Tuesday, March 31, 2015

My Dad (Jane's Tribute)

When I was in grade 11, I had to do a presentation in front of my English class. It wasn’t just a speech. It was to be a speech AND a demonstration of some kind; about 5 minutes long. Our teacher’s example of what he was expecting, was to take us out to the staff parking lot, and show us how to change a flat tire.

We would have talked about my upcoming project during one of our family’s typical marathon supper conversations and somehow it was decided that I would build a cedar planter for my presentation. Jim and my dad had started building these planters the year before, so we had many samples and all the equipment.

Dad and I spent a couple evenings in his shop, with him showing me how to use the compressor, the pinner, the stapler, and the blow torch. We worked through the process of building a planter, and decided that I should take a number of partially finished planters with me and explain the process as I completed one of them.

And then? He made me speak my presentation to him. I told him, I was good. I had it in my head. But he was insistent. He wanted to hear me say the words. He praised and critiqued and listened and suggested and made me build about half a dozen planters all while getting used to hearing my voice say the words. Only when he was satisfied that I had it down pat, did he start packing up his van with all the equipment I needed.

The next morning he drove me to school, and unloaded the compressor and all it’s attachments, along with the blow torch and partially finished planters into my classrom. I did the thing and got an A.

And what I learned from that whole experience?
1.       Blow torches have a huge WOW factor. When all else fails, dazzle your audience with fire.
2.       My dad was on my side. He wanted me to win. I could trust him. He had my back.

So dad.

This is for you.

(Put blow torch on podium.)
And yes I’ve practiced this speech about 20 times.

In 2003, my dad asked me to write his story. His cousin was preparing a book, and had asked all family members for short biographies. Most folks have a page in The Blue Book. My dad? Has 13 pages. This was partially because he’d lived an interesting life plus mosty, I don’t know how to write short sentences.

In addition to the stories, he wanted me to mention that he was a praying man. “You can say that even tho I don’t pray out loud, I pray all the time. I say, “Lord, I’m a simple man. No education. I need help with this…”  He also wanted me to put down that he loved his mom. And that they has thing ‘thing’ about him helping her out with something ‘sometime before Christmas’…

So I wrote it all down, and recorded the stories. About him and the police at the Abbotsford Air Show, him and border crossing guard. Him and the hazmat team in my brand new neighbourhood.

But the three things that he kept going back to, that he wanted me to definitely record, were:
1.       He loved his family.
2.       He worked hard.
3.       He was a praying man.

My dad was a Christian with his own spin on what it meant to be a man of faith. He did not preach. He couldn’t read the Bible, rarely prayed out loud. He didn’t teach Sunday School or go on Mission Trips. His involvement in worship singing was to hold the hymnal and his idea of being the spiritual leader in our home meant waking us up Sunday morning to go to church. He bellowed to us in the same way he called his cows…  and it was mostly annoying.

But man.

My dad loved.

He loved like Jesus does. Unselfishly. Completely. Joyfully.

With that in mind, I’ve written out The Gospel, according to Pete Klassen:

·         Klassen 1: 7 - Love the wife of your youth. Choose her when you’re young. And she’s young. Jail bait young. Marry her as soon as it’s legally acceptable. Then love the heck out of her. Enjoy her company. Share your business with her. Touch her. Thank her. Trust her.  Hang in there when things turn to crap. Honor and respect that marriage vow. Choose, every day, to love her well. Grow up and grow old with her. Let the last words you breathe, be words of affirmation. “You’re a good woman,” were his final words. And they were perfect.

·         Klassen 2: 18 - Enjoy your family all the days of your life. Be present. Have fun with them. Be the one that brings the laughter to your home. Take fluorescent spray paint cans along on holidays and graffiti up the natural beauty on the Hope Princeton. Be the dad that brings lake toys for all the kids when you go camping. Buy a trampoline, no buy TWO trampolines for the back yard. Build a 10,000 pound dock. Blow up things. Announce it’s a NO HOMEWORK night and take everyone to a sketch downtown theatre that is showing a James Dean marathon. Build barns, tree forts, and cabins and potato guns. Make big fires and campfires.

