#993 – Dick Bernard: "3 Sad Words…: My Father Died"

Related posts here, here, here and here.
My Dad died Nov. 7, 1997. Along with my sister, Flo, I was privileged to be there with him, at Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville IL.
He was a month and a half short of 90. Like my Uncle Vince, who died Feb. 2, less than a month after his 90th birthday, Dad had a rough run the last couple of months, and the last six months one could tell the train was on the tracks, and the destination inevitable.
A week and a half after Dad died I was in Chicago, at the O’Hare Hilton, for a conference. Sunday morning, November 16, 1997, I picked up a copy of the Chicago Tribune in a terminal coffee shop. Inside was a column by Mary Schmich, “3 sad words that virtually all face: My father died”: My father died 1997001
I’ve been thinking of this column a lot lately, in context with Uncle Vince, who never married, and was never a “father” in the biological sense of that word.
But in a greater sense he was, in a way, a Dad; just like a woman who never had children can very well be a Mom to somebody.
There were 28 nephews and nieces in Vince’s constellation (and his sister Edithe’s, too). We descended on the farm once in awhile for a visit, as the picture below illustrates.
(click to enlarge any photos)

At the Busch farm, probably 1949.  At left is Vincent, then 24.  Four of the Bernard kids on horseback.  Other two are likely cousins Ron and Jim Pinkney.  The man at right is unknown.

At the Busch farm, probably 1949. At left is Vincent, then 24. Four of the Bernard kids on horseback. Other two are likely cousins Ron and Jim Pinkney. The man at right is unknown.

My sister, Mary Ann, in that photo, recently remembered that Vince could be impatient around we kids.
Of course.
In that picture, she would have been seven, and I nine, and I can imagine that our bunch disrupted the normal day for everyone at the farm and, kids being kids, we probably were going places and doing things we weren’t supposed to do, and wanting attention.
But as time went on, and I made many, many visits to that farmstead, I came to learn that, indeed, Vincent became a “father” of a real sort, especially after my own Dad died.
Like all of us, the lessons were never dramatic.
Someone who wrote a note after the funeral simply called Vince “a common, caring man” (you can read some of these comments at the end of this post). I consider that a big compliment, but not the only one. He taught his lessons just by being, as we teach others around us, whether we want to or not.
I’m a much better person for having really gotten to know Vince well, especially the last 35 years or so of his life.
Vince, it can be said, showed up, not comfortable on the stage, but certainly on the court of life!
Six of his nephews and nieces preceded him in death. When the two most recent, a niece in 2012, then a nephew in 2014, died, even though his health and endurance was distinctly and rapidly failing, he wanted to go to their funerals. Both were wearing trips for him, but he was there.
The stories about him go on and on. He was quiet witness to a good man leading a good life, contributing in sundry ways to the communities of which he was part, including our family.
Yes, he fits my definition of “Father”….
Thank you letter to LaMoure, as printed in LaMoure Chronicle Feb 11, 2015: Busch Vince Chron 2-15001
Vincent at right, May 19, 2012, by the grave of his sister, Mary.

Vincent at right, May 19, 2012, by the grave of his sister, Mary.

