My Dad

by Melannie Svoboda SND on June 15, 2020

In honor of Father’s Day, I’m writing about my father. My Dad, John Svoboda, was born in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio. His parents, John and Anna, were immigrants from Bohemia. Their first child, a little girl, was stillborn. My Dad was born a year later, followed by five other children: Helen, Jim, Charlie, Alice, and Henry (Hank).

The family lived in St. Adalbert Parish on the city’s east side. They spoke only Bohemian at home. Dad said he learned English “on the streets” playing with the other kids. His first grade teacher was Sister Maron, a Sister of Notre Dame. Amazingly, she taught her first graders how to read and write in two languages: English and Czech.

Dad attended East Tech High School where he played nose tackle for the football team that won two senate championships. For a very short time, the Olympic track star, Jesse Owens, was on the team, before the track coach, seeing his incredible talent in track, yanked him off the football team lest he get injured.

Dad graduated in 1932 during the dark days of the Great Depression. Though he longed to go to college, that was impossible. His Dad, a carpenter, could find little work, so Dad had to help support the family of eight. Fortunately, he got a job in an auto parts store, working 60 hours a week for $12. As conditions worsened, his pay was cut to $9 a week. Dad dutifully handed his paycheck to his mother each week and she gave him 50 cents for himself.

Prohibition was repealed in 1933. The next year Carling Brewery Company opened and advertised for “young, tall, strong men” to work the assembly line. My Dad fit the bill. He was young—20; tall—6′ 4″, and strong—about 230 pounds worth. He worked at Carling’s 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, 364 days a year. Those first years, he got only Christmas off. When we asked Dad how he endured such a grueling schedule he said, “I considered myself lucky to have a job.” His paycheck was so big (about $75), no local bank could cash it. A kind (and honest!) neighbor who worked at the bank downtown, got it cashed for Grandma.

My Dad, looking unusually serious, on his wedding day, 1937.

In 1933 John began dating Millie Mach from St. Procop’s, a Bohemian parish on Cleveland’s West Side. John courted Mom via the streetcar that ran beneath the high level bridge spanning the Cuyahoga River. They were married in 1937. A year later they had their first child, Frankie, named after my mother’s father. Although the baby looked healthy, sadly he died 3 days later. For the wake, my Mom was still in the hospital. My Aunt Alice, a teenager at the time, remembered Dad sitting in their living room and receiving callers with the little white casket on his lap.

Within six years, Dad and Mom had four more children: Mary Ann, John, Paul, and Dolly—that’s me. (I always say, they saved the best till last!) Meanwhile, in 1941 Dad quit the brewery and began to work as an apprentice for Thompson Products in Euclid. Soon he became a highly skilled tool and die maker. Dad could fix just about anything—cars, washing machines, lawn mowers. If he couldn’t get the parts he needed, he made his own. During WWII, he helped make the machines that made the airplanes for the war.

In 1942 John realized a life-long dream. He and Mom bought a small farm in rural Willoughby Hills. They got an old farmhouse, a barn, a chicken coop, and 22 acres for $6,000. Within a year Dad bought a few white Embden geese and began experimenting with hatching eggs. Soon he had several hundred geese and the Golden Goose Farm was “hatched.” We raised geese for the ethnic neighborhoods of Cleveland. We also shipped live geese all over the country. Farmers in Mississippi even used our geese to weed their cotton fields. While running the farm with my Mom, Dad continued to work often 10 hours a day at Thompson.

It’s hard to capture my father in words. He and Mom were married for almost 66 years. He always teased her that he had signed the marriage license with a pencil, but we knew he had signed it with his life and love. As a father he was gentle, steady, and strong. He took delight in being a dad and, years later, a grandpa and great-grandpa. He made it easy for us kids to believe in the image of God as a father. He was an avid gardener, growing traditional crops like corn, beans, and tomatoes—as well as unusual things like figs, kiwi, and Carpathian walnuts. He was an expert when it came to mushrooms, knowing their names in Latin, English, and Czech.

