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I will be forever grateful to my father who brought me to church and introduced me to “The Solid Rock”. It was the most important thing he ever did for me. He introduced me to Jesus and gave me a reason for living. His father, and my grandfather, Philippe Paul Filliol, passed the baton of faith to my father, and my father, Bernard Philippe, passed the baton of faith to me, Helen Filliol Aardsma. Nothing else my Dad could have done for me was of greater importance.
Thank you, Dad, and Mom too, for all those trips to Sunday School, and Wednesday night prayer meetings, and Pioneer Girls, and Youth Group meetings, and choir, and Sunday night services and missionary meetings, and revival meetings, and on and on and on. When the church doors were open, Dad and Mom came and brought me with them. The lessons I learned during those formative years have never been forgotten and I have applied them to my life over and over and over. The solid old hymns of the faith that I learned at Calvary Baptist Church, the Bible verses I memorized in Pioneer Girls, have been my anchor, my rock and my fortress. Life and eternity make absolutely no sense without this anchor.
I and my husband Gerald have in turn passed on the baton of faith to our ten children: Jennifer, Mark, Stephen, Laura, David, Matthew, Rebekah, Rachel, Timothy and Caleb. Now these ten children have the opportunity to pass the baton of faith to their children, my grandchildren, now numbering eighteen and counting.
And so my Dad continued to sing:
“This Rock is Jesus, Yes He's the One
How the times have changed since the 60’s and 70’s. If you wanted to get my Dad into a tizzy, just start talking about what is happening in today’'s world and culture! He loved the old hymns of the faith and he had little patience for modern Christian songs. "Don't get me started!" he would say. He was deeply worried about what was going on in the world, especially Europe and the loss of Christianity there.
Don’t even mention answering machines, cell phones, computers, email, facebook, twitter, googleplus or GPS technology! He loved his old-fashioned, quiet life in the country. In some ways, I envy that life style. The quiet. Just let the phone ring and read something inspiring like “Les Miserables.” I wondered how Dad would do when it was time to leave his country home of forty plus years and move into town. But all that doesn't matter anymore.
Now he is in his brand new home; a home that will not burn or fade or rust, need a new roof or need garage door repairs. I hear him shouting Halleluiah! from here, don't you?
And he will be reunited with his beloved father, Philippe, the mother he adored, Julia, his step-mother, Lucie and his brother Yves, who died as a young man in World War II.
“In times like these you need the Bible
I don't remember my father ever being idle. My father was a hard working man and a good provider for our family. In his older years he loved to make wood crafts in his workshop. I have a lovely old window pane mirror he made for me, which I cherish more than ever, now that he is gone. He loved the land and enjoyed his little garden.
Dad was faithful and devoted to his wife of over sixty-four years who in turn was faithful and devoted to him. Inspiring! Thanks Dad and Mom for your example of devotion to each other.
My father served in many capacities in his local church; trustee, deacon, accountant, building committee member, musician, choir member, church business meetings chairman and I’m sure many others. Whenever I hear the song "The Ninety and Nine" I can still hear him singing it on a Sunday morning. I think he did just about everything in the church that one could do, except preach and play the piano and maybe he even did that a few times when I wasn't looking.
“In times like these I have a Savior
My Dad believed that his anchor was firm and was gripping the Solid Rock. He was sure. Very sure. And I am sure my anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock.
My father was an avid Montreal Canadian hockey fan. I have fond family memories of Mom's delicious fried chicken wings and lots of hootin' and hollerin' as we watched the games on TV as a family. Good times. Happy memories.
Do you remember as kids looking for change under the seats of the old car wrecks in the yard? Thinking Coke was generic for all soda? Begging for change from our Dad to buy a coke from the coke machine in Dad's shop? What about Christmas gifts we all found hidden in the paint shop way in the back where the paint air compressor was? (You never tricked us Mom!) Do you remember the late night phone calls, during winter storms, with our Dad going down the creaking stairs, freezing to death in his underwear, taking tow truck calls from the area policeman? I remember cleaning up Dad's work benches and workshop bathroom to surprise him. He never said much but I knew he appreciated my childish efforts to please him. I remember the day before Father's Day, when I was a little girl. I found an empty packet of cigarettes on the roadside and picked it up to play with it. Inside was a $10 bill. I decided to give it to my Dad for Father's Day. I remember his surprise and his smile. Do you smell the old paint shop, and oil and grease on the blue shop towels?
