Friday, December 16, 2005

One in a mIllion

I have a terrible memory. To keep myself reasonably organized, on time for appointments, and to remember important dates, I use computer software. As long as I am near my computer, chances are I won't forget anything important. This morning, I was greeted by this message: Julius Pedde died 1998 @ 3:12PM.

Julius Pedde was my father. In the picture above, he is shown with his four brothers, sometime in the 1930s.
  • Left to right, back: Eduard, Adolf, Otto.
  • Left to right, front: Gustav, Julius.
My father was 94 years old when he died. His brother Eduard is still alive and going strong. He will be 96 this New Year's Eve, December 31, 2005. Gustav disappeared during the second world war and no-one ever saw him again. Adolf and Otto lived to respectable ages. I got to see them both when I visited Germany in 1992.

My father had no formal education to speak of. He spent one winter in a Mennonite school in Siberia when he was 7 or 8 years old and that was it. He taught himself how to read German using the family bible. I don't think a day passed in his life where he didn't read at least five chapters in a German bible. He was fluent in German, Russian and Polish. He taught himself basic arithmetic and was proud to be elected treasurer of the 'Sterbekasse' in the German church we attended in Port Colborne, Ontario in the 1950s. A Sterbekasse is a system where members pay into a fund every time another member dies, a sort of informal insurance system to help defray burial expenses and help surviving family members.

I think of my father often. He was a man of great patience. I'm not. He was content to live his life without having any far-reaching goals and objectives. I'm not. I'm afraid that my impatient nature and my drive to accomplish come from my mother. What I hope I got from my father was his sense of fairness and his understanding of what was important and what was trivial. He taught his children, by example, that having 'class' was independent of wealth and education. He measured people by how they behaved, not by their social status, title, or bank account. Although he might choose not to willingly associate with people that didn't measure up to his standards, he didn't otherwise pass judgment on or denigrate them. Judging others, in his opinion, was God's responsibility.

I don't know if there is a God. I just know that if He exists, my father will be close by somewhere, accorded the peace and tranquillity he so richly deserved in life, but often did without so he could properly care for his family.

My father was truly one in a million.

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