Mark Zimmermann, who edits the Catholic newspaper in Washington, D.C., has written a wonderful piece about his father, Wes Zimmermann age 83 of Barnhart, Missouri passed away Jan. 10.
By Mark Zimmermann
I’m back in my boyhood home in the woods of Missouri with my mom, trying to help however I can before we gather for my dad’s burial and pray that he is being welcomed home to the house of the Father, as Cardinal Ratzinger said at the Funeral Mass for St. John Paul II.
Dad took up the tools as a sheet metal worker, the family trade of my Grandpa Zimmermann, his four sons, my brother and several of our cousins. My father was a devout Catholic who knelt and prayed beside his bed each night, and he sacrificed to send each of his children to Catholic school, and helped us become the first generation of our family to attend college.
Dad always had time for his kids, and I remember many days when he’d come home tired from work, but still play badminton or ping pong with us, still wearing his work boots.
My dad was my hero, and I like to think the best parts of me came from lessons I learned from the example of faith, love and selflessness that he and my mom lived out quietly day in and day out.
About three years ago he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and it was hard to see such a sharp, witty, strong man become more and more frail and have difficulty putting his thoughts together. The books, movies and football games that he once enjoyed so much no longer mattered to him.
One of our favorite pastimes over the years was walking down the country road to the Mississippi River. I can remember when I was a little boy, riding on my dad’s shoulders up the last two hills on the way home from the river.
In the fall of 2013, I took a walk with my dad down our country road that I’ll never forget. This time, I tied his boots and buttoned his coat for him, and we set out. It was an idyllic fall day, and not just because the St. Louis Cardinals were in the World Series. The sky was a beautiful blue color, the air crisp, the leaves on the trees were in fall hues of yellow and orange, with some fluttering to the ground as we walked on, father and son, laughing and making small talk.
I hope heaven is like that, and we can walk together again on a glorious day, not ever wanting the walk to end.
Rest in peace, Dad!