This is a picture of my Mom and Dad from long ago. I was reminiscing at the end of March 2007 as we traveled to Banff, Alberta to celebrate our Mother's 75th birthday. What could I give my mother? My words, I thought, so I wrote this piece.
These are the words that rest on my father's tombstone. October 17th, 2008 was forty years since an accident in a Potash mine took his life. Francis Lewis Yohnke was just 39.
On the night of October 16th, coming up on ten o'clock, my Mother (who always called him Francis) prepared what would be his last meal... bacon and eggs.
That week he worked night shift. He started at midnight.
Just after 2am, the group that Dad was supervising went for coffee. There was a machine that always had to be manned and he said, "It's okay. You guys all go and I'll work it."
The machine was tricky. It would move quickly, periodically and for one moment Dad made a mistake -- he didn't pay attention, and it struck him in the head; lodged in Dad's skull. With panic, the workers rushed and cut the base of the machine and transported it with him in the ambulance.
Mother was notified that there was an accident and to meet at the hospital. My oldest brother Ken, then sixteen, drove Mother, and my other brother Bob, then fourteen, stayed with me. Father died on route.
In the middle of this ordeal, a spokesperson for the hospital asked my mother if they could take one of my father's eyes -- that they had a person waiting for it. My mother replied, "Yes!"
Years later, in the late summer of 2006, I was at the Woodlawn Cemetery where my father's body rests. As I finished praying and stood, a man from behind me said, "How did you now, Frank?"
I quickly thought, knowing how only the family, and his friends and co-workers called him "Frank," that this man must have known him.
As I turned to face him, I replied, "He's my father."
This man, Frank Bazylak, as I would learn later, replied confidently, "I worked with your father for a short time - just over a year - but he made an impact on my life. He was so intense, so demanding and yet so giving."
You know, he wasn't meant to be there that day. But that was Frank," he said.
Almost four decades later and from a stranger, there in the cemetery, Frank Bazylak's words were surreal in a way. I'd heard wonderful stories from family and from friends, but this... after all of that time... and there... beautiful!
Jack Kornfield once wrote, "The trouble is that you think you have time."
Jay Conrad Levinson said, "It is certainly not money, as many people have been falsely led to believe. Instead, time is life. Time is opportunity. Each second of time is precious. The more you are aware of that, the more likely you'll be to never waste your time. Unlike other resources, it is non-renewable, available in limited quantities, and substitutes are not possible."
- Time is precious and we need to find our own voice and be original.
- No "Can'ts", "Buts" or "What Ifs."
- No small-minded thoughts.
- Challenge yourself.
- Don't place limits on yourself.
- Learn to have a thirst for knowledge.
- Live with passion.
- Live with integrity and be accountable.
- Place others before yourself.
- One person caring about another represents life's greatest value.
I know my father is resting easy, as he gave his best every day he was alive!
From the prayer of Saint Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!
Where there is hatred; let me so, love
Where there is injury; pardon
Where there is doubt; faith
Where there is despair; hope
Where there is darkness; light
Where there is sadness; joy
From St. Augustine
"O, Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; To be understood as to understand; To be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; It is in pardoning that we are pardoned; And it is in dying to ourselves that we are born to eternal life. Amen."
Copyright © 2007, 2008 Miles Patrick Yohnke
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Read additional offerings from Miles:
Living In Our Own Skin
Excess And Excuses: Lest We Forget
For Those About To Bike (We Salute You)
Change Your Darkness Into Light
A Joyful Life