Father's Day 2013. Dad has been gone since 1993. I stopped writing in my journal on the day Steve called me at 4:00 a.m. but I knew what the message was before I picked up the phone. I haven't written in my journal since though I have tried to start numerous times.
Dad lived a hard and troubled life, never fully recovering from the loss of his parents and the treatment he received from the people who raised him. Mother struggled all her life to restore his confidence, to instill a sense of self worth. And yet he lived a good life. All of those hard years during the Great Depression. We often saw him only on rare weekends when the Model A roadster would come put-putting down the lane, and here was Dad with the Denver Post and we were whole again for a weekend and then we would wave goodby to him as we watched the Model A roadster vanish down the dusty Penrose lane as he was off to try and make a dollar here, a dollar there and Mother nearly wept when she used something strong in her dishpan and a hole sprung through in the bottom and she didn't have a quarter to buy a new one.
Then the hard years on the farm, from the fateful day Uncle Orvil lost his life in a home fire and Dad moved us to Penrose to farm Grandpa Wasden's place. Up at 4:30 in the summers to change the water. Home for breakfast and milk the cows. Work all day in the fields, on the tractor, in the hay fields, for years with a painful hernia and troublesome truss because he could not afford surgery to fix it. Back to the house for supper, milk the cows. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, milk the cows and feed the cats. Maybe read an article or story in the Saturday Evening Post before going to sleep, bone weary. Next day, a repeat of the day before. And the day before. Maybe only once or twice a summer Dad took us to the Park, up Northfork for a picnic, up to Sunlight Basin where he spent his youth.
Yet we had a good life in those last idyllic days of a small subsistence family farm with chickens and pigs and a team of horses and two broken down tractors and some ancient farm machinery held together by Grandpa Wasden's wizardry in his blacksmith shop and Dad's not-too-patient comments. The smell of cow manure punctuated our yard and we never thought about it. Dad cussed the "bog clods" of the gumbo-laden Penrose soil. He was hard on us children some times, but we never held anything against him, and he would freely admit it when he realized he was wrong. He took us to the movies. He took us to band concerts. He skimped and saved and went without so we could have socks and shoes and pants and dresses for school. He shared his one box of cherry chocolates each Christmas with all of us, barely enough for one apiece. I spent a quarter each Christmas to buy him a package of Gillette blue blades at Fryer's Pharmacy in Powell.
So, Dad, much of what we six children are today we got from you and Mother. We learned how to work. We learned how to figure things out when we needed to. We learned to have a sense of humor. We learned how to persevere through tough and unrelenting times and tragedies. We have learned that things aren't all that easy, and as we tried to do our best and made our share of mistakes, we know how hard you worked and struggled to do your best and provide the necessities for your family.
What we remember most is the laughter, the sights and sounds and smells of the fields, the river, the barnyard, the cellar full of food for winter, the beet fields, the hay fields, the irrigation water running down the furrows to water the desert soil of Penrose. We remember it all and we, all six of us, share in honoring you once more this Father's Day 2013 for giving your all so that we might have the necessities of life and then find our own way down the uncertain and sometimes-treacherous paths of life.
P.S. The petunias for Dad's Father's Day are from Ann's beautiful flower pots.