A Woman's Voice


MY FATHER’S PARTING GIFT — August 23, 2010 by Sharon Smyth

Posted in A WOMAN'S VOICE,MEMORY LANE by doloresayotte on August 23, 2010
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A Wo-Man’s Voice  

I grew up in a small prairie town with my parents and 3 siblings. The four of us kids spanned 17 years – I was in Grade 12 when my little brother arrived. In between was another brother – 3 years younger than me and a sister – 10 years younger than me.  Needless to say – my mother had her hands full. There always seemed to be diapers on the clothes line!

Our grandparents lived on a story book farm on the river – 2 miles out-of-town. We had a very close relationship with them –  birthdays and Christmases were always celebrated at the farm. Every summer, when school was out, my brother and I would hop on our bikes and off we would ride to the farm. We explored every inch of those 100 acres and knew every animal that moved. Then we built a wooden raft and paddled down the river. We were free and our imaginations ran wild! One day we were explorers in the jungle on our raft, and the next day we would be in the hayloft searching for baby kittens , even though Grandpa said there were none. All this without any adult supervision – we only returned home when we got hungry. Mother was glad she didn’t have to amuse us as the garden took up most of her time in the summer.

This continued on till we finally had to grow up and move on to adulthood. Our visits to the farm were limited now as we no longer lived nearby and our free time was replaced with work, marriage, mortgages, etc.  

After my grandparents died, my parents moved to the farm. It was always my Dad’s dream to spend his retirement years on the farm where he was born and raised. My baby brother was now in high school and was fortunate to be able to live there with my parents for a few years before he too had to move on.  My sister also spent a fair bit of time there as she travelled frequently and used the farm as her home base.  Her cat became the farm mouser.

One day last summer, my baby brother was home on vacation and took my Dad  fishing.  

My Dad fainted on the way and a quick trip to emergency resulted in many tests, ending with a diagnosis of brain cancer. Prognosis – 2 months to live. Our world was shattered.

My dad was fortunately able to spend his few remaining days at his beloved farm with me and my siblings visiting weekly.

What would become of our precious farm? My mother at this time had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and although she was quite functional, my Dad was the main caregiver.  Our stress levels were rising. My Father passed away on August 6th, 2009. My sister stayed at the farm with my Mom till she was placed in the nursing home in town.

All of us siblings knew that the farm had been homesteaded by my grandparents over 80 years ago and nothing was ever thrown out. At one time we had approached my father about starting to clean out some of the buildings and his exact words were: “When I’m dead and gone you can do whatever you like!” When would we find time to go through all of it? Every building was packed to the rafters with “stuff” – some junk, some treasures. Well, reality set in and we set dates to meet and start the cleaning out process. 

As siblings we saw each other when we could – family events mainly, as we were living in different cities and had our own lives. Now we were going to be spending weeks at a time together. Would we get through it? My biggest concern was that it would somehow hurt our family relationship as we had not spent this much time together since we all lived at home. We decided to stay at the farm and work morning till night. And, that’s what happened – it was a whirlwind. It was heart wrenching for all of us but we reminisced, laughed, cried, and worked! It was one of my best vacations and our family is better connected than ever!

The day of the auction arrived and we sold everything – it’s true – one man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Then we sadly put up the “For Sale” sign. The real estate listing said: “Quaint property with an awesome view overlooking water, wildlife and meadows”. She described it perfectly – our childhood retreat!

A year to the date of my Father’s funeral, we sold the farm. It was over, but the good times we had will live in our memories forever and our family was intact. While the death of my father was very sad, the task he left us to perform became his parting gift to his children.

Thank you so much Sharon for sharing such a lovely, heartwarming story with us. 

 

 

 

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10 Responses to 'MY FATHER’S PARTING GIFT — August 23, 2010 by Sharon Smyth'

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  1. Shirley Sarafinchan said,

    I loved your story Sharon and can so well relate to the love and sharing within your family! Your story brought tears to my eyes because I recall so vividly when we had to sell Mom’s home a couple of years ago. Mom is still with us and is doing very well but it was a tough time for all of us but a sharing and loving time too!


  2. Too bad you couldn’t have kept the farm in the family. At least you have your memories.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

  3. Mary Haskett said,

    A lovely story Sharon,
    I cannot relate to to this type of family life, but thoroughly enjoy reading such warm stories.
    I’m so glad you and your siblings worked together doing what had to be done. What a day that will be when we all get to heaven and become one big and Joyful family!

  4. Audra Krell said,

    Well done Sharon, thank you for this powerful post. I’m inspired by your family time together and love how God redeemed that time with your siblings.

  5. Andrea said,

    I really enjoyed your story! Thank you for sharing.

  6. Susan Earl said,

    Sharon,
    Your story touched my heart and brought tears to my eyes. It is so hard to see our parents and our childhood loves disappear into the midst of time. But God has graced us with wonderful memories such as these that keep us ever connected to the treasured ghosts of our past, as well as draw us closer to those near and dear to us.
    Blessings to you and yours,
    Susan


  7. I would to thank you all for your comments on Sharon’s story. She emailed me and told me how pleased she was with the response. Therefore, I thank you on her behalf! Enjoy your day! 🙂

  8. Lorraine Gauthier said,

    Beautifully written Sharon! With loss comes gain. Your family took the right approach to honor what your parents had built after so many years. Saying goodbye to the home you grew up in is never easy. The memories however, live on forever !! Thank goodness for memories!!! Thanks for sharing!

  9. hope_rising said,

    This was such a beautiful story. I wish there was a way you could have kept the farm but I’m so glad your family made the most of letting it go …. sounds like the parting gift from your parents made sure the bond of their children would be stronger in their absence!

    thanks so much for sharing this


    • Hope…thanks for taking the time to catch up on reading my blog. Your positive comments are always appreciated. I hope you had a great time with your visitors. LLL 🙂


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