“It doesn’t matter how much money you make, how high you rise in rank in the world. You do what you love, and do it for the sake of loving someone else. There is nothing more beautiful, nothing more precious. Our treasures are our children, and they are the reason to live and to love.” – Dan Kolke, Sr.
I wrote the following statement to be read at my father’s memorial service March 19th, 2022. Today seems like a good day to share it on my blog.
I am the youngest of three sons. I am named after my father. My father was the most educated man I know, and, I dropped out of high school. For years I was afraid that he was disappointed in me for not following in his footsteps, and not even finishing a degree. But my dad was proud of me, and he told me as much, over, and over again. And he specifically shared what he was proud of. He was proud of my family, my music, my work. He was proud of his grandchildren, all of them and what they were doing. He was proud of my construction projects. He was proud of my writing, my blog posts. He was proud of my ideas. He was proud of Boxleys, my jazz club. He told me that he felt welcome there, and accepted for who he was by his non-judgemental jazz friends. If you came to Boxleys, you probably got a hug from my dad. He hugged everyone. Honestly, it embarrassed me when he did it. But he did it anyways. He was proud of my friends, they were his friends too, automatically. He was so interested in what they were doing.
My Dad is my biggest hero, and he was my biggest fan. He taught me so much, both in words and deeds, all the way up until his last few days. I thought I would share with you a few of those lessons.
#1- Be thankful for everything you have been given. And say thank you, all the time.
#2- In the end, our time is so short. Don’t waste your time judging others. It’s not worth wasting your wit on anger. Just focus on what you can do, yourself
#3- Love everyone for who they are now, not who they can be, and not what they should be. This includes your spouse, your children, your friends, and total strangers.
#4- We are all individuals, each one of us. We are God’s unique creation. You can never be what others are, be the best you.
#5- Try to understand what other people think, and “why” they think that way. Even if you are convinced they are wrong, and they very well may be.
#6- Listening is Love, be a good listener. And hug people too.
#7- Serve others and you will find happiness. If you don’t know where to start, start by listening to them.
#8- It’s okay to change your opinions, don’t be too proud of them. Change them all the time.
#9- You can learn to enjoy Jazz. You can learn how to do anything.
#10- About Church – Don’t go to church to get something, go to church to serve other people.
#11- About Evil – Evil is a real thing, and there are people who serve it. Most of them are foolishly unaware of the evil they do. Be careful of them, but love them too, and pray for them. Remember that even the best people, with the best intentions can hurt you.
#12- It’s hard to take your own advice.
I make dumb mistakes all the time. So do others. It’s okay.
#13- Don’t wait to go to the doctor.
#14- Life is a gift. Walk more, Chop wood, Don’t give up. Fight for the life you have been given.
#15- I don’t need anything. I have everything I need. I am so thankful.
My dad was a great man, not because of his great deeds. Not because of his writing, nor his degrees, not even because he was knighted. My dad was a great man because of his capacity to love. He genuinely loved people. And not because they agreed with him. Maybe it was because he was commanded to love. His life was literally altered by a fire. Maybe he believed God tapped him on the shoulder, saved him from that horrible accident, and every day was a gift, a gift of grace. Every single thing and every little detail after that day was a miracle. A new life. An opportunity to love, his wife, his children, and grandchildren, and his friends. God told him to love, how could he not obey that command?
So if you are wondering if my dad really loved you, the answer is “yes.”
And I am named after my father. I am here to carry on his legacy of love and caring for others and pursuing what’s in my heart. If I can offer you any of his wisdom at all it would be this, put away your petty feelings, put away your disappointment in others. Just accept them as what they are, feelings. Make a new decision to love everyone for who they are. Let’s move on, and do good works together. For that is what we were created to do.
To my wife Robyn, I love you. You are the most beautiful treasure I have been given.
To my children Leslie, James and Daniel, I am so proud of each of you. I love each opportunity I get to hear your voice and talk with you. I am so thankful for you. I love you.
To my brothers, my mother, my extended family, the same is true of you. I love you.
To my friends. I am so proud of you. You amaze me with the things you do. I enjoy our time together, each chance we get to talk. My only regret is not having more time to spend with you. Let’s spend more time together. Let’s do that for my dad, and for each other.
Daniel Junior Arthur Kolke