It Was the Autumn of 1968

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.