·         Klassen 3: 4 - Be generous. With your time. Drive that daughter to school every morning at 7:30 for 4 years without complaining. Then 20 years later, drive that grandson to school. Spend hours in the shop cutting out tulips for your wife then years later, cutting out guns for your grandsons.

·         Klassen 3: 10 – Be generous with your love. Greet people with enthusiasm and a hug. Look for the lonely one, the young one, the insecure one. Love on them.  Include everyone. Always.

·         Klassen 4: 15 - Be generous with your money. Tithe faithfully. And make sure your kids are looked after. Ensure they have reliable vehicles.

·         Klassen 5: 2 – Teach your children (and your grandchildren) and their friends, well. Show them how to use a hammer. How to drive. How to do fractions by cutting up apples. How to throw a bale of hay. How to work.

·         Klassen 5:13- Put some crown moulding on it. Then add a bit more.

·         Klassen 5:19 - Be cheerful. If he had a bad day in traffic, or a crappy day on the job? We never heard about it. He only told stories to entertain, not to complain. He walked into the house, excited and happy to see us. EVERY SINGLE DAY.

·         Klassen 6: 22 - Figure out your relationship with God. Trust your pastor. (He trusted two.) Be vulnerable with someone about your faith. Attend church faithfully and make sure you family gets there on time. Preach a sermon with your life, not your lips.

·         Klassen 7: 9 - Be thankful. Never take for granted the good life you have. My dad. Who lived his life big and wild, spent the last three years confined to a twin bed with an awful lumpy mattress. He was spoon fed thickened mush, and relied on care aids to get him into a wheel chair and onto a toilet. During one of my last visits with him, while we were sitting in the dark, watching The Shawshank Redemption, he said, “I’m a lucky man.”
“You are dad? Why?”
 “I get to wake up tomorrow. Right here. In this room.”

Thanks, dad, for living it out.
I love you.

Eulogy. Read by Max.

Peter Klassen, son of Johann and Elizabeth Klassen, younger brother to John and a twin to Margaret was born on May 18, 1936 in Steinfeld, a Mennonite village in the Ukraine.

His father, a farmer and a carpenter, was apprehended upon confession of his faith, in September 1937. Two weeks later he, and others, were sentenced and executed. The situation in all of Steinfeld was dire, and in October 1943, the entire village joined The Trek of 350,000 people that would eventually bring them to Germany. They travelled by foot, by horse, by oxen, by wagon, by train; sometimes in large groups, sometimes with just a few families, almost always on impassable mud roads in the midst of military combat.

In 1948, Pete, along with his mom and siblings, left West Germany and came to Canada, on board the RMS Aquitania. Uncle Cornelius and Aunt Margaret, whom they hadn’t seen in 22 years, welcomed them into their home in Boissevain. They lived together for one year, but eventually settled in Winkler where Pete received 3 years of formal public education.  

Pete left school at age 15 to work on Ed and Mary Hoeppner’s farm for two years full of fun, adventure, and hard work. Mr. Hoeppner’s influence on Pete was profound and long lasting.  At age 17, he received his wages, $900, which he gave to his mom. She bought him a one way bus ticket to Vancouver along with $29 spending money. He was going to start a new life in BC.

 His first Sunday in Vancouver, he attended 43rd Avenue MB Church and noticed 13 year old Hilda Neumann. “I’m going to marry her someday…” he said to a friend. And then he set his mind to figuring out how to earn a living. He was a hard worker and was highly motivated to succeed. His lack of education and limited work experience did not prevent him from aggressively learning a trade. His determination to be prosperous along with his sense of responsibility to provide for his family contributed to his success as an ‘Arborite Man’.

Pete attended an evangelistic crusade in 1957 and went forward during the altar call. He surrendered his life to the Lord and was baptized a year later in 1958 at Fraserview MB Church. Shortly after that he asked Hilda to marry him, and in August 1959 they were wed.

Together they had 3 children, Jane, born in 1961, Jim in 1963, and Julie in 1966. They built and lived in homes in Burnaby and Coquitlam before eventually settling on a 25 acre farm in Surrey, where they raised their family, then watched it grow as their kids got married and had babies.

