Thursday, June 4, 2009


If my dad were alive today he'd be 109 years old. Do the math. You probably think I'm a lot older than I am. But Dad did not marry until he was 40 years old. Then he went on to raise six kids, working hard as a hired hand on a small farm. In many ways he was a remarkable man, able to fix anything and everything that needed fixing on the farm. Not that he ever held a high-paying job nor enabled his family to live in luxury. We lived frugally on a hired hand's wages. Sometimes there simply was "no money".

But we were not "poor". We knew kids in school whose families were "poor". In comparison to their tough lives, we had it easy. A roof over our heads. Food in the garden and cellar. Eggs from the chickens and milk from the cows. It meant hard work on his part as well as ours for we learned young how to help our mom and dad with chores, make beds, dust floors, cook eggs or hamburgers in a cast-iron skillet, peel potatoes for supper. By the time we were ten or twelve, we were earning small amounts of money by picking up corn (gleaning) from the ground after the combines had done their job of harvesting. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays meant we were out in the field, walking the rows, shucking and tossing corn into a five-gallon bucket which we filled and carried to a spot in the row where we dumped the corn, piling it in piles until we could later drive Dad's old International pickup through the field to gather the piles into the truck. By the age of twelve, we were spending our summers in the field as well, hoeing seed corn fields, detasseling, and hoeing beans until the start of the new school year.

Yesterday I visited my dad's grave at a small country cemetery in Saunders County, Nebraska. Dates on the stones range from the late 1800s to this decade. My family's plot includes my dad, one of his brothers and a sister, and their parents. I and my siblings make the 100 mile trip now and then. Sometimes every two or three Memorial Days apart. In the past we've coordinated our visit to meet there together, bringing sandwiches, coffee, chips and picnicking under the trees. It's a peaceful location, atop the hill, looking out over Nebraska farmland. The homestead next to the cemetery is the one on which my parents lived when they first married before they moved to Iowa. Did I say peaceful? Yes. And I myself get a certain amount of peace looking out over the hilly countryside, trying to see back into time, into the lives of my parents and grandparents.

This time I cried. Wept. Not in a maudlin way, but in a "missing" way. I miss my dad. He's been gone 24 years now and that's a long time not to see your dad.

Today's Scriptures include John 5:25 and John 11:25 and I Thessalonians 4:13-14. (Don't forget to place your cursor over the scriptures to read them.)


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