A flipped over five-gallon pail, heavily embellished with dirt, rested inside the cab at the top of the combine stairs. Reaching out his supportive arm for me while hovering above the stairs was my grandpa, “Gramps.” I sat down on my bucket beside him in his worn leather seat and away we headed towards the field.
Reaching out his hand was a common act of Gramps. In the most selfless ways, Gramps was loyal and dependable in all areas of his life – in practicing his faith, caring for his family and tending to his farm. I cherish the evenings we spent together feeding cows, the days we spent together baling hay and the hours we spent together praying at church. My grandpa built a foundation of core values for me at an early age, all of which I still hold close to my heart today.
Throughout my life, my own father has played a dominant role in strengthening those fundamental values while engraining new ones.
Getting up before sunrise to feed, wash and work with my show cattle, lambs and hogs was made easier with serene sunrises and smiles from my happy-go-lucky dad that were somehow always clear through my half-closed, sleepy eyes.
After morning chores, we would head our separate ways for work before coming home to do it all over again.
Naturally, my sister and I crank up the radio during chores. It doesn’t end there. When you have a stack of hay bales for a stage and a pitchfork doubles as a moveable mic, our stellar dance moves naturally follow. My dad enjoys listening to music, but doesn’t always like to admit it. That is, until his favorite song comes on! Most days, Dad just shakes his head and smiles, but other times, he puts a little pep to his step too just long enough for us to notice. This is when he becomes the “cool” dad.
I’ll tell you what I love about my dad, what I really love.
He encourages us. He is supportive, helpful and hard-working. Dad’s encouragement has helped my siblings and I both in and out of the barn. His encouragement has helped us pick ourselves up time and again after being drug through gravel by an ornery calf. His encouragement has shown through by the fact that he never missed an elementary school concert, high school sports game or college awards banquet.
He supports us. My dad is a caretaker for my mom, family, livestock and home. He is the hardest working man I know, never taking a day, or even a few hours, to rest. He sets an example for us that the capability of working hard is a blessing, not a punishment.
He teaches us. He has taught me patience while waiting for ewes to lamb and cows to calve. He has taught me faith in accepting that we are not always in control. That no matter what you do to save a life on the farm, sometimes, it is not enough. He teaches me acceptance, and that it is always more beneficial to move forward rather than dwell on the past.
The greatest lessons that I have learned from my dad, are the ones that have been unintentionally taught.
My father is someone who leads by example. Dad has taught me that life is not fair and that life is not easy, but that life goes on. He has now taken on the “Grandpa” title, and is filling the role just as Gramps once did.
While I know I cannot possibly thank Dad enough for all that he has done for me, I appreciate it all now more than ever before as the lessons that I have learned from him speak for themselves.
My dad may or may not lack in the cooking department. But, he has taught me how to fire up the grill! His Father’s Day dinner of choice? A big, juicy steak. This weekend, go ahead and grill a steak you love, with someone you love.
Thank you to my dad, and to all fathers out there, for everything you do. Your hard work, dedication and compassion does not go unnoticed.
About the Writer
Becky Church is serving as the Minnesota Beef Summer Intern. She is a Hastings, Minnesota native attending the University of Minnesota. She will graduate this December with an agriculture marketing and communications degree and animal science minor. Becky has enjoyed showing cattle, lambs and hogs throughout her 4-H and FFA years and now loves promoting the industry through her photography and design business.