Today I went that place in my mind where I keep all the old videos of you. I replay them often, but especially on Father’s Day.
It’s been almost three years since your passing, but I still have the notion, I need to send you a card. Old habits die slowly, but I doubt this one will go away any time soon.
I miss talking to you on the phone. Since we lived eight hours from each other we conversed more often by telephone than any other way. I would call you with news of my family, or how you were doing. You would often call me when there was a special on PBS or Dateline. You knew I’d be interested–we shared a love of history.
I miss mushroom hunting with you in the spring–the image of you “frying up a mess” as you called it, the iron skillet steaming as you stirred the aromatic delicacy.
Other events stand out in my mind—sitting on your lap, when I was little, listening to the pocket watch ticking against my ear through your bib overalls, trips to the state fair, going to get my 4H calf, holding a rabbit while you skinned it, watching you oil and clean that trusty shotgun, teaching me to drive the tractor, and singing along to the Mitch Miller show as words scrolled across our black & white television set.
You laughed with me when I took off my wig, and we posed for a picture, our bald heads shinning! You always asked, “How’y doin’ sis?” You knew losing my hair was a harsh reality, the results of chemo, but you helped me laugh about it. That was the best medicine!
You had only a grammar school education, but you were a voracious reader. The Des Moines Register always lay around your recliner, thoroughly read. Being blinded in your right eye, a result of a childhood accident, rarely hampered your reading or anything else you set your mind to.
Baseball was your favorite sport— I think given the opportunity, you would have been a good player. You often told me how badly you wanted to go to high school, but there was no way for you to get there, and besides…grandpa needed you on the farm.
You were a good dad, but you were like most dads of your generation…no nonsense! No warm fuzzy displays of emotion. I knew when you were pleased, and when you weren’t!
You were a farmer. The love of the land you worked was palatable. You loved the black Iowa soil and the crops it produced. You didn’t get rich at it, but you provided well for us.
I felt safe when you were around. You protected me, but you weren’t overly protective. You allowed me to make my own mistakes and learn from them.
As the years passed, your six-four, robust frame stooped a little. You became a softer, gentler man, who allowed me a hug and returned my, “I love you dad!” You would tear up when I’d get ready to leave, and embrace me with your long arms. And here’s a shocker, Dad… I caught you kissing mom one night as you made your way back to bed when she had gotten up to make sure you were alright. I would have liked to have seen that more often.
Good or bad I looked to you for guidance, my rudder on the path to adulthood. And even without your physical presence I sense your hand on my shoulder— guiding my way!
Happy Father’s Day, Dad!
Love you, Karen