Tag Archives: Father’s Day

Cowboy Wisdom, by Darlene Foster

My Dad was a cowboy. Not the Hollywood type, but a real cowboy – a man who tended cattle. A hardworking man of integrity, loyalty and determination; he would always be seen in his signature cowboy hat and boots, jeans and western shirt. He lived the code of the cowboy where a man’s word was a man’s word and you never broke a promise once made. He believed you should do what has to be done without complaint, take pride in your work and always finish what you start. He was a man of principle; tough but fair. I learned so much from him.

His education included grade seven. Responsibilities on his father’s farm in the spring and fall took him out of school, which put him behind.  By the time he turned fifteen he didn’t bother going back to school being so much older than the rest of the class. In spite of his limited schooling, he was the smartest man I knew. A curious man, Dad believed in continuous learning. His gift of the gab enabled him to start a conversation with almost anyone and he always came away wiser. “You can learn at least one thing from everyone you meet,” became a lesson I never forgot.

Dad read the newspapers and kept up to date on current events, but his busy schedule didn’t permit him to read much else.  At age seventy-five, he finally retired and moved into the city. His love of the outdoors and fresh air, took him on walks to the local library on a regular basis.  Once there, he chose about half a dozen books on a subject he had always wanted to learn more about.  He took the books home, read them front to back and returned with a new subject in mind.  At seventy-five he educated himself and expanded his world. I found this to be most admirable.

There wasn’t much I couldn’t discuss with him.  He taught me the art of conversation, negotiation and debate; valuable lessons that have served me well over the years.  He served as my confidant, financial advisor, political guru, mentor, and he was my hero.  He always had time to listen to my woes and to provide encouraging words.  I didn’t make many major decisions without discussing with him first.  But he wouldn’t tell me what to do; he just helped me look at all sides of the situation.  He encouraged me to be an independent thinker, creative problem solver and not to always look for the easy way.  He claimed, “You make your own luck in this world.” I believe that to be true for the most part, but I sure was lucky to get him for a Dad. His confidence in me and my abilities enabled me to reach higher and not give up on my dreams.

Always a perfect gentleman, he could also swear a blue streak if the occasion called for it.  Like the time he hit his thumb with a hammer while fixing a piece of farm machinery.  He forgot I was in hearing distance.

Life wasn’t always easy for a cowboy but Dad’s amazing sense of humour and positive attitude got him through the tough times.  He loved a good practical joke and April Fool’s was his favourite day.  I can still see the twinkle in his eyes when he knew he got one over on us.  He didn’t mind laughing at himself as well. There were many times he would tell a story and have everyone in stitches.  From him, I learned the value of a good laugh and how to look on the bright side.  He often said, “Others have it worse.”

A tough cowboy on the surface, he was really a big softy.  Dad always found the best in everyone, was a helpful neighbour and a good friend to many.  His love for his animals was evident as was his unfailing devotion to his family.  A generous, loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather, he made an impact on everyone. When I see traits of him in my children and grandchildren, I am comforted knowing his legacy lives on.

It’s been five years since we lost Dad.  There isn’t a day I don’t think of him, quote him or seek his advice.  He was a true cowboy to the last.

***

Darlene Foster

Darlene Foster is a writer, employment counsellor, ESL teacher, wife, mother and grandmother. Brought up on a ranch in Southern Alberta, she dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people. She lives with her husband and their black cat, Monkey on the west coast of BC. She believes that everyone is capable of reaching their dreams.

Connect with Darlene on her website, blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Books available here.

Opening photo – Myshellyroo, Photobucket

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A Father and a Dad, by Randy Mitchell

In the spirit of Father’s Day, I’ve decided to begin by telling the tale of one of the best.

My father was born in the early 1930’s among the rolling hills of Arkansas, went to that state’s great university, served in the U.S. Air Force as a Sergeant during the Korean War, was employed for thirty plus years in the pharmaceutical industry after college, became married and stayed devoted to my mom for over forty years, was active in church, social organizations, and a dedicated father to my sister and I. He suddenly passed away in 2002 leaving behind his family, many friends, and a legacy of kindness and generosity which is still greatly missed among those who knew him. He was an increasingly rare, man’s man who’s primary mission in life was to be a great husband, friend, co-worker, and above all else, dad. And there’s definitely a difference in someone just being a father.

I’ve never been a father, so I haven’t experienced all that comes along with being one. Rather, I can only look to mine as an example of what I would’ve striven to become if I had had children. My dad, from the moment I was born till the day he passed, never stopped loving, watching over, and keeping tabs on me.

He was the type who was rather relaxed, conservative, but not afraid to speak his mind when he felt strongly about something. If I had an issue or problem in my life, he’d give me his opinions without being judgmental and move forward. And if I decided to try anything different than most my age, he’d shake his head, point out the pros and cons, and let me go about my business, win or loose. It was as though he was content watching me suffer the consequences if things went wrong, therefore teaching me some valuable life lessons without being judgmental. But, the biggest thing about my father was that no matter when, day or night, I could call upon him if I ever needed anything, period. He didn’t care, because my mom, sister, and I were the most important parts of his life.