In 1987, a new phase began for both Pete and Hilda. Pete built a stunning Victorian building for Hilda where she could run her business from, “Billie’s Country”; a craft and gift store at the front of their property on 96thAve. They won an award for Excellence in Commercial Design and Pete was a proud supporter, not only talking it up whenever he met with his countertop clients, but also supplying her with all the wood pieces her business required.

That same year, in 1987, the first of 8 grandchildren arrived, and Pete became a “Bups” – a devoted and loving grandfather. He took on this new role, the same way he did everything, with all his love and energy.

On Dec 18, 1990, Pete had a massive heart attack, which eventually resulted in open heart surgery and the need for two pacemakers. He chose to live life fully and completely despite various heart and health issues and in 2006, with Jim's expertise, built his dream home, a Victorian palace for him and Hilda to retire to. Sadly, shortly after that, Pete was diagnosed with dementia and would need full time help. Hilda lovingly saw to his needs and cared for him faithfully until Feb 2012 when he had a massive stroke. Due to paralysis, complicated with Parkinsons’ and congestive heart failure, Pete was moved to the Kinsmen Lodge in Surrey where he felt like the luckiest man for his last three years.

On March 12, 2015, Pete passed from our arms into the arms of Jesus, where he is laughing and hugging and feeling good. We miss him but have great peace, knowing he is in heaven teaching Moses and Johnny Cash how to create a fire bomb with sawdust and a blow torch.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Bups. (Clint's tribute)

I think the challenge facing everyone who speaks here today is doing justice to the absolutely larger than life person that Pete klassen was. 

Or should I say bups. Some of you here might know him by that name. That's b-u-p-s and allegedly that name is entirely my handiwork. At the tender age of 1, that combination of consonants and vowels was exclaimed by me at seeing Pete, and the name kind of stuck. 

It seemed to fit him more than well. It become a sort of title or persona; look at some of the pictures in the slideshow and the ones that might show Pete with a blowtorch in his hand, a smile on his face and just a little glimmer of madness in his eyes is Bups. Us grandchildren all our friends, and All the kids at Cultus lake knew him as bups. It was a title he held with pride.

Bups was, for a kid growing up, the ultimate grandfather. And I admit that I am biased here but let's just go through a checklist of some of the things that bups was all to eager to share with his grandchildren: 
- a farm, with cows, and a forest
- a shop filled to the brim with power tools
- a complete disregard for the suggested operating ages on quad ATVs
-  ditto for pellet guns
- houses, and cabins that legitimately featured secret rooms, and one that featured an entire secret floor.
- aforementioned secret rooms and floors that often included hidden bars of gold and other valuables
- a completely out of control case of pyromania and enough propane, sawdust and flammable liquids to burn down most of surrey.

Bups was a constant throughout my entire life. His influence has left a lasting mark upon me. 

Bups taught me how to hammer a nail into a 2x4 at 3 years old. In kindergarten I shocked teachers at sportsday by being the only kid my age able to do this.

Bups was there when I first mowed a lawn with a push mower. Bups had already taught me how to operate a ride on lawnmower. 

When it became obvious that carpentry and woodworking weren't the career paths that I'd be taking, bups encouraged me in my adoption of computers and technology. "You are gonna be bill gates right hand man" he would tell me time and time again. 

When I was too much of a hassle for my mom at home, I lived with bups for a week, where he gave endless amounts of time to help me build skimboards. 

This is probably one of the greatest things about bups: he gave his time generously to everyone. He always made time for you, no matter who you were or how busy he was. And he made you feel like whatever you were saying, whatever your opinion was: it mattered, and he valued it. Thats lesson one I learned from bups: give your time and attention generously.

Lesson two was work hard. Bups was a busy man. He was always working on a new house, in his shop, in the yard or on some pet project. Like a new dock for Cultus lake, manufacturing potatoe guns, or endless tree forts. Bups was the richest illiterate man I've ever known and his success can be attributed 100% to hard work. His story is truly that of rags to riches, and he never stopped working hard. 

And the final lesson I learned from bups was to love deeply. All the memories I have of bups are colored by big smiles, big hugs, and big demonstrations of love. Bups was a man who did everything in his power to provide for, and make his family happy. When he wasn't buying you things, he was trying to build something for you in his shop.

