Missing Our Dad on Father's DayPosted Tuesday, June 14, 2011, at 7:39 PM
Dad and Mom shortly after they got married in 1951. Dad and Mom with the boys after church sometime in the fifties.
Dad was the youngest of 12 living children. His mother was a semi-invalid most of his growing up years. He had older sisters and brothers who had already started families by the time he was born.
He could never get our Cousin Roy to call him Uncle Bud. There was just 6 months between them in age. Most of his sisters wouldn't let their children play with him because he got them into trouble.
Dad went to school in King Hill. On the very first day, he got into trouble. My Uncle Dick told him to go up and punch some kid in the nose. So he did.
They all rode their horses to school and my Cousin Roy had a mare that was so sway-backed that Dad and Duane "Orson" Wells and Jimmy Harder convinced him that they could put two saddles on that old horse. They got the saddles on okay, but when Roy mounted the horse, she bucked him off and he landed on his head. This scared them a little, so they spent the afternoon walking him until he came back to his senses.
Dad and his gang roped outhouses on Halloween. He told us about "Old Man Hitesman" sitting in his outhouse with a shotgun waiting for the "hoodlums" to try to tip him over. On that occasion, they knocked over the outhouse with the door facing down. Mr. Hitesman spent his Halloween that year in a small compact space contemplating something more drastic than a threat with a shotgun.
In 1951, Dad and Mom got married in Elko, Nevada. They had 5 children together. For a few years, they had a house in King Hill and then when I was two years old, they moved out to country to raise kids, horses and cows.
A few years ago, we had all of our home movies transferred to a DVD. I had forgotten how energetic Dad was. He loved to tell tall tales to us kids, complete with sound effects. Bev and I would sit on each knee while he spun a yarn or two. We were convinced that he had been a doctor in his younger years and that he had hunted "ELE-PHANTS and Side-Hill Wampus Cats.
To this day, I can see his eyes shining as he got ready to tell a "story" He had the biggest smile when he was about to tease someone.
My sister and I always woke up to the "Good Morning to You" song while we were in grade school.
Dad loved Christmas. He was a purist about waiting till Christmas Morning to open gifts. You couldn't open them at midnight though, it was usually 3 or 4 in the morning that he would stand in the doorway to wake you up "saying, It's Christmas and Santa Claus hasn't visited you yet".
He was a great one for leaving "notes" from Santa. You might not get the doll you wanted , but he hoped that this one would do instead.
My brothers got the pranks. One year, one of my brothers wanted a cowboy hat and so Dad wrapped up his old beat-up hat in a brand-new box. The note said: "So Sorry, but Santa Claus ran out of hats this year, I hope that this will do." I think my brother had tried to snoop prior to Christmas and so the hat was exchanged and the new hat hidden in the closet. He did the same thing another year when one of the brothers wanted an electric razor. He put my mother's pink single blade in the box and hid the new one.
My Mom said that he would still get up very early and try to quietly open gifts before waking her up. She could hear the little rustles of paper as he unwrapped his gifts.
Although he loved to tease and was mischievous growing up, Dad was an honorable person in his adult years. He spent many years as a 4H leader, Wagon Master for the 3-Island Crossing and as a Musician.
He coached my brothers little league basketball games and made sure that everyone had a chance to learn and play.
Horses were his passion, but teaching kids to ride was his vocation. I can remember having a gymkhana every year for 4H and inviting the head start kids to come and see us perform. Afterward, we would give the kids rides on the horses. No one was turned away.
Dad was not perfect. He was stubborn and bull-headed. All of us kids could tell you about some tussles with his iron will. He yelled a lot when you were out herding cows or hauling hay. My mother always said that he never got an ulcer because he never kept things inside.
He loved his grandchildren dearly and the greats too. Each one had a special place in his heart. A few years ago, there were kids running all over the place for Thanksgiving Dinner and he said "where did all of these kids come from?" I told him that he and mom started it all.
Dad and Mom were married 58 years. Our home as I have mentioned before was a stopping off place for cousins and other relatives. His old army buddies would stop by over the years too. I think that he knew everyone in 3 counties and they knew him too.
In his later years, he played with a band called the "Allen Ranch Rendezvous" He played the mandolin and sang a few songs. Some of his poems were put to music by another band member.
Losing a parent is painful. It does not matter how old you are or if you were still in touch. Just knowing that you have someone out there is more important than you realize until they are gone from your lives.
Some of you probably didn't have the greatest childhoods, but made the determination that you would make things better for your own children. My dad didn't have much growing up, but he never felt deprived. We never felt deprived either.
I took a deep breath and tried to think of how to write this blog without grief. I don't think that it is possible. The ache is not as raw as it was last year, but it is still there.
For those of you who still have your fathers, give them the biggest hug that you can manage and not just on Father's day. Your time is all that they require and your company is more pleasurable than you can imagine.
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Fixing fence is the one of the hardest jobs on a ranch. I no longer live on a ranch, but I do know what hard work is. Fences are everyone's concern, but nowadays,the "hole" is always your neighbor's side not your own. It used to be that you would respect your neighbor and mend the fence together. If their cows got in your field, a simple phone call resolved the problem. You might even saddle up your own horse and help them gather them up. We need more people who are willing to roll their sleeves up and fix the fence regardless of who your neighbor is. There are people in this country who need to be reminded that a fence is like the way you should conduct your life. Your posts should be straight and neat. The wire needs to be stretched tight and your gate might be closed, but can still be easily opened. And most of all, we can all saddle up together and ride the range, it won't matter if you have an Appaloosa, Quarter Horse or Thoroughbred. The cows still have to be gathered, fences have to be fixed, and the range is a wide open space of opportunity for us all.