NOTE: The following sketch of my early relationship with my father will continue Sunday night, or Monday. There IS a whole other chapter.
POP: PART ONE
My father was totally blind. He was owner-operator of a dairy farm in Ohio. That is the place I grew up. Around two hundred head of cattle made up the chief source of income. Also we experienced the raising of pigs, horses, chickens, guineas, sheep, two goats, lots and lots of cats, a few dogs (collies, shepherds, mixes, etc.), and other stuff I cannot remember.
My sister and I raised Hereford steers in the 4-H club for showing and auctioning at the county fair.
Steve (my father's real name...also) was a man admired, respected, and carefully listened to, by all--I mean ALL--who met him. Humor, and a great enthusiasm for living and life, were characteristics of his which were admired by all, even me. Sometimes I just wish I had some of that zest for life, that lack of fear of being a little "different", that joie d'vivre which is SO lacking in this great and wonderful, and well-blest country where we live. (Truthfully, I DO have quite a bit of all that stuff -grin!)
On a cold, darkened, wintry morning with ice everywhere, old snow hanging around--even the snow felt itself cold at 10 below zero--the old John Deer would sometimes rebel and refuse to start. Six (seeing) hired hands had tried and failed to get the tractor moving. My sightless father climbed right up there, fooled with the engine, worked a little magic, asked for a pint of gas, poured it right into the carburetor, did a few more unseen magic gestures...and...FOOOM! BOOM BOOM, that old one-cylinder piece of machinery began to roll into action for the day's work.
He could put his hands on any one of the fifty cows milking, and tell whoever was interested, how many pounds of milk the cow produced in a day (two milkings), the butterfat content, when her next calf was due, when she birthed the last one, how old she was...etc. Oh! And her name--we named our cows, it was a real "family" business. (Don't anyone get 'smart' here, OK?)
Everything was retail, eggs, butter, cream (coffee, and whipping), buttermilk, cottage cheese, eggs, chocolate milk, ice cream (Pop used to tell little kids that chocolate milk came from the black cows). He loved children, and they loved him...always...except me!
All through my 'formative' years, Pop called me--out loud, in front of anyone--five hundred dumb jackasses. He said this in German, but everyone--especially me--knew what he meant. And he never...never EVER said those words to another human--just me!
I read constantly here and elsewhere, about some of the girls being horribly abused, even raped by their relatives, and beaten, and I pray for them, and sometimes I cry a little when I read some of your stories. But, ya know--I did not realize it--that I was also abused, in a fashion. I have not got it all figured out yet, but even though I inherited many of my father's (hopefully) good character traits, I hated him for many years. Yes, I am another one of those guys: I never once heard my father say, "I love you, son!"
Two sisters and a brother, who he told often that he loved them, all grew older with their own issues and problems. These were different from mine. My real problem was between my ears, where I planted and nurtured the seed of alcoholism--that "thinking disease"--which lasted from about age 12 to age 40. Actually, I still HAVE it...as we all know, it never goes away. It is always there in the attic of my mind, waiting patiently for whatever trigger, or series of events, will again give it the life it craves. It is the ghost of the dead drug, which will haunt me when I least suspect.
This week, Wednesday I will celebrate my 35 year anniversary of the day of my last drink. The day after my last drink, a Tuesday, I attended my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Slow it has been, but finally, even I am seeing some result. For one thing, the BIG result...I am still alive. I do not dwell on other results, because that is certainly a changing state of mind and body.
Mostly though, I can sure tell you I'm a HAPPY guy, almost always at Peace, and so, SO full of love for life itself, yours and mine! Lately I have been closing my blogs and Emails with: "In love and service..." because that sounds a lot more AA-ish to me than, "OH! How I love all you wonderful bloggers, and AA,an God, etc., etc." Know what I mean???
But today is different! I'm gonna tell you like it IS. I DO love you all! I love reading your blogs, your comments, commenting on your blogs. And I love WRITING blogs. And when I think of the few of you out there who will read this and enjoy it, my heart is near to exploding with love--for you AND the others. Please KNOW THAT!!! ...And I love "Prayer Girl".
In Love and Service,