When I think of life, many times I contemplate the flow of moving water as being an apt metaphor. The progression of life, of families, of farming comes to mind. Rivers are constantly in transition. Sometimes there is flooding and at times it runs dry. Water descriptors such as turbulent or calm, warm or icy, deep or shallow could just as easily describe many aspects of life as much as it could a river.
This is a tale of two dads, my own father as well as my father-in-law. Each of them were born in the same county. Both became farmers. They were tillers of the soil, milkers of cows, feeders of swine. While the rivers of their lives paralleled one another, to a large extent, they did not intermingle until my husband and I brought our families together through our marriage.
These two dads each knew the ebb and flow of the seasons. Spring brought the gathering of seed and preparation of ground. They scanned the pastures for new born calves. They planted, they cultivated, they watched for the rains. There was always excitement in being able to row, or view, the first green sprouts of corn!
Mid-summer meant loading sweet smelling hay bales onto a lowboy while sweeping the sweat off their brows. Corn was always well over the old standard of knee high by the fourth of July unless it was a rare year of drought. Walking beans to hand-cut tall weeds provided the visual beauty of contour planted bean rows. When combining golden fields of oats, the year was half spent.
Hearing the rustle of the dry, pale tan corn leaves in the breeze told them the crop was restless for harvest. Cool autumn weather was for reaping the rewards of hard work by filling the bins with corn and soybeans. Fall meant many long days of work, provided the grain tested dry enough to glean. The hum of grain driers would sound through the valleys. These two farmers were always grateful for the completion of harvest, especially prior to Thanksgiving.
When the weather permitted bringing in the crops before the early snows, there was time for field work and turning the soil. Once winter rolled around there was meticulous record keeping as well as testing seed germination and ordering new seed for the next season. The cold weather months were spent hauling hay to the cattle pastures. Checking that the tank heaters were operational for the thirsty cattle was a must. Yes, these farmers knew the nuances of the seasons well.
Our family tree grew within that river of life, surrounded by the rolling fields and pastures. Branches were eventually added to this tree with three generations of children beyond our dads. Life was and is good. Then, there were family members whose branches broke from the tree, seemingly before they touched the winter or even the fall of their lives. My mother-in-law was one. Our son was another, as was my brother. Yet, the river of life flows on.
This week marks the thirty-six year anniversary of my father-in-law’s passing. The very same day he passed was the birthday of one of his granddaughters. My dad’s departure two years ago was the very same date. It was also my dad’s mother’s birthday. Out of 365 days in a year, how could all four of these events be on the very same day? These types of synchronicities seem to be one of the mind boggling mysteries of this great river of life. It is as a bend in the river where it was least expected.
I’ve no doubt that our dads are still with us. You see, there are people who are gifted to view our loved ones beyond the veil. They do watch over us, help us, interact with us. In fact, when I spoke of our family tree, perhaps a more accurate comparison would be a family river. Generations upon generations before us as well as after are intimately connected, flowing from one to another, just as the seasons flow on the farm. I am ever grateful for watching the river run.