I was heading up to my Dad’s this week. I was feeling good for no particular reason. Maybe I was celebrating another sunny day in January. Maybe I was feeling especially grateful that I lived close to my 92-year-old father. So close that I could jump in the car and sit on the couch with him in 15 minutes. I was enjoying the freedom I had to mostly plan my days.
I called up Mark who was in a tractor loading hay down at ranch headquarters. “I just wanted to tell you . . . thanks for my life,” I said.
He couldn’t hear me over the engine, “thanks for what?”
“for my life.”
He hesitated a moment, chuckled, and said, “You’re welcome.”
He brought me back home 21 years ago. We grew up in the same ranching community, but I was five years older than him and we had never officially met one another. I was living on my own about three hours away. I had a bank job, a four-year-old daughter and a failed marriage. I could pay my bills and fend for myself. His pick up line hooked me. “What’s your social calendar look like?”
And so we were married, and Callie and I moved into his humble home in the sandhills. Callie had a room with ugly green shag carpet and a whole ranch to grow up in. We placed her colorful magnetic numbers and letters of the alphabet on the fridge. We came home one day to see that Mark had written, “1 + 2 = family.”
He would give me two more kids. And he would take care of us so I could stay home and raise them. He would give me as well, this Idaho sky, the grass, the animals - a life that compels me still.