Born Nov. 7, 1909, in Delavan, Ill., W.H. (for Wilber Harold) Tammeus, also known as Bill, lived through the bulk of a remarkable century. The grandson of German immigrants and farmers, he grew up on a farm -- the same farm his younger (87) brother still lives on today. And he had a degree in agriculture from the University of Illinois, where he met my mother, both of whom are pictured above. He spent some of his life in the ag field but not all, later becoming a financial advisor and a map company owner.
Dad grew up a Methodist but became a Presbyterian when he married a Presbyterian. (The photo at the left here shows Mom and Dad on their wedding day, Aug. 15, 1937. Eventually Dad grew into his ears, and so did I.) Both my parents served the church faithfully as elders, but I wouldn't call either of them profound theologians. Rather, both of them tended to live according to some words found in the New Testament book of James, "Faith without works is dead."
I used to joke that later in his life my father survived on all the dollar-a-year jobs he acquired in doing his civic and religious duties.
I mention my father's centennial this weekend not because any (well, many) of you knew him but because I want to make the point that again that we lose our way if we lose our memories. Our personal history creates the story that shapes us. But, in the end, we also can shape that story. We can change the future of the story, even if we can't change the past.
One of the thing faith communities help people do is to reimagine their futures, to see that better, brighter, more productive and beautiful futures are possible. But those futures should honor what was good in our past. My father -- a funny, dedicated, hard-working, trusting, honest man -- is part of what is good about my own past. So as I continue to imagine my future, I will do what I can to remember that and to bring that with me.
(The photo at the bottom right may be my favorite of Dad. My nephew Mark took it one day while Dad was busy hauling nothing, apparently, in our old wheelbarrow from a small storage shed at the back of the house in which I grew up. Dad often laughed, but not in this picture. And, no, my mother did not -- repeat, not -- buy him those overalls or that hat.)
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CLERGY IN CRISIS SITUATIONS
When a catastrophe like the shootings at Ford Hood occurs, one of my first thoughts if for the on-duty clergy who must help people get through all the associated trauma. Catholic News Service has done this intriguing story about one priest at Fort Hood and what he experienced on that awful day on Thursday. Army chaplains receive lots of training, but probably nothing really can prepare someone for a massacre. Still, I'm glad the military has chaplains.
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P.S.: You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BillTammeus.