I Might Not Be Right but….

Growing up on a farm in the sixties had its bright spots.  Farm life was long on work, but we were at liberty to swim and fish in the pond and ride horses when we weren’t working. My brother and I counted on riding late Saturday afternoons and every Sunday after church with friends, then maybe swimming later in the day in the summer.  It was the high point of our week.  Winter wasn’t so bad because there wasn’t so much work and there were school and friendships to look forward to.  That tells you a lot about how much social life we had, doesn’t it?

When I was a young child, I adored Daddy who was very indulgent and loving, but as I aged out as a small child and became a girl, I felt he withdrew his love.  This was extremely cruel and painful.  I felt as though my heart had been amputated.

Daddy was fiercely stern, certainly not worried about being a friend to his children.  He was proud of taking a stand, always being right.  More than once, I remember him him saying, “I may not be right, but I am never wrong,”  feeling it was a weakness to back down.

By the time I was a teenager on the farm, the work on the farm was unrelenting, particularly during the summer months. My brother and I spent hours every day at tasks Daddy had assigned us and with him when he was home, an altogether miserable experience. Through the misery of the long week, we looked forward to our Saturday and Sunday afternoons off.  I even looked forward to church, remarkable for me, since I’d never cared for the monotony of church, but it was a rare chance to see friends over the summer. Our only socialization was family activities.

One Sunday I was impatiently helping Mother cooking Sunday dinner after church, just like always I had to, wild to be cut loose to go riding, when I saw Daddy open the pasture gate for the neighbor girl, Kim on her horse and her friend Susie on “my horse, Pixie ” while I was still stuck in the kitchen, like a mindless drudge. No one had even had the consideration to mention the plan to me, though all three knew I rode every Sunday. I was livid.  I went straight to Daddy and asked if it was true, “Did you really loan my horse without saying anything to me?”  It’s a wonder he didn’t knock my teeth out!

“I did.  I bought that horse.  I pay for every bite that goes in its mouth and yours.  That horse and everything on this place belongs to me.”

I turned and went back in the house, more determined than ever, that no one would ever own me.

Later that evening, I had the shock of my life.  My father came as close to apologizing as he ever did.  He said.  “I should have asked you if you were going to ride before I loaned that horse.”  I cried as I wrote this.  Maybe he was softer than I thought.  I wish I could talk this over with him today.  I know I have hurt my kids without meaning to.

“He did.”

26 thoughts on “I Might Not Be Right but….

  1. I too had a dad that was strict. If there was a certain tone in his voice when he called your name you knew you were in trouble. Yet I always felt loved by both my parents. I did get a chance to ask him after I was married why he was so tough on us when we were chldren and his answer suprised the hell out of me. He said; “Fear. I had five daughters to raise and only one son. You can’t imagine how scary that is for a father, but I hope you all knew I always loved you.” I told him we did and instead of the usual kiss on the cheek as I left that day he actually hugged me for the first time in my adult life. I was twenty eight. I was so glad I asked. ☺

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    • I think fathers felt they had to be stern to keep control. My brother describes a totally different man than the one I had. He said Daddy was fun. I never saw that!

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  2. Such a poignant memory. I was lucky enough to witness my father’s own humanity as he got older, and was very candid about what he saw as his shortcomings in raising us. It was enlightening, and made me appreciate him more than ever. Of course, your dad had that softer side, it must have been so hard to get past his pride, his own upbringing, lifelong messages of what it meant to be a father. It is good for you to express those feelings now, too late for him, but not for you. Hugs.

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  3. Oh Beth….this was amazingly written. It’s something I can relate to. I’ve often apologized to my children. When I was raising them and now that they’re older. I never felt I was always right, but often felt I had to be firm and stern when I wasn’t sure. Those are the times I feel the worst about. It sounds like your dad didn’t know how to be unsure or apologetic. Your tears writing this, really impacted the reading of this, to me.

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  4. Beth – This is a powerful message to all parents, grandparents and anyone that takes care of children and holds their tender hearts and futures in their hands. I too grew up on a working ranch and although Dad spoiled me to no end, he could also be firm when needed. Our first priority was always school work and then Dad was insistent I had to learn how to do ‘girl things’ such as cooking, sewing, etc. I hated every minute of that and couldn’t wait to get into the wide open out of doors.
    Thanks for posting.

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  5. Sounds so much like my dad..I just think it was that era and to show love was seen as weakness and maybe they thought we would respect them less but as he got older we rediscovered each other and that was lovely and that little gesture your dad made showed that he did care about you and feelings just hard to show thank you for sharing 🙂

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