May 20, 2009

My Father, My Teacher

All which I thought I knew about my father was altered in the final days of his life. I believed, correctly so, that he was a strong, powerful man, both physically and in stature; but; I was also exposed to his profound spirituality. 

In my contemptuous, youthful days, I succumbed to the teen aged notion that I was going to live forever and that God did not exist. It was easy and convenient for me to shed the faith I had instilled in me from the time I was born. I called myself an atheist. There's a haughtiness to that belief system which is attached to the inherent and natural anger experienced by those who are pushing eighteen. Perhaps this is sparked by a fear of being nudged out of the nest into the real world, and by the anxiety which accompanies making a life for oneself which creates inner turmoil. My dismissal of God from my life also came at the same time I rebelled against my father.

He raised six of us, three boys and three girls, and he tended to our sick mother. Often he would take on another job to provide for us, making sure we had the bare essentials to get through life and to keep a roof over our heads, and regretfully, I could not appreciate his efforts.

Advice came in the form of bromides and life lessons, often learned from his own mistakes, which I fended off will the skill of a fencing champ. His instruction also came in the form of actions. He led by example, and often I lagged behind not paying much attention. Only now as a middle aged man raising my own family can I understand and appreciate his philosophies of dealing with difficult bosses, unreasonable deadlines, and the vagaries of keeping pace with and eventually surpassing ones peers. I only wish I had been a better student. 

With that said, I've gleaned much from his final hours, ones in which he suffered greatly. He faced his death with dignity. His bravery came from his strong belief in God and his unwavering conviction. His only regret was leaving his family behind, of not being a father and a grandfather anymore. 

It's not easy to become a role model. Folks often claim to be one and are not up to the task. Yet, my dad was a teacher, provider, husband, caretaker, father, grandfather, friend, and a servant of the Lord for his entire life. He enlightened his family until his last breath. Dad taught me that faith is not foolish, that love exits beyond life, and that death is not the end. 

My father has left us, he's given his last bit of counsel, but I remain his son. Hopefully, with the same grace and dignity he possessed, I can guide my own children through their lives while drawing from the deep well of sensibility and insight my father imparted to me.  God willing, I may also rediscover my faith which I retain a faint memory of from when I was a boy. Dad has shown me the way.

-Michael J. Kannengieser


Mike French said...

I'm so sorry Mike - I wondered where you had gone, thought you had just had enough of this blogging lark - e-mail me and we can chat off line.

The Uneasy Supplicant said...

Extremely heartfelt and touching Mike. What a wonderful eulogy to your father. I know where you are, what you are feeling and the strength gleaned by the life example of your father. I have the same regrets. Somewhere in the back of my mind there is a saying that goes "Through death comes life". Your Dad faced his impending death with dignity and an unwavering belief in his faith, lessons of which were not lost on his son.
We'll talk soon my friend. Take care of yourself.

Kristyn said...

I was extremely touched by your words, Mike. I think faith is a hard thing under any circumstances. I'm so sorry for your loss.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

A beautiful, heartfelt post, Mike. {{{HUGS}}} for losing a loved one, a parent. Life has its poignant, sorrowful moments and it does take faith to understand the meaning of why this happens.

Love never dies; it only changes form. One day you will meet your father again. I can see the big hug you both give each other. :D

My father collapsed a few weeks ago and it's been touch and go.

Blessings! JJ

Bob Johnson said...

Good to see you back and your unique writing style. A beautiful tribute to your Father, I'm lucky I still have mine with me and bonus he will be coming to Saskatoon in June for my youngest daughter's wedding, better make the most of it.

jenniferw said...

First let me say, how wonderful to "see" you again! And thanks for stopping by my blog.

Then, allow me to say how much I enjoyed your eulogy to your beloved father. My father abandoned our little family when I was but two. I never saw him again, and he died in a plane crash when he was 37 (and I was 11).

So I am always moved by honest, un-treacly accounts of the mistakes we make as children, and the many ways in which we see the light as adults. Thank you for illuminating the subject so beautifully.

Happy Memorial Day to you and yours!

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Mike,
Thanks for staying in touch. Now that I am back in blogging land, at least for some brief visits to my favorite blogs and sites, we'll be in touch. Thanks again, M1!

Hi JD,
I want to thank you for your continued support and friendship during my family's time of grief. You're as much as a fiend to me as anyone else I know, and I appreciate that. I know you miss your father, even after all these years, and that your sorrow will never go away. Let's hope together that time will help our sadness for the loss of our parents will dissipate into happy memories of when they were alive. Thanks for your support, JD.

Hi Kristyn,
Thank you so very much for stopping by and paying your condolences. You're a terrific writer, excellent blogger, and a pal who has been a loyal reader of mine from the beginning. That means more to me than you know. Thanks again, Kristyn!

Hi JJ,
I have kept your father in my prayers, and I hope he does well and recovers. Please let me know. Thank you for reading tribute to my dad, and I appreciate your kind words here.

Hi Bobn
Though I have been gone from the blogging world for a while, i always took a look at your website. There's much to learn from what you do, and I am glad to have you as one of my blogging buddies. Thanks Bob.

Hi Jennifer,
It is nice to see you again and to read your extremely well written and funny posts on your site. You're one of the few writers who is able to use an obscure or seldom used word and not make the reader balk when reading it. You're a fine writer, very witty, and I appreciate your response and condolences here. Thank you for sharing your sad memories and I hope all is well with you and your family.


Anna said...

Hello Mike, not sure if you remember me, I used to come around here sometimes. Welcome back it is nice to see you writing again, sorry about your father. This is in fact a very beautiful tribute to your father. Thanks for sharing. Anna :)

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Anna,
I do remember you. I am glad you have taken the time to visit my humble blog. Thank you very much for your condolences, and I am sorry I am so erratic with my postings and response on this site. My life has been topsy-turvy lately. I appreciate you coming by very much. Thank you. -Mike

Anna said...

Mike no problem. Hope all works out for you, and you can come back to blog again. I don't mean to push, but sometimes it is good to do something different, or something we love - write. Wishing you well, Anna :) BTW thanks for comment on my story blob.