Just when we thought that our plate was full in life, God dished us up some dessert!


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Remembering my Dad

William G. Muller (a.k.a. "Dad")

On Wednesday, January 11, 2012 by dad, William (Bill) G. Muller died at the age of 69. It was sudden and unexpected. He died in his sleep. He was in his favorite position. He was cuddled up to his pillow and his hands tucked and curled up under his chin. He looked comfortable and peaceful.

At my dad’s funeral, my two brothers, Bill and Matt, and my sister, Sue, and I offered these words of remembrance for those who were present. We each took a part, and made a pact not to cry. We would speak with volume and confidence, just as dad would want us to. Here is how it went:

(Matt—the funny guy):
Blessed are the poor in spirit - for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the meek - for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are the peacemakers- for they will be called children of God.”

If this sounds like the man whose death you are here to mourn—I think you are looking for the Larson funeral at Faith Lutheran just next door.

While poor in spirit, meek and peacemaker are not the best words to describe our father, there are numerous other words that come to mind:

Smart:  Dad was smart.  Dad graduated from St. Joes in 1965—the year my brother Bill was born—and went on to earn two graduate degrees over the next decade. Dad was a smart guy. He knew a lot about a lot – And what he didn’t know – he said with confidence and volume and moved on.

The smartest thing my dad ever did was to marry our mom, MaryAnn. She loved him so well with everything she had and everything she was.

Teacher:  Dad taught grad school at three different universities – two in Iowa and one in Philly.  Dad liked to teach.  Dad liked to share his views…regardless of your willingness or interest in “learning” from him at that particular moment.

His children learned a great deal from him.  From Dad we learned that most things can be accomplished if you confidently forge ahead - despite the risk of personal injury to himself or others.  Failure -- if you live through it – is the most successful learning experience.

Dreamer:  Dad lived in the moment – but he was a planner and a dreamer.  To him, planning was living in the moment, and the plan – big or small – well thought out or not -- was everything. Dad didn’t often sweat the big things (like crashing a car on prom night) -- and too often sweat the little things (like slamming the refrigerator door) – and whether or not his plan or dream actually came to fruition didn’t really matter that much to him.

Humility: While humility wasn’t Dad’s strong suit – he did humble himself to God and was a generous servant. Whether he was making rosaries for the church or great plans for the parish – he was a good steward.  Dad had a great sense of humor – especially about his mortality.  Dad’s sense of humor – regardless of its level of appropriateness – was a great gift to all of us.  We pray that God shares this sense of humor – at lease to some degree. 

Dedicated: Underneath his brusque exterior -- Dad was kind at heart.  He was dedicated to providing for his family and played his part in providing for mom, raising two wonderful daughters and two (pause) sons.  (Best when said by one of his wonderful daughters :-)

So where is Dad now and what is he doing?

I hope dad is in heaven, with his grandchild, Michael and all his miscarried grandchildren; his sisters, Helen and Marion; his nephew, Robert; his parents, and our friend, Helen Miller. But, I think it is best to assume that my dad is in Purgatory now.

I imagine Purgatory to be like that of CS Lewis’ description. He describes our time in Purgatory to being like a man on a long journey who, at night, finally reaches the beautiful mansion illuminated on the hill.  He can look inside the window and clearly see all of the sumptuous food displayed beautifully on an endless banquet table.  But, he realizes he needs to clean up before he can go in.  So there he waits, not yet ready to join the banquet.

With this description in mind – I can see Dad, ball cap on, a little rumpled and a bit grimy from the journey – with his nose pressed up against the window – mouth watering – waiting to go inside.  I can also see the table – sauerbraten, spaetzle, pickled herring, liverwurst, and why not – icy cold beer.

(This, you see, is when Sue broke the pact…she couldn’t hold back the tears any longer—we each resigned to the tears) So we must all keep Dad in our prayers and ask God to reward his goodness and his love – and forgive him of his failings.

And Dad – by now you have realized that that there is nothing you can do but accept God’s endless mercy – soak up God’s love – and pray for us so that we will all be united in heaven for eternity.

(Matt returned):
“Blessed are those who mourn – for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – for they      will be satisfied.
“Blessed are the clean of heart – for they will see God.”


I love you dad. While I never really got to say to you all the things that I wanted to say; And I never got to know if you knew what it is that I wanted to say to you….it no longer matters. Because you get it now. You have heard it. You have been shown it. You understand. I have such great peace with knowing you understand. It is freeing. I feel only love and I miss you now.

Thank you for all of the good that you have done for me and for each of us.

Again, I love you. Please pray for me as I too shall be praying for you.

Love, Gretchen (your “Gooch”)


  1. Oh Gretchen! I'm so sorry to hear of the passing of your dad! My prayers are with your family.

  2. This is a beautiful tribute to your dad, Gretchen. I wasn't able to stick with the pact either. I was crying and smiling at different parts. I love the description of purgatory. My mom told me when I was little the St. Joseph has such compassion for the souls in purgatory that he escorts many out a day. I'm sure good St. Joseph will be inviting your dad into to the banquet soon.
    Prayers for your family,