#581 – Dick Bernard: Father's Day 2012

This is one of those days when nostalgia reigns, and all manner of inspirational stories are related about people who made a difference in one way or another in someone else’s life.
Today, the examples will be Dad’s (of which I am one several times over).
My thoughts today are to three recent and completely unrelated events that involve Dads. For some reason, they all become related, for me.
One is a funeral I attended a little over a week ago for a 77 year old man in rural Wisconsin.
The second is about a not guilty verdict announced just a couple of days ago in the death of a tiny girl in January, 2011.
Both are relatives of mine.
The third is an e-mail from a stranger, received yesterday, with a comment about another Dad, years ago.
Each deserve a few words on this day.
The 77 year old, Dave, was a father, grandfather and great-grandfather who was highly respected in his family and community. His death was expected and, I’d say, “normal” in the day-to-day course of things.
It was said at the funeral, and I’ve known this for years, that Dave’s Dad died before Dave was a year old, as a result of one of those horrible accidents that sometimes interfere with life. His Mom, a wonderful lady who died two years ago at 100, never remarried, and Dave had to live without a Dad of his own. Of course, this isn’t true, because in his constellation there were all sorts of male role-models from which he was able to construct his own model of being a Dad.
Of course, we all do this, male and female alike: our biological parents are our base….
The second is about two men, one a father, the second a grandfather, whose lives were turned upside down by an event in mid-January 2011 which I remember vividly from my wife’s exclamation when she answered the phone that morning: “oh, no!”.
Their child and grandchild, Brooke, not yet one, was completely normal one day, and a few days later was dead. I was at that funeral too – a church full of people; a tiny casket up front.
There was, in this instance, an allegation that Brooke’s babysitter had contributed to the babies death, and as such events happen, an investigation led to a charge of manslaughter, and ultimately to a jury trial which ended last Friday evening with a verdict, “not guilty”. It has been very hard for the family. Grandpa and Grandma had become the babysitter of Brooke’s sister the following year, and were, of course, at the entire trial with all that brings.
The acquittal was a prominent story in yesterday’s Twin Cities newspapers, and was on TV news the previous night. Of course, such accounts include quotes and descriptions which make the case live on….
Prosecutors are very cautious in bringing charges; even so, it is said, they get convictions only 90% of the time. That’s what our legal system is for: to hear and consider evidence.
It can be said that our legal system worked in this case, and it did, but in the rubble of the court trial any idea of closure or reconciliation, of moving on, is at minimum delayed…for everyone, on all sides.
I wonder, is there a better way for our society to deal with such tragedies? I don’t know the answer. Justice was done, case closed, but every person is a victim; everyone lost, including the ‘winner’.
Which leads to the last story, from a woman in Las Vegas who I’ve never met, and probably will never meet, who found me through a random google search about a family history matter.
She’s in a search for family history of her own family, and for reasons irrelevant to this writing, she took the ‘shot in the dark’ and asked me. She’d found this blog post as she searched the internet.
Perhaps the easiest is to just convey her second message from yesterday at 3 p.m. in her own words:
“Dick, I am so glad to hear your response! I am excited—–I am taking a road trip and going to be in the NE area of North Dakota looking for my grandmothers grave as I have never seen it—-nor has my mother———when [my grandmother Beatrice] died at age 39 [in January, 1927] my mother was her youngest of 10 children—my grandfather [Byron] moved to [a town in] Washington state and the ladies of the town told him he had to give the baby to foster care which he did and she stayed with them…till she got married–they had moved to Spokane and that is where she was raised. [My grandfather] had his own woodmill and evidently was quite successful— he died 2 months before I was born. Her biological family stayed in close contact tho and so now we still all know each other well. I will contact the people you gave reference to. […] Thank you, thank you, you have made my day and given me hope.”
Life goes on with its own unknown twists and turns.
Best we can do is to try to do our best.
Something to think about, this Father’s Day.

Daughter Heather and I on the light rail after the Minnesota Twins-Philadelphia Phillies game June 13. Our side lost 9-8, and we were tired, but it was fun, anyway.

DEDICATION: This post is especially dedicated to my friend Richard, also called Lee, who is a very proud father and grandfather, and is nearing the end of his life. Lee is a heroic figure to me.

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