The most wonderful man I’ve ever known – Walter G. Metschke, my dad – very suddenly went to be with my mother in heaven today.
Trained as a landscape architect, he was a tremendously talented and respected civil engineer who was involved in a variety of interesting projects during the course of his career. Three of the most noteworthy: During World War II, he supervised the construction of Oak Ridge, the Tennessee city built around the atom. Later, he supervised construction of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. From there, he went on to become Director of Engineering for the massive undertaking that transformed O’Hare Field in Chicago into a jet-age airport…the biggest job, physically and financially, that the city of Chicago had ever undertaken to that point.
He was a principled man…a man of integrity…a perfectionist who always gave everything he did his utmost effort.
His work often took him away from his family – a sacrifice for everyone but especially difficult for him. In later years he spoke of his regret at not having been able to be present more; but because he was blessed with a very long life, we were all more than able to make up for that lost time.
I picked up my love of gardening, tennis and photography from him. I was fortunate enough to enjoy traveling to a variety of places with him. An excellent traveling companion, he was extremely easy-going: always up for seeing and doing just about anything (and this from a guy who was nearly 50 years older than me!).
God blessed me with wonderful parents. I was given a Christian upbringing, I was always provided for, and I was loved.
Last evening, I spoke with my father and – as always, we ended the conversation telling each other, “I love you.” He seemed a little under the weather, but there was no inkling as to what today would bring. Tonight, he’s gone.
Had he been able to open my Christmas present, he would have seen a collage of images of the two of us over the years, with the caption: “Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.” I think he knew that, but I wish I could’ve had that one more chance to tell him.
I thank God that he was taken quickly and didn’t linger with a lengthy hospital stay. It’s what I’d always prayed for. And I thank God for my dad’s long and rich life. I rejoice at the fact that he’s in heaven with my mom and my eldest brother in time for Christmas.
But tonight, his little girl’s heart is broken.