Father And Me
I often sat at my father’s side in our little black buggy tugging at my stringy white hair, which mother always tucked behind my ears. Looking at my dirty, calloused feet, I wondered why they couldn’t be pretty like Mama always said her hands used to be.
Sometimes when Papa clicked at the white mare, Fanny, and the buggy lunged forward, my feet would fly up and my head hit the back of the seat. Pa made nothing of this; for he was often preoccupied and saying soft words to himself. The old mare, our favorite horse through the years, was the mother of later horses which we prized. She kicked up dust and the buggy wheels dug into the soft sand. I rubbed my eyes and wondered about Papa’s thoughtful mumblings that were beyond my childish comprehension.
We came to the dry river bottom where Pa pointed out some chickadees and road runners. Shortly he pulled the reins, and with a whoa to the mare, we were both down from the buggy out in the deep white sand looking for doodle bugs together.
Then, in the most gentle meekness, we paused there. Papa spoke a few words of adoration and recognition to the heavenly Father who seemed so very present with us. He prayed softly there in the wonderful heavenly stillness. I repeated the little German prayer which he and Mama had taught all of us at an early age, “Dear Lord, make me good that I may get to heaven. ”
While kneeling there in the sand I looked up at the twinkly blue eyes and red mouth almost hidden in the massive blonde beard and mustache. There I sensed love and a wealth of ability and understanding.
Here was the provider of our large two story house with a long stairs on which I loved to patter up and down. He kept a small purse filled with nice little moneys. He filled our barn with hay and with teams of greys and bays, mules and ponies. There were cows in the pasture or staked in the corn, wagons and farm machinery in the yard. Trees were planted, and a big castor bean vine stood near the barn where I often ran to shade and cool my bare feet on a hot blistery summer day.
Now I watched my father cut a willow branch, and with his knife he cleaned off its leaves and bark to make a slick buggy whip. Then a whistle and a snap of the whip, and my Pa and I were off again. The buggy wheels ground a little deeper into the sand as our faithful mare trudged heavily along.