I don't really have an elegant finish to this ... 

(So he winged the ending and it was perfect.)



Four years clean.
For my Max.

Cake meetings? Are the best. Hands down they are, without a doubt, my favorite annual event.

Max has good friends.
Max is a good friend.

Tonight I listened to his friends say,

"This is going to sound all sucky and shit, but hell. You're my best friend. I love you, man. I am glad you're in my life. I wouldn't be clean without you."

"I saw the way Max cared for C when he was dope sick, and I said to myself, that's who I want for a friend."

"When Max makes an observation about my character, it's like Jesus is talking. Irritates the heck out of me, but he's usually dead on."

"He's judgemental but full of wisdom and calls you out on your shit because he cares."

"Max's topics tonight; service and family? Are the two things he lives out daily. His commitment to serving others is unbelievable. No one does service like he does. And his family? Well, look. They're here tonight..."

"I was thinking of what I could say, the funny stories, the stupid stuff, the whatever, but man. I just can't. He's one of my best friends and the reason I am still clean. I was blessed when we became friends."

"I couldn't believe that a guy like Max would choose to be a friend to me..."

"I don't make friends easily, but when Max came to The Door, I looked him over and thought, "yeah, I think I'd like to be friends with him. But it's hard, right? It's out of my comfort zone. But I needed friends. So, I like, asked him if he wanted to go for a walk. Haha. LIKE A DATE or something. But that's how you make friends. We went for a walk and now he's one of my best friends."

"Max is there. Good times and bad. He's just there."

"It was one of my first days at The Door, and I was sick. Dope sick. And sick of myself. And his kid (Max) just comes and sits down beside me. Says, "hey" but I am too filled with self-hatred to respond. What did he want? I couldn't complete a thought. I was 36 and living in a dumpster. And this kid just sits beside me, accepting me. Never experienced that before. I knew I needed someone like this in my life."

"I messed up recently. Relapsed. But I'm on my way back. And Max? Is right at my side."


The other night we were looking at video footage of my dad greeting his friends at his surprise 65th birthday party. He gave out hugs and handshakes and was excited to see each person there.

Even though Max looks like a O, he has the same heart as my dad when it comes to people. Two years ago, I snuck into a cake meeting and sat in the back unnoticed. I watched my boy greet just about everyone that entered the hall with a smile or a hug and by saying their name. He was genuinely happy to see them there.


Know what I love about NA's Cake Nights?

Every year, your friends affirm your gifts. They let you know what your friendship means to them. Every year, you get feedback on how your life has impacted others.

That's pretty amazing.
And fills up your tank so you can carry on for another year.

You feel appreciated and valued and loved.

And the rest of us could learn from that. Maybe we should make birthday's more like that?  Be intentional on someone's birthday to let them know what you appreciate about them and how their life has impacted yours.


I'm tired.

Was up at 7:30 this morning, driving Clint to the skytrain station. (Yes, he's ordered a vehicle. Another few weeks to go...)
Then drove down to the States for Sophie's wedding. (Pics will be posted here. Eventually.)

Then back for dinner with my boys, and then the meeting.

Afterwards, drove Clint back into Vancouver to pick up his things, then home to Surrey.

Tomorrow is my dad's service.

I have written my thing.


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. NA
2. Weddings and happy brides
3. All the friends who've been praying for me these past three weeks. ThankyouThankyouThankyou.

Friday, March 27, 2015


So hard to concentrate these days... my mind jumps from one thought to another memory to a cry to a need to pray to the longing to write a To Do list, and back again.

Planning a memorial service and a graveside gathering, along with midnight airport runs, and working (because 250,000 print pieces need to be ordered, and 27 new projects need to be organized) has my heart and mind being pulled in 89 different directions.

We buried my dad today.

The sun shone on us as we said goodbye.

Monday, March 23, 2015

What if?

What if every Christian in the world stopped to say the Lord's Prayer four times a day.
What would that look like?
What would the impact be?

What if I stopped to say the Lord's Prayer four times a day?
What would that look like?
What would the impact be?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Bups's Celebration of Life Service

We will be remembering and celebrating Pete Klassen's rich, full life on:

Monday, March 30 at 6 pm
at Garden Park Towers Community Centre in  Abbotsord:
#101 - 2825 Clearbrook Road.

