When I woke up today and looked out my bedroom window, I was thinking about fathers. My sister-in-law just lost her father this week, and a friend learned her father is in the early stage of Alzheimer’s. It made me thankful for the wonderful times I had with my father, as I tagged along at his heel while he went about his work on the farm.
All those times we went traipsing through the pasture looking for a cow, I remember finding ripe persimmons, gooseberries and blackberries, but never a cow. I remember “driving” the pickup back from the pasture seated on his lap. And “driving” the tractor while he and my brother tossed hay bales onto the wagon. On trips to the sale barn to buy calves, I always sat on my hands to keep from making any move that could be considered a bid. When our purchases were done and paid for, we went to the auction barn café for a piece of pie. Dad never got a piece for himself, or a donut for that matter. He always said he’d just take a bite or two of mine, a bite that ended up being half of whatever we had ordered. I really didn’t mind, because we had such adventures.
Trips to the grain elevator in Hepler, where I watched the pickup load of wheat run like a golden river into the belly of the elevator. The smell of leather saddles, bridles and other gear at the feed store. How the smell of sweet feed almost made me wish I was a horse or cow—until I smelled the fried chicken or chocolate cake my mom was famous for. I remember helping Dad load the pickup with hay we’d bought, so proud when I got strong enough to stack it four high myself. The imagination I use as a writer developed when I stayed at the truck while Dad worked the different fields. That pickup bed became a ship, or a tree house, or a cabin in the woods, or a smoke spotter’s tower.
My brother was old enough to leave home for a full-time job about the time I was old enough to be a little help tagging along with dad. I doubt I was much help, but I’ll always treasure those times. I’m thankful to have had a father who was a dad. I hope that what I learned at his heel made me a better mom, a better writer and a better person.