Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dadstory: Conclusion

The play is done.
It was a great success and so much fun!
Details to follow tomorrow--when I've recovered!

Dadstory: Conclusion

Dad was a hopeless clutterer. He was never unclean; just disorganized. And he did not really have the patience to bother with tidying things up - unless it was his vehicles or machinery or building a granary, and then everything was kept in tip-top shape. But to actually sit down and try to organize things, Dad could not be bothered. For example, whenever the family was getting ready to go on a trip, Mom would start sending things out with all of us to Dad, who had the chore of packing it in the trunk of the car. It would be easiest to say that Dad's inability to fit everything into the trunk stemmed from the fact that rarely knew ahead of time how much he was expected to fit into the trunk - and he always ran out of trunk before suitcases. But I think it would be closer to the truth to state that Dad simply started putting things into the trunk with little thought as to spatial arrangement, and much space was wasted or ill-used. And so, the trunk filled up before the goodies quit coming. Dad would eventually give up, and go to tell Mom that she was going to need a three-ton truck to transport all of 'that stuff'. Mom would invariably come out to the car for inspection, and take EVERYTHING out of the trunk, and start over. Dad, at this point, would hover nearby, trying his best to convince Mom that she might as well give up, she was never going to get it all in anyway. Mom would continue, telling Dad that only "a dumb ezzle" would pack a trunk "like a sausage" or some other such loving jab, while Dad would snicker and continue to try to intimidate her into giving up as he had. After a little while, Mom would clamber out of the trunk, say something to the effect of "is that all there is?", and then drag Dad over to look at her packing job. "Well, I'll swan!!", Dad would exclaim as he examined the trunk, which was invariably little more than one-half full. And then he would snicker and grin, amid accusations that Mom had thrown half a dozen things away while he wasn't looking - all the while knowing that it was simply Mom's superior packing techniques that made the difference.
 Dad was a simple man. Now I don't mean that in a pejorative sense at all. What I mean is that to Dad, life was very simple -- black and white, with no shades of grey. Everything was either right or wrong. There was no teetering in between. I remember one time watching the evening news next to Dad, one of his favorite activities. I don't recall the particular incident, but I do recall that there was a report on the news that evening of one of the senseless battles that had been raging, resulting in some deaths. Dad's eyes didn't leave the screen, and he said: "Now what do you suppose they would want to do something like that for?" At the time, I thought it was just Dad's way of expressing his disgust with violence, for he was a gentle and peaceful man. I thought it was just a passing comment, inspired by the carnage on the TV screen. But when I thought about it later—many times, in trying to understand my father—I realized that the comment was more than just a rhetorical question. Dad REALLY didn't understand. He could not for any reason fathom why people had to do such things to each other. In a way, it was innocence—and I guess that's why I say he was a simple man. He could not understand many of the complexities of society. In many ways, I envy Dad. He created his own world, and lived quite happily in it. I am most grateful that he chose to include me in his simple world. It was great while it lasted, and I often long for more of it.
 Dad was a spiritual man too, in his own way. He understood the inner being in himself, and he understood more about humankind than I think most psychologists could lay claim to. This was evident through a little habit that he had—a good habit, I must say—of collecting poems. For as long as I can remember, Dad was always clipping poems from whatever reading material that he was into at the moment. For the most part, the poems came from the Wheat Pool Budget, a little newsletter affair that came out once a month or so, for farmers that were members of the Wheat Pool organization. Others he would clip from newspapers, or write down as he heard them. When Dad died, Mom asked what I would like that was his. I asked if I could have his collection of poems. I have often thought I should make a book of them; they would make a wonderful anthology of poetry (and a pretty big one, at that). But I haven't; they sit in a file folder, unorganized. Just as Dad left them. When the rush of life gets to me, and I wish Dad were around to give me a word of wisdom, or a grin and a snicker, or tell me one of his goofy jokes to cheer me up, I go to his poems. It is there I am able to find his philosophy on life. It is there I find comfort and solace.
It is there I find Dad's Story. 

Grant Tolley
1986

7 comments:

  1. There ... and here. You seem to have captured a huge part of him with this series. It's good to write about those we want to remember because our memories have leaks. I've re-read some of the things I wrote about my father both before and after his death, and I'm always surprised at what I've forgotten since then. The words, thankfully, don't forget.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovely.
    I firmly believe that the world needs more of his simplicity. Or innocence. Whatever it is called, we need it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love this.

    I don't understand it, either- the people killing each other.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Nice description and memory of your Dad.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Really enjoyed the series you posted. So many things that made your dad who he was/is. It's too bad that so many of those habits and activities had to go with him when he went. I think the same of my own father and at times like this I miss him the most....

    ReplyDelete
  6. Like your dad, I don't understand the complexities of society, nor do I understand violence and why people feel the need to do such things. We are the calm within the storm and I'm sure the world needs us to be this way.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've just been catching up on reading this series of posts, and just wanted to say, many thanks for posting/writing it - I have enjoyed reading it.

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete

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