Although Sunday was Father's Day, daddy has been gone for 44 years so I have no one to send a card to, or to say "thank you for all you did," but I have been thinking a lot about his life. Terry and I have been had many an opportunity, driving across Hwy 152 towards the bay area, to talk about farming and how hard it can be. All those fields, all that work, all the memories I have of how hard Daddy toiled in his fields.
This year there are more cotton fields to check as we drive by, and I do that, consistently, just as my dad would do when he was out on one of his occasional drives. Daddy wanted to know how other farmers were doing, and he compared his cotton crop to everyone else's, and his was usually better. I've always said that Daddy knew each cotton plant in his fields. He spent that much time out there: watering, weeding, fertilizing, checking, always checking. He could get nearly three bales to an acre from his hard work.
One year, not long before my father died, an aerial pilot took a photo of our farm and tried to get Daddy to buy a large, colored print. Although I have the small black and white version, Daddy refused to buy a larger one because there were "skips" in the rows, where the seed had not sprouted with a healthy cotton plant. My dad saw it as failure. I understand that now. For you see, I too have his controlling, perfectionist tendencies. When teaching, I wanted all my students to be successes, and if any didn't make it, then it was my failure.
Today, the first day of summer, will be hot. My dad would be out, on his tractor, most likely, cultivating his beloved rows of cotton on a day such as this. Even when ill with leukemia, my dad never stopped, never complained, but just kept going. After working all day in the field, he would come in for supper and afterwards pick peaches from the trees he had planted out back. My mother would spend the next day canning those while I languished in the hot house until the jars had cooled and the swamp cooler could be turned on. I remember complaining, bitterly at the time, that it was not fair that I had to be so hot. Now, on this hot day, I think of my dad, on a tractor, in the sun, making his way up and down those furrows, as I sit in my air conditioned home. Although I have a strong work ethic, I have never worked as hard as my parents did.