I’m thinking about my father.
It’s not his birthday. It’s not his anniversary. He’s not sick.
He’s doing fine, as fine as anyone at almost 95 years of age and almost 75 years of marriage.
And I think that’s why I’m thinking about him and his long, fulfilling, God-loving life. Years and years of hard work and dedication and finding solutions and filling the pockets of his family’s lives with wisdom.
Just like the pockets of his old green parka.
He always had a green parka for the cold days. He had a ratty, smelly green barn parka, and a better, but still well-worn green parka to drive off in his truck do farm business.
Because he was always stylish that way. He always cared how he looked when he wasn’t grinding chicken feed or fixing greasy tractor parts or shovelling brown stuff out the back door of the barn.
That barn parka.
It was the scariest thing ever to a little girl.
It had places where puffy grayish stuff oozed out where he caught the sleeve on a nail. The kind of stuff little girls had seen in little nests in the granary that held squirmy, ugly pink bodies.
And that was one of the first lessons. Dad and his green parka came to the granary, picked the nest up with a shovel, and it was never seen again. What did he do with it? No little girl ever knew, because her Dad spared her the gory details of smashing those little beings dead with the shovel behind the barn and quickly burying them.
Dads are that way.
They take care of their little girls and try to keep them safe from ugly life things.
But sometimes the ugly happened, and little girls fell off of granary walls while jumping joyfully into a bin full of golden wheat.
Then Dad dug into the pockets of the ratty green parka, first patting this pocket, then unzipping that pocket, until finally he pulled out a hanky to wipe a little girl’s tears. Then spit on the corner to clean the blood off a worrisome scratch. “See? It’s all better now. No more red.”
The little girl stopped crying, and stood thinking awhile.
Then slowly looked down at the floor of the granary.
What was that, that thing that fell out of that pocket when Dad pulled out the hanky?
She saw it from the corner of her eye.
It couldn’t have been. Would Dad have a mouse in his pocket?
That little girl is a Gramma now, and she knows it could very well have been a mouse. That parka often hung on a nail in any farm building when Dad got warm while working. And any farm building has a high possibility of having mice. Even when you had 14 cats roaming around.
The lessons I learned from Dad’s parka, through all the ups and downs of farm living, the ins and outs of years of experience, was
that along with all the love and comfort and warmth that comes out of the pockets of parkas, and life,
there’s always a few mice.
Lessons My Dad Taught Me
But what’s a few mice, when mostly the pockets are full of good stuff? When the pockets produced exactly what a little girl needed, and as she grew up,
the pockets still held everything to help her make it
through school and learning to drive tractor and getting that first job and paying for her first car and on and on.
Until today. And I’m still learning from him.