This Sunday is Father’s Day and it’s my first one without my Dad.
Next week I will join my sisters and bury his ashes next to my Mom. He’s been gone for 3 months now and there have been so many times lately that I would like to call him up on the phone. I would love to hear what he thinks of current events around the country.
But I can’t call him so this will be a Father’s Day both happy and sad. I have four great kids of my own that I can spend the day with but I know sometime during the day, I’ll pause for a second and think “I need to call my dad”. Then it will hit me again.
Instead of depressing you though, I’d like to talk a little about him.
Born on a farm in North Dakota, he was the only son of five kids. In case you forgot, I’m the only son of seven kids so we had something in common there. Dad enlisted in the US Army right after high school. He served 2 years in the Ordnance Corps. This was the late 1950s during the pioneering age of rocketry. Much of the information he learned was classified at the time and he even met Wernher von Braun once.
My dad was never much for taking orders from anyone so I think that’s one of the main reasons he only served 2 years. That, and meeting my mother while stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I’m not sure how long they dated but they were only engaged for about a week. They married and moved up to North Dakota not far from where he grew up. He farmed for over 30 years, having a tough time those last few years after mom died.
When I think of my dad, I think of all the things he liked to do. He liked woodworking, hunting, fishing, and reading. I remember trying to help him on the farm when I was a kid. It didn’t matter what he was doing, I wanted to help. It usually resulted in me either breaking something or banging my head on something. He always put up with me being in the way though and tried to teach me. I wasn’t the best protege though.
I wasn’t much of a farmer.
One time, I was digging a field and hooked the fence at one end. I didn’t notice until I was almost halfway back to the other end. I got to spend time fixing it after I finished digging. I also dug up some CRP (formerly farmland that the government pays to be seeded back to grassland) because I didn’t see the markers he had next to the field.
I was never a mechanic either.
He asked me to put a new carburetor on one of our grain trucks and I forgot to connect the fuel line. Everything was in place, but I forgot to tighten the nut connecting them. When I started the engine, the fuel ignited as it sprayed everywhere. Flames were shooting out of the engine compartment and there was no water or fire extinguisher in sight.
I was not a hunter or fisherman.
Fishing typically resulted in me jabbing a hook through my finger at some point and even if I caught something I wasn’t going to eat it. I went deer hunting with him every year. I think I wounded one once but never actually managed to get my own deer. Some of the best memories I have are related though. For a couple years while I was in high school, we were on a pistol shooting league together. I was no sharpshooter but he brought me anyway.
I’d like to wrap up with one of my favorite stories about my dad.
On the farm, we didn’t have cable TV and couldn’t afford a satellite dish. We had a plain old antenna on top of the house. One time, we just couldn’t seem to get any channels for some reason. We went outside on the front porch and looked up to see that somehow one of the bars on the antenna had bent or turned and was laying across a couple others. Apparently that’s all it took to mess up your television viewing back then. I loved to climb and had no fear of heights so I was going to grab the ladder and go take care of it. Dad said, “No. I’m going to shoot it off!”
This I had to see. He grabbed his bolt action rifle and lined up from the front porch. I told him there was no way he was going to hit it and offered again to get the ladder but no, he was going to shoot it off. I remember he didn’t get it with the first shot and maybe not with the second either. But I know it was no less than the third when that one bar went flying off the antenna to land in the backyard. He was very proud of himself and I was impressed.
And that was my dad.
He was determined and stubborn. He was a great shot with a rifle. Much more than any of the things he bought me, I remember the time we spent together. And I miss him.
Happy Father's Day Dad.
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Copyright Dave Lubke and www.davelubke.com, 2020
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