I have not spoken publically about the death of my father back on December 9, 2017. I wanted to wait until we had his memorial service this past weekend so I could fully process my thoughts. My dad’s name is Charlie Brown…yep, it really is. At age 97, he actually came along before the beloved Peanuts character.
He was a chemical engineer and touched many lives through his work. In fact, if you or a family member has ever taken an antibiotic, he touched yours too. In the World War II era, my dad lead a team of people in the mass production of penicillin which included some work here in Peoria at the Ag Lab. Yet despite his success, my dad was easily the most humble man that ever walked the face of the earth…a true “gentle-man.” Here are a few other things I remember:
He could fix or invent anything. If you know me, none of it stuck, but he tried.
He liked to take my mom and me out to a nice dinner once a week. This started shortly after I learned to walk. By watching closely, I knew how to make a Vodka Martini by the age of 9.
His endless help with my algebra homework when I know he was so beat from his day. I was secretly letting him just do it. I think he knew. My math teacher sure did.
He could pack a week’s worth of clothes in a baggie and condense an entire Christmas’ worth of wrapping paper into a one-inch square for disposal in a 30-gallon trash bag. In fact, I once watched him disassemble an entire giant upright piano so he didn’t have to move it. Now mind you there are over 12,000 parts in an average piano. He saved them all…including cutting up the wood into one-foot sections for firewood.
He could keep his weight at a consistent 178 pounds by a simple tweak of his Slim Fast drink powder at lunch. As we all fight the extra Christmas pounds, I ask you, “How does anyone do that?”
Despite being insanely busy, he took time to take me on a hike at a local state park or for a swim at the YMCA almost every Sunday.
He patiently let me check the level of the coffee in his cup after dinner to see how far we were away from playing “hide and seek.” He never said, “No, I’m too tired.”
He had an acronym for a successful marriage…M.A.S.H….” mutual affection and a sense of humor.” He nailed it.
His care for his ailing wife …which was so difficult…yet he was steadfast and true…an amazing example of his vows lived out.
He really didn’t understand what I did for a living..me being a “rock ‘n roll” DJ and all…but he never made me feel “less than.”
And maybe the best things…he taught me the value of loving God and, maybe most importantly, giving back.
One of the nurses at my father’s care facility made a comment before he died that I think really sums up all that my father was…his sweet idiosyncrasies, his humility and his deep care for other people. She said, “You know if Charlie Brown, (the Peanuts character) ever grew up to be a man…I think he would have been your dad.”
You were a good man Charlie Brown.