Ten years ago today, my Dad, Dick Chanski got a visit from a swift chariot that swept him quickly to his heavenly home. He was 71 years old. We miss him. But we know that to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Right now, I’m just outside of Comerica Park in Detroit. My three sons, Calvin, Austin, Nate, and I have just watched the Tigers play the Twins – in the tradition of my dad taking his sons – Greg, Dave, Mark, and Chris to Tiger games over the years.
One thing different in this generation though – we don’t leave early in order to beat the traffic! I still remember the time Dad led us out in the top of the ninth because the Tigers were down by a couple. Outside the stadium, we heard a thunder roar cheer. We ran back inside the Tiger Stadium centerfield bleachers see Eddie Brinkman touching the plate after a multiple run homer! Tigers won. We got an unforgettable Dad story.
Dad was “only a dad, but the best of men”. He was the best!
He had his sayings:
“Step into my office,” he’d say when he had some priceless advice to give, which was quite often, though he had no office.
“God draws straight with crooked lines,” he’d say referring to God’s causing all things (even tragic things) to work for good.
“Enter, rejoice, and come in,” he’d sing to a visitor to our home, quoting a song he used to sing in the Catholic church. He’d still whistle the Notre Dame fight song while cleaning up after a Sunday afternoon fellowship dinner at the Reformed Baptist Church of Holland. And I’d think, “What are we gonna do with that guy?”
“Write down on a piece of paper who you’d rather be,” he said to me when I woke up at age 16 from my ankle surgery to the surgeon’s telling me I couldn’t run for a year, and would have to miss both the basketball and baseball season.
“Hey, John, when’s the baby due?” he said to a young friend who had carelessly put on some unnecessary beer-belly pounds.
“Lady, you can’t get there from here,” he once sweetly said to a woman who had stopped to ask him for directions, but then actually argued and couldn’t seem to grasp what Dad was trying to tell her.
“Hey Superstar,” he’d say to me, just to encouragingly convey that he thought I was something pretty special.
“This is a humbling game,” he’d say when I’d hit a golf ball into the water hazard.
“You can’t do that anymore! You’re married and have kids now!” he’d say to his older sons who would dive to make a circus softball catch, or slide head first into second base.
“Good job!” he’d say with a nod and a tightened lower lip when we did something worthy of commendation.
Whenever I reach for an apple, I think of which one my dad would choose – the most bruised one. That’s the kind of a man he was. He esteemed his loved ones far above himself. He didn’t matter. We did.
He spent himself for us. Whenever any of us needed help or aid or assistance, he’d show up. Not long before he died, Dianne, my wife, purchased a bedroom set for our daughter Abigail. Dad showed up with his tools to put the bed together, making sure everything was all set for his Lady Di and Abbie-girl.
Austin, my son, said it best when we all sat around after the funeral a decade ago, reminiscing about Dad and Papa: “He was always there!”
That’s it! And now we miss Him. But thanks be to God for the blessing he was and still is.
My Dad was a mighty man of God who held his integrity to the end. He finished very, very, well. He is my hero. I want to be like him. I want my sons and daughter to think of me someday, as I think of him today.
Calvin is driving. We’re near Lansing now. Tigers lost tonight. But that’s okay. Dad was there.