Thursday, June 28, 2007

Remembering Dad

Ralph and Gene Pierce, about 1933

Ralph Pierce, about 1936

Ralph Pierce and Carol Tess, about 1946

Dad and Mom 1982

I tried to write a post on Father's Day, but I couldn't do it. I've been scanning old family pictures and storing them on the internet because I am afraid that some day we'll have a disaster and all those family records will be lost. When I started going through pictures of my dad, it was overwhelming.

My parents were just twenty years older than me, and I imagined that when I was a retired lady (like now) we would all do things together. What, I'm not sure. As a family we didn't take vacations, both because my dad was a dairy farmer tied to his work, and because my mother's attitude was "There's no place like home." I just thought that we'd all reside on planet earth into our old age. Dad died in 1983 of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, aged 52. Mom joined him in 2005.

My dad was a farm kid who took over the dairy operation when he and Mom married in 1949. He used to ride a Harley back then, but Mom convinced him to sell it to a friend once they started a family. At Mom's funeral the friend confided that he still has Dad's bike, which must be worth a fortune these days. Anyway, despite ulcers and bad knees, Dad milked until about 1967, when he sold the herd and went into business with the friend who bought his Harley, and they sold John Deere equipment for several years. When the business was sold, he became a parts manager for another Deere dealership, and that was his job until his death.

I always thought that his cancer might have been caused by all the chemicals on the farm, all the herbicides and fertilizers that were poured and spread and sprayed on the fields, but his oncologist thought otherwise. I suppose it doesn't matter now, but I think about it.

I had a terrible time coping with his death, but an interesting thing happened. About a month later he came to me in a dream. I had been depressed, thinking I saw the back of his head in pickup trucks ahead of me in traffic, what people do who lose people they love. In the dream the bedside telephone rang, I picked it up, and it was his familiar voice. He said, "Sherry, I'm fine. I want you to stop worrying about me."

I woke up certain in my heart that the voice was real, though in my head I knew I couldn't be. Still, something changed. The grief softened, and I started to live my life again. He was fine because he said so; I could be fine too. I still miss him though, every day.


Sharon said...

What a touching post. You are so fortunate to have such loving memories of your father. And how comforting to have him "speak" to you in a dream..and who's to say that isn't real? I mean there is much about the dream world we don't know or understand.

I'm reading "The Book Thief" now and I love the way the narrator "Death" is depicted - not as the familiar ghoul with a scythe - but as a compassionate "being" - gently gathering souls, holding and warming them before sending them on...

Hope your day is good. Sharon

P.S. (Have people commented on the resemblance between your picture as a small girl and your father's as a little boy? (Eyes, nose...)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful photos. wonderful thoughts of your Dad. one way or another the dream was real.

suzanne said...

This is such a beautiful tribute to your father. Both the photos and your words convey such a sense of love. It makes me so sad to think about the way you were planning to spend your retirement with them, but happy to hear of how the dream provided you with a peaceful heart.

Calamity reads said...

Lovely photos. what i can't understand is why you would think something might happen to your photos? I love taking photos as they are the best way of remembering things and people. Esp. people.

I've just started to read 'Half of a yellow sun' Its brill and you will love it. I mean, i've only read 14 pages and already i'm hooked. It sort of reminds of 'The Bone people' which is one of my fave books. Worth reading both books.