Friday, June 17, 2011

Father's Day Honors

My Father Roger Stanley Olsen

In honor of Father's Day I want to share a letter I wrote to my mother, brothers and sister three years ago (2008) on what would have been our father’s seventy-third birthday. I wrote the original and then sent it to my family asking them to add their thoughts. They added their personal thoughts, and then I resent it out as the collection of our thoughts. It is something that we need to continue.

Today I read of a family that put letters to their father, with pictures, into a book to present to him on Father’s Day. The author shared what an emotional and meaningful present this was to the man.
This is what we need to do with our memories so we can share them with the generations to come. Our children really do not know their grandfathers as they both died unexpectedly and way too young, one age fifty-three, the other age sixty-three. We don't talk much about their grandfathers, as it is a very emotional topic.
To be diagnosed with Glioblastoma Cancer was a death sentence for our father. We had no idea what he would have to endure in the two-year process. The challenges of his brain surgery, chemotherapy, radiation treatments and months in nursing homes were very difficult. It was a very painful process for each member of the family and continues to this day. For me the challenge became even more personal when I was diagnosed with spinal fluid leaks from my ears a month after I wrote the letter, that resulted in two brain surgeries at the age of fifty three.
At the beginning of this two-year ordeal I had all of our family home movies transferred to video and made copies for each of us. More recently my sister had them transferred to DVD. These movies capture the many highlights of our family’s time together and our father enjoyed many hours watching them.

Roger Stanley Olsen in red cap

Born November 14, 1934 in Portland, Oregon
Death April 28, 1988 in Portland, Oregon
Parents: Carl Ivan Olsen and Zella Alice Straw
Brothers: Robert William Olsen and Wesley David Olsen 

Dear Family,

This is a tribute in honor of Dad's Birthday. It is not meant to stop with me. What I hope is that each of you will share a special remembrance of your time with him. After twenty years it might be hard to remember, but if you are like me these are things that I think about often.
It is hard to imagine that I am now past the age he was when he passed on. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have my life come to a close now. He accepted and met with courage a horrible fight for his life. I am proud of the dignity with which he endured this terrible ordeal. It truly was a blessing when the time finally came, but the two years of hell will forever leave a lasting impression on me. That is the only thing I can call having to know you are becoming incapacitated and no longer able to care for yourself.
My most treasured memory is when he was working on the bridge to cross the creek. He was replacing the steps so they would be safer, long after he would be gone. He put his heart and soul into everything he did. So much of what I am, I owe to him. I also remember his working out, shooting baskets for exercise and trying to improve his diet to make the most of his effort to fight the cancer.
The hardest day for me was the day Mom called and asked me to come help her with getting him to the hospital. He was lying on the floor and not very responsive. It took all we had to convince him that he needed to be seen by a doctor. That was a grueling day, with a diagnosis none of us wanted to hear.
What I try to focus on now, are all the wonderful times we had together. How much he loved his grandchildren and doing things for them. I am sorry that my younger children never knew him and feel that I should help them come to know him better. That is why I am turning this to each of you and when you send me your thoughts I will send them out again all together.
Attached are two pages of a write up he did for the pallet business. I had forgotten how many years he operated this business, but I know I was young when I went to work with him on Swan Island. He provided employment for many and was very conscientious about the business. Fred Meyer's did not know what a good thing they had and there were many times when he was not given the respect he deserved.
One thing important to me is that money was not what he focused on, but the bottom line was to live a good life, provide for his family and contribute to the community in his own humble way.
So now, help me fill in the pieces of his life with some thoughts about your time with Dad.
I added a few pictures. If you do not have the CD with about 1,000 pictures of our family until about the time I got married let me know and we will make you a copy.
With Love,

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