Dad tended his orchard and vineyard, and enjoyed making wine and brewing beer. He had a passion for reading and love for classical music. Our house was filled with the strains of Beethoven’s Fifth, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Dvorak’s New World Symphony.

Dad was a man of deep but humble faith. Through some very rough times, he proved to be a man of profound personal integrity. At our large family gatherings, he was a tall reserved presence. Family and friends came to him seeking advice on gardening, building, and machinery as well as counsel for personal problems. He was truly a sage.

Dad was not perfect. He regretted working those long hours that kept him away when we were growing up. He also took a long time to make decisions—whether he was choosing a wife or buying a new radio or car. But all his shortcomings are overshadowed by his goodness and love.

The last month’s of Dad’s life were difficult for him and all of us. We watched helplessly as this once robust man diminished before our very eyes. Those last days, when I brought him Holy Communion at home, he mustered up the energy to pray the Our Father with Mom and me. Then he stretched out his large hands to receive the Sacred Bread that had sustained him his entire life, through times of darkness and light, turmoil and peace, pain and joy. On this Father’s Day, I thank God for my Dad—for the blessing of being loved by him and for the privilege of loving him in return.

(Top left): Dad courting Mom on the beach circa 1935. (Top right): One of my favorite candid pictures of Dad taken the same day as the first picture. He said his swimsuit cost him almost a week’s wages (about $8), adding, “I was trying to impress your mother.” (Middle right): Dad on the farm with Pauly, Johnny, Mary Ann, and Butch, our dog. I wasn’t born yet. (Bottom) Dad with his siblings at his surprise 70th birthday party 1984: (left to right) Charlie, Jim, Helen, Dad, Alice, and Hank.

Did anything stand out for you in this reflection?

Would you like to share something about your father with us today?

Happy Father’s Day to all you dear Dads out there!

Today I chose an old song by a very young Amy Grant called “Father’s Eyes.” I played this song for my Dad on his 70th birthday. I believe I inherited much of my basic attitude toward life from my father and my mother.

Please feel free to respond to today’s post below.

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas DeFreitas June 15, 2020 at 5:53 am

Sr Melannie, good morning! Good morning, all!

Sister, it was a joy to read about your dad. It was noteworthy that you mentioned the comfort-level that your family life and your relationship with your father allowed to you have with imagery of God as father. That spoke well to how loving a bond you had with your dad.

I got along well with my dad, especially in his later, mellower years. But I do contend with some memories. It was palpably healing when I wrote his eulogy two years ago, to recall the many graced and happy occasions where Dad was a helpful and steadying support. Even the comic disparities between us: it lightened the heart to recall them! (My dad, athlete, Marine, etc., was blessed with an only son who was as little like him as can be imagined! I shrunk from sports, wrote poetry, and to this day, am cripplingly diffident in the face of a crisis which Dad would have handled with aplomb.)

But to return for a moment to God as father: I do have, and have always had, trouble with the imagery. I have even begun my paternosters with the words, “Loving God, who art in heaven…” Parents can be mercurial and (frankly) maladjusted, and the idea that God could have anything in common with our parents in their brokenness is, of course, something which the mind instinctively rebuffs. Add to this, the awareness in recent years that God is not “gendered,” can be mother as well as father, and my problems with traditional language increase.

