I am in the midst of the most challenging season of my life! My Dad passed away on November 25th and I’m still trying to wrap my head, and heart, around the fact that I can no longer see him or give him a kiss. Thanksgiving was a very tough holiday this year, and because of this great loss, it will never be the same. I would like to share with you my tribute that I was able to share at his funeral, which took place the morning of Monday, November 30th. As you read, I hope you will grasp the significant impact that he had on my life.
As I’ve taken time to reflect over the last couple of days what I would like to share this morning, I realize how difficult it is to condense a lifetime of memories into just a few moments. Because, my Dad was a rare find.
The Lord blessed me with a Daddy that was perfect for me and I’m so thankful for the time that I’ve had with him!
If you had the chance to know Dad personally, you’ll know just what a special gift his life truly was!
From my memories of my Grandpa and Grandma Dieterle, and now time spent with my Dad and Mom, I associate the following characteristics with what it means to be a Dieterle. Those characteristics are: hard working, loyal, kind, genuine, faithful, caring, generous, committed, and depending on how you look at, I call it determined, but others might call it stubborn, maybe even really stubborn.
My Dad was funny too. You always knew when the one liner was coming, because he’d get that little grin and a twinkle in his eye.
As I’ve attempted to gather my thoughts, there are so many memories to choose from, but a couple that jumped to the forefront of my mind and identify what kind of man was Dad was.
The first memory happened a while ago because it involves the old Bill Knapp’s restaurant on Hill Rd. in Grand Blanc. Ashlyn and Alley were little and Mel and I were treated to dinner there by Dad and Mom. My Daddy handed me an envelope when we got back in the car to leave, with the girls names on it, and asked me not to let them open it until we got home. I don’t remember all the circumstances. I don’t know how Dad & Mom knew. But, I do know that Mel and I were struggling financially and wrestling with how we could continue to afford to pay for dance class for our girls. When we got home and the girls opened up the envelope, it contained cash and a note that read “Keep your dancing skirts twirling!”. I think of how much that gift has meant to my girls as they’ve continued to dance through all these years and the love that they each have for it. And to think on top of that, the joy Mel and I, and others, receive from watching them and now Maddie dance as well. That act of generosity has now progressed into Ashlyn and Alley teaching dance and having the opportunity to impact the lives of others. It’s amazing how that gift has had such a profound impact within my family!
My other significant memory is from a day that changed my life forever: March 31, 2009. That was the day I was let go from American Axle. It was an awful day in so many ways, and a reminder of what it important in life, in so many other ways. I called Dad and Mom to tell them what happened. They were over to our house in no time. I remember sitting at my kitchen table in shock, and there were Dad and Mom, supportive as always. I remember Dad’s words to me. “We’ll help you get through this.” … and he did and they have!
All the memories of my Dad have my heart overflowing with thankfulness!
Thank you Lord for blessing me with a Daddy that cared so much for his friends and family!
Thank you Lord for blessing me with a Daddy that loved my Momma unconditionally!
Thank you Lord for blessing me with a Daddy that loved me deeply!
Thank you Lord for blessing me with a Daddy that loved my wife and kids immensely!
Thank you Lord for blessing me with a Daddy that modeled Your unconditional love and made it easy for me to accept the love and forgiveness of my sins from You, my Heavenly Father!
Thank you Lord for blessing me with a Daddy who had personally accepted Christ and is worshiping You now and for the hope I have of reuniting with him in Heaven!
In closing, if you ever see me paying for something in cash and it requires using some pennies out of my pocket, you’ll notice I always check to see if there are any wheat pennies in there. That was something Dad taught me to do and I always loved finding one so I could give it to him. It’s ironic how that would be something that my Dad would look for, because just like him, they are a rare find.
Dad, I know it’s just a shell of your body in the casket that we’ll be burying today, but there are two things that I would like to leave with you. One last wheat penny, and a heart, because I love you more than words can express and you took a piece of my heart with you when you took your last breath. This is goodbye Dad, but just for now!
Again, words can’t express how difficult these last few weeks have been! Thank you for lifting up our family in prayer! I know that it is a result of your prayers, that the Lord has given us great strength in the midst of incredible pain! Your continued prayers are appreciated, especially for my Mom, as our family all wrestles through what life without Dad looks and feels like!
It may not be this way for everyone who has lost a loved one, but part of the healing process for me is to share memories about my Dad. Therefore, if we cross paths at the store or if you see me in the hallway at church, don’t be scared to ask me how I’m holding up without Dad. I can’t guarantee that I won’t shed some tears, but it’s all good. His body may be gone and my heart is broken, but I’ll forever cherish the memories of time spent with him and look forward to hugging him again in Heaven!