Father's Day by Heather Reed
Today, many families are celebrating Fathers Day. It is a time of remembering our earthly father with gifts, cards and family gatherings. My Dad used to say, "Theres no such thing as Fathers Day". Hed tease us about the long list of projects he would soon be getting. For him, being part of a family, with all its give and take, made him a happy guy. He tried to fill his world and ours with simple pleasures. Fathers Day was a happy day in our house; year after year, he was pampered and fussed over like an honored guest.
I loved my Dad dearly. He was my best friend growing up, and sadly, I lost him too soon. I learned a lot from him during our 23 years together, and also well beyond. Even today I know he is with me in the way the light falls upon his beloved gardens and hayfields in the late afternoon, or when my daughter and I share a special moment and I remember how he and I shared a similar moment years ago.
He had a strong work ethic and sound principles that he stood by. He was loyal to friend and family, and believed in having fun and appreciating life and all its lessons. He loved the outdoors and respected nature and her creatures. I remember hed go deer hunting with his friends, but hed never bring home any deer. I asked him why. "I cant kill them," he told me. "They are too beautiful. So, I sit under a tree and me and my gun lean against it and spend the day happily looking at the world around me".
My Dad passed these attributes on to me as rare gifts, and he did it by example. I learned how to express love and concern for others. Hugging was encouraged. At night, I would sit in his lap and wed read our books or talk about our day. Sometimes wed pore over the Encyclopedias, researching states and countries that were all green and where we figured the best farms would be. We always wanted to live on a farm. When he was a boy, he spent several summers on a farm in Vermont. Hed tell me about riding the big workhorses bareback in the newly plowed fields and swimming and fishing in the icy cold stream running behind the farm. It was magical to me, and I carried those images of peaceful greens, sky blue, and golden yellow suns into my tomboy dreams.
My father and I shared a camaraderie, a sort of unspoken understanding of kindred spirits. We were a lot alike. We did things together and as a family. In winter we would all go sledding down Lawsons Hill and skating at the Duck Pond. In spring wed clear out the rotting leaves and twigs from the flower beds and buy new plants for the gardens. In summer we were always here in Westport, and I ran free as a pixie. I had three sheep; we were inseparable. My wooly friends and I would romp in the fields while Dad puttered in his garden. Fall was a special time for us, we found many outdoor things to do together, especially raking leaves and burning them with potatoes tossed in the middle of the orange-hot embers and the wonderful wheelbarrow rides hed give me.
Growing up, I could be myself, although I never was fully sure who or what that was. I was a tomboy and loathed dresses and party shoes and pretty much got away with it except for church. My fathers love and acceptance of me validated me as a daughter and a person in my own right. Of course, daughters grow up and become headstrong, and fathers and daughters invariably butt heads. And we did. My teens were confusing years for me and struggling ones for my Dad. We moved from New York to Westport when I was 14, and although we loved it here, the adjustment was rough. I struggled in a new school and Dad had to shift gears in a new job in a city the size of a postage stamp compared with Manhattan. When we should have been supporting each other, we pulled apart, abruptly, painfully.
But, love stands by all; love softens, cures, caresses, strengthens the heart and eventually brings peace, acceptance, and understanding. Love, like water, is life sustaining.
We got through those rough couple of years and then I was off to college. Less than two years later my Dad and I would be sharing our last days together here on the farm we loved so dearly and had worked together to preserve as a place of natural harmony. Golden summer days turned to scarlet fall afternoons sitting together, holding hands and speaking our hearts for the last time. "Take care of your mother for me," hed say. "Why do you tell her youll have your vacation as usual?" Id ask. "Because she needs to hope"
He was all about love. Not perfect, as I was to eventually learn. All My life Id held my Dad unnaturally on a pedestal. It wasnt until after his death when I was dealing with my own pain and anger, that his best friend helped me see that it was time to lift him down and really humanize him. I had a God for a perfect father. It was time to let my Dad just be my Dad and let God be God.
These are my memories - simple, honest and spiritually profound.Dear God,
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