by Kathy Cannon Wiechman
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I was on my way home from kindergarten when I spotted something white and made of wood, sticking out of a neighbor’s trash can. I pulled it out to find a broken knickknack shelf.
I dragged it home. “Look what I found, Daddy!”
Dad could have said, “It’s trash, Kathy. Put it back where you found it.” But he didn’t. He repaired it, gave it a fresh coat of white paint, and hung it in my room.
The knickknacks have changed over the course of five decades, while it hung on walls in my different houses and apartments. It has been repainted and repaired again. It hung in my daughters’ room for awhile, and now it hangs in my office above the desk where I write each day. It reminds me of the man who turned trash into just-one-more reason to treasure him.
I share this story with you today because May 16th marks 20 years since my dad died, and I still miss him every day.
Twenty years ago, my family asked if I would write a poem to be read at his funeral.
“I’ll write it,” I said, “but I won’t read it.” I didn’t think crying and blubbering and reading garbled words was the right way to honor my father. So my daughter read it.
As a father and grandpa, you’ve given much more
Than your love and your welcome concern.
For they say that we learn by examples we see,
And you’ve given us plenty to learn.
We have grown up observing a man who could care
While he taught us the right from the wrong.
We have learned by your love and devotion to God
And we’ve witnessed your faith ever strong.
You have had to endure lots of problems with us
From the big ones to some very small,
But you showed us that hard work when tempered with love
Makes us able to get through them all.
It was plain you were tender and knew it’s OK
To let sentimentality show.
You have taught us to honor tradition and roots
And you still have allowed us to grow.
We watched your good examples, but if we would choose,
Second only to God up above,
The example we’ve taken the most to our hearts:
The importance of family love.
We will need all that love just to give us the strength
To get through the days you’re not there.
We’ll continue to pray for each other and trust
That our Dad is in God’s loving care.
It’s been twenty years since Kelly read those words at Dad’s funeral. Just listening, I cried and blubbered. Today, tears fall on my keyboard as I still miss the man who made laugh-out-loud jokes about his bald head, the man who walked me down the aisle at my wedding, the man who babysat his grandkids so I could attend church, the man who turned trash into treasure.