When I was little, I looked ”up” to you for the simple reason that you were so much taller than I was. Over time, as I began to interact in the world more, I looked to you to learn the Golden Rule. I saw neighborhood kids who respected you for your strength in knowing what was wrong and what was right. We all knew that if something was happening, you would be the one to set it right.
I remember our 4H club; all the things you taught us; the places we went; the experiences we had. I loved the fairs where we could show off our animals, crafts, art-work, vegetables, flowers ….you taught us to take pride in hard work brought to fruition.
There were the Doodle-bug pulls…the mini-bikes….snowmobiles. Time at Lake Bomoseen swimming, learning to row, drive a motor boat, playing for hours in the water with a swamped wooden boat. Drives at dusk looking for deer….
Days of weeding, pulling dandelions (getting paid by the bushel), picking vegetables, flowers and fruit to sell. Sunday drives to nowhere with a hidden snack in the glove compartment stopping for cider and apples. Learning archery, how to shoot a gun, how to make a birdfeeder, woodworking, how to repair broken things we valued. Having our own cider press so we could make the freshest and best cider ever. Learning to drive a car in the field our back, driving tractors and lawnmowers. Having a tire swing…a Fort in our backyard to play in…
You taught us, by example, to be strong and self-sufficient. We learned to be critical thinkers and to keep up with what is going on in the world. We learned economics by selling farm goods in front of the house. We learned ….many, many lessons to get us through everyday life. Too many to remember and write on this paper.
The Christmas tree farm was a lesson in long-term planning. It takes many seasons to grow a tree. Knowing that the payout was not immediate, but the work still must be done daily, weekly, yearly was a great lesson in life. Raising children is a bit like growing Christmas trees; a lot of work, a bit of pruning, good soil, some water… and eventually they go on to serve their purpose in life.
As an adult I still look up to you – you are still taller than I, but that is not the reason. I look up to you and the life you lived because you have lived an honorable life. You worked hard at your job, raised wonderful organic gardens and a family that I am proud to belong to. You went on to raise Christmas trees, build toys for children in the hospital, and stand tall for the things you believe in. You have mentored many children, not just your own. You are both a father and a friend to cousin Jack.
Best of all you are my dad.
Love always …