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|Articles - Relationships|
|Written by Jeff Litfin|
Passing The Baton
My father was a hard-working, decent, and honorable man. He was a man of strong faith and he loved his family as well as the business he built from the ground up through many years of intense physical labor, sweat, and more than his fair share of tears.
My father’s tireless efforts to build his trucking and excavating business in order to provide for his family was perhaps surpassed only by his love of life itself and the desire to enjoy it to the fullest.
However, Dad’s love of life was cut short in 2005 after discovering an aggressive form of undifferentiated cancer in his throat. From the time of his diagnosis, it took only six weeks for the cancer to take his life. He was 74.
My dad took really good care of himself throughout his life. Sure, he could be accused of pouring too much gravy over his mashed potatoes, or using too much butter and salt on his corn on the cob, but who isn’t guilty of that?
He also danced a lot.
He loved old time music and therefore took advantage of every opportunity to go dancing with my mother at various polka music festivals that were held all over Minnesota and adjoining states. At one point, he and my mom were elected the “Prince” and “Princess” of the nationwide Polka Lovers Club of America (PO.L.K.ofA.). I guess you could say they were royalty after all—at least for a year!
When my Dad wasn’t working or dancing, he was volunteering somewhere…giving back to others and trying to make a difference in our small town. Dad probably never thought much about the impact he made on me and my siblings. And if he did, I’m sure he underestimated the profound affect his words, actions, and deeds had on those in his family, his community, and on others who knew him.
But he did impact me…in ways that continue to direct and define my life today…and I am grateful for that. He would always say, “Jeff, do a good job and the customer will call you back.” He constantly reminded us kids to eat everything on our plate, shut off the lights when leaving a room, put things back where they belong, and always say our prayers before going to bed.
And despite the many burdens of running a business, my father always seemed happy and content. He refused to let rough times break his spirit or get him down. Dad managed life’s challenges and hardships with faith, strength, and perseverance. Even after learning he had throat cancer, he just kept doing what he had always done—including marching in the Color Guard during our town’s Independence Day parade…just six days before he marched to heaven on July 10, 2005.
Traits Of Our Father
The Bible says in Proverbs 22:6 that a parent should “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Ephesians 6:4 states that fathers should raise their children in the “training and admonition of the Lord.”
Whether my dad, DeMarel “Sonny” Litfin, realized it or not, he did these things.
Now, as a 47-year-old father of three, I find myself emulating my father. Phrases which made me roll my eyes as a teenager, are now directed toward my own kids as I strive to instill in them the same sense of responsibility, wisdom, service, and faith that Dad schooled into us. I must admit though, I'm still working on getting them to appreciate old time "oompah-pah" music as much as I do....
The Bible has much to say about the importance of family and how children need to honor their parents. I can think of no better way to honor my father than to teach my children the same values and virtues that he taught me.
However, I was fortunate. I had someone in my life to follow and look up to, but that is not always the case. Many other individuals while growing up either did not have a Dad around…or perhaps the one they did have was distant, detached, or abusive in some way.
Even though our earthly fathers are not perfect…at least we have a heavenly Father Who is! And whether we realize it or not, God has been there every day of our lives…teaching, training, imparting, caring…and loving us more than we know.
ministry operations leader