Most of us have at this time in our lives lost a loved one. And the memories – through photos, letters, lessons, and life experiences – help us remember how important those people were in our lives.
In my case, I remember back to my teenage years and the time I spent with my dad. Some of the lessons learned at the time were more painful than others. Take, for instance, the day I was taught how to handle a large piece of equipment, a 1938 “Oliver 70” tractor.
As I was preparing (at 15 years old) to drive this very large machine up a 14–16° slope on our property, my dad told me, “Turn it around and back it up the hill, son.” Being a teenager, I knew better of course, and facing single wheel front, I put her in second gear and “hit the throttle.” As the front end of the tractor came off the ground and slowly rose, I saw my life flash before my eyes. All I could do was push the clutch in and hope for the best. The forward momentum stopped, the Oliver 70 stopped, the front end fell to the ground, and we all began moving backwards.
As the tractor came to rest at the bottom of the hill, I looked around thinking “I hope no one saw that.” Of course, my dad was standing at the top of the hill just shaking his head. My dad was a calm guy on the inside, but I know that he was probably nervous knowing that I had to learn some of life’s lessons the hard way.
With my dad watching, I carefully turned the Oliver 70 around, and backed it up the hill. When I got to the top safely, my dad was nowhere to be seen. He knew the lesson had been learned by experience … the best teacher.
When I got back to the house, dad asked, “How did it go, son?” I told him fine, the tractor is back in the yard. “Good,” he replied. And that was that.
Reflecting back on my teenage years, remembering my dad and so many lessons I was taught about life brings back great memories.
Today, I go to the Lovell Cemetery in Lovell Wyoming where dad is laid to rest. He has a marker that reads, “Clarence Emmett May 24, 1924 –December 22, 2005. In Loving Memory.” He also has a military stone that reads, “Clarence Emmett 5/24/24-12/22/05 Seamen Second Class,” with a Military Cross on each side of the inscription.
Monuments are important. They help families remember their loved ones’ accomplishments, the moments in life they shared, moments they missed, and things they wished they had talked about, but for whatever reasons either didn’t, or couldn’t.
In remembrance, the photograph in this blog is my grandpa’s barn built in 1932. We still have it at the ranch in Wyoming where my dad carefully placed it. A very special monument indeed!