Saturday, June 14, 2008

Father's Day

If you don't know my Dad, you are missing out. But then, Dad knows everyone, so chances are good that you're acquainted. It's amazing how much our parents are a part of us, how they define us. My Dad always had a bit of a temper, my kids can tell you I inherited that, but never did I question his love for me. Dad always seized opportunities to spend quality time with his kids. He knew how to make great moments out of the mundane, how to make us feel special. I remember what a treat it was to go to the barn with him to do the chores. Dad would call the cow in and pull up the stool to milk. I would climb up on the wall of a nearby pen and the mundane moment became great. We would play singing games. These were and are one of Dad's favorites. Dad loves music. He loves to sing. He is not a very good singer, he has a hard time carrying a tune, but he is my favorite singer. The fact that he can't sing well never stopped him and he taught us a love of music. He always has a song for any situation. Any word. In fact, just today Julia said something to me and I sang a line of a song that had that word in it and she said, "Is there a song about everything?" It's just second nature for me to do that because Dad has always done it. We would play Name That Tune as we sat in the musty barn, Dad beating out the rhythm into the frothy milk pail. Or we would play word games. Dad loves to tell hink-pinks or hinkie-pinkies or even hinkety-pinketies. (You know, An obese rodent. You guess: Fat rat. ) When my youngest brother was small Dad helped him memorize a fairly lengthy poem during their chore time moments. We were all so impressed when they came in from the barn one night and he recited his poem.
I don't remember ever feeling like I was in the way, despite the fact that there was a lot of work to be done all the time. We worked alongside Dad, he let, and expected, us to help, even if what we were doing was probably not all that helpful. For example, I remember hunting for kittens in the haymow. Dad would come in and tell me that Sam had her kittens and she had hidden them in the haymow somewhere and could I come help him find them. I loved those moments. We would go to the haymow and strain our ears for the faint mews. We would follow the sound to the nest and peek at them. Such a simple thing that I was not needed for, but that Dad included me in and now it is a part of me.
When I was a teenager, Dad would drive me to youth night at church. Sometimes we would stop for ice cream on the way home and he would make a moment. He would tell me not to tell the others when we got home, so it felt extra-special to have been in on the secret with him, to have gotten special treatment. What can I say, I'm #4 of 6, it felt good.
Dad also trusted us to do things that other parents might think were beyond our age. Like for instance riding our big horse by ourselves at age 6, driving the tractor at age 8, or driving the car at age 10 (on the dirt road). If being trusted doesn't make you feel special, I don't know what will.
I don't think Dad has ever passed a flower he didn't notice or a perfect apple he didn't pick. And in just the same way, he hasn't ever passed a person he didn't try to befriend. He loves people, he is genuinely interested in them, remembers their names, thinks about them, hopes the best for them, serves them, prays for them, aches at their loss, rejoices in their successes. Dad loves to have a crowd of people in his home and share whatever he has with them. He'll share his food, his land and animals, and on many occasions, his home to help someone out. He is kind and generous, perhaps to a fault, having difficulty saying no or I'm busy to someone who wanted him at an inopportune moment. I remember people just showing up at our house- long lost relatives, former students, an old friend- and Dad would just drop everything to spend the afternoon visiting with them.
I love you, Dad. Thank you for teaching me to savor moments, to see beauty all around me, to love people. Thank you for teaching me a love of words and music, how to tell a good story and how to enjoy a good laugh.

Happy Father's Day.


Chari said...

You should write a book. You have great parents..lucky you! I hope he reads sweet!

Arica said...

Oh I don't mind you looking at all!!! I've read yours as well, hehe...I love reading your blog your writing style is so awesome and interesting. I'm surprised at how grown up your kids are getting! I hope things are good! Miss you guys. Tell Kennedy and Julia I say hi! :)

Jenn-Lee said...

That made my eyes sweat. ;)
Thank you for shareing those sweet memories. Your dad is very pleased with you I am sure. Those were such kind words. I hope you compile your memories in a book. Soon! check out and I will buy it when you pupblish it! LOve U!