Some of the fondest memories sticking with me about my dad were during my early teenage years. I had taken a paper route delivering an afternoon newspaper. But on weekends, the papers reverted to being morning deliveries going with my lifelong dislike of early wakeup calls. Every Saturday and Sunday for around three years my dad would shake me awake, pull me out of bed, and sit with me on the street curb in the morning darkness to roll and rubber band the 100+ pieces of news. But, he made it fun. We’d always throw the papers in the front seat of his car while I sat on the window seal throwing them atop the porches in record time. Boy, did we stir awake a few sleepy eyes as I miss threw some, slapping the houses front doors, and rousing alive some barking house pets.

Those are cherished moments for me; small envelopes of time among early hours when dad and son connected talking about school, girls, friends, and whatever else filled my mind. I know now that he was also teaching me responsibility, reliability, and work ethics at a very young age. But above it all, he demonstrated what was truly most important to him.

When I tell others about my father I oftentimes feel bad, almost guilty that I had such a good one. Maybe it’s because so many have grown up without theirs, or don’t have the special relationship like I had with mine. And it’s a fact of society that growing up without a caring father, or mother, directly affects those individuals not having that exclusive bond.

I wish everyone could have what I had. And I think about my dad everyday, wondering what he’s doing right now, but comforted in the knowledge that I’ll see him again. Who knows, maybe they have paper routes in heaven!

This Father’s Day, call, or go see your father; if you haven’t spoken with him in a while or don’t carry a good relationship with him, put out a little effort and try and reconnect. If you’ve lost yours, like I have mine, honor him somehow. Place a flower on his tombstone, say a prayer, light a candle, or talk about him with those who knew him best. And if you are a father, be the best you can be. But most importantly, be a dad.

To all the fathers out there…

***

Randy Mitchell

Mr. Mitchell lives in Dallas, Texas and has spent most of his career as a commercial airline pilot. He’s an avid blogger, movie fan, martial artist, and lover of all things Dallas Cowboys. His first romance novel, Sons in the Clouds, is currently available wherever  e-books are sold.

See Randy’s website, The Inspirational Writer.
Connect with Sons in the Clouds on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

See the inspirational Sons in the Clouds book trailer.
Books available online at: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Apple I-Bookstore, and KoBo.

Opening photo from Walldesk.net.

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A King, A Giant, And Grandsons, by Rick Wilcox

My Dad was a King

My dad served as a platoon sergeant in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II. The 10th is an elite unit trained to spearhead assaults under extremely difficult conditions.  This didn’t add up when I was a little boy, because every time I heard this description of Dad’s unit, all I could think was, “My Dad?  Really?”  My father was the most gentle and humble man I have ever known. While other dads were loud, back-slapping story tellers, my dad was quiet and reserved.  I often tried to get him to tell me war stories but he would not.

Not one.

He would talk about his buddies and how much he thought of them but nothing about battle and nothing about himself.

Near the end of his life, I finally got one tidbit out of him.  All he said was that a man died because of an order he gave, and that he had thought of that man every single day since.  After dad passed away I researched his Army record and was astonished by what I found.  Dad received two Bronze Stars for “acts of heroism and gallantry in the course of enemy combat” along with two Purple Hearts. He never told me about the medals, but in the end, he told me about the private who lost his life on his command.

After the war, General Dwight Eisenhower had this to say –

“Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and in the sacrifices of his friends.”

The man I knew understood this and quietly taught it to me every day of his life.

He taught me in the wholehearted and unconditional way he loved my mother for 62 years of marriage.

He taught me in his calm and gentle manner that provided the example I would call on every day in my adult life.

He taught me that honor is inseparable from character and gratitude.

***

A Giant of a Man

Life gravitates around defining moments. We all experience them – those suddenly open pages unexpectedly filled with memories rapidly written in indelible ink. As a reader of my page, you know that my oldest son Barry’s dog Bailey was killed by a truck on the highway in front of the ranch a few months ago. Yes, these things happen and they never give you warning. No one is exempt. At their worst, they are painful experiences we tuck away into the attic of our memory.

At the best, they serve us, shape us and teach us.

Character is built over time but defined in moments. Barry is a 32 year old man with his own business, a beautiful family and a heart of gold. He grew up working alongside his grandfather and lived for the days they could put the work down and just go fishing. He was born with a passion for the lakes and woods and loved nothing more than sharing them with a like minded companion. His favorite would ultimately be Bailey – the chocolate Labrador he raised from a pup.

Bailey was a smart dog – that’s for sure, but it never was about her. I watched my son love and teach that dog with patience and expectation. She became the best bird dog I’ve ever known and seemed to share Barry’s passion for the hunt. For ten years she rewarded his nurture and attention with loyalty, joy and companionship.

When Barry’s children came along, I realized more completely how important Bailey truly was. Like all of us, Barry had been shaped by his actions. He easily turned his patient heart to their care and instruction, and my 8 year old granddaughter Kayla and 3 year old grandson Colton are the unspeakable center of his world.

