My father – A Few Facts As I Remember Them

A few facts about my father.

My father, Leroy, was born in Saginaw, Michigan. He grew up in Iowa/Wisconsin with three brothers, one sister. He joined the Navy when he was 19. When he was in the Navy he went to a service at Pacific Garden Mission and became a Christian.

After his Navy stint, he came to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to attend the Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music. He wanted to be a minister or a missionary. He was one of the older students.

When he met my mother, O’Deal, she was dating another guy. She grew up on a farm where her job in the family was cooking, and she was paying her way through school by cooking for all the students. She was an excellent cook. After her second year of school, she decided that she did not want to go back to the farm for the summer. The school allowed her to stay in one of the houses for the summer. Instead of rent, she cleaned the houses on campus. However, she did not receive any money, so she was eating saltines for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

My father found out about this. He was living on his own and working. He said he couldn’t cook, so he asked my mother to cook for him, and he would pay her. When she cooked his meals for him, he said, “I don’t want to eat alone. Would you eat with me?”

Well, the rest is history. He was well fed all summer, and he got the girl as well.

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My father never did go into the ministry,but he has been a practicing Christian his entire life. He taught us to examine the scriptures to test whether church teachings were correct or not. He taught Sunday School, served as an usher, and encouraged us all to attend at least one year of Bible School, which we all did.

He worked hard and provided for his family. During the 60s, he suffered through constant cycles of layoffs and rehiring. He finally decided that he needed a steady job to support his growing family.  I remember helping him study flashcards with postal codes and cities on the other side for his post office entrance test. He passed the test and started working for the post office around 1970.

That Christmas was the first year that we opened presents at midnight, because of his weird hours at the main Grand Rapids Post office. He worked midnight, odd second shifts and first shifts in order to support his family. Burning the midnight oil paid a higher wage.

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My father supported my desire to attend college. Every year, he and my mother would help me lug my worldly possessions up to the third floor at whatever dorm I was living in.  When I finally graduated from Michigan State University, he was very proud.

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My Dad is 82 now. I love him. Happy Father’s day, Dad.

**This story has a lot of gaps in it. I am sure that my siblings and my parents remember things slightly differently.

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A Fish Story

My husband, Rick, likes to go fishing with me, so it is one of our summer dates. We usually catch enough over the course of the summer to have a fish fry in October. We freeze what we catch in salt water.

Our success at fishing has a lot to with our investment in the sport, in terms of knowledge and equipment. We have fishing poles and tackle, and we fish from shore with worms. We don’t have a boat, and we have never caught a fish with fake bait, despite our amateurish efforts. Sometimes I think that we go fishing just to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation and relax with the sound of water flowing by and the wind in the trees.

Rick usually catches the bigger fish, such as bass, and I usually catch a lot of sunfish. I think he is more patient than I am. Near the end of one summer, I was grousing Friday night about not ever catching any big fish. We got up early the next morning to go fishing at the Flat River in Lowell. Rick told me on the way that he was praying that I would catch a big fish.

The fishing at the Flat river was slow. We pulled in a few small sunfish, but toward the end, I caught a two-foot Red Horse Sucker. I said to him, “Here is my big fish.” He responded, “I prayed that you would catch a bass.”

We decided then to pack up our gear and head over to Wabasis Lake. From the shore, we caught some more sunfish. We had used up most of our bait and it was hot, so we decided that we were going to go home. I decided to cast out one more time. As I did, I thought, “Well, I guess God is not going to answer that prayer.”

As I began to reel the line in a big fish hit my last scrap a worm. “It’s a bass. I think I have a bass on my line.” I successfully brought it to shore, and we added it to our cooler filled with sunfish.

This answer to a small prayer was an encouragement to my husband, and it seemed a rebuke to me. But in my heart God reminded me, that his goal was to make me a fisher for souls. I thought about that incident when urged to invite others to a Bible study that fall.