My dad was a hard worker. He was a dairy farmer and we had 50 milking cows, plus many more steers and calves. Every day he got up early. Often I would be awake by 5:30 and find him in the barn. My earliest memories of him never changed. He would get up early, work hard, then milk the cows again every night. But one thing was different about my dad. Every day after dinner he would make time for my three brothers and me. He taught us how to play cards, 5 card poker, pool, ping pong, etc. Every kind of indoor activity we could do in Minnesota in the cold winters he did with us. He acted like there was nothing more important that he had to do than spend time with us. Then he would go out to milk the cows.
When I got older I liked to go out and help him by raking mangers, feeding the cattle hay and laying out fresh straw for the cattle to lay on. He was constantly showing us how far he could shoot milk to the cats. We would follow him around while he worked and help him even though I was only 7 years old. He showed us how to trap, let us each have turns snowmobiling, took us ice fishing, and every evening in the summer took us on drives out "west" showing us deer and wildlife. When my cat turned out to be a chicken killer he spared my cat's life, that is until I caught my cat in the act. He let us have a funeral service and invite the neighbor kids. When I got older and discovered I was getting muscles from cleaning the managers, I announced I was done and he let me quit. When I found out live snakes were baled in the hay bales, he allowed me to stop working in the fields because I freaked out and refused to set foot in the fields again. He hired a helper.
When I made a bad choice in the guy I dated, he forbade my date to ever enter his doorstep again. When I later made the mistake of marrying that same guy, Dad walked me down the aisle and when I left home on my wedding day I saw my dad cry the first time in my life.
I lost my dad three years ago, but every time I think of him, I smile and remember nothing but good memories of this kind, generous, wise gentle man.