Saturday, June 18, 2011

You'll be there

I am posting direct to the blog page again because, well I guess just because I don't want to mess with posting it to a Word document and then post it here. I do not know when I will get this posted but it is Fathers Day or it will be Fathers Day tomorrow. Fathers day is always so bittersweet for me. I reflect on my Dad, and my kids always do something very special but at the same time missing my dad during this time is acute.

Today Chris, Chelsey (our WSU student intern) and myself attended a memorial service for a great man who is the father of a close and lifelong friend. All my thoughts and prayers are with the Wieseler family tonight. A great family, a great contributing family to the Columbia basin and especially to our local agriculture community. Today was a great tribute and sendoff for their family patriarch and may their loss be tempered by good memories of a great man.

I have never been someone that has handled the passing of others very well. I guess I am lucky in some ways because I feel those who embrace life and living the most are the ones who accept death the least. There is another dynamic that hit me last week when I learned of Leonards passing. I have been blessed with several great friends in my lifetime. Many of them were friends from a very early age and many of them continue to be close. I certainly do not want to discount the level of friendship of anyone but Leonard was the last dad to pass away of my closest 4 friends. Age has never really been an issue for me but knowing that myself and my 4 closest lifetime friends are now the "old guys" is a bit of a punch in the gut.

As Fathers day is upon us I thought I would share a story about my Dad that I experienced just a few weeks before his passing that I found very amusing. One of the things I really enjoyed and I feel Dad enjoyed as well were the days we were able to spend together going to a cattle auction. When I was very young it was a one ton Chevrolet truck with 4 cows in the bed, Dad driving and me dreaming that I could someday be him. In later life it became me driving Dodge a pickup pulling a 24 foot stock trailer with 12 cows in it and me still dreaming someday I could be him. When Dad and I traveled there was no limit to what issue of the day would be discussed. Even though on most issues we agreed, for him it was about teaching a life lesson and for me it was challenging his entrenched thought processes. We could have a pretty great banter over the argument of Hereford vs. Angus and an even better discussion about spring vs. fall calving.

The last trip we took to the livestock auction in Toppenish together we were discussing how to sort out media reports for truth or fiction. We both agreed that sometimes in today's "soundbite" world things often got distorted in a rush to be the first to report. We then discussed how to avoid being taken by a soundbite and how to decipher truth from hype. We arrived in Toppenish about the time we had agreed that you should be careful not to rush to judgment, have three reliable and credible sources and if something did not pass your own "smell test" to be very wary.

Dad and I both purchased a few bred cows and pairs at the auction that day and had a pretty great time. On the way home we stopped in Granger and while I pumped diesel Dad purchased a few items that we mutually enjoyed for the way home; black licorice, saltine crackers and Coors beer. I not only had plenty of time to fill my mostly empty tank, I also checked the cows we bought, checked the trailer tires and still seemed to wait forever for Dad to emerge from the store. Dad never met a stranger and if he struck up a conversation it might go for quite some time. Those that know me also know that never happens in my life.....anyway.

We headed down the road and I wish I could remember what issue we discussed but I do remember we were not exactly in agreement. I teased Dad that he was in a weak argument position and I jokingly asked him for his "three reliable and credible sources". Dad did not hesitate at my challenge. First he quoted a passage from the Bible, then he quoted a speech from former President Ronald Reagan, at this point I was a bit taken aback by his knowledge and wisdom. I somewhat mockingly said, "ok that is two, who is your third source?". Just as calmly and with just as much fervor as he made his first two points he flung out a very insightful idea. I did not disagree with his idea but I did ask him where he got that knowledge? With as perfectly poker face he said to me, "That guy I was talking to in the store named"Ted" is where I got that from!

Well my mind was changed that day, I do not know "Ted" but I do know that on this Fathers day I really miss the man that made me so much of who I am. He taught me so much, gave me so many opportunities and did all he could to teach me how to face life without his guidance. Tomorrow I am going to travel to Dayton Washington and pick up Dakota from 4H camp and take some time to enjoy the trip home just as Dad did with me years ago. Once we are home I may not make her change an irrigation handline just so she can remember who she is like Dad did with me years ago but I will tell her how much her Dad loves her just as he did many years ago.

I miss ya partner, and Happy Fathers day to you! You'll always be there for me. Today's picture, real environmentalist species and everything else is represented in this song played at Dad's celebration of life. Listen to the lyrics, it really captures how my Dad lived, and how those he left behind miss him. I'll see you on the other side Dad, thank you, thank you, thank you!