My dad would have been 97 this month, but he'll forever be 62 to me. I wish my kids had known more of him than a few videos, recorded after his stroke, which hardly captured who he was.
It was autumn of 1968
The autumn after the last summer
I played baseball and the summer
A lot of bad things happened.
But that autumn brought change
And with endings came new beginnings
Tenth grade and Richard Nixon.
Beginnings on the farm meant calving
And the birth of one not quite right
A tiny heifer we never named
Who only got worse
With each passing day until we knew.
Euthanize is such a sterile word
Poorly describing the unthinkable.
My dad took the rifle
Because I wouldn't, I couldn't.
But I was there and I remember
The sounds of the mother.
I also remember the sounds of the crickets
And their silence after the last shot
When they would no longer sing, couldn't even cry.
But I cried and my dad cried.
I had never seen him cry
But he put his arm around me
Holding me against his huge shoulder
As we cried through a burial
Under blood red leaves of a sweet gum
Before we silently drove home.
There was nothing to say
But we were closer after that day.
When together we did the unthinkable
But what we had to do
In the autumn of 1968
An autumn that brought change
And with endings came new beginnings.