I was sitting here thinking about our trip back to Michigan, and got to thinking of the visit we had with you at your house in New Amsterdam.
Sorry you were under the impression that we had already left and were gone without stopping in to see you. This could never be, you know, as the two things we went back there for was to visit you and my dad.
Sitting there listening to you and Jean talking together, after looking at your flowers and your garden, I got to thinking about all the years that have gone by and all the good times god has graciously given us. The more I thought of it, the more I was impressed by one thought. Father’s day will soon be here, and although you aren’t my dad, I thought I would sit down and put some thoughts on paper.
Fathers-in-law are generally not made a fuss over. Fathers are one thing, and we make a special effort to send them cards on Father’s Day, but fathers-in-law are not much celebrated.
I remember going out to your barn with an engagement ring in my pocket and asking your OK to give it to Jean. You said that would be fine and gave me your blessing. Then you finished helping that nanny goat deliver her kid.
Some thirty-eight years have gone by since that happened. Jean and I now have children of our own. Now I’m a dad-in-law. Looking back, that time seems to have gone by very swiftly. Your children grow up, and with all the work and care that goes along with brining up of a family, it seems that a good deal of the training of the children in the home falls on the mother. Without a God-fearing mother in the home, a marriage would be doomed to failure. It always struck me that at a time in your life when you have the least amount of sense, you make the most important decision of your life—who you will spend the rest of your life with.
I believe that God provides to every man his wife, and what a blessing when he gives you a God-fearing and good wife. Then the time soon comes when our children grow up, and a young man is soon standing there asking you for your daughter’s hand in marriage. You think back on all the memories, all the love you poured out on that little girl from the day that God gave her to you until now. You think of all the fun you’ve had with her, all the teaching of catechism lessons, all the prayer for her, and suddenly you are asked to give her away! You do, of course, if he is a child of God, and by this time you had better made it your business to know.
I guess what I’m writing about is that I’m not much good with words and being able to say what I want to, so I’m taking this way of putting them down on paper so that I can sort them out and get them nearly right. What I really want to do is thank you for Jean. For thirty-eight years now she has stood by me through thick and thin. She has been a good Christian wife, and God has blessed our marriage with one son and two daughters. You read in Proverbs about how a husband is blessed by being given a godly wife. It puts her price far above rubies, and the heart of her husband delighteth in her.
Jean and I have brought up our children together. She has clothed and fed them, bandaged up their hurts, sung them to sleep, and most of all taught them about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She saw to it that they knew their catechism lessons and that they knew their Sunday School verses. She has been a good wife and mother, and I thank God for her continually.
Since we are now grandparents, she has a new job—that of helping our grandchildren. One imagines that when the children are all gone out of the house, then the responsibility and worry is over. You soon learn that this is not so. A grandmother and grandfather has a position of great importance in the minds of their grandchildren. I watch Jean with the grandchildren and see that she is also a good grandmother.
God has blessed us with ten grandchildren, and we see our childrens’ children being brought up in what we believe to be the true church. The fact that we married in the Lord and are faithfully bringing up our grandchildren is a great comfort to us.
When we left, you said to me, “Take good care of my little girl.” That kind of got to me, I guess, and I guess I started thinking of these things. Don’t worry—I’ll do my best to take care of your “little girl.” You see, I love her same as you do. I received from God a good Christian life that day I married her, and we have been most richly blessed.
You are now 89 years old. That’s old for the children of men. You seem to live a useful and enjoyable life with your garden and keeping old ladies supplied with fresh vegetables—with the hope of fresh-baked pies in return. You expressed your readiness to go the home that God has prepared for you, eternal in the heavens.
So before you do, I take this opportunity to thank you for everything you have done for us, and especially for Jean.