We are mourning the passing of Patrick's dad, Don.
He lived an amazing life. He was orphaned in the 1930s in South Dakota. He had older siblings (the closest one was much older and had a family of her own), but the Depression hit very hard there, and families literally could not feed one more person. Don told us stories about living at the orphanage for a while, then a sibling's house, then the orphanage; it was a difficult life. A couple summers ago we went to his hometown and he told us stories about being there, about working in a factory making wooden boxes when he was about the age my son is now. (I marvel at the strength it took just to get by back then.)
(Don & Alice during their dating days)
When he reached adulthood, he served in World War II in Italy and North Africa. He developed a talent in photography, which served him well after he came back home; he went to college, and then went to work for South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks. He eventually became the state parks manager. Patrick tells stories of his dad creating parks (like the one at Sandy Shores), and of taking the family out to take photos for the brochures that would promote the various state parks.
He and Alice were married for more than 60 years, and together raised four kids.
(The Allen family in 1963)
I met him when he was retired, and was lucky enough to go on a few hikes with him and Alice (my mother-in-law) at Farm Island, near Pierre, South Dakota. And I use the word "hike" advisedly: the first time we went with them, I thought I was going to be taking a lovely stroll with this retired couple and that I'd have to be patient with the slow pace. But when we got out there, they were moving FAST and I had to work to keep up! Don could identify every tree and every plant we came across. When I picked up a feather that was lying on the trail and wondered out loud what kind of bird it came from, he knew right away what it was.
I'm sad for the fact that he will not see Dexter as he grows into a man. But I'm also grateful that we managed to go out there every summer for the past few years, and that Dexter knows his Grandpa and Grandma so far away.
And I'm really sad for Alice. She and Don were inseparable for more than 60 years. They were each other's best friend. They understood each other in ways no one else could. In the end, she knew it was selfish of her to want him to stay--he was having difficulty breathing, and was really working hard and was tired. But she couldn't imagine him not being here.
(Gone fishin', August 2010)
And I suppose that's the other part that's hard to deal with: He is just not here anymore. He will live on in our stories and memories and photographs; but we will miss him.
Please hold us in the light, friends, and help us pray for his crossing.
I teach at a liberal arts college; I knit; I spin. I live in Ohio, but part of my heart lives in South Dakota. And I think I left some of it in San Franciso.
You can contact me at kmporems at owu dot edu
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