A chance to make memories together

Susan and Rachel Manzke
Susan, Bob, and daughter Rachel at our 2019 family Thanksgiving gathering.

We celebrated Bob’s life last Saturday. Each of our children shared stories about their father. Today I have our daughter Rachel’s stories—she’s the baby of the family. This is what Rachel had to say about her father (Rachel had photos in a PowerPoint too):

"Many think that Dad and Mom’s wedding day was the happiest day of my dad’s life.

What they don’t know is that the day I graduated high school and officially moved out that was the day I met my dad. I was 18 and my parents became empty-nesters. The stress of raising a family of 6 was finally lifted off of my dad’s shoulders.

And to think, I just about ruined the start of my parent’s stress-free life by almost dropping out of college my first year. Thank goodness I met Dave otherwise I don’t know if I would have ever truly met my dad.

Growing up I never appreciated what my dad did to support us. I never appreciated that he chose to be an organic farmer even though it was harder. I never appreciated that he worked two full-time jobs to support us. And I never appreciated how well he treated my mom.

It wasn’t until I had a family of my own that I truly understood what he did for us and how his respect and support for my mom made me who I am today.

We Manzkes aren’t the best at expressing our emotions but I’m grateful we were given our bonus year with Dad. This gave us time to share with him how great of a dad he was (...and in my case, apologize for being such an ungrateful, spoiled kid and teenager).

He was just an all-around good person. His genuine good nature and happiness isn’t something you see much these days.

Arianna, Grandpa Bob, little Wyatt, Grandma Susan, and Eli—with Rachel and David’s children about five years ago.

He would help anyone. He didn’t care what type of mistakes you may have made in the past  (and trust me, he shared some crazy stories with me of the people he used to work with at the canning company) but as long as you were nice, showed him respect, and was willing to learn, he would help you.

I appreciate my happy childhood. I’m grateful for the last 20 years. But the thing I’m most grateful for is the last 10 years with my dad. That’s when I got to meet Grandpa Manzke and see him with my kids. (And actually, now that I think of it, these last 10 years were all bonus years with him after his first diagnosis with stage 4 melanoma.)

It was always nice when he would come down to my house in Sun Prairie for day visits with my mom just to watch a soccer game or to sit and read books with the kids. But the best memories were made on the farm. My kids loved going for cart rides with him. Loved hearing how tractors work (or didn’t work ... which was more likely). And having campouts in the backyard.

Eli, Arianna, (two of Rachel’s children) and Grandpa Bob heading out for a drive on the farm.

So many good memories were made on the farm and I’m glad my kids are able to carry these with them forever.

We all lost a wonderful person this month but thankfully we were all given the chance to make our memories together.

We are all better people for having him in our lives and I will try my best to carry on his good nature, patience, optimism, and happiness."

Those were Rachel’s words. I hope you don’t mind me continuing to share our stories about Bob. Eventually, I’ll find my way to writing columns about other things. It just may take me a while.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Road, Seymour, WI 54165;;