There was one book, however, that caught my attention. It was entitled – “Five Acres and Independence” – – “Five Acres and Independence”
BINGO! … HELLO! … There it was – one of Dad’s maxims for life – one needs to choose a career that will allow independence. That is exactly what our father did – He chose to buy a farm while working full time at Green Giant so that the extra income allowed him independence. He passed up many career promotions that entailed moving to other regions of the country. He would have none of it. He loved his farm and his independence. In the process, he avoided many of the problems that come with corporate life. “Five Acres and Independence” was published in 1935. Here is what the jacket cover said: “Security is assured and even comfort and luxury may come to the family who owns and wisely operates a small farm. Not only can such a place supply the food requirements of the family, but also it may produce abundance to sell, often at higher prices than those of the general market may. This book tells how to select, finance, stock and develop such a place”.
Dad was a smart man. My brother’s Brad Jeff would say, “Too smart!” You see, he bought that farm and recognized he had three young boys to raise.
They needed to learn his second maxim for life – WORK HARD!
The boys fed the cows, sheep, and chickens, bailed the hay and pulled the garden weeds.
Dad provided lists of “Things to Do!” Man, did he like lists! He would add an item to his already created list just so he could cross it off.
Those lists defined an organized and disciplined man.
While I was at his desk on Monday morning, just a few hours after his death, there, written on a yellow pad, I noted his last list. This is what he had written:
1. WORK on files
2. Consider planting trees, shrubs
3. Make out walking schedule
4. Count calories to try to get weight down
5. Look for book on computer XP
6. WORK out a cash flow
7. Make a LIST of CD’s by title song.
A few comments about this list.
“WORK!” a word that forever defined our father. He was a hard worker and expected hard work from his family.
“Counting Calories and exercise”. He was always counting calories even when he was weight appropriate! You, will no doubt, notice that this maxim did NOT rub off on some of us.
“The Computer” – Brother Jeff would say, “God bless him!” He learned to use the computer at age 80 and was always calling Jeff to fix his latest computer crash. Dad wasn’t very patient with the computer. He would hit the keys, click the mouse, and things just went “poof”. He was fortunate though, he just called Mr. Precision himself (Brother Jeff) and the lad from Heartland drove 45 minutes to bail out his Dad.
“Cash Flow” – If ever there was a lesson to be learned, manage your money was at the top of the maxim list. He counted every penny, as many in his Great Depression Generation did – But Dad had to be close to one of the “All Time Greats”. He could tell you how much was expended on toilet paper –to the penny –by the month- by the year – or by historical record. He hand recorded in columns and rows every transaction – kept every receipt until it was recorded in large notebooks. He would even take these large books with him on vacation. When Dad learned of Excel and the ease with which he could monitor his finances, he was driven to the computer. Dad loved Excel, and I am sure Excel loved Dad.
“CD’s” – Dad loved music especially classical. You have been listening to one of his favorites today – Tchaikovsky. In fact, he was listening to this very CD at his bedside.
There are other items in Dad’s office – ribbons and trophies for achievement in raising show rabbits – an adjacent green house for growing orchids (we have symbolic orchids displayed here today) and pictures. Pictures everywhere! His children, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and of course his wife, our mom, Hazel.
Love, devotion, and admiration are the words that come to mind to describe Dad’s relationship with mother – his partner for 68 years. Dad worshiped mother. He was always saying, “isn’t she beautiful?”
There, in his living room, prominently displayed, you can’t miss it, – her portrait.
The pain he experienced in watching mother’s illness (Alzheimer) progress was palpable and excruciating. He was devoted and concerned for her – taking care of her 24/7 until his own health began to fail.
And then there are pictures of his sons – he loved his boys and was so proud of them. He would do anything for them. He was there through thick and thin! Always encouraging, demanding, advising but always, always, loving. His love created a tight kinship that never wavered. He leaves a legacy of what family love is suppose to mean.
As cousin John has said, “Uncle Roy was the patriarch of the family. He was always calling to “check up” on folks and not just family but friends of his and even children of his close friends.
Time is growing short and I have left out so many things – Fish Lake, Green Giant stories, “tales from the past” as Brother Brad describes them, and so many other beautiful qualities: intellectual curiosity, a love of history, integrity and social responsibility.
Bradly, shared with us yesterday that Dad had expressed how much he appreciated the help and support of Brother Jeff in caring for mother. “How ironic”, said Bradly, “that Dad’s last day alive was intended to celebrate Easter at Jeff Emily’s home. Dad didn’t make the dinner! – but he made his family understand what unconditional love is.”
Dad lived 90 wonderful years, in good health for all but two. He was privileged to enjoy nearly 30 years in retirement. Think of that! He died on the farm just the way he wanted – he didn’t suffer, he was receiving excellent care and all the time knowing he was deeply loved. We should all be so lucky.