Tomorrow would have been my dad’s 94th birthday. He was a veteran, a farmer, a postmaster, a carpenter, a friend, a husband and the father of four most grateful children.
While he and our mom still lived in southern Iowa, gathering for Thanksgiving became our family’s tradition. We would arrive from Colorado and California and points throughout the Midwest, sometimes joined by cousins and friends. And each time another car pulled into the drive by their Promise City home, Dad’s smile would grow wider. (Mom would already be on the front porch welcoming them up the steps and through the door, asking if they were hungry. )
It was at one such Thanksgiving dinner when one of us said to Dad, seated at the head of the table (Mom was still running around the kitchen, probably pulling the second turkey out of the oven): “Well, we hope you’re proud of yourself. Just look at what you started.” And he laughed that wonderful chuckle and made the line part of his repertoire every gathering after.
I cannot think of my father without thinking of the land he loved–black soil made richer through conservation methods he and my ahead-of-their-time uncles swore by. This time of year brought the ritual of the crop planning, with Dad and Uncle Tom drinking coffee at the kitchen bar, strategizing. Fertilizer and seed corn would be ordered–Pioneer…had to be Pioneer.
He grew a good family.
And that, I love.