Eight years ago at this time, my dad was still alive.
He was sick and his body was again beginning to forsake him with a cancer that would win just a few months later.
But he was still alive, still here on this earth.
He was still my mom’s partner, Ivan the miniature Schnauzer’s companion and a father to my brother and I.
In his last few years, I loved giving my dad Mike’s Hard Lemonade and cashews for Father’s Day, two things he enjoyed. He was someone who always bought what he needed or wanted so a good snack was always a good idea.
Some of my early memories of Father’s Days include many trips to Ord, Nebraska for the annual Father’s Day Rod Run, an antique car show and party.
My dad was a row crop farmer meaning that we were often tied to home during the summer months but there were times he would shut off the irrigation to the crops, pack up the car and we would leave for a couple of days.
There would be conversation, cars and sunshine during the day and pizza, music and playing in the evening.
Those were wonderful times.
Now I wonder who my dad would be if he were still alive today.
Would he be bald by now or would his hair have finally turned grey?
His hair didn’t begin to change color until after his chemo treatments and his hair had fallen out. It was only then that a few of the hairs in his goatee turned grey.
Would he still be farming or have moved toward retirement?
I can’t imagine he would have given up his work on the land.
I can see him having learned the new technology and carrying iPads and computers in his tractors as he navigated the fields.
What would he think of things like the changes in NASCAR, iRacing, the pandemic, really just the new world we live in.
Of a few things I am very certain.
I know he would still be snuggling with his trusty sidekick, Ivan the miniature schnauzer.
I know he would dote over his grandchildren Anna and Ben. I can only imagine the smile on his face at his grandson’s love of green tractors, trucks and racecars.
I miss him every day. I hear a Johnny Cash song on the radio, eat french fries with fry sauce from Freddy’s, hear a reference to Dale Earnhardt Sr. or pass a corn field and he is there.
Every time I look at his sweet dog Ivan, I think of my dad and how long he has been gone.
The one big of solace I find in his leaving us when he did was than my dad was there in the great beyond to greet my dear daughter Cora when she died two years after his passing.
I know this life isn’t what I imagined in many ways but I am so thankful for the man whose dark hair I carry on my head and strong love I carry in my heart.