Pardon the prolixity, please. I’d like to wish all dads a happy Father’s Day, and a wonderful week to everyone reading. (My neck of the woods was blessed this past weekend with mellow and gentle weather, more characteristic of early October than of mid-June. Much to my delight!)

peace and light

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Melannie Svoboda SND June 15, 2020 at 2:56 pm

Dear Tom, Thank you for highlighting things like the “palpable healing” that came to you when you wrote your father’s eulogy… the “comic disparities” between you and your dad… and the reminder not restrict our image of God to only one thing–like father or mother or shepherd or whatever…all images of God are inadequate, but good ones can enrich our relationship with God. Thanks (as usual) for writing! Melannie

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Kim June 15, 2020 at 5:55 am

That was a beautiful tribute. You were blessed to have such a wonderful dad and role model. Happy Father’s Day

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Linda Marie June 15, 2020 at 5:59 am

I always look forward to reading your post Sr Melanie. You have a joyful spirit that is so present in your writings. I enjoyed meeting your father this morning and I look forward to spending time remembering my father throughout the week ahead.
Thank you

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John Hopkins June 15, 2020 at 6:03 am

Good morning, Sr. Melannie….
Good morning, all….

What an amazing father! What stands out about him? Just about everything! At 6′ 4″ and over two hundred pounds, he must have been a monster of a nose tackle! Then there was the one day off a year at the Carling’s Brewery. Wow! That must have taken enormous physical and mental stamina!

It seems to me your Dad was a man of work, but that work was for a greater purpose — his family. But he was also a man of creation — crops, mechanical parts, etc. — who fixed things. Is there anything better than that? His life was a beautiful prayer that just now has been put into words by a wonderful daughter.

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Melannie Svoboda SND June 15, 2020 at 3:02 pm

John, My Dad’s first job at Carlings was to remove 6 bottles of beer at a time from the conveyor belt that was bringing the bottles down after being capped. He had to grab 3 bottles at a time in each hand. It was monotonous work and strenuous work. He lost about 20 pounds his first couple of months on the job…. Thanks for responding, John! Melannie

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Denise June 15, 2020 at 7:13 am

Good Morning Sister Melannie,
I didn’t know my father very well. He was raised on the streets of Chicago, had no formal education, in fact learned to read so he could join the Army.
Family life was foreign for my father but we were never hungry or cold, as I am sure he was as a tyke. He suffered two years in a German prisoner of war camp during WWII and had lifelong health problems as a result.
While my father was an atheist, he kept it to himself and allowed my mother to raise and educate us as Catholics. He was a hard worker and made sure he passed the value of earning whatever you needed on to us kids. He was good to my mother and gave us an example of being respectful and responsible. He struggled with civilian life and longed for the simplicity of military discipline which had given him a home, career and a way of life.
This week I will remember the good in my father and offer prayers for all fathers who tried as mine did, to do the best they could given their circumstances. It’s a lesson that serves me well today.
Happy Fathers Day

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Melannie Svoboda SND June 15, 2020 at 3:05 pm

Dear Denise, Your tribute to your dad is beautiful. As kids, we never realized what the experience of war had on our fathers/mothers. And your father was a POW for two years! My goodness! Yes, as we grow older we learn to appreciate our parents’ struggles, their failings, and their goodness. Thank you for sharing your Dad with us! Melannie

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Kathleen Magiera June 15, 2020 at 7:23 am

What a beautiful description of your father Sr. Melannie!

My dad turns 87 years old tomorrow. I feel so blessed to still have him around. He is the strong silent type but when he laughs you can really hear it.

Kathleen

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Pete June 15, 2020 at 8:07 am

I had my dad for 22 years of my life. He passed away at age 46. I think of all the lifelong events that he missed. The birthings, the graduations, etc. But did he miss them? I’m sure he was watching from above. He was an amazing man. He could fix anything. Carpentry, plumbing, you name it. He had a dark side but his bright side more than made up for it. Thank you Sister for the tribute. Being a dad, grand-dad, great-grand-dad myself, I’ll never forget my dad, and what I have experienced in life that I share with him, in my thoughts.

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Melannie Svoboda SND June 15, 2020 at 3:08 pm

Dear Pete,
I’m so sorry you lost your dad at such a young age. Like you, I believe our deceased loved ones are still with us… It is a beautiful grace to know the “dark side” of another and yet to focus on the “bright side.” Thanks for your words! Melannie

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Esther Laczko June 15, 2020 at 8:29 am

Thank you for the note about your Dad and helping us to remember about our Dad. A wonderful, quiet Dad that worked hard to provide for us four children and over the course of the years fostered children with Mother. He opened his heart to everyone and would invite them for family gatherings and good times. We lived on the St. Clair River in Michigan
and Dad invited all to share in his home and the wonderful area. He has been gone many years. He left us with an open heart and true thanksgiving to the Lord for all He has done for us.

