roxy said, Star Wars was another one. To this day I love all movies like Star Wars, we all do.
Dawn always remembers stopping for donuts at Hy-Vee on the way to the farm. And he drank Coke pop. And a pot of coffee every day….
And mostly the way he smelled…for so long I had his winter coat. I would go into my closet and smell it for months after he was gone…
But to wrap it up, I will share my favorite memory of dad (and believe me it’s hard bc I have SO many), this one highlights his amazing humor that we ALL miss so much!
I told this story once before but it’s my favorite memory. The memory goes like this “we had 2 bushes that flanked the front door that had gotten so out of control that you could barely get through them to get to the door. I tried my best to trim them but it was obvious that they needed to be cut all the way back. My dad was getting ready to leave on a trucking trip and mom, Ally and I kept at him to do it before he left. If you know my dad, he loved everything natural. He was a farm boy at heart. That philosophy is great on the farm but for the house in town, that didn’t work so well.
So, he wasn’t happy (in fact he was downright mad). He marched to the garage and back he came trying to start the CHAINSAW as he was stalking across the yard! I was like “uh dad I don’t think you need a chai….” (glare) …..so I simply shut up.
So he took the chainsaw and hacked that bush down to what was essentially a bush with branches and no leaves (I mean at that point just cut it to the ground, right? but no, our penance was now two UGLY stick bushes flanking the front door!). He was so irritated as he flailed that chainsaw around, that I thought he was gonna accidently hack his leg off. If you also know my dad, he was the gentlest, most kind man I ever knew. He had the patience of a saint. However, when he got mad, he was mad.
He finished and then left in a huff, and I felt somewhat guilty. But being Anderson, what did Ally and I do? As we were bringing the brush out to the dump we drove right by where dad worked. In those days, dad never locked his door, and so we got the brilliant idea to take a rather large branch and seat belt it into his front seat behind the steering wheel. He was leaving on just a short trucking run so he was going to be back the next day, and so we waited for him to return.
When he pulled up, Ally and I stared out the window to see what he would do. He saw us, grabbed the branch out of the car, and trying hard not to laugh, he shoved it in the middle of the yard standing straight up (like a bush). We all laughed. My dad had the best humor, hands down! I’m sure when he saw that bush strapped into the drivers seat, he laughed his awesome quiet laugh, with a full smile, head shaking back and forth and thought, “those damn girls of mine!”.
So, today is Valentines Day.
We all think of this day a little differently 😉 but today, like everyday when we think of dad, we smile.
And we miss him…..
The best in all of us was the best in him: patient, kind, loving, moral, humorous, and hard working. That was his gift to all of us.
In this photo, he was dancing, and really getting into it…he opened his jacket as he was dancing…and I thought ‘Holy Crap, is he gonna start stripping?’. No, he was just getting warm and took his jacket off…..he loved to dance! Pretty sure he’s dancing in heaven…