This is a picture of my Mom and Dad from long ago. I was reminiscing at the end of March 2007 as we traveled to Banff, Alberta to celebrate our Mother's 75th birthday. What could I give my mother? My words, I thought, so I wrote this piece.
Oct 17, 1968 saw the tragic event in one human life; it changed the lives of many. Francis Lewis Yohnke died. Bridget Yohnke's life had changed; she was just 36. She had just lost her best friend, her love, her husband.
A lot of people at this time would fall into self-destruction, self-pity, and self-loathing, but she didn't! She was strong! She would devote her life to her three sons.
She would instill love, passion, confidence, kindness, a desire for life, and to place others before themselves. She gave her sons these values to take on the world and to make a difference. She broke the cycle.
Her father was an alcoholic and the family struggled to find itself. Where she found her strength we don't really know.
Because of her life, she would not just shape the lives of her sons, but their children. They too have sinced carved out a niche in the world and are making a great difference in it.
So today and always, we celebrate her life because she changed the life of many, including perhaps most importantly, her own children.
Thank you, Mother.
Your Loving Son,
For my father: Francis Lewis Yohnke (April 12th 1929 - October 17th 1968)
These are the words that rest on my father's tombstone. October 17th, 2008 was forty years since an accident in a Potash mine took his life. Francis Lewis Yohnke was just 39.
On the night of October 16th, coming up on ten o'clock, my Mother (who always called him Francis) prepared what would be his last meal... bacon and eggs.
That week he worked night shift. He started at midnight.
Just after 2am, the group that Dad was supervising went for coffee. There was a machine that always had to be manned and he said, "It's okay. You guys all go and I'll work it."
The machine was tricky. It would move quickly, periodically and for one moment Dad made a mistake -- he didn't pay attention, and it struck him in the head; lodged in Dad's skull. With panic, the workers rushed and cut the base of the machine and transported it with him in the ambulance.
Mother was notified that there was an accident and to meet at the hospital. My oldest brother Ken, then sixteen, drove Mother, and my other brother Bob, then fourteen, stayed with me. Father died on route.
In the middle of this ordeal, a spokesperson for the hospital asked my mother if they could take one of my father's eyes -- that they had a person waiting for it. My mother replied, "Yes!"
Years later, in the late summer of 2006, I was at the Woodlawn Cemetery where my father's body rests. As I finished praying and stood, a man from behind me said, "How did you now, Frank?"
I quickly thought, knowing how only the family, and his friends and co-workers called him "Frank," that this man must have known him.
As I turned to face him, I replied, "He's my father."
This man, Frank Bazylak, as I would learn later, replied confidently, "I worked with your father for a short time - just over a year - but he made an impact on my life. He was so intense, so demanding and yet so giving."
You know, he wasn't meant to be there that day. But that was Frank," he said.
Almost four decades later and from a stranger, there in the cemetery, Frank Bazylak's words were surreal in a way. I'd heard wonderful stories from family and from friends, but this... after all of that time... and there... beautiful!
Jack Kornfield once wrote, "The trouble is that you think you have time."
Jay Conrad Levinson said, "It is certainly not money, as many people have been falsely led to believe. Instead, time is life. Time is opportunity. Each second of time is precious. The more you are aware of that, the more likely you'll be to never waste your time. Unlike other resources, it is non-renewable, available in limited quantities, and substitutes are not possible."
Some things I've learned from my father's life and passing:
Time is precious and we need to find our own voice and be original.
No "Can'ts", "Buts" or "What Ifs."
No small-minded thoughts.
Don't place limits on yourself.
Learn to have a thirst for knowledge.
Live with passion.
Live with integrity and be accountable.
Place others before yourself.
One person caring about another represents life's greatest value.
Father's favorite hockey team was the Detroit Red Wings. His favorite player was Gordie Howe. Howe once said, "I know if I give 100% of my best, I can rest easy."
I know my father is resting easy, as he gave his best every day he was alive!
From the prayer of Saint Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!
Where there is hatred; let me so, love
Where there is injury; pardon
Where there is doubt; faith
Where there is despair; hope
Where there is darkness; light
Where there is sadness; joy
Globally recognized and award-nominated engineer, producer, writer, poet and founder and C.E.O. of 5 Star Productions, Miles Patrick Yohnke brings many years of experience to the music industry; including many awards in sales and marketing.
If you are looking at developing your career, Yohnke offers consulting in person, by phone or via email.
For more info, please contact him directly at: 306.227.6379
To Contact, Comment or Connect with the Writer: Email Miles