PRE-NOTE: I’ve added to the beginning of yesterdays post material from Basilica of St. Mary today regarding the change in Bishops in the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. I have also included a link to Pope Francis recent encyclical on “Care for Our Common Home” (the earth).
(click to enlarge photos)
This is the first year ever, in my memory, where I have mailed no Father’s Day best wishes.
I know lots of fathers, including myself. It’s nothing personal. This year, no cards.
My biological Dad died in November 7, 1997, at 89. He was a powerful and positive force in my life. In a real sense, my surrogate Dad, later, never married nor had any children of his own: this was my Uncle Vincent, who died at 90 on February 2, 2015. Vince and I spent a lot of time together, though as I said at the lunch after his funeral, neither one of us were much for talking, and my efforts to record the essence of his thoughts driving between LaMoure and the farm proved fruitless: it was minutes of dead air, with an occasional staccato comment on somebodies field, or a bird in the air. In a real sense he and I were peas in a pod. Now I’m dealing with the end of life issues for him. It is an honor.
Vince’s Dad, my Grandpa Ferd, was another crucial actor. He was 60 or so when I was born, so, while he lived until I was 27, he was always a somewhat ancient personage to me.
Dad and Vince and my life intersected directly and pretty dramatically at one point in my life, which comes to mind on this Father’s Day.
It was the end of July, 1949. I was 9, and we were at the farm, and had gone to bed, only to be awakened by a horrific south wind with very heavy rain. My particular memory was of water gushing in through the window sill. For the adults there was a whole lot of praying going on. Oddly, we stayed upstairs the entire time.
The next memory was the following morning, and when we went outside, the barn roof was no longer on the nearby barn, scattered to the north and east.
My memories are, of course, of a nine year old.
For the adults, it was a time of crisis.
There were cows to milk, and they could be milked, but the roof needed to be rebuilt.
Dad, 42 and a schoolteacher, was still on summer break and could stay and help. Vincent was 24 and, by then, basically the person who did the farming.
Grandpa, I learned years later, scouted the neighborhood and saw a barn with roof-beam pattern he liked, and made a form on the haymow floor, and the men hand-constructed each and every roof beam, then raised the roof, and construction proceeded.
My personal narrative does not include neighbors, etc., but I’m sure they were involved as well. But there was a great deal of damage in the surrounding area from the same storm, and I’m sure Uncle Vincent bore the brunt of the heavy-lifting later, including shingling the structure, which had to be a terrifying task.
These days, 66 years after that summer storm in 1949, the barn still stands, much the worse for wear.
I’ve often said that the barn roof is holding up the 1915 main floor, rather than the other way around, and each time I see that structure, however decrepit it has become, I see a joint effort of family and in particular of men in the summer of 1949.
Nobody’s talked about it much.
Nobody has to.
Happy Father’s Day, everyone.