That’s my job. That’s what I do. Everything I do is because of you, to keep you safe with me. Dad loved us even if it was hard for him to express that love in words. It wasn’t until later in my life that I could actually say, “I love you” to him. Even then, there wasn’t always a direct return. But those times when it was said and when it was spoken back to me were special beyond words. Dad loved his family more than we will ever know.
If I had to describe dad in a single word, it would be proud. He wouldn’t necessarily show pride in his own achievements--it was a pride that showed in how he spoke about his family and his friends. It was rare for my brother and me to directly hear praise from dad but later we’d learn from others how Dad never stopped bragging on our accomplishments. From us being embarrassed by listening to Dad recite Mikeal’s and my achievements to near strangers to those he’d harangue with stories and pictures of his granddaughters, dad was proud of his family. In return, I’d hear story after story of his hunting and fishing adventures with friends and neighbors.
I could spend hours describing dad’s vast and varied interests, but that would only be slightly shorter than one of his legendary phone calls. I always remember looking at my phone, seeing his number and wondering, hoping, I had enough time to listen to whatever was going on in his world. It never seemed to fail that there wasn’t enough time to talk about everything that was on his mind. And that’s just the way it was. Maybe it was for the best that we kept running out of time. I always knew we could start again and that there would always be something to talk about.
I’m not sure I’ll ever fully grasp how dad seemed so simple, but could know so many things. No matter the questions I had, I could always go to him. He paid attention, learned, researched, and apparently, never forgot a damn thing. Dad had a quest for knowledge that we should all learn from. Sharing that acquired knowledge and passing it on was important to dad. He never came right out and said it, but his actions spoke volumes. He didn’t stop his teachings with Mikeal and I, he continued on after we had left to lead our own lives. He’d dole out liberal doses of his knowledge to his farm hands and close friends that spent any amount of time with him.
Whether it be learning and dreaming about fish farming (do you know how many ponds our farm has…), to planning out a cruise to Alaska, or wanting to hot rod an old truck with his son; dad loved to plan out his dreams and stockpile them for when they could become reality. He was never short on plans for the future. I think that’s why it’s so hard to believe he’s gone. How can a man who still had so many big ideas, plans, and dreams leave so suddenly?
Dad was living his biggest dream. Being on the farm with mom was his not only his reality, but his dream turned true. He loved the land and all that came with it. Fishing, hunting, farming, and just being in the country; that’s where dad belonged. Dad’s physical abilities altered how he had to enjoy the farm, but he lived every day to do what he could with what he had. With mom by his side, he wasn’t about to slow down or dwell on the limitations he’d been dealt.
From all the people who knew dad, I think we could fill a book with his one-liners, puns, and crazy stories that he’d concoct. Over the years we’ve heard it all from Put-offs, Sasquatch’s dog, cats with bobcat disguises, zombie possums, or lines about cows being Moo-rooned when the river would flood. Our dad had a joke for every occasion. Seeing his granddaughters roll their eyes whenever one of us busts out with a silly saying or corny joke may end up being dad’s best joke of all.
My brother and I are reflections of dad. The lessons he taught and instilled in us are present in our everyday lives. We’ve each taken parts of him and used those in becoming who we are. With each of our accomplishments, whether big or small, I know dad will still be proud.