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The gift of time is better than any gift that could be bought

In our family Dad has always been the fixer

This year as we are preparing for Father’s Day I have been catching myself reminiscing about when our kids were younger. Back then we lived in the city, my husband was gone all day to work and to a great extent life was simpler. To celebrate Father’s Day the children and I would let Daddy sleep in, we made his favourite breakfast and we did a craft. But now with off-farm work schedules and one child living in town, life is just not simple anymore.

In our family Dad has always been the fixer. Our children sincerely believe my husband can fix or build anything if he puts his mind to it. As they are getting older though, these fixes are not as easy as they used to be.

We learned very quickly when we moved to the farm that families are much more dependent on each other than in the city. Now with our new family dynamics I have realized just how important it is to parents, fixer-daddy types in particular, to still feel that their children need them. So when the grown-up son has a car disaster and calls and asks if Dad has time to spend (on a day that we should be cutting hay) replacing the control arm on his car, Dad is gone to town. There are also the moments when they call home to ask for Dad’s advice about buying a new vehicle. Oh, those are awesome moments that make a dad feel so happy. But the children don’t seem to know that every time they do that, it means so much to their father. Probably because at the end of every visit or conversation Dad makes sure to tell them to “Call your mother sometimes, it makes her happy.” Well, to be honest it does, but it is him that asks every day if the son has called home or not.

When the all-grown-up-anddoesn’t-need-help daughter goes outside and finds her favourite cat dead and she wants Daddy, he is there. Oh, Dad may complain a bit about not having time or some such thing but I sure hope the children don’t listen to that because it is Dad’s way. He just doesn’t want them to see how much it hurts him to see them hurt especially when it is something that he cannot fix.

Dads have to be tough about things and there is a very good reason for it too. If they weren’t, who in the family would do the hard stuff? I remember the morning our old lab couldn’t get up anymore. He had been with us since the day he was born as I had brought his mother home pregnant. I was also pregnant, so good ol’ Bear and our youngest son were the same age. Our children had crawled on him, yanked his ears and stole his food, but he never growled once. He was happiest with babies crawling all over him. So that morning we all had to say goodbye and Dad had to fix it the only way he could. It was up to him to take Bear to be put to sleep while I took care of the children. He had to carry the dog he had known since the day he was born into the truck and take him to town. Now if dads weren’t good at being tough, how would he have been able to do for his family what he needed to do?

We usually are right in the middle of lambing when Father’s Day arrives so our ability to celebrate it like the old days is just not

convenient. This doesn’t mean that we don’t realize that Dad deserves recognition for what he does for his family. I think it is more that we feel like he needs it every day, not just on a special day, because when you work and live together like a farm family does, I think it is really easy to overlook those everyday moments.

There is no way that Dad can be allowed to sleep till he wakes up. Unless of course he has been up all night with a problem ewe, because then we could let him sleep a bit longer. For a present, my daughter is working on a cross-stitch bookmark, but I am not sure the goat babies and the ewes will let that happen so he might not get it on time. But I told her it is the thought that counts and one day she will finish it and he will get his gift. My husband is an avid reader so the children have made him a great assortment of bookmarks over the years. He has a drawer full of ones that the children have made for him. He won’t use them because he is scared he would lose them but he does keep them.

It might not sound like it, but we have never regretted changing our lives. It might be hectic but we wouldn’t change our life for anything. It just has meant we have to do things a bit different than before. As time has gone by on the farm, I have come to realize that the very best gift the children can give their dad is time. Just here and there throughout the year, if the ones who live away from the farm remembered to call just to say “Hi!” or the ones who are still at home just take a minute and spend some time with their dad, it would mean so much more than any gift they could buy.

Debbie Chikousky farms at Narcisse, Manitoba.

Email her at [email protected]

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