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Chris Keil June 15, 2020 at 9:29 am

This was lovely, while I know I’d met your dad, you’re mom is who I remember most ………… mostly because we worked together!
I’ve always known my dad as the most Christian person I ever met. He was a faithful Catholic, and was pretty much what Amy Grant said in her song. He was determined that we would all get a good Catholic education and was a lifelong fan and supporter of the Sisters of Notre Dame, whom he credits, (and I do too) with laying the foundation for my future educational endeavors. Every morning when I wake up and go through my listing of “thank you’s” to God, the one thing I always mention is the education I received that allows me to have a job to go to every morning, and even better, I job I love! Dad was usually pretty quiet, had a funny, dry sense of humor and never had an unkind word for anyone. He was always very generous, but it’s not like we had everything, but if someone needed something he was there with his presence, time, talent and/or treasure. I always wanted to be like my dad in those ways……………..and I keep striving for that goal.

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Melannie Svoboda SND June 15, 2020 at 3:11 pm

Dear Chris, I recall your father with great fondness. Thanks for reminding me of what a good and gentle man he was…I know he was always very generous to the Sister of Notre Dame! Melannie… PS to my readers: Chris was one of my high school students (quite a few years ago) at Notre Dame Academy (now Notre Dame Cathedral Latin). She’s a gem!

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Elaine Snyder June 15, 2020 at 9:46 am

Thank you so much for sharing about your father. What an amazing man who accomplished so many things in his life! He and your mother raised wonderful children, and I am grateful for you and your gifts and your ministry.

My father was one of the finest men I have ever known. A devout Christian man who was revered by those in our community, a small town in northern Indiana. He was active in church, a respected educator, the father of four children, including me as the only girl. His sudden death in 1991 was a huge challenge for me, but I feel his presence so often. We can be tremendously grateful to have had fathers like these fine men!

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nita compagnone June 15, 2020 at 10:05 am

Hi Sister Melannie
What a beautiful account of your dad and family life. He and your mom surely knew what hard work entailed. I especially love the old family photos. My dad (gone for 10 yrs now) exhibited many of the same qualities. God bless you for this lovely tribute to your dad and all you do for us!

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Carol June 15, 2020 at 10:30 am

I really enjoyed the pictures & summary of your father’s incredible life. You were truly blessed.
My dad was also my rock growing up but sadly was called home to be with God earlier than any of us wanted. He was only 63. My sister, Susan, & I always talked about how wonderful he was & how much he, as well as the two of us, missed out on throughout our lives. I was only 34 years old when he died.

The lasting legacy from my father was never wanting to disappoint him. Any time I was tempted to say or do something that was questionable, I imagined him there with me & asked myself, “Would my father be proud or disappointed in me?” My life was shaped by this wonderful man God entrusted me.

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Marlene Murphy June 15, 2020 at 10:34 am

I look forward on Monday mornings to read your articles. It’s a great start to my day, my week. I want to share a poem that my son wrote about his Dad that I treasure. His Dad, my husband , is now in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s.
Father’s Hands
I have my Father’s hands. I see them everyday
They’re short and fat, weathered by life.
They never go away

His hands were cast for labor,
No gift or shortcuts shared.
They’re shaped to build, form and frame
Never unprepared.

I see my father through those hands
The struggles, joy and pain
He asks for little, expects no less
His motive is my gain

My father’s hands have lost their past,
Foggy without direction,.
Thoughts are clouded and confused.
He grasps now for protection.