There is parking outside in the lot, underground, and also across the street at Clearbrook MB.

Please join us.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


A quiet evening, just scanning pics, and remembering.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Facebook chats with Clint in Africa.
2. Facebook chats with Max in New West.
3. Facebook chats with Drew in Surrey.


Friday, March 13, 2015

Missing Clint.

The Oboys in my cave looking through photo albums, remembering Bups with love and laughter, wishing, wishing, wishing that Clint was here too.

Bups. You gave us so many happy memories. 
Thank you.

'bye dad. See you in heaven...

My dad passed away on Thursday morning at 5:30.

Thanks, dad, for loving us extravagantly, unconditionally, and tirelessly.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015



I just can't seem to stay focused.
My mind is zipping hither and yon like a, like a, well, like a thing that zips around hither and yon-like.

I'm at work for a few hours, concentrating on the Spring Campaign and the April Mail Package and the May inFocus Newsletter and then, my heart aches. And I remember how hard it was sitting with my dad last night.

The room? Was SO HOT. The equipment heats it up, but so does the weather. And his room faces west, which, wow. The sunsets. But which, wow. His body was incredibly warm. I kept sponging his face and neck and hands with a tea towel soaked in ice water from a jug I stole from the fridge. Every time a care aid came in they commented on how uncomfortably hot it was in his room. Which was nice to know it wasn't just me and dad sweating like hogs because we're carrying around a few extra pounds.

I'm going to wear my Costco bathing suit when I visit later today. And flip flops.

No I'm not. But in my heart I will be.

But the blistering temperature wasn't the hardest part.

Listening to him breath those teeny tiny gurgly breaths, was just the worst. Well, OK. Maybe there are worse things. But in my world right now? Those breaths are the worst.


I'm here now. It's just me and him. And his oxygen machine. And my laptop. There's probably a good metaphor in that.

I'm here. With him sleeping beside me. Doing work stuff.

Haha. All my worlds exist in this laptop.

I'm typing an update for my kids. For Clint in Africa, which he'll read in an hour when he wakes up. For Max in New West who's getting ready for a meeting. And for Drew who is nursing his crushed finger. (They put a red hot pin through the nail to relieve some of the pressure and he is recovering from the trauma of that. He hasn't missed work as a result of his injury, and I'm proud of him.)

I am wearing fewer clothes today. And I've taken off my boots. Between my feet and dad's farts, this room is ripe. Don't come visit.

Are you wondering how he's doing?

He sleeps alot. Like probably 22 hours a day.
He's eating his meals, as per usual.

But he's mostly stopped talking. At least to me... I don't understand him anymore, and the effort to make himself understood just wears him out. Yesterday he mentioned that he was too old to talk, so there's that.

He answers, "Good!" whenever someone asks him how he's feeling.
And he is clear that he has no pain.

Are you wondering how I'm doing?

I don't just sit here and cry. Unless I see a care aid be especially gentle with him. Then I tear up.
Also? I can't pray for him out loud. I choke on the words.

I'm doing fine.
This is my reality for the next while.
And I'm praying that God will give me the strength, courage and wisdom to do the right thing.

Because there is a 'right thing'...
I'm just not totally sure what it is.

Someone will tell me. Someone always does.

I'm on a journey that many have walked before me. I love that they are willing to share their experiences. I am lucky.


Unrelated, but maybe not. Please don't ask me who has visited my dad, or how many hours anyone has spent at his bedside. I'm not going to answer that question any more.


Unrelated, but actually, maybe not - The Drop Box.
Work life and personal life - overlapping again.

Did you see it?
MANY people have.
SO many that after the first two showings, (Mar 4, 5) Cineplex asked if they could add two more showings (Mar 7, 9) and because THOSE were sold out in some theatres as well, they asked if they could keep showing it in select theatres for select dates starting Mar 13. If you haven't seen it, but would like to, check out website for a complete listing of dates and times. (Colossus, Langley will have the most showings...)


If you saw it, and wondered, "now what?'
"What should be my response to that?"

