Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

My Dad would be 95 years old were he alive today.  Sadly he died when he was 61 years old.  So very young, way too young with the potential of many years still left unlived.   He was taken from this life due to an embolism in his lung after his second heart attack.

My Dad died when I was 30, I really miss him. It is hard to imagine that I have spent more than half my life with him gone. It's funny though that when someone impacts you like a parent does...they are never far away.

My Dad grew up in North Dakota and he was a great guy. His Father passed away before my Dad became a teenager and that placed some huge hardships upon my Grandmother to raise her two children. Consequently, my Dad spent a lot of time away from his Mom and sister while growing up. Another family, the Vanorneys (God bless them), took him in so that he could continue his schooling while my Grandmother sold all the farm equipment and moved from Ashley to Bismarck to go to school. She eventually became a court reporter and then was able to survive. My Dad had a college degree which was rare in those days, from the University of North Dakota in accounting.

He worked endless hours to make it happen with no financial support from his Mom, as she was barely making it herself. He was very athletic and handsome and would get the most gorgeous golden tans in the summers. He was super smart and had a great sense of humor. Here is a photo of Dad at 19. Isn't he a cutie? Had he been LDS he would have been ready to go on a mission about this time.

My Dad was a gentle and quiet man. He didn't talk your ear off, but when he spoke he had something important to say and people listened. He got a position with the Firestone Tire Company in Minnesota after he graduated from college. My Mom had just moved there from South Dakota to go to beauty school and that is how they happened to meet in 1939 or 40. I think they were the cutest couple. Here they are on one of their dates before they got married.

The Original Rossie and Jo-Jo Bean
I just love the clothes and shoes from this era, do you?

Dad served for nearly six years in the Army during WWII. After the War he accepted a position in California with Standard Oil and one month after he started working there I was born. I was thinking about how our decisions truly do affect the generations to come. Had they not moved to California just weeks before I was born, I would not have married Jim, joined the church, had the kids and grandkids we do, etc. etc. It is amazing how important each big decision really is. Everything would have been different in Minnesota.  We don't realize how every decision we make affects our posterity and our history. 

My Dad was a great father. Sometimes I wish he would have offered more direction, but his parenting style was more like ~ train up a child and then let them try their wings. He always trusted me and supported my decisions. My Dad was just such a kind person. People that worked for him would always tell me what a gentleman he was and that he was the best and kindest boss they had ever had. He was always so even-tempered and kind at home too. I think I can only remember him ever being really mad at me two times in my whole life and both times I deserved it! When he got annoyed about things he would grind the gear shift in the car and that was about it.

Dad's Retirement Picture
Some of my favorite times with my Dad where when I was a young adult and I worked in San Francisco at Standard Oil with him. We commuted together for a few years and that was a great one on one time for us. I was always very proud to be his daughter when I would meet his colleagues from work or anywhere for that matter. Dad worked endless hours in the Lutheran church, he was a great servant for the Lord. I really miss my Dad! I know that families are forever though and that helps!

The best part of our relationship was when he became a Grandpa and that is when I really saw him open up and adore our kids! He had a great smile and laugh and I can remember seeing more of both during those times. He was the first Grandfather in our town to work in a classroom as a volunteer when Jen was in kindergarten. He called Christopher his Little Buddy and spent lots of hours over here playing with the kids. Sadly he had only a few months with Laura before he was taken home.

The sentiment here is just perfect I think!
After my Dad died I wanted to write his life story.  I had tiny children and an old ratty typewriter but I plunked along on it and finally got it done.  It is not long and it is a compilation of writings from several of us close to him.  It was kind of a family/friends effort to deal with our grief at his sudden death.

Here is an edited version of the introduction to the book...

The History of Ross W. Colberg
Complied in December of 1979,
 just months after his death on May 21, 1979

It has occurred to me many times in recent months just how fleeting a man's life on this earth really is.  As we go about our daily activities, days turn into months and then years.  Time passes much too quickly, almost unnoticed sometimes.  Each of us becomes myopic, getting rather caught up in the immediate concerns of the day or the hour.  Rarely do we stop and ponder the more global and eternal aspects of our lives.  Each of us places the utmost importance upon who we are, what we will become, our life goals, our opinions, or values and beliefs, our family and friends, and whatever else gives meaning to our lives.

This is all well and good but where does it fit into the over all scheme of things?  When one thinks of all the people that have lived upon the earth, how significant really are the achievements, activities, loves, joys, trials and heartaches of any one individual?   Deep within my heart I believe that they are very important, not only to us but to our contemporaries and our posterity.  How deeply we value our own lives affects all that we do.  What we do affects those around us.  What we leave behind affects generations to come. 

My father's life on this earth is over but I cannot bear to let his memory and his legacy die with him.  Those things cannot just fade into nothingness with just the passing of a few years.  That would truly make his life's experiences and contributions to all of our lives seem insignificant, indeed!  I cannot let that happen, it would be such an ungrateful thing to do.

As I have begun to research our family history I think that it is very sad that we need only to go back one generation before little is known about our ancestors beyond their names and in some cases we don't even have that.  Isn't it ironic that those important lives, no less significant than our own, of people that literally sacrificed for us personally and contributed to who we are today, are now lost to us?  That is just wrong.  Thinking about the sacrifices we make for our own kids brings the reality of this to the forefront for me.  We need to remember and never forget them.

We all could have learned so much had family records and journals been kept.  That is why I gave Dad a journal two years ago for Christmas and asked him to fill it up with stories and the events of his life.  He was a little reluctant and felt no one would want to read it. He did write some very important things, (mostly because I begged...)and for this I will be eternally grateful.  They are recorded here. The rest of what you find here is a compilation of the things we each remember about him.  Herein you will find things you never knew about him as we all share our own personal memories with each other, our love for our father, husband, brother, uncle, grandfather and friend will grow.  I hope these things will bring comfort, peace and strength to us all.  I hope we will all resolve to leave our legacy for those left behind.  What better inheritance could there be?.........

To be continued if there is an interest.....B


Caroline Craven said...

Bonnie, Laura looks so much like your dad (his 19ish year old picture), and her boys too! But Steve looks so much like him when he was older. He was a very handsome man. What a wonderful tribute.