A Tribute to My Dad, Clarence Wilbert Herrman

| May 2, 2013 | 1 Comment


My Dad, Clarence W. Herrman, during a visit to the Maritime Museum in San Diego.

My Dad, Clarence W. Herrman, during a visit to the Maritime Museum in San Diego.

Over the past year, I’ve had to say goodbye to some very special friends and family members. However, I wasn’t expecting that one of those people would be my Dad.

This past month, Dad was recovering from hip replacement surgery in a hospital in Colorado. Prior to Dad’s surgery, we were told he had the heart of a 60 year old. So, of course, it helped us, his daughters, to feel that he would do well.

I spoke to Dad via phone the very same day of his surgery. The surgery was in the morning. He’d already had lunch and was getting ready for dinner. I asked him what he was having and how he was feeling. He sounded great. Tomorrow he would start physical therapy. He was eager to start walking and wanted to get home. My Dad is very independent.

Unfortunately, early the next morning I got a call from my oldest sister that he was experiencing complications, which the doctors concluded had to do with his age. Dad is 90 years young. His blood pressure was too high and his sugar level was too low. Dad is a diabetic. (Why I don’t know, because he is as skinny as a rail.)

Soon the doctors realized that Dad’s heart was not properly functioning. They proposed to insert a pacemaker. The cardiologist, however, said he needed to know what was causing the heart to malfunction. After further tests, it was determined that Dad had two blocked arteries and surgery wasn’t possible.

On April 9, as I was getting ready to depart to the airport, I got the phone call that Dad had died.

Fortunately, Dad and I had a phone conversation the night before. This private phone conversation reminds me of our very special relationship. We were extremely close.

I had the honor of writing and presenting Dad’s eulogy. I wrote it the night before his funeral. It was very late. I sat at the computer and asked Dad for assistance. Then I got a prompt from Dad to play his tapes. Dad is a self-taught pianist. And, he is an awesome singer, great voice and no musical training. He recorded lots of his music. So, I had a glass of wine and was inspired by his talent and gift of life. Here’s what I wrote:

My sisters and I, Mary Lou, Clara, Kathy, want to thank everyone who has contributed to celebrate Dad’s life.

For those of us present today, he is father, father-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, grandfather, great grandfather, godfather, neighbor and friend.

Today all of you are present as a legacy to Dad. We all showed up to celebrate his life…and all of us here today know that Dad had many interests.

He was a wine aficionado, which meant he grew the crop (specifically grapes and rhubarbs) and then he made the wine, which he truly enjoyed sharing. Many of you might remember Dad asking, “Come on in. Would you like a glass of wine?”

He was a farmer at heart:
Dad and Mom had an annual routine. They would grow fruits and vegetables…and as my sisters and I know, that followed with canning, everything from plumbs, cherries, apricots, raspberries…and we can’t forget the red beets and sauerkraut. My sisters and I can recall the popping explosions in the basement….There goes the sauerkraut.

And, Dad loved cooking and food, and enjoying it with the company of others. He and Mom had their weekly routine and enjoyed inviting guests to join us:
– Sunday fried chicken with mash potatoes
– Monday graut & gry (a German dish that Dad loved)
– Tuesday “muscetti” (that’s because Mom couldn’t say spaghetti)
– Wednesday liver
– Thursday pot roast
– Fish Friday
– Saturday morning pancakes with overly greasy bacon & eggs
– And Saturday night chili (which some of us deplored) with hamburgers

Dad was a storyteller:
He had an unbelievable memory…and had lots to share. My sister Mary recently offered a “new” story that I hadn’t heard before. Apparently, Dad had an interest in “gophers”. Yes, gophers.

As a child, his family couldn’t afford toys. So, he found ways to entertain himself. He fed and trained gophers to pull a miniature tractor…I wish I could have seen this.

Dad was a prankster:
As a youngster he would move outhouses and model Ts onto other people’s properties, just for the fun of it. Of course, that was usually done with his other brothers, who aren’t here to defend their actions.

As an adult, he and his daughters continued that legacy. We were known to teepee certain people’s homes, mostly family members. And though I site Dad as the initiator, Mom was right there with us, throwing the toilet paper.

And Dad loved music:
He taught himself to play the harmonica and piano. And he loved to sing. Dad was an entertainer.

As you can appreciate, I could spend hours talking about Dad. Yet, his best role was husband to our mother, Annie Sack Herrman. She was the love of his life. The day she died a piece of Dad also died. All of us know he spent every day thinking of her. And, he looked forward to the day when he would be with Mom again.

That day has come.

So today we honor and celebrate the memories he created and his legacy, as well as his friends and family.

And Dad recently reminded me with a song that he sang, “Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.”

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