At the time he passed I had just graduated from high school and was eighteen years old. It was a time in my life where everything was about having a 'good time' with my friends, not spending time with my family and little thought given to how temporary life is. I was devastated to lose Dad and felt ripped off the God would only give me eighteen years with him when my older siblings had so many more years and memories with him. I turned to my party life with my friends to ignore the pain and subdue the grieving. It just felt better in the moment but the pain returned at night when I was alone. Not long after Wayne came into my life. I realized that God had taken someone very dear to me but was now giving me someone to fall in love with, to change my life with. During this time Wayne became that 'man' in my life; igniting a spark in my heart. During the course of dating for a year I realized how empty the party life had become, the pain of mourning was lessening, my family was so important to me and I was turning to God for direction.
In the last six years Wayne and I were engaged, baptized in the confession of our faith, married, moved a way for a short time, moved home and almost three years ago gave birth to our first child. It was the summer Hanna was born that I truly came to terms with the finality of my Dad being gone. Maybe it was time, growth in my faith or now seeing life through a mother's eyes and maybe a combination of all three. I realized that God hadn't ripped me off at all, but that I was blessed to have eighteen years of a father's love. God knew all along that those years were sufficient for me, that the foundation was laid. I have many years of lessons learned, memories both bad and good and can truly know that my father loved me. Realizing those things go far beyond the years that he lived, they will be with me all my life. Those years of teaching from my Dad have become a part of who I am today.
This fall I realized that I don't feel that sting of death like I used to when Oct 20 comes around. I do feel a longing for his presence but it comes with a peace of knowing that he is where he is meant to be and that I feel his presence in memories and in the faces of my family. I think after losing a loved one there is always a part of your soul that will feel a void. It never goes away, but peace and grace cover it like a healing salve.
My Dad's special ways:
- Cornie was a man young at heart. Even as the older uncle he loved spending time with his young nephews, always ready to share a laugh, story and sometimes get a little crazy.
- Dad was willing to give of his time, tools and strength to those in need. No matter how much work he had to do he always had time for coffee when someone stopped in.
- He had a musical heart and played the guitar and violin. Saturday nights we often danced around to the Polka Party and Sunday morning he was a songleader singing out of the german 'Gesangbugh.' I thought he had the voice of Hank Williams. One of my last musical memories is of us picking saskatoons in the bush and singing 'Wolverton Mountains and the Battle if New Orleans'
- When I used to walk to the bus, mom and dad would be milking the cows but each morning before I was at the end of the driveway he would call out from the barn door and wave goodbye
- Dad always came home from town on Saturday mornings with a pack of 'Hubba Bubba' and 'Bubblicious'. He was a candy lover and I know I inherited his sweet tooth. His favorites were 'Peps' and 'Cherry Blossoms'
- It was important to Dad that I learned my Sunday school verses out of the Katechism, take time to read me bible studies and sing hymns together. Dad had a very traditional side to him and wanted those mennonite ways to be passed on.
- Dad liked to dress up, never would he go to town in dirty clothes. I don't recall him wearing jeans and T-shirts. He like to look dressed up and always put 'Bryl Cream' in his hair (do they even sell that stuff anymore,lol?) when he was going out.
- Dad was a napper, he had a couple naps a day and would sprawl out anywhere on the floor for a quick nap, while mom and I would walk over or around him.
- He was known for horse rides and shuffling kids around on his feet
- Dad was a farmer and took good care of his farm. I'm proud of how well he provided for his family.
There are so many more memories that I hold dear and I think I will try make a point of writing more of them down to share with my children as they grow up and want to learn about their grandpa. He had a troubled side to his life too, and with that comes memories that aren't so good. I know though, that I have learned lessons from those memories of him and they work out for the good in who I've become. Despite those shortcomings, I'm so honored to have been the daughter of Cornie Friesen and rejoice at the thought of him being "Safe in the Arms of Jesus" (one of his favorite hymns)
The picture below was the last photo taken of Dad, about three weeks before his death. He was Sixty four, and had suffered from a previous stroke. For almost two years Dad continued farming, dealing with effect of the stroke, and was starting a new home for him and mom. During this time another stroke would claim his life and he entered to that new home the Lord had built for him.
In Loving Memory of Pap,