Sunday, June 16, 2019

Thoughts of my Father on Father's Day 2019

Today is Father's Day, and we are in St. Joe, MO, taking care of Julie's father who is recovering from a set-back (at age 87, "set-back" is a broad term for any event that requires assisted living until strength is regained). We are happy to be here to help him. Julie's mother is a huge help with meals and meds and encouraging conversation, but she is unable to do the more physical aspects of the daily routines. Such is life when you're in your eighties.

I have been blessed to have two wonderful fathers. My own dad, and Julie's. They have both taught me wonderful things about life and living and the Lord.

There is a place where I write about these two men. It's a personal blog I started fifteen years ago called "Patterns of Ink" (the title is explained at the blog).  Finding these stories is not not like reading a book  because at a blog the chapters written last end up on the top of the heap, so you have to scroll down in the month or click back to earlier months to find the first chapter, and that's where the story begins.

Personal blogs are like old barns--a hodgepodge of old and new. You may find a mower still warm from work or something so rusted it has no practical use but the magic of holding a memory.  Naturally, there are far more stories at my Patterns of Ink about my own father than my father-in-law, but they are both remarkable men in their own right.

In this post, I will direct your attention to the man who built the barn in this video, and the man who left this earth too soon it seems to straiten out his barn for strangers to see.

The story behind the video is this: My father died just weeks before turning 67 in the year 1995, but my mother lived on at the old homestead until her passing in 2007. Then for several years, the five children (all grown with families of their own) waited and wondered what to do with the place we all called home. It's strange how five adults who all have homes of their own can call another place "home" without the slightest hint of incongruity. I suspect many readers here know exactly what I mean. Perhaps, you too have experienced that final letting go that comes years after letting go of those who made a farm, or a cottage, or some other plot of land feel more like home than anywhere else on earth. Then comes the dreaded decision to sell because, after all, life is lived in the present even when made meaningful by our past.

A few weeks before the estate sale, I went back to the old barn with a video camera to capture these images to use as backdrop to a poem I had written for Dad many years before. I used the instrumental song by Randy Newman called, "A Father Makes a Difference" in the back ground.

To some the barn may look a mess, but to me it is beautiful because so many things are just as my father had left them all those years before. The only thing missing was the tractor (which we sold to my Uncle Bob.) Toward the end of the short video, you'll see an aluminum canoe in the rough-hewn rafters. That canoe was presented to him at his retirement party many years before. If you look closely, you'll see that the video "double exposes" at that moment to show Dad building the barn way back in 1969. Of all the poems I've ever written and all the videos I've ever compiled, these are probably the most meaningful to me. To read one of the chapters and the story behind this barn Click here.

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