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My dad was a saint.

No, really, he was.

Maybe he wasn't a saint by the standards of the Catholic Church (Dad really was NOT anything like Mother Teresa, who is another one of my heroes). But, to me, Dad embodied many of the characteristics of those who sacrifice for others and spend their lives making sure their loved ones are cared for, safe and that their children are raised to be good people.

Dad served in World War II, not long after high school, mostly in Germany, Italy and Africa.

We never knew anything about his service, except that he had been in the Army, because Dad never talked about it. (Dad did refuse to eat spaghetti in his lifetime, because he said he'd had enough spaghetti in Italy, but that's about all we ever knew.)

Many years later, we found several pages of typewritten memories of his time at the front, working in the Signal Corps.

This memoir changed how I looked at my father. My quiet, stoic dad was a brave soldier, standing on the front lines of battle, doing his job well and taking pride in what he did.

I suspect that experience is why we never had guns in the house, not even after us three kids grew up and moved away. I think Dad had seen enough weapons and gunfire during those months at war.

Dad died in 1987.

In the years since, I have learned more about him through the people who remember him and share their stories with me. I treasure those memories and find myself wishing Dad was still around so that I could talk to him about them ... because I would, now. I would know what to ask, how to listen, when to ask for more.

I miss that.

So, Dad, if you're listening up there in heaven ... I think you're a saint, and I would welcome that opportunity to argue about it with you!

All Hallow's Eve is today, commonly known as Halloween. Tomorrow is All Saints' Day, a day set aside by the church to recognize not only the named and unnamed saints, but all our loved ones who have slipped away into God's arms.

In the midst of the parties, the trick-or-treating, the costumes and scary masks, the ringing doorbells and frightening sounds, offer All Saints' Day celebrations.

Typically, the liturgy for All Saints' Day includes lighting of candles and the reading of the names of those who have died in the last year.

This year, why not replace the Halloween decorations the next day, with a candle and a card with the names of your loved ones beside it? It is a tender and comforting thing, to know that the world celebrates its saints on this day and that your loved ones are among them.

Thank you, Dad, for showing me a different side of sainthood. And thank you, God, for the gift of my father and all the saints whom you have sent my way.

The Rev. Vicki Waddington is a pastor at Federated Church (PCUSA) in Forsyth.

The Faith & Values column appears regularly in the Saturday Life section of The Billings Gazette.

Pastors, ethicists, educators or other experts who would like to write a column about faith, ethics or values for the section, should contact: Susan Olp; Billings Gazette; 401 N. Broadway; Billings, MT 59101. Or call her at 657-1281; fax to her attention at 657-1208; or e-mail to solp@billingsgazette.com.

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