A Father’s Legacy: His Life Story in “Our” Own Words ? (Part 5)

By Kevin Stoda

I have been exploring in the 4 prior writings on the topic of my father’s ruminating over questions at the end of his life–questions which could have inspired him to finally write that book he’d hope to write all of his life.

Ron, “Did you ever feel that God had a special calling on your life?”    In this last year of his life, my dad simply responded, “I am still trying to figure it out.

The reply is somewhat disingenuous because the question before this one in the book, A FATHER’S LEGACY: A Lasting Heritage for Your Children, was as follows.

Ron, “Did the pastor or a visiting missionary ever eat dinner at your house? Did they have an impact on your life?”  Dad’s response was as follows: “No, but I ate at many priest’s homes.  One in particular [was] Father Smeltzer, priest, architect, Deputy Sheriff, ham radio [operator], builder of church, & great communicator.”

Therefore, I remind readers that in A Father’s Legacy: His Life Story in “Our” Own Words ? (Part 3) the following had been shared by my dad some time later.

Ron, What two people have made the greatest spiritual impact on your life?  What made them so significant to you?”  Dad had written in reply, “Father Schmelzer … & Father Vazek… Both explained that you need not have insight from spiritual sight THEN but down the road, like Paul, it will strike you like a charge of lightning.

In short, God was constantly calling him to ministry and a life of service but Dad lacked the confidence and training to follow his dream callings as a Christian. The fact is that Dad was in pain much of the time and going off his anti-seizure medicine without any doctor’s oversight or counseling for decades left him mentally off-balance.  In short, outside of his early contacts with priests from Minnesota on his round-the-world-tour (before he got married), he never really had regular counseling, Bible studies–nor did he learn to read the Bible much on his own.

Instead, like the wanderlust figure he lived his life out as, Ronald John Stoda kept his distance for fear of hurting or being rejected by others in this world–in which he was passing through.  I bring this up, of course, because he often focused on glory days of the past rather than focusing on the present and some heavenly future as some Christians and some of his siblings did.

The only time he was fully in the present was mostly in the present was when he was traveling or watching a sporting event.  Nevertheless, because he loved memories he was always looking back and only occasionally sharing about and planning openly for  a future in which he could bring his dreams and desires under one roof.

I am writing this from the perspective of one, too, who had wanderlust and enjoys memory and historical topics to a great degree.  In addition, I also was not fully diagnosed for the pain and symptoms I faced most of my life until I was into my late 30s or early 40s.

I could still use the counseling and discipling from others as I claim my father needed those too.

In short, we are always projecting our own experiences when reading into others–their stories or our stories.  My story may be part of his story and certainly was when I was growing up.  How has life changed then since I went off to college?

By the way, my father never had the full-educational experience of attending college.  He was not financially up to it as he never got a GI Bill–served to him as his brothers received.  Being diagnosed with epilepsy kept him from that.

However, he gave it a 3 to 4 week try [1].  However, he had no money for food and returned home–both hungry and homesick–before a month had passed. [2]


[1]  Dad had not planned to attend college after high school but had received a left-over scholarship to attend at the normal university in Dekalb, IL (the county seat of his home in Illinois) in mid- to late-summer after he graduated one May in the early 1950s.  He had, therefore, not been saving nor preparing to go to college.  The scholarship money covered board and tuition but not food.  So, literally, he came home starving after a few weeks of college…never to try it again.  However,….

[2] Both Dad and Mom saw to it that the children all went off to college.  All four of us Stoda kids did graduate from college during the 1980s and early 1990s.   Moreover, dad financed my mother’s  bachelor degree and two masters in the 1970s and 1980s, to boot.   (His family, sports, history, reading and education were what were often important to him.  He tried to educate himself through reading but he never had the training needed to write well–often using capital letters only when writing and misspelling many words in his later journaling.)








About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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1 Response to A Father’s Legacy: His Life Story in “Our” Own Words ? (Part 5)

  1. eslkevin says:

    Here is a related page from dad’s diary that shares a bit more about him.

    Ron, “Who gave you your first Bible and how old were you when you received it. How did it influence your life?”

    Dad replied, “When I was married, James Stoda [my brother]. I always heard Bible stories and it will always be part of my life.”

    Any comments?

    For me, it is a bit surprising that such a voracious reader was not given his own bible at an earlier age and encouraged to read it. However, since Dad came from a Catholic household, I guess that is how things happen in most catholic homes.

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