June 3, 2014 at Tom's funeral

June 3, 2014 at Tom’s funeral

Vincent, as seen by others:
“…he was a true friend. Jerome and I enjoyed he and Edith when they sat at our table at Rosewood. God Bless his memory.”
Jerome and Darlene Rasmussen
“It has been a great honor to have known Vincent for so many years. He was a holy man, always obedient to our Lord. He showed us all a good example with his faith. We will miss him a lot.”
Norm and Sue Goehring
“Now we celebrate the life of Vincent!
What joy it is for our Lord when a life-long servant’s soul comes to him.
Volumes could be written of Vincent’s life.
I’m happy to have been a small part of his life.
He fashioned his life after the life of Christ. May we all imitate Vincent’s example.
Eternal Rest grant unto him O Lord and let Perpetual Light shine upon him!”
Kay (Schweitzer) Morehead
“Vince was a special person to know. I’ll bet Edith and he are putting in God’s garden already.”
John and Jackie Cisinski
“We are so sorry at the loss of Vince. We are neighbors of Vince and Edith, and were lucky to have them as friends. Vince was a good man – honest, hard-working, and very giving. We are thankful we knew him.”
Alvin and Diane Wold
“He’s probably got a whist game going on now.”
the Montgomery’s
“Vincent will remain in our memories. He was a wonderful person, He will be missed.”
St. Rose Care Residents and Staff
“Vince was a very faith filled person. He was often at weekday Masses and had a great love for Jesus.
We really appreciated his great voice in our Choir and throughout the Church.
He’s a good example of the common, caring, man.
May he have eternal peace in Heaven with Jesus.
God Bless his Memory.”
Jim and Kathy Potts
“Prayers and thoughts of all of you. I love the thought there is a reunion being planned – or even held for the Busch family now.
Lines from an old hymn came to my mind when I was notified of Vincent’s death
”What a day that will be,
When my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand,
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.”
May Vincent’s welcome be so glorious. “
Rosi Zimbleman
“He represented a generation of strong willed hard working people that collectively built this country to the standard of living we have today. “
Doug Schmitz
“May he rest in peace. As happened when your dad Henry died, at the exact time of Vinces death I was singing profoundly religious music – Vivaldi’s Gloria. He was in my heart. In our last phone conversation, he was interested in trying lentils, he had never eaten a lentil…that wonderful quality of wanting to experience new things…so fishing and lentils too.
Thank you for your stalwart stewardship of our kin…I appreciate that in the early 80s you invited me to visit Vince and Edith and the beauty of them and the farm in many seasons became a source for renewal and heimat, a rare and precious preserve.”
Mary Busch.
“Was so glad I visited Uncle Vince this summer. What a wonderful person. At the restaurant by the ball field, learned about Vince’s love of baseball. We had a chance to talk about it. So much of his life was devoted to work. Baseball gave him the opportunity for time with friends. What a remarkable heritage we have been given.”
Georgine Busch
“In talking with my kids, they all remembered Aunt Edith and Uncle Vincent very well. Our family was very lucky to see them in Valley City at Mom’s apartment. They would drive up, or we would drive down for a day visit to Berlin.
Some of the memories we came up with:
Vincent loved to eat lots of strawberry jelly on his bread. It was a new jar every time, whether there was an open one was in the fridge. Mollie didn’t see that in our house.
Always up for fishing at the James river or Lake Ashtabula. He would have worms and off they went. Once, Vince said worms were good to eat, so Joe tried one. Vince, and my Dad laughed so hard. Vince got laughing and could hardly talk. I was having a fit, they let him eat a worm.
Carrie was in ND with my mom for a few days. She was probably around twelve. Mom, Edithe and Vince took her to the Peace Gardens. Vince took all these pictures at every stop. Getting ready to leave, Vince realized there was no film in the camera. So Carrie went through the Peace Garden sites again to take do overs.
Bill says Vince was such a nice guy. They could always talk about fishing and the Twins. They were always partners for pinochle.
He was a very good Uncle to me. I only got upstairs once in the old house. I remember two rooms. I was young and Mom and I slept with Edithe.
Great card games, meals, and they were always so happy to have company. Loved the produce and apples. I still have the double boiler and cream and sugar set they gave us for our wedding.
Also, my kids thought they were married to each for a long time, before they learned they were brother and sister. Too funny. They were a good team!!!
Have a good day.”
Mary Jewett
Aunt Edith's burial May 20, 2014, St. John's Cemetery, Berlin ND, where Vincent was alsoburied Feb 10, 2015

Aunt Edith’s burial May 20, 2014, St. John’s Cemetery, Berlin ND, where Vincent was alsoburied Feb 10, 2015

Comment from Anne: This piece makes loss and grief seem almost light. They float and rise on the human character expressed in so many kind and loyal words of love. A tribute of seemingly common content exposing a rare being. As I read it I began to hear the words inside my head spoken in a soft male voice. I thought your uncle Vince was reading to me! Sometimes death is less an end and more of a conclusion.
Comment from Annetta: I would say I am sorry for the loss of Vince. I will instead say thank God for the gift of him in your life and you in his. You made his journey one of amazing grace. And he taught grace in the way he lived. What a gift. The loneliness will be the loss of his physical presence.

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