Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dad's life sketch

The following is what I'll be reading during Friday's memorial service for my Dad. I hope you enjoy it and I hope I'll make it through.

Raymond V. Meissner was born on June 27th, 1920 in Philomath, Oregon. His beginnings were quite humble, being raised on a farm by his grandparents and growing up during the great depression. Times were hard for lots of folks, and Dad’s family was no exception. But he was able to rise above it and grow into a fine young man. Dad served his country during World War II. He never saw duty overseas, serving at posts in California.

After his Army service was complete, he married my Mother Barbra in San Francisco in 1945. Three years later, while still in California, his first child Linda was born. The young family soon returned to Oregon, settling in the Portland area, where David, young Raymond and I were all born. Dad spent his adult life working at such places at Esco Foundry, where he used to sit on the roof during breaks, watching the Portland Beavers baseball team play next door at Vaughn Street Ballpark. After the family moved to it’s long-time home in Oak Grove, Dad worked at Burtner’s Auto Parts, then later in life, worked in North Portland at Bingham Willamette and also at Gresham for the Boeing Aircraft Company, from which he retired in 1985. He was a machinist mostly, but also was a foundry worker and at one time, even had a job making bowling pins. If it could be done, our Dad could do it. After his first wife Barbra passed away in 1969, Dad married Esther, who had a son, Toln. Kathy was born soon after. He was also blessed with several grand children, some of whom are here today.

After retirement, Dad enjoyed gardening, doing recycling and car repairs and spending time with his family. Our Dad was a very caring and generous person. He would lend you the shirt off his back and his last dollar if you needed it. One of my favorite memories of my Dad, (I could never bring myself to call him father. Dad always seemed to fit him perfectly) were of the red tricycle he made me, with my initials painted on the front. I hope to do the same for my son Jimmy one day. He also hung a most cherished nickname on my beloved dog Willis. When told Willis liked to watch the Scooby Doo TV show with me, Dad started calling him Gooby Goo. It was a name that I used for Willis’s entire life.

During this time of remembrance and of preparing for not only this service, but the graveside service on Monday, I have greatly enjoyed looking at the pictures of Dad, from the one of him as a baby, (Boy, does he sure look like my Jimmy!) up through his military years and on through his retirement years. Oh how I wish I could share some time with him, looking at those pictures and learning more about what was a truly remarkable and unforgettable person.

Our Dad touched a lot of people in his life, and they touched him as well. He had a sparkle in his eye and a quick smile. I can picture both in my mind right now. Dad loved his family, those he grew up with and those who came later, during his adult years. Relationships weren’t always the best, which isn’t unusual. But, certainly in my case, at the end of the day, Dad knew I loved him and I knew he loved me. That’s what counts the most.

I am also happy in the knowledge that he found the Lord and is now with the Father in heaven, pain-free and catching up with those who preceded him. I don’t know if he ever heard the song I Can Only Imagine by the group Mercy Me, but I think the lyrics are most appropriate for this day.

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

We all knew this day would eventually come, but we sure didn’t want it to. It’s been quite difficult, but in the preparations for this service, we’ve had a chance to remember and reflect on the person who meant so much to us. Our Dad. To you Dad, I say: Thank you for everything. Even though fatherhood came much later for me than I expected it would, I can still draw on the example you set of love, compassion and friendliness, to help my son grow up to be as proud of me, as I am of you. God’s blessings on you Dad. I miss you, I love you and I’ll carry your memory in my heart forever.

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