I have my Father’s hands,
I see them everyday,
I know his past.
I am his son,
He’s never gone away

Patrick Murphy

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Jean Canatsey June 15, 2020 at 11:39 am

What a lovely poem and tribute. He must have been a wonderful father to elicit such a a wonderful tribute from his son.

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Melannie Svoboda SND June 15, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Dear Marlene, Please tell your son, Pat, how much we enjoyed reading his poem. What a lovely tribute it is to his dad! We will keep your husband, you, and your family in special prayer as you live with the cross of Alzheimer’s… God bless you! Melannie

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Christina Riley June 15, 2020 at 10:35 am

Good morning Sister, your story brought tears to my eyes!!! My paternal grandfather came from Poland and settled in Brooklyn. NY. Other than never having farmed, his story closely parallels your dad’s story. I have no words to express my love and gratitude to these two humble men of God for the gifts they bestowed to us, their families. God bless you today and always!

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Micki Christian June 15, 2020 at 11:35 am

Such a joy to read your column today…you could have been writing about my dad, Jim McKinnon. He was a year older than your dad, struggled through the depression working on the railroad in Smiths Ferry,PA. Then a great job with Timken in Canton,Ohio would define his long career in the steel business. His two greatest regrets were not being able to afford to go to college, and not serving in WWII because he was in an essential job.
My folks married in 1939 raised 4 kids…we were a close family because dad’s job had us moving several times from Detroit to Chicago and back again…so home was our familiar place.
My dad was strict, loving, fiercely protective of his kids, crazy in love with my mom and he was never the same after she preceded him in death by 6 years. He raised us to be good Catholics and he died of a heart attack on his way to Mass in 2000.
I still hear his voice when I begin a project…”Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
Thank you for sharing…it brought up many of my own memories, and the blessing of knowing that my relationship with my Heavenly Father has been greatly influenced by my earthly father.
God bless all those who are without their dads this week, especially my boys.

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Linda June 15, 2020 at 11:51 am

Good morning sister Melanie!
Good morning to all!
Thank you for memories and pictures of your dad. A man who truly took care of his family.
I only had my dad for eight years. As the oldest of four children, I am the only one with memories of him. He had a lot of family and friends who let my siblings and I know, to this day, sixty-three years after his death, what a wonderful man he was
And how proud he would be of us. Mom was both parents to us and they have been together for three years. Happy Fathers Day!!

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Melannie Svoboda SND June 15, 2020 at 3:19 pm

Dear Linda, You lost your dad at age eight. I’m so sorry… Yet I believe God speaks through other people in our lives if we are denied a father. It sounds like God must have spoken to you through your dear Mom… Melannie

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Mary E Nolan June 15, 2020 at 12:03 pm

Esther,
Your comment about living on the St Clair River in Michigan brought a smile to my face. My uncle had a cottage on the river between Algonac and Marine City in the 40’s and 50’s. Many happy memories!
A truly wonderful tribute to your Dad. Our father’s gave us the love and care that helped us become who we we are and strive to be.
Happy Fathers Day to all.

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Jean Canatsey June 15, 2020 at 12:34 pm

Other than their physical size and appearance, our father’s could have been twins. My dad was born in 1915 of German descent. He was only 5ft 6in tall but people seemed to think of him as larger than life. He was the oldest son of the “ours” in a blended family of nine children. He was a devout Catholic that everyone went to for advice.
He too, could fix anything and even built our house. His parents were truck farmers in central Indiana and he was a farmer at heart. We lived in a small country town and always had a big garden. Every summer he grew something unique to our area so that we would have a better understanding of the world.
My parents also lost their first child. My Dad was a firm but loving parent to my sister and I. He instilled in us the desire for an good education and the belief that we could be anything we wanted our to be. I, too, obeyed my father because I didn’t want to disappoint him. Consequently, I always envisioned God as a “go to Daddy” whose arms and lap were always ready to enfold me. He accepted my husband as his own child.
Daddy dreamed of retiring early on the Christmas tree farm that he and my mother planted on 27 acres in the hills of the southern part of central Indiana. Alas, it was not meant to be. He died of cancer at the age of 56. Not only was he gone but so also were all of the wonderful annual family gatherings. I was 32 years old, pregnant with my seventh child and yet I felt like an orphan. My youngest two children never had a grandfather.
I love you, Daddy. Happy Father’s Day!

