I would like to apologize now. I am probably about to say something that will make my family cringe.
Not that I have anything planned that I believe is offensive, but if I inherited one thing from my dad, it is the fact that he constantly said things in public that would cause the rest of the family to look on in horror, and say, "Bob...you can't say that!"
My dad was not one that gave a care when he felt something needed to be said.
He had no politically correct meter whatsoever.
To the point that I always said, if we ever got our own Grumpy Bob TV show, we would be immediately canceled, if he got to speak, at all.
Some saw that as a flaw. Some saw that as an amazing quality.
I simply looked on in awe when he would tell a customer that their lawnmower or their trade was crap, and they need to go home and take a shower because they smell like it too....and the customers would laugh.
I mean, not all...but most.
My dad never once did anything out of hate or to be mean. He had a heart for just about everyone.
We have sat with many of our customers at dinner tables. He bought people vehicles, paid their bills, fixed lawnmowers for free, gave stuff away, and generally helped people in anyway he could. Many times to his hurt.
He was a pretty simple straight forward person that valued efficiency. He wore velcro shoes, and the few shirts and pants he owned. He couldn't have cared less about fashion. If a shirt had a minion or a funny saying that was long over used...he thought he was dressed up!
I remember when the pastor from the church I grew up in told me time and time again that my dad was abusive and I should get away from him and not follow in his footsteps. That pastor was ultimately wrong. I do not speak about that out of upset, but to help with understanding.
Though, I did spend many years in frustration and turmoil because of my dad being what I believed was an unbridled ass, I am glad I stuck by his side, knowing he loved me deeply, and that something wasn't adding up. Eventually I learned about autism.
As with most of my family, my dad was on the spectrum, and was never taught the tools of how to deal with others or be dealt with.
All I knew was that we could be in a screaming match that would rock the house, and 2 seconds later be on our way to get a jack in the box taco and a cappuccino from QT.
When I began to understand both mine and my father's past traumas, and spectrumness, and how our brains are wired differently than other people's...it did not cause me let him get away with the things that frustrated me or let him break boundaries, but better equipped me in how to deal with it, and realize it was not just him being an angry old man that didn't care about me.
Growing up my dad taught me how to make my first dollar, how to invest, how to buy and sell, how to work when you don't want to, to not expect or demand anything from anyone other than yourself. To never be entitled, because no one owes you anything. To buy when you can buy, and sell when you can sell. How to be loyal to a fault, and invest everything you are into others.
My dad had 11 brothers and sisters, that I never knew much about other than I was named after his brother Ray, his sister Alice was my God-mother, Kathleen's house was boring for a kid to play at, his brother Francis always had a beer in his hand and told me my nipples looked like warts when I was 5 (which stuck with me), and a couple of his sisters are friends with my sister. Though I did not know much, it was absolutely clear he thought about them with great fondness.
As a child, I watched my dad deal with a lot of heartache due to other people's actions. I saw the contrast in the principles active in him and our own family, and I could not even wrap my head around how anyone could selfishly act against others, but he loved beyond it.
In fact, I watched my dad all my life, love people that did not deserve it. From customers that stole from him, to pastor's and friends that took advantage of him....Sure he got upset at their stupidity, and in many cases, let them know it...but he was never beyond continuing to set a place at the table for them, or giving when they were in need, and many times simply because he wanted to just bless them.
People often wonder why I continue setting a plate at the dinner table of my life, for those that have hurt me time and time again....it's because I saw my dad do it.
As I mentioned above, my dad was not a saint. Growing up, there were many days I never wanted to have to go home, because he was so volatile, but again, as I learned who he was, where he came from, his wiring, and my own...I began to understand, not how to tip toe around him, but to boldly walk in the room, be who I am, and tame the Grump. There were times when it was like watching a dog that wanted to bite the person standing behind you, but knew he couldn't because you were there. My family even many times told me I had to go take care of it, and I knew I had to go calm him down by taking and holding his focus.
I could easily have written him off. Why should the son have to manage their father?
...Because sometimes life is just messy and requires us to be flexible with our expectations, and I saw through his limitations and wiring and understood his heart. I also realized early on that the things you hate about someone, tend to govern the things you love about them, and vice versa.
The same person that stood against anyone that he felt was out of place and came against our family, his work, and anything he loved....to a degree that he'd have no problem running customers off or telling someone they were wrong in a very non articulate way....he is also the dad that when, I was growing up on the farm, and our bull would even look at me wrong, he would walk up to it and command it to "get!" That bull, had a weird hatred for me. I never did anything to it, it just hated me.
One day my dad was up in a tree taking care of something, out in the pasture, and my 5 year old self started wandering a little too far away. I went to the edge of the hill and looked down. The bull looked up at me, and immediately started charging. I let out a scream and began running to my dad, thinking I was done for. My dad literally jumped out of the tree, ran to me, and got between me and bull, raised his hands, and yelled, "heyah, GET!"
I turned to see the bull do a full stop, look at me with so much disdain, look at my dad, turn around and walk away.
I remember one night my dad, knowing the cats food kept disappearing, looked out the window because he heard a noise, and saw a opossum eating out of the cat's dishes. He ran outside in his boxers, and chased that thing down our long farm driveway waving a broom or shovel at it.
There was a night at another house when my dad heard a noise outside, and saw someone that wasn't supposed to be there, and took off after them...and even got in his truck and chased them to their house, when they took off with the neighbor's weed eater and a few other things.
If he ever caught someone stealing or doing something wrong, he went after them. He had no throttle. Wrong was wrong, and he just jumped out of any "tree" he was in, and told any "bull" to "heyah! Get!"