Well, we have some ideas for you.

The sanctity of life isn't just about saving discarded babies overseas.
There are ways to respect and treasure life in many different contexts.

Some folks have talked about that with us, and we've posted videos of their shares here.

I'll post a few here:

Janet Thiessen shared her thoughts:

Janet, champion for single parents from Focus on the Family Canada on Vimeo.

Justin Froelich has a story:

Justin, champion for new beginnings from Focus on the Family Canada on Vimeo.

And David Gotts:

David Gotts, founder of International China Concern from Focus on the Family Canada on Vimeo.

And if none of that interests you particularly, (haha) this is my favorite part of the whole Drop Box story. Brian Ivey. The 21 year old film student who wanted to make a film that would get him into the Sundance Festival. (Psst. He ended up making a decision that would get him into heaven.)

Listen to him share his journey to Jim Daly of Focus US.

Bottom line is? Life is precious, at all stages and in all circumstances. Life is a gift from God. ALL life is a gift from God. It may be messy, hard, short, weird, crazy, or seemingly unfair - but it's God's. He has a purpose and a plan for every life. And those lives will end in His perfect timing.


I know this is all God's perfect timing. BUT WHOLLY COW, I could use a chocolate bar right about now. A frozen Crunch bar. Or 10,000 mini Cadbury cream eggs. Easter Sunday will be a glorious celebration.


My skin dried out a few weeks ago. Like, on my face. Totally dry. As per sandpaper. Red, dry and itchy. I think it misses chocolate too.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. My dad is going to heaven. There is just SO MUCH PEACE in that.
2. I will be going too. Someday.
3. The nurses here? I love. So gentle and attentive.
4. Sleeping pills. Man. He is snoring up a storm right now.
5. I can do my job from a laptop in a care home.
6. Facebook. It makes the world so small.
7. Friends who love me. And pray for me. And care for me.
8. Unseasonably warm March temperatures.
9. Memories. SO many good ones of my dad.
10. Street parking. Only $4 for a day, vs the parking lot which is $5.25 per hour. And the silver lining in street parking? I am very good a parallel parking now. Very good.
11. The kindness of strangers.
12. The other residents in this home. Precious.
13. Stories. One of the visiting wives shared her life story with me tonight. From India to Ceylon, to Surrey. (From Catholic, to Pentacostal to Jew(!))

Saturday, March 7, 2015

So. My Dad.

Today. the emergency doctor introduced my dad to an intern as a "Man of Iron", and recommended he study my dad's charts as an primer in Recovery From Life-Threatening Medical Situations.

"It's so hard to make any predictions where Pete is concerned. We've gotten it wrong every single time in the past....

But, that said; he will not recover from this."

His lungs and legs are filling with fluid and our main concern is to keep him comfortable.

This morning?
No one was sure he would make it through til the end of the day.

By the time we'd all gathered, he was feeling better, alert, and twinkly eyed.
When we left the hospital, the doctor told us he'd issued a one month prescription for some strong diuretics.  One month? We'd gone from, 'a few hours' to '30 days'.  Haha. OH dad. You are keeping us on our toes.

Regardless of his Super Power for Staying Alive, (he has been against the concept of dying for as long as I've known him) we are anticipating saying goodbye soon. Ish.

Our hearts are breaking, but we're trusting in God's perfect timing, and His perfect plan.

If you're the praying type, thanks for chatting to God about him.


He loved us well:

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Thankful for:

1. Clint arrived in Uganda safely.
2. So did his luggage.
3. Went to the Canuck's game tonight with a friend who won a set of Club Seat tickets.
4. Heel is healing - walked around Barnston Island on Sunday.
5. Had the energy to get through a busy Monday. (Took Clint to airport at 4 am. Worked. Visited my dad. Made a batch of soup. Took a bucket of it over to Max.)
6. Attended an afternoon church service with Drew and Danica on Sunday, then went out for dinner afterwards... Thankful for time spent with my kids.
7. A FUN, random, unexpected two nights in Seattle with my school bus-driving friend, and 47 young people.
8. A meaningful evening celebrating some friends birthdays; good food, deep conversation, prayer.
9. Lent. And the cross.
10. It's Spring.