It’s funny how the memories made at a very young age can shape you for a lifetime.
I’m thinking about Father’s Day as I write this and how much our fathers shape us. As most men do, I still compare my work ethic, my humor, my fathering skills and myself to my dad.
Some of the earliest memories I have are getting up early to go milk with my dad. Every third day, he would have to get up at 1:00 AM to start the morning milking and sometimes I would go along. I’m still not sure how he did it as the day wouldn’t end till late if the harvest was going on and 6 PM or after even if it wasn't harvesting time. Against that benchmark, my work schedule is a piece of cake and I admit that some days I feel like a slacker!
As far as humor goes, I haven’t met very many people that were born and raised in Kansas that don’t have a unique sense of humor, especially if they farmed. In the early 80’s, there were three years in a row that no crop was harvested because of drought. The only way anyone survived was to find something to laugh at.
As I think about this, many memories flood back, especially of visiting friends for dinner and the evening. I remember even as a young kid listening to my dad and his friend’s talk. They would share stories about the latest news or happenings, all in the voices of the person they were talking about, and even us kids would laugh till tears came. Then by about 8:00, the ladies would still be going strong talking, us kids would be racing around talking and yelling at the top of our lungs but dad and his friends would be sound asleep. I still find that humor on the worst of days can act as a bit of a relief and in my mind, a good time with friends with lots of laughter is better than therapy.
My Dad still regrets not carving out time to take us kids fishing more. But he forgets the annual camping trips, and more important, the times as we got a bit older working with him, sleeping in a wind-row of hay while waiting on the dew (or trying to), and looking up at the millions of stars and talking over life. That time in the truck with the windows open and the dust blowing that we poured out our hurts. When school was tough, he would share some of his school fears and hurts and how he survived. Later, when girls dumped us or turned us down, his support and love kept us going.
I am sure fishing and hunting would have been fun too, but Dad set a high bar even though he probably doesn’t know it.
For those of you that are fathers, I hope you all had a nice Father’s Day. It isn’t easy and there is no perfect recipe, but you are important. Keep it up! To those of you that don’t have a father present or alive anymore, God bless you and keep you. He is the ultimate Father to all of us if we will allow him. Even when we as fathers let our children down, I pray that God will fill the gap with my children, erase the bad memories and preserve the good.