My Dad, George Horst, is celebrating his 90th birthday this week. That’s not bad for a guy who was told he wouldn’t live to see 30, because he had malaria during the war. And to top it off, he had surgery for lymphoma 2 years ago and they told him he only had a few more months. I think he just has too much to live for and maybe there’s a lesson in there for the rest of us. His childhood was pretty typical but losing his mother at age 19 must have been terrible. When his father remarried shortly thereafter and they left his stuff on the front porch as a blatant reminder to move out, he took the only option he had left and joined the Marines. Four years later, he was sent home on a hospital ship and treated at Bethesda Naval Hospital for malaria and given the news that the disease would surely kill him in the next 5 years.
I guess he didn’t listen or didn’t care what they said because he was promptly discharged and got married to my Mom in January of 1946. They just celebrated their 65th Anniversary this year, so his stubborn desire to prove everybody wrong has worked out well for him and the whole family. I wouldn’t even be here to write this blog if he had died at 30. He really is one in a million and I am extremely proud to have him for my father. He exemplifies all the best qualities of a father, husband, grandfather, uncle, best friend and Marine Corporal. I think he took the Semper Fidelis motto to heart and it keeps him going no matter what. He has been always faithful and his accomplishments are too numerous to mention but then I’m not really impartial when it comes to my Dad. Those of you who know him firsthand can substantiate my claims better than I.
His life is one long, great example of what character and commitment can do for any person who chooses to live a life that matters. He never got rich but what he may have lacked in possessions he more than made up for with human relationships. The man gave his time and talents to so many people over the years it would be difficult to tally. His efforts ranged from Bible Study with inmates at Lansing Prison to Sunday School at the Jackson County Detention Center. He coached my basketball teams in junior high and never missed any of my games in all sports. He served as a Deacon in the church for years and never turned down an opportunity to help around the church. He was and still is the most involved grandfather you can imagine and his children have nothing but the deepest respect for him.
His relationship with my Mom started when he was 13 and she was 11, which means it’s been going strong for more than 75 years and a happier couple you will not find. She was the reason to live that he needed to overcome malaria and lymphoma and they just hang in there every day trying to do something that matters. They’ve had numerous challenges and lost lots of friends these past 10 years but they never get down on life and they always look forward to tomorrow as if each day is a new blessing. Commitment, shared values, love, friendship and a sense of humor are the hallmarks of their marriage and they share these gifts with all.
I’m blessed to have had 57 wonderful years with my folks. They have been there for me in good times and bad and they deserve all the happiness that God has shown them. They just get it when it comes to making life count. They worked hard, they played harder and they gave the most of what they had without expectation. They are two great individuals who became even greater as a couple and they multiplied their blessings through their actions. They are exactly what Henry Ford was talking about when he said this, “The whole secret of a successful life is to find out what it is one’s destiny to do, and then do it.”
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