Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bores and Baptism

Father's day is upon us.  Warm thoughts of daddys are swarming, and neckties are selling at a greater rate than other times of the year.  Giving dad a gift is way harder than giving one to mom.  I mean, who sends flowers or candy to their dad?

 My dad died two years ago.  I wasn't sad that he died.  It was time.  I was washed with joy that he was mine and I was his.  It probably sounds crass, but I don't even miss him.  I don't miss him, because I feel his presence with me every day.  Every day.  Sometimes when I'm planting, or making a decision, or watching a storm or knowing what is right.  Sometimes when I see my messy hair in the mirror or hear a brass band.   Dad is always there, right there beside my mom.  Both of them continue to speak to me and guide me through life. 

Dad grew up with five sisters.  He was the second in line.  Five sisters and his German speaking grandparents on a timber claim in central Nebraska.  The stories are rich and wonderful.  Dad somehow managed to gain the gentle side from all the sisters, but what was required of him was grit, competence and self sustaining fortitude.  He was the only son on a farm that needed men to make it work.  He was the only brother in a world of sisters who needed him to teach them about life. 

So my father grew up a gentle bear, a killer and carer of things and people. 

By the time I came along he had lots of practice.  He had three sons of his own, his own farm, and was still helping out his dad on the "home" farm.  My "dad" memories include frozen winter nights when he would walk into the house with an almost dead calf on his shoulders, the hours of handing him tools while he repaired the tractor, or the wagon rides to the corn fields where we were all given hoes and told to get the weeds and "then we could eat the watermelon."  Thousands of memories which have become my own words and thoughts.  Dad watched storms.  His livelihood depended upon the weather and the decisions he would make related to them.  We would watch them together and he would point out the significance of each cloud and wind.  Now, when weather comes upon us, I feel dad breathing and I see him dancing his grandbabies to sleep.   Each one the most important.  Each the precious gift.   

Dad didn't like church much.  At least that's the message I got as a child.  Mom would say, "daddy is just too busy."  I knew better.  He just didn't like church, but he loved hymns.  Mom would play, and we would all sing.  Dad's eyes would tear up at, "Just A Closer Walk With Thee" and "Amazing Grace."  But he would go to "another place" with, "How Great Thou Art."

But the things church teaches us, like loving your neighbor as yourself, and pretty much all the commandments, except taking the Lord's name in vain, were just naturals to him.  The Lord's name in vain was a tough one, especially while repairing tractors and racing a storm for wet hay.  

Farmers need help sometimes.  Through the years I was protected from the realities of farm reproducing techniques, until one day I asked why Archie was bringing over that very big pig.  I was told some story about how Archie wanted to share his big pig for a while because Archie was nice like that, but the reality was that these two farmers had purchased a male hog, a bore, to share. A little while in Archie's pen, a little while in dad's pen.  Very happy bore.  That's what it was like for Archie and dad.  They shared work loads, they shared the stuff of farming in a way to benefit them both.  They trusted one another and made no big deal about it.  Both were gentle bears.  Both were killers and carers of things and people.  They were each other's other. 

The work never went away.  Farming is like that.  It's always there.  They helped each other through every possible storm a farm could bring a man.  But they both grew old.  And when it was time to resettle to town they found homes across the street from one another.  They continued helped each other colored with a fresh cup of coffee and one another's house each morning.   They were neighbors of the first order.  Storms come in many forms, and the one that almost killed these hearty men, were the storms that took their loves.  First mom and several years later, Betty. 

One day Archie came over for coffee with a serious question on his mind.  Archie had never been a church man either, but he had great concerns.  He wanted to be baptized so that he could, "go where Betty was."  But this gentle bear was afraid.  He just wasn't sure he could do it alone.  He asked my dad to be baptized with him.  Only the two of them know what really went on that day as these two men, who had battled everything life could give them, wondered about their eternity together.  I like to imagine I was there watching the akwardness, and the love, and the reluctance, and the amazing beauty in these men. 

Then, one wonderful day,  two gentle bears, who were killers and carers of things and people, submitted to the unknown and gave in to the magic.  Separately, but together they offered their lives to God.  Does it matter why?  Maybe to support a friend, maybe to guarantee a future with a lost spouse, maybe because it felt right.  Does it matter why?  Not.   

I sang, "How Great Thou Art" at Dad's funeral. That was my gift to him.  No flowers, just a song.    He had already gone to that "other place,"  but I know he was there with me, smiling with open arms for all the grandchildren.

So this Father's day, I think of these amazing men, one my father, one his chosen friend and I thank God for the power they have given me. 

Dad and Archie's story is rich.  Maleness, power, skill, confidence, friendship, practicallity, and acknowledgement of the unknown.  Somewhere, they are together, in some form, spreading  goodness and practicallity to the ones who have arrived.  God brings people together in life and for eternity.  Pay attention to the people He has given you now.  They just might be with you forever. 

1 comment:

  1. Rhonda Brewer WardynJune 1, 2017 at 9:31 PM

    My Dad was Archie Brewer and his best friend was Fred Hiser along with all his coyote hunting friends, Walter Roelle Bob Holmes, the Johnson Brothers, etc. This story is true and they spent many hours walking pastures and draws looking for coyotes. They were baptized together in the Christian Church in Litchfield, NE. With a breakfast afterward in the fellowship hall. Dad attended church there afterward with Fred and Melpha every Sunday. I would ask him out for dinner and he would say, " Melpha's got it ready". He would eat there and Melpha would explain the sermon as Fred and Dad were hard of hearing. She was good to both of them. She took wonderful care of Fred as he aged too. Fred walked across the street one morning to have coffe with Dad and made the coffee. He called to Archie and Dad was dying in his bed. Fred found him there. I was at work at the Good Samaritan nursing home that morning. Marvin drove down to get me because he knew I couldn't drive. Fred was there at the house with tears rolling down his cheeks. He said, "He was the best friend I ever had". So goes life. And now, my dear childhood friend, Sherry, has gone on to meet them. What a mystery this life is!! Does anyone really understand this miracle called life? Love the people in your life !!

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