I want to thank all of you who have extended condolences to me upon the death of my dear Father. I ask you to indulge me here, as I reveal something of my own life. I believe He should be properly eulogized, and have been burdened to do so.
My Father, Bruno Wilbur Randles was born on January 17, 1928, in Hutchinson Kansas, and died on May 13, 2012. He was preceded in death by my mother, Suzanne, who passed away in 1978 at the age of 49. He is survived by his ten children, 23 grandchildren and twenty-five great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his dear friend Elaine, and mourned also by his many friends in Colorado and Iowa, and the many lives he touched.
He was born one year before the great Depression descended upon our nation, and was raised in Hutchinson, Kansas. Like many of his generation, the great Depression had a defining effect on his character. My Father never had much of this world’s wealth, but he knew how to be happy with what he did have.
When he was 17, he went on the road with a Jazz band, touring the South in the 1940’s. The significant thing about that was that he was the only white man in the band, and the South he toured with the band, was the segregated South. My Father hated racism all of his life, and had no time for the ignorance of bigotry. He remembers playing at clubs, in which the Band wasn’t allowed to walk through the front door, because of the open racism of the time.
Dad told me also of the time in the late 1940’s near Houston, Texas, when after a weekend engagement, he was invited to a “colored church”, where he was moved by the music and singing and was asked at one point in the service to accompany the choir with his trumpet. He told me that that day was a highlight to Him. Shortly afterwards, he was threatened by a representative of the Ku Klux Klan to have nothing to do with “those negroes”. He ignored the threat.
Dad played a lot of Polka music, with the Jolly Brewers and the Six Fat Dutchman, when he moved to the town where I was born ,New Ulm, Minnesota. This was a town so German, my mother and father had to speak German in order to get around! I can still hear them discussing things in German that they didn’t want us to know.
My Dad was an artist and a musician. He mastered several instruments; trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar and recorder. He spent a good portion of his life playing at dances, weddings, street festivals,anniversaries,and even in recording studios. He wrote and arranged a lot of good music also, ranging from jazz to Polka.
His music was happy, and wholesome. People could dance to it, young and old alike, for it was fit for weddings, anniversaries, and other of the various celebrations of life.
My Father’s talent for art, from charcoal sketches to oil paintings, has been widely appreciated. His paintings have graced he walls of many who have either purchased them at shows or who were blessed to have been given one of them. Majestic American Indians come to life on his canvases, sitting on energetic paint horses. Western landscapes also, mountains, streams and fields, were captured by my Dad’s keen eye.
And of course, he loved to paint cowboys. Cowboys riding herd, rounding up strays, and sitting around chuck wagons, eating, laughing and smoking as the sun went down were all beautifully portrayed by my dear Dad.
I still see Him, sitting in front of a canvas, in the very early morning (2:00 am), puffing contentedly on his pipe, and gracefully moving the brush over an oil painting, layer after layer, creating a landscape, or some wild Indians on horseback on a western Mesa.
My Father worked hard, to provide for us ten children, first as a road musician, cris -crossing the midwest with the Leo Greco band. But there was little money in it, and though my mother could stretch a dime for three weeks, Dad had to do something else.In his forties he studied and qualified himself to sell Real Estate, and worked at that for several years, until the market dropped.
My Dad also sold Organs, tuned Pianos and even drove Dump trucks for some years also. My mother worked hard also, not only as a mother, but as a dispatcher for a trucking firm, and as a telemarketer.
When Dad was about 60 years old, he went out west, moving from Iowa to Wyoming, and hired on as a hand on a ‘dude’ ranch. He worked on a couple of ranches, as a trail guide, and yes, he also did the work of a cowboy, rounding up strays, branding and even the work of castration. He rode those trails for several years, into his seventies. The life he lived out west seemed to revive him, for he had been mourning my mother for quite some time.
Dad loved my mother. He was not without his faults, but no one can ever say he didn’t love his wife, she was the love and light of his life. We had many trials, like all people do, but never wondered whether Mother and Dad would stay together. My mother loved my Father also, we kids will always have that as a heritage.