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Melannie Svoboda SND June 15, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Dear Jean, Thank you for sharing your father with us. Yes, I see many similarities to my father… And I know the feeling after our parents are gone: “feeling like an orphan.” Thanks again! Melannie

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marilyn woidat June 15, 2020 at 1:18 pm

Thank you for introducing us to John and sharing his story.
I was a Daddy’s girl and proud of my father who came to the USA, a
brave 19 year old, trained carpenter. He left Germany and went to
his uncle’s home in Minnesota.
Uncle Ed had 3 school teacher daughters just a bit older than my
father and they taught him English and he was fluent in speaking
and writing it.
He taught us not to judge others by color of skin, or any other
physical feature or temporal things. I recently wrote to my ll
grandchildren about my life experience in racial experiences.
He died April of 1982, the day I returned from Germany after
visiting his family and seeing his village. We never had the dis-
cussion I so looked forward to having with him.
Marilyn “Schatzie, his nickname from him”

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Melannie Svoboda SND June 15, 2020 at 3:24 pm

Dear Marilyn, I was impressed with your Dad’s courage… and his teaching you “not to judge others by the color of their skin or any other physical feature.” These lessons we all certainly need today… Take care, Schatzie… Melannie

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Ann June 16, 2020 at 9:42 am

Dear Sr Melannie,
Your reflection about your Dad evoked many memories for me. Since I was the first child in our Family of 6, I experienced the
Strict German side of Dad! He mellowed a lot by the time The 6th child was born!
I always appreciated that he worked hard and loved us in his own way.
My regret is that I did not get to say “Goodbye” to him . He died suddenly of a heart attack the day after Mother’s Day, 1983. I had called on Mother’sDay but Mom and Dad were out for a walk…..instead I have had conversations with him on the Heaven phoneline…
I was 35 when he died. Mom was never the Same After his death.
Thank you So much for all of your thought-provoking inspiration. So uplifting in this confused world of ours!
Again, I hope you come back to Siena Center in Racine WI
Love and Many Blessings, Ann

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LindaMary June 15, 2020 at 1:38 pm

My father died in an industrial accident when I was 5 years old. I missed him all my life. I love to look at the old photographs of him holding his children..he was never looking at the camera..only at us.
Children need good mothers…and fathers!

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Carol Dikovitsky June 15, 2020 at 1:49 pm

Such a beautiful reflection, Melannie. Reminded me so much of our fathers in the “Greatest Generation.” No matter what hardships they faced, they always displayed such courage and wisdom.

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Sister Patricia June 15, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Melanie, I loved reading about your dad. I began to ponder my own memories of my father. These come from my own personal experience and “Dad” stories shared with me over the years!

Dad spent 42 years in the Navy. He fought in World War II. When my mother learned that his ship was torpedoed and he was missing, she was told to presume that he was dead. Mom believed that her two girls – one 9 years old and the other 9 months would never know the love of their father. But…God had other plans! To everyone’s surprise, he returned home, and we grew up witnessing the unconditional love he had for his family and all others who crossed his path.

When my mom was afflicted with Alzheimer’s and Dad was suffering with debilitating arthritis, God had plans beyond our understanding. As the Alzheimer’s progressed, Mom needed 24 hour nursing care. Dad believed that he could bring Mom home if he had orthopedic surgery.

A week before his surgery Dad wanted to visit Mom. At this time Mom showed no recognition of anyone. I told Dad “Try not to be too disappointed if Mom sat quietly in her wheel chair staring in space.

When I wheeled Mom into the visiting room, she reached out her arms to Dad and called out his name! She kissed him and held his hand. God’s miracle brought tears to our eyes.

