Every town seems to have that one guy who everyone knows. He can’t make a quick trip to town because everyone seems to stop and talk, or he starts the conversation because that’s just who he is. In some towns it may be the mayor, but in Crookston, we call that guy Fuji.
Greg “Fuji” Lerum has been in my life since I can remember. He was there when I was brought home from the hospital and has been in my family and my life forever. He’s a very close friend to the family and has been like an uncle to my sister and me. My most fond memory of Fuji is having him lift a trike down in his hardware store so I could ride laps around all the isles. It is something I will remember forever because he would just laugh at me running into things and enjoy the youth running around his store.
Now, twelve or so years later, I am employed at that same store, True Value. I enjoy going there early in the mornings to hear Fuji asking if I’m up yet or if I stopped for my daily coffee. He’s always just been someone in our life that is there and never has any big issues or problems. He’s just a happy person to go to for a chat or laugh. I’ve never seen him mad or upset.
The only time I ever hear him yell is on Sundays when he’s yelling at the Vikings on the TV. He was always someone we knew he would make an excellent dad but never thought he’d actually be one.
The day Ella Grace was born was a day to remember. Fugi was so proud. I’d never seen that side of him before. Ella Grace was a small beautiful baby who already had so much love and support before she could even open her eyes to see this beautiful world. Her biggest support being all of Fuji’s friends and family who always wanted to watch the peanut or just hold her. She was one of the most beautiful babies we’d all ever seen, and she changed Fuji forever. I can’t say I got used to seeing him hold a baby very quickly, but pretty soon it became odd to see them apart. She was so hooked on her dear daddy and this was evident when they were together. There’s not a thing in this world that he wouldn’t do for his little girl.
Page 2 of 2 - There have been countless dinner nights at our house where Fuji has walked in with Ella in his arms, and it always brings a smile to my face. You never realize how much a child can affect someone until you see them together.
Unfortunately, everything cannot go perfectly all the time. Fuji was diagnosed with cancer and a lot of things changed. Although there was plenty of change and a lot of fear, one thing was always stable, and that was Fuji’s attitude. I never knew if he was in pain because he’d never say it. He just fought through it and put on a smile the best he could. No matter how sick he was he was always there for his little girl.
Although he had a world of help from friends, family, and even strangers, no one can replace the spot of a dad. Never once did I see Ella sad or scared, because she never saw her daddy sad or scared. He was always tough for her. Fuji is one of the greatest dads I have ever seen, and Ella needs him more than any of us could imagine.
Although cancer is scary, and doesn’t always end well, it is beatable with all the technology and advancements we have. Medical help doesn’t always do it though, prayers do. Even if he is healthy now, and doctors aren’t worried, we pray. Even if it’s been a beautiful day with no troubles, we pray. Nothing can help more than a few prayers to help someone feel better. This beautiful father and daughter combo cannot be separated, and they could always use some prayers.