Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)
- TITLE: Tolerate Thy Father...?
By Dawn Dale
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"When it snows, we want them close so we'll be able to take care of them. The pasture is no good for the winter. We have to feed the cattle the silage and hay that we prepared this year. Besides, if any of them get sick, it's hard to care for them down in the pasture, especially if there's snow."
Funny, Daddy and I never had that conversation.
But, somehow, I knew.
I had learned.
I wanted to.
My parents made the world seem like a place I wanted to be. And, to be a member of society, I had to learn.
"Can I come?"
"No, the cattle don't know what to do when they see a little girl."
It was the early 1960's. They harnessed up the only horse we had, Lightning, and they harnessed all their energy for a big day. Grandpa Jacobs came out to help, and my brother (10 years older than me). Sydney was 15 years old and knew how to handle himself with Daddy and Grandpa and the cattle, of course.
My parents never had a college education, but, in time, each of their nine children did. All but two graduated, with several going on to get their Masters degree. My parents had a formula. Hard work plus education, undergirded with simple faith, equals successful children. They didn't pay for their children's college tuition; they taught them how to work to pay for their own college tuition.
David and Jen are stopping by McDonald's on their way home from class. It's Darby's favorite place to go. Darby is their only child, and, since David and Jen's parents are still paying for college, their part-time jobs allow them to give Darby two or three Happy Meal stops each week. Besides, it takes less time.
David and Jen are both art students. They met in class and really clicked. They married eight months later, both knowing that they could get divorced if it didn't work out. Darby came along just one year later. They're both still in school because everything is part time. School is part time, work is part time, family is part time.
"Officer, thanks for your service. It's too bad you've had to go through the mess of war. But, thanks!"
"Have you ever been in the service?"
"No, and, no offense. I never will be."
"You've spent. . . what . . . two years in Iraq?"
"All I see is two years of turmoil and civil war!"
"We had to go through a civil war in America, too."
"People are so different. . . they'll never work out their differences. It'll just be civil war. "
"People ARE so different. They'll work out their differences through civil war, if necessary. I hope not, but, if necessary."
"Officer, how can you be patient with people like that? You've seen it firsthand!"
" I can be patient because I've seen it firsthand. . . on the ground in Iraq and at ground zero."
"You were in New York on 9/11?"
"No, ground zero is my family, my home. Growing up in a big family can be a battleground. We were all different. We were taught to honor each other, not just tolerate each other. What honor is there in tolerance? I have things to believe in. It took me 18 years to get that. I am in my '30s now and I'm still learning it."
"Two years. . . Iraq is just a toddler?"
"Now, you're learning!"
"Daddy, did you get the job done?"
"Yes," he picked me up in his arms. "The cattle are herded up to the feedlot. "
I'm sure his arms were tired, but, they felt strong to me. He had been up since 6:00 a.m.. It was 6:00 p.m., now. I slept so good that night because it had been a hard day's work for my Daddy.
"Darby, take your medicine so we can get some sleep! Mom and I have class and work and you, tomorrow! We need to get rested up to deal with all that. "
"Officer, I need to stay awake and pray, tonight. It's been hard work learning tolerance. Kinda made me short tempered about Iraq. "
"Honor is even harder work, David. I'll pray for you, Jen, and Darby. I want you to know the strength I learned from Dad, Mom, and the cattle farm," said Officer Sidney Jacobs.
"That's my brother!," I thought to myself.
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