Monday, June 18, 2012

Camping at Dad's

Our family’s annual camp-out was held on the lawn at my childhood home. My Dad still lives in the house so he could venture outside to sit around the campfire with us. He’s 93, walks with a cane and doesn’t say much, but retains his sense of humor. He still carries a pocket knife, opening letters or the occasional gift instead of castrating calves and cutting baling twine. He still puts on his cowboy hat whenever he steps outside; still uses two hands to tilt it slightly to the side in his signature style.

One evening as we were cleaning up supper, Anna had a good visit with Dad. Later as we snuggled in our tent, she told me about their conversation. She had asked him about his Mom and Dad. He told her that his parents didn’t really discipline, but were very kind and so he and his brothers did right because they didn’t want to disappoint them. I loved hearing that, because that’s how I describe the parenting style of my folks and how I’ve tried to raise my own kids.

We fell asleep to the sound of the Blackfoot River rushing over the old rock dam at the end of the pasture. It’s such a comforting, familiar sound; one I remember well from my childhood. My great grandfather built the dam to source an irrigation ditch so the melody ties me to my ancestors in a way nothing else can - except for the frogs croaking and the crickets chirping - these do not change.

When we were kids we’d sleep out on the lawn most every night, our faces firmly coated with mosquito repellant. My sisters and I would stare up at the stars, locate the big dipper, and drift off to the sound of the river.

We lost Mom two years ago in September. There’s only a few flowers left in her yard, but, oh, how we enjoyed the large oriental poppies in bloom at the front gate catching the evening sun with their translucent petals. Mom was a master of design, so good in fact, that the “bones” of the yard, the view, the large trees, the patio placement, make it majestic long after Mom’s skilled hands have ceased to maintain the flower beds. We felt Mom everywhere at the camp-out, frying burgers on her outdoor griddle, laying out each meal’s fare on her dad’s picnic tables, entertaining grandkids, and pruning cedars by committee just the way she would have wanted. 

1 comment:

  1. "He still puts on his cowboy hat whenever he steps outside, still uses two hands to tilt it slightly to the side in his signature style."

    - wonderful -