My Father could be impatient, none of us wanted to endure his personal music lessons or Drivers instruction, but Dad was also very tender and affectionate. Sadly, in my younger days, he once took me by the hand, when I came home so inebriated I couldn’t find the door knob. There was no reproach from him, only a deep sorrow in his face.
I think it important to put people into the context of their times, in order to understand them. The 1950’s and 60’s in which they married and raised up children were turbulent times; there was a devastating social upheaval, a sexual revolution, and a youth rebellion which challenged all authority, parental and otherwise.
The sixties were also a time of tremendous spiritual upheaval, all of the former certainties were being called into question, the leaders of churches were defecting and even the theologians were proclaiming that God was dead!
From that perspective, consider that;
* In a day of Zero population growth, birth control and abortion, My parents raised ten children. They weren’t ashamed of any of us. They didn’t wait until they “could afford kids”, as many do these days,they just followed what they felt was right, and trusted God.
* In a day of materialistic rejection and ridicule of religion, My Father and Mother took us to church, observed holy days, taught us to pray, and to keep Holidays like Christmas and Easter from a Christian perspective.(We were Roman Catholic).There was no emphasis on Santa and the Easter Bunny for us!
* My parents never had much money, and neither did they teach us to worship money, always opening their home to any who should need it. My parents taught us to work, and to make our own money for our needs. They taught us hospitality also, we took in foreigners; Africans, and Farbod Kia , an Iranian student, and other assorted travelers we met along the way.
My mother loved to post different foreign greetings on the bathroom wall, directly in front of the stool. The Swahili I learned that way has served me well in many situations in Africa and with Africans who have come over here. They are amazed to be greeted in their own tongue, by someone in Cedar Rapids,Iowa. My mother taught me early to love those who are foreigners.
Even when we had friends spend the night, my mother would always lead us in the singing of “Holy God” as we went to bed. “Holy God, we Praise thy name, Lord of all, we bow before thee, all on earth, thy sceptre claim, all in heaven above adore thee, fill this house with sweet accord, Holy, Holy Holy Lord!”.
As a teenager, I went through a stage, in which I didn’t want to do it, at times, that is to look ‘stupid’ or ‘religious’ in front of my friends. But now, having become a born again christian in 1977, I am so grateful to my mother and father for what they taught us of God. They laid a foundation, which prepared me to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ and to be saved at the age of 19.
My mother’s favorite hymn was the “Old Rugged Cross”-
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
I once asked my Father what his was, He told me that it was called, “He walks with Me”
I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing
Both of my parents were spiritual, but especially my mother. We were raised catholic, but the masses and sermons never really seemed to convey the reality of Jesus Christ and his salvation to any of us kids, (and I found out later, that my mother also was frustrated by this lack in her church). We met some beautiful people in the catholic church, wonderful devoted people, but there was a void.
Eventually, I left the church altogether. This was because I read the sermon on the Mount, and had been convicted of my sin. Jesus’ words cut deeply into my sense of self righteousness, I now knew I was a sinner! This deep conviction drove me to the feet of Jesus. I accepted him as my Lord and Saviour, and was born again. This occurred about a year after my mother died.
I often wondered about the soul of my mother, and my Father. Dad was raised in a devout Nazarene home, but converted to Catholicism to marry my mother.
Mother always worried about the effects of this toxic culture on her children. She would always “bargain with God”, giving up meals or certain foods she liked for months at a time, so that we children would not be trapped by lust, or drink, or any other vices. She would tell us also, not to watch this movie or that TV show, as it would be “bad for your soul”.
God knew my mother’s heart. His love felt the many sorrows that pierced it in her short life. But the only bargain God will ever keep is the one he initiated, when he sent His Son to be the substitute for our sins.
Mother was spiritual, and very catholic. But I have been assured by certain events and by my Father, that she became a born again christian, shortly before she died. About ten years ago, my Father confided in me that he too had come full circle, accepting Jesus after listening to an evangelist on Television. I have no doubt that they are together now, awaiting the final resurrection.
Oh that all of us would be joined to them forever, by faith in Jesus!
My Father and Mother were loving and decent people, who sacrificed themselves to raise our family in difficult times and circumstances. We all know that they, like everyone else, had faults, who doesn’t? But I have no doubt that they sought to do the best they could with what they had. I thank God for them, and wish to publicly eulogize them.