Thursday, November 17, 2011

To My Dad

I guess every three years a post on the blog, I need to get better I guess. My dad passed away on November 8th, 2011. My sister Cyndi and I gave a eulogy at the funeral. Here is mine. My sisters can be read at the following

Many of you may only have known my dad for the last several years and I wanted to share with you the dad I knew and some of what I learned from him.

As a young child, as many young children do, I put my dad on a pedestal. He was larger then life to me. I am told and vaguely remember riding around Minneapolis saying my Daddy built this house and my daddy built that building. I don’t know if he did! To me it did not matter if my dad actually built the particular building or not. But my Dad was a builder, he created things and he could have built it.

In 1976, Dad, Mom, and I moved to ND. At the ripe age of 13 my dad negotiated with the owner of a home that he was putting a large addition on to hire me as a gopher. I had no idea what it meant to be a gopher. All I knew was that I was getting paid and I wanted a new motorcycle and this would help me get it.

So that summer Dad took me in the lumber store and we purchased a hammer and a nail apron that I still have to this day. I’m not sure if dad got the new ones and I got his old one, but this is the hammer. It is worn and actually has a crack in it. Today it hangs in a spot of honor in my wood shop as a reminder of my dad and those years I worked for him.

That first summer is still like it was yesterday in my mind. I learned how to pour footings, to set up a block wall. I became the chief mortar mixer. I learned how to layout a floor and build walls. How to set rafters and lay wooden shakes. I learned everyone hates drywalling for a reason. But I learned so much more.

Like the time that I brought up a small brown bag of special nails that my dad needed to the second level of the scaffolding. The owner’s young grand child was watching and she ask my dad what you got in the bag. My dad (teasing her said Candy) to which she replied with out missing a beat that Jesus does not want you to lie.

I learned that my dad who grew up talking Norwegian could still speak it with the owner even though he said he couldn’t. I also learned that jokes told in Norwegian, which would cause them to laugh for hours, were not very funny when translated into English.

I learned stories that I still tell today. Like the guy who worked with my dad who could spend the whole day looking busy with a sawhorse, a board, and a framing square but never really did anything. Dad told me its important to keep busy not just look busy.

One time when reciting recent measurements that we had just taken I once said “good enough” after dad repeated the measurement. Dad took me aside and told me that the owners never want to hear good enough when you are building their home they want to know that it was perfect and it was from then on it was.

For the next 7 summers I worked for my dad. I went from a gopher to someone my dad could count on. Someone he could give projects to, not just help with. At an age when I thought I knew everything I learned that my dad still knew more.

Like while taking a half hour lunch break , you could eat your food in 15 minutes and take a 15 minute nap and be more refreshed then listening to music in the truck.

That a circular saw can be used for so much more then just cutting. Mind you I do not think OSHA or the manufactures would approve of my dads alternate techniques but he was an artist when it came to using the circular saw.

Okay Grand children, my nieces and nephews, my kids listen up to this one. That while stubbornness is not a personal trait to aspire too, It comes in handy when there is something that needs to be done that seems impossible or that there are two few to do.

That sticking your tongue out the side of you mouth really does help you think and concentrate.

That daunting task that overwhelm you to the point of not knowing where to start of if you will ever finish are not that daunting if you just start doing what you can do.

That when you get good at driving a nail with a hammer and no longer get teased about hitting the little round thing on the end, that it hurts then when you miss and hit your finger. That if you miss once you’re more then likely going to hit it again real soon and that it hurts much worse the second time. That a framing hammer with its waffle end pretty much will rip all of the skin off your finger. And through all this smashing of your finger beyond recognition, you can still not react with cursing or swearing! And in the end that electrical and duct tape makes pretty good bandages.

All this and so much more I learned from my dad from spending time with him, from observing. I told him that those years of working along side of him meant more to me then all of my other education. I have used those skills so much in my life and have tried to pass them on to my children. Dad instilled in me a love to create things that is a lot of what I am about today.

But I would be missing the most important thing I learned if I did not share with you about my Dads love for Jesus and his relationship with him. While it is sad to see Dad gone and out of our life, We know that we will see him again in heaven. Dad was not perfect and just like I am not, he made many mistakes but dad had faith in Jesus Christ. He had faith that Jesus already paid for his sins, for his imperfections when Jesus died on the cross. That Jesus stood before him, on Tuesday when he met his Creator and through Jesus Dad was Holy and perfect. Dad was never an up front person. About the only time we saw him up front at church was when he was a pallbearer. Which was actually quite often. We always teased him that he would make a great professional pallbearer, because he could stand there with the perfect expression. But I got to hear and witness the side of dad that interacted with people, that made people act differently around him, as they knew he was different. That difference was Jesus.

Maybe your one of those people, I do not know, but this same faith that was in my dad from a young boy can be in you. The bible says in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. A wage is something we earn. Like the $1.25 an hour I earned when I started working for my dad as a gopher. We all sin and this verse says our sin earns us death, But the gift of God is eternal life. A gift is like Christmas or your birthday it’s a gift! We don’t earn it. Its not about what we did or are going to do its about receiving it. Opening it up. Its our prayer for you that if you have not received and opened this gift that you will. God is there holding out eternal life to all of us. He will not force it on us. He wishes for all of us to accept it but in the end its up to us to reach out and receive it.

My dad was a builder, a creator. When you drive out of the church today you will see the church right east of New Hope. When you drive by it you to can look at that church and Say Phil Haaland built that church. Unlike the place I use to point out as a child, he actually did build it! In fact he fell off it and broke his arm. You see my dad was a builder and while he built that church and so many other buildings over his life, The most important thing he built was a relationship with Jesus. He along with my mom shared their faith with my sisters and I. Their faith became our faith. That is why we can be here today with sadness at his passing but with Joy in the knowledge that someday we will see him again when we go to heaven and Jesus stand before us as we meet the creator.