At the end of my parents driveway in rural Buxton, ND sits a beautiful brick house with two of the sweetest people you will ever meet. I’ve known Arlen and Joanne my entire life but even before that, my family and their family were intertwined. Both of them can sit and tell me story upon story of working with my great grandparents on the same farm I grew up on. Infact, on a recent visit to their house, Arlen went out to one of his sheds and came back with a little metal stool that once used to belong to my great grandma, Annie. They both remember her sitting on that stool in the kitchen while peeling potatoes. That stool now sits next to my desk in my office.
For the past several years now I have kept saying that I needed to go take their photos. Arlen and Joanne have been constants in my life and have always done anything they could do help and love my family. I wanted photos for their kids and grandkids to cherish for years to come. This past October we made it happen! It was a pretty nice day to wander around their yard and when we were all done, we all agreed it would be fun to keep the shoot and the photos a secret until Christmas time. I just wish I could have been a fly on the wall as their kids and grandkids all opened their photo collages on Christmas!
As hard as I tried, I couldn’t narrow it down to just one winner this year! Millard and Bill were each chosen for a free photo shoot on their farm! Millard was nominated by his grand daughter and Bill by his daughter. Both of them wrote touching stories that made me cry but also reminded me so much of my family and what we have gone through the past few years with losing my grandpa and then my dad.
My dad made this goofy face where he would raise one eyebrow. As he got older, we would giggle over the fact that his skin now took longer to go back to “normal” after he would make it. He could do all sorts of weird faces and they would always make me laugh. I swear no one will ever be able to make me laugh like he did, whether it was because he was making yet another weird face, picking on mom or just being annoying in general. He made me laugh from deep down in my gut and at times he made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t breathe or thought I would pee my pants. I miss laughing like that.
He used to always say “I am who I am and if you don’t like it then you can shove it up your ass crosswise.” I LOVED who he was. I loved that he said what he was thinking and didn’t care how it came across to others. I loved that he got a kick out of intimidating people by his big and scruffy exterior. I love even more that anyone who knew him, knew he wasn’t scary at all and had a giant heart. I loved that he would do anything for his girls, usually while grumbling about it so that we knew just how much of a “pain in the ass” we were. I love that he would go with my mom almost every single weekend to visit her mother in the nursing home. I love that he stepped in and did whatever he could to help while his brother was fighting for his life. And when I met my now husband, I love how my husband became my dad’s “son” and best friend.
I can think of a million reasons why I still need him here and not one as to why God had to take him when he did. This Saturday will be one year since his death and this week has been filled with tears, days of not wanting to see or talk to anyone and the heaviest heart knowing I can never wrap my arms around his neck again.
He wasn’t just my favorite farmer. He was my dad. There are only a few more days to nominate your favorite farmer. I’ve spent hours reading over all the submissions so far. Each story has made me cry or laugh and there have been so many that remind me of my own family. Nominate your Favorite Farmer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and telling me why he or she is your favorite farmer. The contest ends at midnight on December 1.
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