At the age of fifteen, the second eldest of seven children, he opted to stay home and not go sledding in the mountains. A terrible accident on their return forever changed the shape of their family. He never saw his mother again. Of all the people in the camper that day she was taken. Harsh but true; after her death, his dad found solace in a bottle and frankly never came out. All record of their mother and her family was removed from their home, except, of course, for their silent memories.
No one attended his high school graduation. I'm sure he's not the only sibling to say that. He got himself into Oregon State University where he majored in Health Care Administration and wrestled there all four years at 126 pounds. He didn't walk for graduation, not because he didn't want to but because he was already working in his field.
He married his high school sweetheart and paid her way through law school. She divorced him not long after passing the bar. They were married for ten years.
He had a best friend. They grew up together and graduated from Oregon State with the same degree. They both went to work in medical practice management. One wintry night, after an office party, they got into their respective cars and drove away separately. He went one direction, his friend the other. Not far from the party, his friend lost control of his vehicle and was hit by an oncoming car. On impact, his best friend's car burst into flames, flew from the road and down an embankment. He was dead at the scene.
So much loss for one person, for some too much to bear. But not for him. Life has continued on and God has managed to build blessings out of ashes.
He vowed never to love again... and then we met.
What makes a man? Perhaps an open heart, faith in God and a bigger plan, integrity, ingenuity, the ability to dig deep and forge on in spite of life's circumstances.
After thirty years in medical management he made a change and began selling milk for a living. It's not an easy line in which to make a profit... but he loves a challenge and people. He rarely has a bad thing to say about anyone... even when they do him wrong. To a fault, I say, when I know he deserves better than what he receives.
He's worked hard since he was eight years old and had a paper route. He can still remember most of his customers, where they lived and how they preferred their paper be delivered. A drive through the old neighborhood with him is a stroll down memory lane. He's in his sixties now and my prayers for him have been answered. I didn't ask for money. I prayed he would have joy. He's worked hard most of his life and he deserves to have joy! I promised God I would do anything to help... then we bought a restaurant.
What makes a man? Love and hope, generosity, perseverance, grit, courage and grace.
He's been the one to drop everything and help as needed, no matter how difficult the work, whether family or friend. He takes on more than most could handle and does it with absolute steadfastness, determination and even excitement. He's the only guy I know who shouts, "Woo Hoo!" when bank statements arrive in the mail. Truth is; he simply loves to balance.
He has two smart, funny and successful adult children. One recently married and the other engaged. When I think back, I can hear him in the kitchen every morning happily singing and making sack lunches for the three of them. I did the math when our youngest graduated from high school. He made approximately 2,340 lunches over a thirteen year stretch. He estimated that about 93 percent of those lunches were made with peanut butter and jelly; crunchy for his son and creamy for his daughter. The remaining 7 percent of daily lunches were made with some form of meat; turkey, ham or tuna fish.
What makes a man? Hunting and fishing... even without a catch. Providing for his family without fail no matter how hard you have to work.