Early Wednesday morning, Homer Paulson--my dad, my hero, my encourager, my laughing buddy, my Mr. Fixit, and my model for faith and conservative living--died at the age of 93.
Dad didn't take a lot of time to tell us how to live. Instead he lived, and let us watch him do it. He seized life and let people know he was enjoying the ride whether he was working, playing cards, engaging in one of his many hobbies, traveling the world, watching sports, or making a difference for his faith or family. And through it all, he had fun. It's hard to remember a time he didn't have a smile on his face and a spark in his eyes.
Growing up during the Great Depression, he had more than his share of hardships, but he and his family were never victims. Dad always played with the hand he was dealt, and by making the best of what he faced, developed a rock-solid optimism that never left him. If something broke, he'd fix it before he'd buy a replacement. No loans; you save until you can afford to buy it. Working as a child wasn't abuse; it was a privilege to learn the importance of hard work and to contribute to the success of his family's farm.
During the depression, whole families who had lost their homes were living in the Paulson homestead. The Christmas dad most remembered was the one where his father took money set aside for gifts to help a poor family that needed it more. To dad, charity wasn't the government's job; it was our job to help.
At Kirkland High School, he was on every sports team, but confessed that they had so few boys in the school that everyone had to play every sport just to field teams. He challenged us to participate in sports to learn about teamwork and how winning and losing was part of life.
To dad, faith was more than going to church. He headed building and stewardship drives, served as church treasurer, and loved making a difference. When the newspaper noted that the education building dad helped support at Los Altos Lutheran looked a lot like an ark, he laughed, "They're worried that we Lutherans know something the others don't!"
Long before civil rights were politically correct, he showed by his actions that every man is a child of God and worthy of respect. To dad, titles, race, degrees, and riches didn't earn respect; how you treated the least of these mattered more.
He treasured the freedoms and opportunities we have as Americans. He voted his conservative principles in every election and volunteered in his local church and community.