The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
By Elaine Slater Reese (Spring Green, Wisconsin)
MOTHER'S DAY in May - fresh flowers, candy, dinner out. We blink, and then it's FATHER'S DAY in June - cards, grilling out, golf or sports.
Fathers love their children just as much as mothers do. Perhaps they sometimes have a different way of expressing it. My father was a quiet man. I always felt his words were his gifts to me. Those two words of his that meant so much were "GOOD JOB!" Those words always encouraged me to do even better.
His words of wisdom have played like a recording in my mind through all the years. "If you can't say something good about someone, don't say anything!" How many times have I had to work at that - but in the long run was glad when I managed to accomplish it.
A LITTLE HARD WORK NEVER KILLED ANYONE - I can remember hoeing corn stalks out of the beans in the blazing sun and believing he had no idea what he was talking about.
He told me "If you get really, really hurt by someone or something, don't let it ruin the rest of your life." I had to graduate from the SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS before I understood and appreciated that one.
My father was a farmer. He loved the land, the crops, the animals. I don't think he ever took a drink. But on the high top shelf in our big old kitchen was always a bottle of whiskey. How many times did he carry in a still wet new baby calf that was having trouble breathing! A shot of whiskey down that little creature always did the trick.
And in the sub-zero weather when sometimes there was a new litter of baby pigs, he brought them in an old basket and sat them on the oven door for a few moments. When they really started squealing, he knew they were warmed up enough to survive.
There was the time he was going to repair the living room ceiling- rest assured, that was not his cup of tea. I don't know what actually happened. I can just see this leg in old denim coveralls sticking through the ceiling - and my mother being a little excited!
There was also the time he had to re-light the pilot on the old kitchen stove. After the huge BANG, he had no eyelashes.
He taught me to drive a tractor just about the time I had mastered the tricycle. Feeding the cattle and hogs was usually designated to me. And the chicken house - water the chickens, feed them, get the eggs. (If you're from the city and never had to walk barefooted through a chicken coup in the heat of summer, well.....).
He taught us how to pray and he made sure we were in Sunday School and church each Sunday. He believed that teaching us about our Heavenly Father was his most important job.
He taught us to respect our elders - we had to visit grandparents on Sunday afternoons. One of the greatest gifts he gave me was from his hospital bed.
"Keep the farm as long as you can, but when it's time to sell it, you will know it." Those words were such a gift of wisdom and love.
But what were my favorite words - the ones I always loved hearing?
"WANT TO GO GET AN ICE CREAM CONE?"