• The Difference of One Life

My dad, Bob, is a simple guy. He finshed high school and then went into the Army and was part of the occupation of Germany after the Second World War. When he left the Army, he came back to Wisconsin and found a job working in a factory. Bob met my mom when they were both 45 and they dated for two years. When they got married, it was Bob’s first marriage. Not only did he marry Mom, but he also married four kids and mother-in-law and a dog. That’s a lot of love.They spent the next 22 yeares together. Bob became our dad. Of course, all the kids got married and Mom and Bob were delighted to have grandchildren.

When my mom was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehring’s Disease) we were devastated. Never once did Bob falter in his love and caring for my mom. He was at her side the moment she died, as were my sister and I. In the ten years since Mom’s death, Bob has remained our “Dad” and “Grandpa” and has seen the great- grandchild my mom never saw.

So when my sister said we should give him a surprise party for this 80th birthday, how could we say no? Thus began seven months of planning and secrecy to match the D- day Invasion. On the day of the party, ironically June 6th, he still had no idea. The day was cold and rainy, but that didn’t spoil anything. Sixty people came to the party. Now it is true that Bob is related to half of Waukesha and Jeffereson Counties, but his grandchildren and great-grandchildren came from Texas and Colorado. Army buddies came from Ilinois and Texas. My aunt’s children came from Illinois and Ohio. His brothers, nieces, nephews and their families came. I saw people I hadn’t seen for years. It was an incredible event and he was totally surprised. The look on his face was priceless.

When I talked to him yesterday, he said he still couldn’t believe it, that all those people came to his party. And those who couldn’t attend sent cards to him. All for a simple, hard-working man who touched many lives.

Not all of us will be famous or rich. But never underestimate the impact you have on the people around you. You make a difference just by being the person you are. And you are loved for it.

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