The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Father's Day 2016 By Elaine Slater Reese

Elaine Reese is a freelance writer who grew up in Hancock County, Illinois and considers that home even though she has now lived in Spring Green, Wisconsin for over 20 years.

She says "The Quill" always keeps her updated.

Like Mother's Day, Father's Day seems to bring out lots of different emotions for many of us. We are suddenly aware of incidents we have buried and those we have treasured.

We are blessed if we have grown to accept the fact that there no perfect parents - neither ours nor us!

I looked in the mirror the other day and couldn't believe what I saw. That wasn't me. That was my mother!

No, I don't think I look like my father. However, we both had red hair in our younger years. But there's a lot of my father in me.

My parents were married nine years before their first child was born. But then little "Ray Boy" became suddenly ill and died within twenty four hours. It was two years later when I came along.

The fact that I was a girl evidently didn't discourage my dad. There are boxes of old photos - him holding me securely sitting on top of his big Hereford bull, me literally driving the tractor at the age of six.

He taught me just about all he knew about farming as we worked together. I was blessed he never insist I learn the mechanical aspects.

Back then binder twine and wire were essentials.

He introduced me to 4-H and those experiences still positively influence my life today.

I learned very early that lying was never an option.

I never needed a watch because time was based on when the sun set and when the job was completed.

Farmers then had to also often be vets.

And, of course, I learned about the birds and the bees by being around all the animals.

I can still see my dad coming into our house in the middle of a hot summer day. The tears were running down his cheek. I had never seen him cry before. He could hardly get the words out.

"Your new little cocker spaniel puppy. I don't know how she got into the hay field. I've never seen her there before. I was mowing the hay."

Then he sobbed and sobbed. "I mowed her legs off. I am sorry! I am so sorry!"

I am not sure if he hurt worse for that little puppy or for me. My dad taught me to respect the land, the animals, and especially others.

And as hard as he always worked, there was never a question about it. Sunday was the Lord's Day.

He took us to Sunday School and Church. We learned about our Heavenly Father and His love for each of us.

I heard his voice choke when he answered who gives this woman to this man.

And I will never forget the look on his face when he held his first grandchild in his arms.

And then one day my dad was an old man.

How could that be? He could no longer handle all the farm work. He was tired. He was sick. And at the hospital he said to me, "Hold on to the farm as long as you can.

But when you need to let it go, you will know it."

I will never forget that moment. He was saying so many things with that.

Now years later, my father is a photo in my living room and a living part of me in my heart. He will always be my "Daddy".