Sunday, August 18, 2013

Thoughts about my dad - part one

So I woke up this morning thinking about the receiver/transmitter word from yesterday.  The first thought I had was that the concept of a "receiver and transmitter" is really very old-fashioned.  I mean who even really thinks about a radio or stereo any more?  I remember my brother having a "receiver" and speakers for his radio when I was very young.  I also remember him "transmitting" over his ham radio.  Now its all cell phones and satellites and cable TV.  What was really on my mind was my dad. I realized this morning, that Tuesday would be my dad's 100th birthday if he were alive.  All this thinking about electronics was certainly a part of the reason I have had him so much on my mind.  So, I have decided to share more about my dad over the next couple of days, in honor of his birth anniversary.  Every time I begin to tell my family stories on this blog, I stop and wonder if my versions of these stories would differ from my own siblings. The only thing I can do is tell the stories the way that I remember them and trust that in them, there is truth. 

(This is my dad, Harry A. Johnson, in 1931)

My dad was born on a farm in a small town near the intersection of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.  He was the 8th child.  I have already told a little bit of the story of his parents (see my blog post  "Modern Miracles").  He grew up working on the farm.  His siblings were quite a bit older than him, so some of them married and/or moved away from home when my dad was young.  He was especially close to his brother, Walfred, who was 20 years older than him. My dad was only 32 when his father died and Walfred was always like a father for him. I remember my dad talking about not being very happy on the farm.  He always told me that very early on, he knew that he did NOT want to be a farmer.  He wanted to go to school.  During high school he lived "in town" above a bakery and worked there to earn some money and go to school.  After his graduation he told his family that he wanted to go into "electronics".  Now my grandfather, still very tied to his Swedish ways, told my dad that he needed to stay at home and help on the farm.  He was sure that there was no future in these new fangled things like radios.  But my dad was determined to follow his own path.  I am sure that Jesus had a part in my dad applying for a job in Watertown, South Dakota, to be an appliance repairman.  My mom was a clerk in that Montgomery Ward store and remembers the day that she and her good friend saw the stranger come in to talk to the store manager.  She told me that he carried a bag that they thought looked like a doctors bag.  So they referred to him as "the doctor".   That bag held his tools and he was hired that day.  Wards would become my dad's home for his entire working career of 43 years.  The only time he wasn't working for them was during World War II.  And he met my mother that day.  Electronics were certainly my dad's life. One of my earliest memories was having a TV when we lived in South Dakota.  There was very limited programming and sometimes we could get a signal from somewhere and see a program.  But we had a TV!  We actually had a color TV in our house before there were any programs telecast in color.  I remember us all sitting around waiting for the NBC peacock to come on in color!  This was the early 1960's.  (We always joked that all we saw of the first color programs was my dad's backside because he would be hunched over adjusting the color settings in front of the television set.)  We had a "radar-range" oven also, before anyone had even heard of microwaves.  One of my favorite summer activities when I had "nothing to do" was to take the very large box of tubes and the big box tube tester.  I would sit for hours, finding the correct slot and plugging in those tubes.  Then flicking that switch and the tube would either light up or not.  Of course even the "bad" tubes were never thrown out.  My dad would always hang on to things "in case he needed them".  Nothing was "junk" to my dad. (When my siblings cleaned out the garage after my dad died, they all laughed when the only empty drawer on his tool bench was labled "junk".  Everything else was full!) These things were something that he knew that someday, he would use.  I am convinced that if my dad had been alive beyond 1985, he would have embraced the computer. He was always keeping up with whatever the new thing was in electronics and appliances.  I had a transistor radio in grade school and everyone in high school was jealous of my 45 record changer.  Yep, he knew about receivers and transmitters. 

What is so amazing to me about this part of my dad's story, is the strength and courage that he had to walk outside of what was expected of him.  He did not just go with the flow and stay on the farm.  He was willing to take risks and follow his heart.  What a blessing it is for me to remember these traits of my dad.  And it is such a blessing for me to see that these spiritual seeds have impacted my own children in so many ways.  I love that Yahweh uses everything to shape us and our lives.  I love that I can trust that the Holy Spirit will remind me of the ways that my ancestors were walking in their destiny.  And it gives me encouragement to step out and try new things.  To not be a "sitter" but to find ways to be a "transmitter". 

Thank you Yahweh for reminding me about my dad.  Thank you for allowing me to see and appreciate more deeply, the roots of my family.  Yahweh, it is so amazing to think about the ways that you have worked in and preserved my family.  Thank you for showing us all what we need.  Jesus, help us to continue to go deeper and to understand more clearly all that you are giving to us as your transmitters.   Amen

 PS -  I just had to attach my son Doug's graduation picture.  I can't get over how much he looks like my dad!   And watch in the next couple of days, for more of my dad's story!


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