God had other plans for Dad. A week later, God took Dad to heaven! His farewell with us will last for years to come.

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Regina Hlavac June 15, 2020 at 3:36 pm

Loved to read about your dear Dad. I can say the same for my dear Dad. We are Czechoslovakian as well. So many similarities that you mentioned above i can relate to…ty for sharing.
Sr. Regina Hlavac, Daughter of Charity
Baltimore, MD

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Betty Valent June 15, 2020 at 8:50 pm

Thank you for sharing the wonderful story about your father and family.

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Lori Telesz June 15, 2020 at 9:36 pm

I never get tired of reading about Grandpa. He was an amazing person. Would love to have conversations with him more in my adult life. We all learned so much from his knowledge of almost anything. This is beautiful, Aunt Dolly. Thank you for keeping the history and memories alive.

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Melannie Svoboda SND June 16, 2020 at 8:50 am

Always good hearing from a relative–especially a beautiful niece like you, Lori! Yes, Grandpa knew so much about so many things–and he never had a computer! A.D.

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Kathy Hassink June 15, 2020 at 11:08 pm

Dear Cousin –
What a great reflection on your dad and it flooded me with emotion as I remembered all of our old family gatherings. Your mom and dad were my godparents and I’ll always have a special place in my heart for them. I’m sure they are smiling down from heaven on you and your family.
Love – Kathy

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Melannie Svoboda SND June 16, 2020 at 8:52 am

Hi Cuz… Your parents (my Aunt Helen and Uncle Marty) were MY godparents. How lucky we were to have such good parents! Dolly

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Tom June 16, 2020 at 1:03 pm

Wow! Thanks for filling in the details of your father’s life. My memory of him was seeing him operating the huge bending machine at the shop in Chardon, long after was retired. Also the advice your brother offered me, which he attributed to his dad: If there is a problem which may impact one hundred people, you have a choice: try to solve it for all of them or let each one figure out their own solution. Two wise and wonderful men.

I had the blessing of my father, Clarence, until he was 94. What I appreciated most was his willingness to let go when he knew it was time: of my mom fifteen years earlier, of driving when his sight failed, of living independently, of our selling the family home and, at the end, life itself.

No accolade is cherished more by me than: “You remind me of your father.”

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Charlene June 18, 2020 at 5:28 pm

Dear Sr. Melannie,
Tears came quickly as I listened to the song about father’s eyes, such beautiful words. Thank you for sharing your dad’s story, …and blessed was he to have his daughter take the vow of marriage to our Beloved Jesus. Dads’ have such a vitally important part of children’s lives; thus, what we are seeing missing in our country today, a loving figure of authority to teach, guide and keep us safe. We are blessed when we have strong dads as our role models. P.S. I worked as a temp secretary for the Head Brew Master at Carlings, in my college years!

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Mary Therese June 22, 2020 at 10:29 am

Somehow I lost your post last week, and assumed you were on retreat. I’m so happy to find it today as your new blog arrived in my inbox this morning. I have a lump in my throat reading about your father. Simply beautiful. Thanks for sharing the pictures too! What a darling couple your mom and dad are in that beach photo! Who would know at the moment that picture what would lie ahead for them in life! I also enjoyed the many engaging and beautiful responses to your post from your readers as well! Thank you again.

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Barb June 23, 2020 at 9:52 pm

Sr. Melannie…your story of you Dad reminds me so much of my own! His grandfather came over from Bohemia..they settled in Nebraska. My grandfather then came to SD where my father was born. Looking at the pictures of your dad and his siblings…they could have been my dad’s!!

He too was a hard worker…owned a dry cleaning business with his brother. He had a wonderful sense of humor and even though we weren’t a family of hugs, we knew we were loved.

I miss him dearly! What a blessing a father is to a family. May God our father provide for our fathers who are missing from so many families today. Blessings…I love your meditations! Barb

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