Remembering my hero

It’s been a month since he left and my world will never be the same. My dad passed away on September 25 in Fort Myers, FL. His passing was very peaceful. That was his style. A kind, compassionate man with few words, but those spoken were always worth hearing.

WWII veteran Carl Petri was my hero...actually a hero of sorts for my three sisters, as well as our mom, his wife of 72 years. He never seemed to mind being the only male in a household with five females. I always thought of him as “king of the castle.” And rule he did, in his own quiet way. He seldom raised his voice. It wasn’t necessary. We all just wanted to please him.

What a teacher he was! We learned to appreciate nature and all God’s gifts found there. Many a baby bird was nursed back to health with his assistance. And if the bird didn’t survive, he helped us with its burial. A rock on the seashore could occupy his observation at length. We learned the value of the written word at his side. His interests and abilities were limitless. He was our very own Renaissance man.

He loved puzzles and the patterns one needed to figure them out. Dad would have turned 92 on November 12. It’s unfortunate he didn’t reach that...he would have loved telling everyone about his birthday on 11-12-13!

We often called him ‘Mr. Fixit’ or ‘MacGyver’ because he could fix anything. And if he didn’t have what he needed to fix it, he’d make the part... or the tool.

He lived his faith and led by example. I never heard this gentle man utter an unkind word about anyone.

Dad shared many things with me over the years, but his greatest gift was his final one—he waited for me. I hadn’t seen my parents in six months and planned a surprise visit last month. Just days before my arrival his health declined rapidly. I spoke to him on the phone and told him I was coming to see them and he replied, “That’s good.” When I got to his bedside on September 25 he was very weak. I helped feed him supper and told him I loved him. He charmed me (once again) with a faint smile. And just a few hours later he slept away. Yes, he waited for me.

I know heaven is supposed to be perfect, but somehow I have this feeling Dad is going to be fixing something up there to make it even better. That’s just the kind of man he was!