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.