I probably talk with my dad a couple of times a week. Perhaps more often if there is news to share. These days our conversations dwell on high gas prices, teenage angst, and how we both wish we had the answers to solve any of the world's problems. Not every talk we have lasts a long time. Not every conversation is deep and reflective. But every single one of them means the world to me. It has dawned on me in recent months that my father and I are in the twilight of our time together. We might have 20 more years together. We may only get 20 more days. The key is to appreciate the words that are spoken in the meantime.

I think every child appreciates their parents more when they are adults and eventually parents themselves. You see the things you didn't when you were 12. You see the hard work, the sacrifices. My dad grew up on a farm. Other than a short stint in Anamosa he's lived on a farm his entire life. Like his father before him, he knew that was going to be his life's work. I've never known someone who worked harder than my dad. Up at dawn to do chores. In the fields all day. Chores again at night. Supper on the table. Time spent with my brother and me. I don't know how there were enough hours in the day. Leave it to a farmer to squeeze 25 hours out of a 24-hour day.

My dad lived and farmed through the farm crisis of the 1980s. He farmed through the drought years of the early 1990s. There were years he made money. And there were many he didn't. But he made sure his children were none the wiser. Perhaps the hard times on the farm during many of those years lessened the blow when he learned that neither of his strapping sons wanted to continue the family business of farming. He encouraged us to follow our own paths. Chase down our own dreams.

My dad is not perfect. No father or man is, for that matter. But to this day I continue to find myself holding my parenting, and my work ethic, to his high standards. There are days when I imagine my dad is proud of my work. And there are other days when I know I can be better. I can hear his stern, yet gentle voice, guiding me to be a better father and husband. Just as his advice all those years ago guided me on how to be the man I am today, and the one I still strive to be.

This Father's Day weekend, I can't wait to be surrounded by my kids. I'm trying to teach them some of the lessons my dad taught me. To be a good person. To have great character. To work hard. To love your family.

And then I can't wait to call my dad. Gas prices are up and the weather looks hot again next week. Nothing a little talk between father and son can't fix. Thank, you Dad.


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