That particular Saturday was simply a perfect spring day at the ranch. By the cool of the evening, the work was done and all of us were winding down. With Colton napping in the house, Barry took the girls blackberry picking and my youngest son Ricky and his friend Michael went across the highway that runs through our property to a pond to shoot anything unlucky enough to move. I stayed in the backyard with a glass of tea to cool down from mowing.

The sound was sickening and unmistakable.

Through the quiet breeze, screeching tires and the thud of impact. My first and instant thought was “Oh my God, where is Colton?” I ran around the house to see a pickup truck sideways in the highway and a man and woman standing by the ditch with their hands gripping their heads in horror. I don’t even remember my body moving from the house to the ditch but what I found there obviously (and even thankfully) was Bailey.

I turned toward the pastures where Barry was picking berries with his mom, wife, and daughter and saw him running at full throttle towards us. I somehow knew he had the same horrific thought, and I called out to him “It’s Bailey.” He slowed his pace.

When he arrived, Bailey was in the throes of death. My screaming granddaughter was also running and getting much closer and I knew she must not see, so I ran to her and stopped her, far away from the highway. Connie had also reached her by now and held her close, rocking her inconsolably in her arms.

I could describe what happened next with noble terms like coupe de grace but the hard fact is my son had to shoot his own dog in a muddy East Texas ditch. He took her on one of our four wheelers to a far corner of the ranch to be buried, which he and the other boys soon did.

Now friends, here is the point of this story.

I saw my son that day.

I saw him shred his leg running through a barbed wire fence when he thought his son might be hurt. I saw him comfort a stranger who had just hit his dog. I saw him mercifully end his own animal’s life. I saw him tenderly kneel before his crying daughter and hold her until she found comfort. I saw him reassure his devastated mother that it was not her fault and that Bailey had broken free from her kennel before. In rapid succession in the heat of trial, I saw Barry put every living thing ahead of himself.

Later that evening we had a little funeral for Bailey in a peaceful spot by the creek where he buried her. He painted her name on a rock and Kayla put some flowers on the grave. We all stood around and remarked how beautiful the place was and how Bailey would have liked it. It was only when I whispered a few words of prayer thanking God for her life did I see my boy allow himself a moment to grieve.

I’ve never loved him so much.

I walked out of those woods with my arms around the shoulder of a giant of a man.

***

Grandsons

One of the greatest miracles of life is that adults produce children.

A greater miracle is that children produce adults.

There’s really nothing more humbling than the realization that a little boy has his eyes fixed on you expecting to learn how to be a man. Young dads have a hard time coming to grips with this because they are trying so hard to grow up themselves. Older dads are better, but they still struggle to understand how to be relevant to a boy at least two generations removed.

Granddads, however, relish it.

A boy is at ease with his grandfather. There’s little pressure to perform satisfactorily or to prove his mettle. In a granddad’s company, the pressure of daily life is removed and conversation is easy. If anything, the relationship is free from any hint of conditional love.

Dads have to raise the sons.

Granddads get to cheer them on.

I have five perfect grandsons, and it never makes my wife happy to hear me say that I’m just one short of a full set of pallbearers. I’m joking of course, but there is some truth in it.

When my last breath expires and it’s finally time to meet Jesus, I want it to be my grandsons who take that last walk with me.

***

Rick Wilcox

Rick Wilcox is a sixth-generation Texan and the lucky father of grown children and seven perfect grandchildren. He also has a wife he doesn’t deserve. An international businessman by day, his muse cajoles him to write, ranch, and roam on an increasingly consumptive basis.

Connect with Rick on Facebook. 

About the ranch 

Founded by my family over 150 years ago in northeast Texas, the ranch is a rich tapestry of eight generations. I walk into a single cemetery and find most of their headstones where decade after decade their remains were placed in solemn ceremony – but they are not there. It’s when I’m working the land or walking through the virgin forest I sense them most.

The story of the ranch is a story of people. Yes, the land is an inextricable song that sings in my soul, but the beating heart of Caney Creek is the people who cherish each other on one holy spot. As I survey the decades I see men and women who were unconditionally devoted to each other, and wholly committed to the bonds of fellowship.

As a man who was adopted at birth, I find great solace in the eclectic weaving of lives. It began with one clan and has now involved many. My own precious family is blended and bound to each other. It extends even to an inner circle of friends who now are closer to me than brothers and sisters – and the bonds we have established in this life are often materially refreshed in the times we spend there.

Caney Creek Ranch is above all an ongoing story of love. Love of Texas. Love of families. Love for each other.

Rick is the one wearing the hat.

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Father’s Day Theme Week Kick-Off

Elizabeth H. Cottrell

Our Father’s Day Theme Week kick-off starts with a share. Elizabeth H. Cottrell of Heartspoken posted Father’s Day gift ideas with What shall I give Dad for Father’s Day? a couple weeks ago.

I wanted to share Elizabeth’s blog first – there is still time to pick up, or plan, your Father’s Day gift-giving.

Do the clickety-click and check out Elizabeth’s blog here!

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