FATHERS’ DAY

sc05213328Fathers’ Day is a natural time to reflect on good ol’ dad, what kind of a person he was, what kind of a father he was.

If I had to describe my dad in one adjective, I would choose “hardworking” because that’s what he did, worked hard. My dad was born in 1913, one of six children. His parents were  farmers and ran a dairy. As the custom of many farm boys, his childhood was cut short. After he graduated from eighth grade, he stayed work on the family farm.

He met my mother when he delivered milk to the convent where she worked. I’m sorry I never asked what she did for the nuns, whether it was cooking or cleaning, or both. He bought his grandfather’s house in town across the street from the Catholic church and drove out to help on the “home place” for several years until he purchased a farm of his own.

In his lifetime, he not only farmed, but he and his  brothers ran a trucking business, transporting cattle for local farmers to the St. Paul Stockyards, and also sold feed for Hubbard. He never got rich on any of his enterprises, but he provided for his family.

I remember a few family yearly vacations with my cousins to Lake Carlos by Alexandria. There’s a photo of my dad and us kids by an Itasca State Park sign, which I have no memory of. I looked to have been about three in the picture. When I was in my early teens he took my older sister, mom and  I to Duluth, then across northern Minnesota down through Hackensack. I remember  Hackensack because I left my new red transistor radio in the motel. I thought that I’d never see it again, but they sent it back to me.

When my older brothers, Dave and Dick, were upstairs fighting, wrestling around on the floor, all my dad would have to holler up is, “Want me to come up there with the belt?” He never had to.

Dad worked six days a week, from early morning until dark, as farmers did in those days. He had his supper long after we kids were fed at the six o’clock whistle. He had big hands made strong from years of physical labor, and in later years walked bent with back and knee pain.

When he retired, he gave himself permission to enjoy himself. He bought a fishing boat and found a friend that would fish with him frequently, and he played cards every morning with his friends downtown.

That man could sleep! I think it was because he worked long, hard hours. We took countless pictures of him sleeping in his recliner. If you were sitting in it when he wanted to use it, all he would have to do is gesture and you moved. I have a fond memory of dad  reading the “funny papers” to me while I sat in his lap on Sunday mornings.

He loved a good political discussion or talking things farm related with his brothers or neighbors. When I grew into an adult I enjoyed hearing his insight into topics of conversations.

I don’t remember him telling me that he loved me or that he was proud of me. But I saw it in the tears welling in his eyes when he saw me in my wedding dress, or when I graduated from college.

My dad wasn’t perfect, but  I always knew if I needed his help, he would be there for me. Early I seemed to know the most important part of being a father was being someone  the family can count on.

I miss my father terribly.

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