It was soon after we built the shed, but before it had walls and still had the camo tarps, that my dad saw the house for the first time.
Now before we begin this story, I need to explain my relationship with my dad. Basically – we adored each other. I was his first born and his baby girl, having the good fortune to have two younger brothers. We each thought that the other was just about the funniest, most entertaining person we had ever met. I often describe my dad to people who were not lucky enough to know him, as a traveling circus. He was funny with the greatest laugh! It could be heard for miles and was a sound that can only be described as joy in action. He was handsome and interesting, always had a joke or story to tell. And he was a terrible singer and dancer but that never seemed to stop him. We would tap dance in the kitchen and sing at the top of our lungs at church, much to the chagrin of my musically trained and choir member mom. He loved me and I never ever doubted it.
When Dad first learned of our wonderful purchase, he decided that maybe I wasn’t his kid after all. After raising me in a nicely appointed home in a good neighborhood, giving me pretty much everything a daughter could need, and working hard so that his family would never want for anything, his daughter buys a shack on 7 acres in the middle of the Arkansas Ozarks. Not only does it have a shallow well for water but there is no heat source and there is not a decent kitchen in the house. It is over 100 years old and – well – a shack!
But he was ready to come see us and my mom decided that the house was in good enough shape that he could visit without the concern of another heart attack. So, they rented a little trailer and loaded up all the flotsam and jetsam that we had left in their attic, and headed north through Oklahoma to Northwest Arkansas. Of the many talents my dad possessed, loading trailers full of junk was not one of them. The trip began late because of repacking the trailer and proceeded slowly, due to the shifting of the assortment of stuff and then the stopping and retying of the load.
The final repacking happened somewhere in eastern Oklahoma on a deserted country road. It was deserted until Dad had all my stuff scattered along the roadside and a schoolbus was caused to stop on its way down to the next farm houses.
Well, everyone on the bus had to get out and give advice until one young boy just started putting things back in the trailer and tying everything down. My dad just watched in amazement! Soon all was put back and everyone was on their way with many waves from the kids on the bus.
No other stops were required – the load never shifted!
It was several hours past the time they should have reached our home when they finally pulled up into our driveway.
My dad’s first act, after lots of hugs and kisses, was to hang a bird feeder in our tree. We would spend many hours sitting out in front of the house, visiting and watching the birds. He loved this house. I only had him here a few times, but each time was special.
Later that summer, cancer was discovered and he lived not quite two years. My heart still aches as I write these words. But what joy to have those happy memories.
Until next time…..