Dad was born in the Ozark Mountains of south central Missouri in 1924. Today would have been his birthday. Like many young men of the period, he left home at an early age and joined the Civilian Conservation Corp. When World War II broke out Dad served on the Battleship New Jersey. Following the war he was employed as a lineman for 32 years. He and Mom were married for almost 60. His retirement years were spent raising cattle and working the family farm. Dad believed in doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with his God. He extended that mercy to all God’s creatures great and small and devoted himself to the stewardship of our land. Even at eighty, Dad easily outworked me. He’d drive a pine post with seemingly effortless strokes, while I swung and swatted and splintered posts to pieces. He often whistled as he worked, and on many occasions, when hearing a favorite tune on the radio, he’d spring into a rousing dance routine I can only describe as a peculiar combination of Irish jig and Ozark snake stomp. Given time I’ll master that move myself. I’m entirely certain my relationship with Dad was a perfect example of what God intended when He first created fatherhood, and I held his hand as he drew his final breath. We scattered his ashes up on the hill, just as he’d requested, and I never walk the Ozark Hills that I don’t miss my dad.
UP ON THE HILL
Up on the hill where the pines grow dense;
Where the fields are green and the sky immense,
Scatter one day my last remains,
To be drawn in the earth by the gentle rains.
Gladly did I tread this place,
With the gentle breeze upon my face,
A faithful dog for company,
And benevolent sun beaming down on me.
Thank the Lord for the time we had,
When rest was blessed and toil was glad,
When joyous hearts rejoiced in truth,
And we shared our hopes and dreams and youth.
Look to the heavens bright and blessed.
See me satisfied, caressed.
Know at last I’m free from care.
My dust is here, but my spirit there. SC