Is every Dad a great Dad?
With a rare exception here and there, I’m sure we all say “I love my Dad” and “he’s the greatest ever”. Because he is/was half of a pair of people that we learned our life lessons from and we knew he had our best interests in his heart.
My dad wasn’t perfect. As I have written before – when comedian Robin Williams took his own life – my dad struggled with depression. If you weren’t a family member you likely didn’t know it. When he was down there was nothing Mom or any of us five kids could do to make him feel worthwhile and loved. He saw no hope on the bad days.
I knew the only thing I could do to get on his good side when he was down was to cook for him. I can make wonderful tapioca pudding and raisin cream pie (his favorites) courtesy of Dad’s bad days.
We treasured the good days — he loved to play pranks on us like taking all our food if we left the table to get something, taught us how to play baseball, when we were outside on a hot day we would get sprayed by the garden hose when we least expected it. Turn around — bam! “Right in the kisser” as he would say. As we got older and hit the “teenage” years we didn’t show as much appreciation of his pranks. Sorry about those moody days Dad.
Hormones hit and, with four of the five of us kids being girls, it wasn’t pretty. We couldn’t do a lot with our friends because we had chores to do morning and night. In the summer, we spent longs days out in the hot sun doing field work – stacking hay, baling hay (small square ones), baling straw then stacking it in the awful hot barn loft, walking corn and bean fields for weeds. Forget sports or anything extra at school — again, those pesky chores got in the way. Cattle, hogs, chickens, fixing fence, working on buildings, cleaning out hog pens …… We complained, cried, fought, got “snotty” with him, gave him the silent treatment — you name it. Why did we have to do things? In our young minds, it wasn’t fair.
We didn’t have much money growing up but not many farmers did back then. We made do with what we had.
We five girls didn’t understand what the whole women’s rights/equality fuss in the late 60s/70s was about — it affected my oldest sister, the oldest of the kids, the most. We already had equal rights on our farm and it wasn’t very fun most days.
Thanks Dad for not trying to make everything fair. Thanks for being tough on us. Thanks for teaching us how to play baseball. Thanks for making me a pretty decent cook. As a farmer, you taught us that while most animals were raised for food, you should always treat them well and never let them go hungry. You even shed tears over animals.
You’re gone but never forgotten. Its been a little over five years now, I hope you found out how loved you truly were and still are. Keep looking out for us, okay?
Happy Father’s Day.