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OUR Father was someone great to us. All those who knew him were privileged. This man of steel had a heart of gold. I’m talking about a man who worked two shifts at a paper mill to make a life for his family. He was always working, praying, helping, and giving.

How do we keep pleasant memories “blazing? Our big barn was unneeded, so he tore it down and replaced it with a small house for Uncle Sonny to live in. I can still recall how carefully they removed bricks from an old well to use in the foundation of that house. He was so resilient; the iron rake had a wooden handle which he replaced with an iron one making it unbreakable.

Kids in the neighborhood called him “Unka” Claude, or Mr. Beard as they asked him for change. The storytelling time was special on week-end nights. Often, he felt such pain; until we’d say “Daddy, tell us a story.” He sprang into mode with actions and songs. His declaration of love for us was unrelenting.

The truckloads of coal and wood that he bought always disappeared quickly. Although he knew people helped themselves without asking, it never bothered him. He’d just buy more.

Our backyard was often the playground for the neighborhood. My big brothers learned from Dad, how to make things for us to play with and on. There has never been a better swing than the one hanging from our large elm tree; or a “see-saw” better than our teeter-totter that they made. The hopscotch on the sidewalk often lasted for a few days.  Stilts were made of tin cans and tall sticks. There were many other hand-made delights.

Relatives and friends, who came to Peoria for the first time, always came to live with us for a season by my father’s invitation. This meant that household expenses increased but he never asked for any compensation. He taught us that “giving without remembering” is the way to be blessed. Some would move on without looking back even to say “Thanks”, but the bible says that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” as he reminded us.

There were times when Mother would pull out the sofa bed in the living room so he could be near us as he rested between shifts. Things were calm when he was there: He was never abusive or mean. He made us feel safe and we respected his voice of authority.

OUR HEAVENLY FATHER, Said to Our Father, “I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE.   Then he sat quietly meditating after reading the scriptures. “No one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the “Son” wills to reveal Him.

He sang and quoted what he always knew, “I KNOW JESUS WILL BE WAITING AT THE END FOR ME.”