Contributor: Anne Ryan Created: 4 years ago Updated: 4 years ago
by daughter Hilga
My first recollection of my father came about the time I was five years of age. One spring morning as I teetered on a box near the pantry door, Dad called me to come to breakfast. I ignored him and continued to teeter. Upon his second request, I smartly answered, “I won’t do it.” To my utter amazement, Dad selected an appropriate shingle from behind the stove, and thus instructed me to never use that phrase to him again.
Dad was very busy and had very little time for us children except to discipline us as was needed. He arose early every morning to milk the cows and went to bed before nine at night. Often we children would come in at dusk on a long summer evening to find Dad already asleep in bed.
Long winter evenings were a bit of comfort to us. Dad listened to the radio and would occasionally play games with us. Very often I was sent for a pan of apples which he would peel for all of us with his sharp pocket knife. Even today whenever I peel an apple, I think of a cozy winter evening on the farm, and Dad in his rocking chair by the pot-bellied heater.
Dad was a man of genuine character. He said what he thought, but seldom passed a compliment even if it had been earned. When questioned about a new dress, he would say, “If it suits you, it suits me.”
He was very honest and therefore easily skunked on a horse trade. He made many horse trades in an effort to match a pulling team, but finally had to admit defeat and buy a tractor. I don’t believe any one was ever able to beat him in a cow trade, for he could always pick the best cow of any herd. Mom often said, “If I had been a cow, I’d have been you Dad’s pride and joy, with my long neck, narrow shoulders and broad hips.”
Visiting was one of the things that Dad greatly enjoyed. He would load us all in the car on Sunday afternoon, and he would go trading. He loved to talk to people, and often in the summer we visited relatives after church. Uncle Tom was our favorite; he raised watermelons, and we loved to eat them. Jeniel could eat more watermelon than any of us, and Uncle Tom loved to see her eat to her limit. Other visits included those to Uncle Parley’s in town, and to some of Mother’s cousins.
Dad was a very exacting man, no job was too insignificant for his best. It often seemed to others that he was real slow in his work but each job showed his fine workmanship. “If it isn’t worth doing right, don’t do it at all.” “If you don’t intend to do it right, get out and let someone else do it who will do it right.” If it didn’t fit right, he did it over. He never left a job until he felt satisfied about it within himself.
Dad taught us many of the fundamental principles such as respect for our elders, honesty, and to give a full day’s work for our pay. He had worked hard all of his life, and he taught us to be proud of our ability to do a good job. To show disrespect for our mother or to sass was a great sin in his eyes, and we were punished accordingly.
Reading was his favorite pastime. He read whenever he could, and all subjects available. He seldom read novels or cheap literature; he read on all the political issues and current events, history and church works. He was always on a quest for the knowledge he had been unable to attain as a child and a young man. He was eager to learn from anyone, and although he may not have agreed with your views, he always listened.
He died December 23, 1957 while working on the ward chapel. He was happy in his work, and we were glad that he did not have to go back to bed for an extended stay. He had said a few weeks before that he didn’t know if he could stand another winter cooped up in the house. He was a good father in his own way, and we are ever grateful for all that he was able to teach us, and for the love he gave us.