How then does that same person set the table for those people he just stood against? Because despite what it may have looked like, he could see past people's faults. He believed the faults needed to be dealt with, but he also believed that if you have to knock someone's feet out from under them, you also have to be willing to stick around to offer a hand to get them back on their feet.
That many times comes with much cost, but sometimes it comes with much reward, and those times make it worth it and more than pay the debt from all the other times.
There are so many stories I could tell. Stories of laughter. Stories of pain. Stories of things he learned, and things he taught me. It would take much to long, and maybe it will be told in books yet written.
My dad in his earlier years did not always know how to say he loved us, but he was a provider and I learned that every one of his bruises, blisters, cuts, aches, and pains was him screaming he loved us.
When I was at the hospital, in those final moments, standing by the bedside where I knew my dad was about to pass.
...I knelt down and spent time looking at his hands and fingers. I remembered all the work, all the things he built, all the things he did.
All the lawnmowers he fixed. All the items he bought and sold. All the shelves he put in place. All the wood he chopped. All the floors he swept and waxed. All the trash cans he emptied. All the chairs he put in place. All the yards he cut. All the cattle managed. All the chickens he fed. All the fences he put up. All the tractors he rode. All the people he helped. All the hands he grabbed hold of to get people back on their feet. All the tables he set.
There really wasn't much he could not do. If it needed to be done, he just figured it out. And for most of it, he didn't have YouTube or the internet. He was just simply brilliant.
Those hands lifted up so many worlds, and held so many hearts. It's hard to imagine the world being able to continue spinning without his hands doing all that they did.
But if my dad has left an affect on any of you, the responsibility of his hands are now yours. That is how Bob lives on. Not just in remembering him, but in reaching forth our hands and, "getting back to work!"
Not for the sake of work, but because work still needs to be done. The fields still need plowed, planted, and harvested. It is now our job to not let the world feel the loss, but to step up and take his place, and carry on where he left off.
That is my plan.
Now...as far as death. I'm going to ramble for a minute, like I did with my dad, when we would go out together. Many times we would just enjoy the silence of each other's company, but when I needed to ramble, he sat and listened.
So in memory of that, here is my final ramble with my dad.
This has been very hard to accept your loss from this world. It has, however, been aching in me that we must stand different than the world, and not put the sting back into death.
Jesus offered eternal life, and you accepted it. That should make me happy.
I have confliction in me though, because we as a family also believe in taking dominion, and restoring the earth back to the garden state. We do not believe the return of Christ is to take us away, as some believe.
This is God's earth. This is our inheritance. Heaven will kiss earth, and the two shall be one.
But...I don't know how that's all going to take place, and this world feels so dark, cold, and out of control. If we change anything, will it even last?
What then is it that we do about it?
Work to usher in the reality of our belief "as in in heaven, so on earth?"
Should we simply do the work of the kingdom, helping to prepare and restore the earth, while we are here, but rejoice when our time is through and we can take a breather until that glorious day that the frequencies of heaven and earth align and the dimensions become one, again?
As Gary Demar once said, "It would be foolish to polish the brass on a sinking ship," when referencing to the ridiculous mindset of those embracing the rapture, and I am not one for bad investments. Our time here either has to amount to something, build towards something, mean something....or we should just stop attempting to plug holes by prolonging our lives, let the ship sink, and get to heaven already.
That brings up an interesting concept though...why do we fight death, if heaven is our home? Because it's not...but neither is earth. The two together are.
The fact of the matter is that Paul had joy in both. Whether he was hear doing the work of Christ, or present with Christ, he was where he wanted to be, because no matter where he was, he was in Christ.
Yet...this work of the kingdom is not about saving people from hell. Jesus never offered eternal damnation as an alternative to eternal life. That's not even mathematically sound. He simply offered eternal life. All else will pass away.
I don't know, dad, these is an equation I don't fully understand yet...but I do know that we have to be set apart, and if your death destroys me inside, then I am no better than a man without belief.
So though I am still going to miss you like crazy, I choose to accept joy. I will do the work I have been assigned, to help continue preparing this side of things, until I get to take a rest from this world, and change it up for a while where you are.
It's a good thing the joy of the Lord will be my strength, because I would much rather be where you are getting to do whatever you are doing, and I need that joy and the strength it brings, to stay focused on the work at hand and advancing the kingdom here, until then.
...and Pastor Jeremy, I know...but quantum science and time vs eternity and all that...
But anyway...thank you for praying for me, hoping for me, paving the way, building, and ushering in what is now my time to take charge of the Voegele name.
As I have recently stated, our family will be known for our God, and the love you showed me and invested in me, I will invest in my children. Though I regret that you never got to meet any biological children, I am glad you got to see and experience many of the visions I gave birth to, and thank you for helping me raise them. They bare our name, and I will continue to raise them to take care of and become a part of the next generation.
As I told mom the other day:
There are so many things to be thankful for.
...Including the fact that you are worth missing and that losing you hurts so much that sometimes I just don't want to "get back to work!"
I have been talking to Mandi about how this makes me think about all the sons that don't have a father to/worth grieving for, and that this pain is a result of such an incredible blessing.
I wish no one had to go through this, but if this is the cost of what I got to experience as a son, I want others to get to have a father worth mourning the loss of as well. My heart will remain steadfast on being a part of awakening the fathers.
...all of this, alongside the knowledge, that keeps us grounded, that we will see you again in the unbridled fullness of eternity, where you have already been set free.
Again...thank you for being my dad and giving it your all, to the very end. I accept your mantel.
And now, all the prayers for healing that went up and filled Bob's cup, I claim those investments...and I release them to everyone that is reading this, that needs healing.
Be healed. Hearts be healed.
I command the bulls in the lives of those reading, to "Get!"
Healing take your place