Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you’ve said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Farming conversations conjure up a feeling of community amongst us because farm life lends to many common experiences. While you didn’t live the exact same scenario that I lived with my dad, you lived a day with your dad that left the same feeling. Even if you’re reading this without a farm background, you just might relate to the reminiscing in your own lifestyle, as well.
Here’s to my dad, here’s to my husband, and here’s to all the great dads – farm and otherwise. All of a farm kid’s favorite dad memories… see if these bring back any for you:
1) The first time he let you drive
There’s a reason we all loved that old Alan Jackson song. “Daddy let me drive” as I puttered along on the 4020 for the first time. Later, learning on the brown ’77 Ford my parents got married in, that required two hands for me to shift, the occasional jumping off of the power steering belt, and that driver’s window that would unpredictably fall down as I was driving. We could all write a story about being behind the wheel of that motor that was dear to our hearts, and we’ll never forget when Dad gave us that feeling of freedom the first time we took over.
2) The first time you messed up
Wide-eyed, maybe you watched as his face morphed from horror, to relief (omit this step if disaster ensued), to aggravation, to restraint… because he remembers when he messed up, too. For me, I vividly remember the creaking of old boards as I caught the side of the barn on the hay wagon I was backing. Luckily for me, disaster was averted.
3) That everyday routine time working side by side
Our best talks were walking the pasture field, checking out the new calf crop or counting cows. Crawling up in the old brown truck on Saturday mornings to stop by the feed store… and then the donut store… How wise our farm dads were to know that chore time meant quality time.
4) When he let the farm teach you that life’s not always going to go your way
It happened when one of the kitties in the new litter fell lifeless. Or my brother learned it when the little heifer calf of his prized cow/calf pair broke her leg… so much for the show ring that summer. Now, when hubs and I face a flooded field or other threats beyond our control, I remember how my dad taught me to react: thank God for the good times and let the frustration go during the bad times.
5) Each time he trusted you with something new
He was always far more sure than you were that you were ready to be vaccinating or running the machine. Once oblivious to his intentions, you now know where you learned your independence and confidence to jump in and try something new. Either that… or he was just that desperate for help… either way, the result in you is the same.
6) When you learned to love what he loved
Me: “What’s your favorite memory with your dad?”
Hubs: “Riding in the combine with him.”
Hubs: “Because it was his favorite thing to do and now it’s my favorite thing to do.”
Me: “What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever done with Daddy?”
Our tot: “Playing with Daddy in the combine.”
It could just be because she’s heard her father and I conversing over the combine frequently as wheat harvest is upon us, but I think you get the idea… remembering that passion breeds passion.
7) The day you understood sacrifice
Sacrifice meant missing out on family time and lots of hard work; but, on the other hand, one day you realized that hard work was the marker of a life well lived. Looking back, it wasn’t so much a sacrifice, but a lesson: hard work and productivity are the keys to the path of living the life God gave us.
I’d love to hear the specific memories of your dad from the relationship moments I’ve shared – but, at the least, revisit them all with your pops today.
Happy Father’s Day to farm dads, grandpas, uncles, brothers, neighbors, and all those leaving a treasured memory on the hearts of those that come after them.