Friday, March 21, 2008

Don't Blink

I turned on the evening news
Saw a old man being interviewed
Turning a hundred and two today
Asked him what's the secret to life
He looked up from his old pipe
Laughed and said "All I can say is. . .
Don't blink!"

(Kenny Chesney)

Dad and I were both happy for a beautiful sunny day to drive out to the farm.

I checked the two beehives that we have left in Ohio. Dad shared my disappointment that the bees did not survive the winter. It was a tough winter.

We burned a few things in the burn barrel. Dad grinned at me when I put too much on the fire and smothered it. He pointed out the vents in the burn barrel and told me that if we keep those open the fire would burn better. Then we both took turns stirring up the burn pile with big sticks to remedy the problem that I had caused. It was fun. He knew and was teaching me. I was the daughter learning from him. It was good for both of us. Lately, when I visit him, I become the parent. It is an inevitable role reversal, so sadly and regrettably typical in our life stages.

Dad told me—he didn’t ask me—to come into the barn with him. I told him, “This creeps me out.” He grinned at me. It always has creeped me out!

When I was probably ten years old, my brother and I went to feed steers in that barn. I reached my hand into the feed bin and was attacked by a mouse! At least that is how I remember it! I screamed, of course! I declared that I was never ever going in that barn again. Dad had to talk me down. He told me that the mouse was more frightened of me than I was of the mouse. He told me that I need to make lots of noise when I go into the barn to let those little mice know to get out of my way because I was coming in and I was bigger than them. After that Lowell and I sang loudly when entering the barn. We yelled out to let the mice know we were coming because I never wanted to see one again. Today, I had that impulse to let the creatures know that I was around again. Dad grinned at me.

First Dad had to try starting the tractor mower. The battery turned over and he was pleased. It had survived the winter. I was pleased for him. We take joy in tiny victories.

Dad told me there were some things that he wanted to show me. He showed me old metal. It was not worth much for a long time but now it is worth something. A man from their church goes to the new church site and picks up scraps of metal everyday and takes it to Bryan, Ohio and they pay pretty good for that old metal. The man gives the money to the church. Dad showed me metal that we could sell from the old bridge. Dad showed me a heavy beam and reminded me that they pay by the weight for that metal.

He reached and found light switches of which I was unaware. A few years ago, someone vandalized the barn and shot out the light bulbs with a bb gun. I had a scary vision of Dad getting up on ladders to replace those light bulbs. They were all working.

We looked at an old wagon and some old tractors. He told me a bit about what he had in there. Dad said, “I know you are bored, but I need to show you a few more things.” I protested that I was not bored. Dad grinned at me.

Dad told me, “Kay says my kids will be mad at me when I die because I have such a mess in this barn to clean up. I would clean some more of this up. . .” Again, I protested! “Not so! Dad, your kids could never be mad at you!” Once again, I was rewarded with a small smile from my dad.

Dad went on, “I want to clean it up. I wanted to get more done. I can’t get out here much. I get awfully tired and sleepy and I feel weak. Maybe it is because I haven’t been able to exercise much this winter.”

I said, “No, Dad, I think it is more than just lack of exercise.”

We went into his workshop room. Dad told me that not all of those tools are junk. Some of those tools are good tools. Someone can still get a lot of use out of those tools.

I said, “Okay, Dad, I won’t let anyone just burn this barn down. I’ll make sure that some of this stuff gets sold or given to someone who needs it.” Dad once again grinned at me. In fact I am sure that I heard a small chuckle.

Now, how am I going to do that? I am imploring my siblings who may read this blog to understand that I gave my word. I couldn’t help it. He showed me. He trusts me. You are going to have to help me. Not now, of course, but sometime.

I said, “Good-by, Dad. I sure do love you.”

Dad said without a trace of a smile, “I sure am sorry you have to go home so soon.”

Ditto, Dad.

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