After a very brief battle with cancer, my precious dad moved to his heavenly home on Saturday, August 1st at 3:18pm, with his family by his side. This is the letter I read to him when we celebrated his life on August 8th at Eastside Church in Park Rapids, MN. It only touches the surface of the memories and what he meant to me. May we all strive to leave a legacy like this.
Don Goodmanson August 20, 1943 – August 1, 2020
Well, you’ve had a few days now to get used to your new home. I’ve been told there are mansions, but I can hear you saying thanks, but you don’t need something so glorious. But what you would be jazzed about is a really cool fishing boat and a lake that actually has fish in it! Fact is, the Bible says we’ll be rewarded according to our works. And I’m quite sure your new fancy digs are part of the many rewards you are receiving.
I’ve gotta be honest. We are REALLY missing you here. Especially mom. Oh, we’ll be ok, but Dad, it really does hurt. We’ve all wondered how in the world people handle this grief without knowing Jesus. Because He truly is our strength.
Today I took a Kayak out on the lake. It was a good time to reflect – of course my thoughts all turned towards you. I thought about how much I have always loved being told how much I look like you. You’re absence has left a huge hole, but I am so thankful for the countless memories we have to fill that hole. Our memories, and those of others too. One thing we have enjoyed so much is hearing from everyone we talk to (and I mean everyone), how you touched their lives. Even your mail lady! The stories bring tears, but we love hearing them nonetheless.
I thought back to when I was a little girl and you worked for the school – I think it was Edina. You came home from work around 5 o’clock. I remember looking out the window most days, waiting expectantly to see your car turn the corner and drive up to the house. I would run to the door to meet you, and even after a long day of work, we’d play. You liked us to walk on your back (though I later learned what you really liked was the relief when we got off your back!). You would lay on the floor while we stood on your hands and you’d lift us up tall.
I remember, even before any of us fully knew Jesus as Savior, praying before we ate our dinner each evening, and before we went to sleep at night.
Do you remember the time you spent an entire night walking through fields in a sub-zero Minnesota winter trying to find my horse, Lucky? We found him at sunrise, then had to walk him even more, so he didn’t get colic.
Remember when you and mom took my dog, Joey, to the vet – once because he had heartworm, and once because he’d been shot with buckshot? Because you all knew what he meant to me, you made sacrifices to help him get well.
And what about the time my best friend, Nadette, came up to the lake with a cast on her broken leg and we wanted to tube? You figured out how to protect her cast (sort of) with a garbage bag and took us tubing together.
Then there was the time you visited us in Niger. I remember when you and I were walking through the market in one of the hottest and most undeveloped places on the earth. You said to me, ‘Danette, I would have never imagined you living in a place like this. I’m so proud of you.’ Then you bought a pair of flip-flops.
I know lots of singing goes on in heaven. Lots of worship. It makes me wonder if our ‘voice’ lessons finally paid off. Remember when you and I sat at the organ, and I tried to teach you to sing? It didn’t work. However, I have a sneaky suspicion that you’re hanging with the best of them up there now.
Memories – I could go on and on. And sacrifices…well I’m sure there are many I never knew about. And now as a parent and a grandparent, I understand that. But dad, you made them with joy. And without a second thought. Because that’s who you are.
This last week spent with our family has truly been a gift. And I know you loved every second of it. I can assure you that mom and each one of your children, your grandchildren and your great grandchildren treasure the moments with you. They were so special. In spite of a weakened body, your joy and silly humor shone through – all the way to the end. One of the things I want to ask you when I get there is what you saw just hours before leaving us. Marcia, Brian and I were singing to you and suddenly you pointed up and started smiling and laughing out loud. You’re whole face lit up. What did you see?
I’m guessing you saw Jesus. And dad, because you saw Jesus and chose to follow Him so many years ago, I am following Him. Yes, I had to make a choice to follow Him, but you and mom led me there. I clearly remember the day I made that choice. I was 7 years old. We went to church, and I went to children’s church. That day in December, 1972 I responded to the invitation to follow Jesus and I remember walking to the front of the church. I then remember coming home and sitting on your lap and telling you I had a secret. “I asked Jesus in my heart today”, was my big secret. You were so happy for me.
But Dad, your legacy is no secret. I can’t fully express your impact on my life. And there is really no way , this side of heaven, to measure the impact you have had on countless other lives. (But Jesus knows, thus your rewards and awesome fishing boat). The friends you have in this community are pretty incredible. But none of them can stop talking about what both you and mom have meant to them.
So you have gone to join the great crowd of witnesses. I know you’re cheering us on while you keep heavens gates and lawn in tip top shape. I can’t promise no tears on our end, but I can promise that I will continue to run the race that is set before me with perseverance. And I will fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.
Dad, thank you for the legacy. It will continue til Jesus returns. You are loved beyond words and missed beyond measure.
Your favorite daughter, 😉