What about the smells of Brylcreem (pronounced Brillcream), Old Spice and new Cadillacs? Do you remember his tiny dandruff comb and how he loved head massages?
My father loved music. I can still picture the studio he built in our basement rec room on Tenth Street and Dad in his headphones singing away, off tune like we all do when we wear headphones. He used to get “Hi Fidelity” magazine and when it came in the mail I would run and yell, "Dad, your Hi Fiddletee magazine is here! "
I remember when Dad first got into family camping. He bought the tents, sleeping bags, and Coleman camp stove and off all seven of us went to Bill Freeland's place for our very first real camping “trip”; it was to be a test run before heading out into the wild blue yonder. Of course, during the night, it was the world's most horrendous lightening storm ever and it poured cats and dogs all night long! Between crying, terrified kids and kids that needed to take the treck down the hill during the night to use the Freeland's bathroom, well, it is a wonder he didn't give up the camping idea for good. But he didn't.
I’m glad he didn't. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of camping trips we took together as a family, to the East Coast and then to the West Coast of Canada. I remember on the east coast Dad and I gorged ourselves on clams. We were both sicker than dogs!
Somewhere, I don't know which camp ground, do you remember all of us kids running down a high hill, Dan first, then John, then Lucy, then me, and then Rob? We were all running down that hill screaming in fun, until Dan ran through a bee's nests. A million bees and what sounded like a million screaming kids came tearing down that hill, tripping and falling and yelling.
And where in the world was Dad? Where all dads go at times like these. They just "disappear." Mom, how did you survive us five wild kids?
I think it was at the same camping spot that another unhappy occasion arose. We were all packed up and ready to head home. Dad was tired from packing everything up, Mom was exhausted from her "restful" camping weekend. The kids were a little more subdued than usual, covered with bee stings, especially Rob who had been at the tail end.
We all breathed a sigh of relief that we were finally ready to go home. As my Dad started driving off the camp lot, he didn't notice a large stump and drove right over it --- except he didn't quite get over it. The car got stuck on top of it! The stump did some pretty major damage to the car and delayed our leaving. My Dad was not a happy camper.
Maybe that is why Dad got into the campground business. He wanted to give other families the same good times we had!
I remember walks on winter Sunday afternoons, along Track Road, and coming home to homemade hot chocolate and my mom’s famous Apple Betty. Yum!
And now our Dad is gone. Hard to think that there is only one person you can call "my Dad" in the world, and now he is gone. And what we have left now are the memories.
In some ways, life is a long goodbye. Today is our final goodbye to our Dad. But there is no more need for good-byes for Dad.
Dad, I will meet you there, with bells on! We will have some sweet hellos someday where there is no pain, no heart breaks, no broken bones, no loneliness, no heart attacks, no sin, no death, no sickness, no falls on slippery ice, no miles of distance between us, no disease; nothing but pure joy and peace and blessed rest!
Eternity is a long, long time and Dad, we will have eons of time to share together and talk and sing beautiful old hymns of the faith. There are no cell phones or computers or facebook there to interrupt our visiting. Somehow, I think we will be able to watch a Montreal Canadian’s hockey game or two from up there. I know, Mom, you will be there someday, too, with fried chicken wings in one hand and Apple Betty in the other.
Our Dad is with the Great Healer, the lover and Saviour of His Soul. I cannot help but envy him. I know that Dad would want all of us children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, “In Times Like These”, of deep grieving, to keep clinging to the Solid Rock. That would be his greatest joy and wish for us all.
Dear family, I long to be with you today, to say goodbye to Dad and to comfort you, Mom, and Dan, John, Lucy and Rob. But down here our limitations are real.
I would like to especially publicly thank Mom for the devoted care she gave Dad all those many years. Mom, you have been a wonderful wife to Dad and have always been there for him. Thank you for modeling that commitment for me. And I would like to publicly thank my four siblings for all the wonderful care you have given Mom and Dad, especially these last few years. Your actions are a testimony to the wonderful heritage you have received.
I am praying for you all, dear family, through my tears, as you rally together during this time of grief. I send you my warmest love and biggest hugs.
Helen (Filliol) Aardsma,
Last winter I started working on a history about my family and Gerald's family. I hope to get back to this project after the summer.
For those who are interested, you can read more about my family history here.
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