This month, we present our “Gents” issue in celebration of Father’s Day and the men in our lives. I originally planned to write my June letter as a tribute to my husband, who still takes my breath away every single day. But my dad’s health recently took a turn due to several old age maladies, and my plan changed—as most best laid plans do. This one is for you, dad.
My dad—The Last Cowboy—looms large. He’s unmatched when considering the impact a father can have on his daughter. I’ve said many times that I am who I am because of the house I grew up in. My dad taught me to love learning, whether in the traditional sense—education—or the non-traditional sense—the journey and the ability to explore. He read voraciously—everything from Kipling to John Bogle to Louis L’Amour to Abe Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. And he passed this love on to me, too.
My dad was not much of a conversationalist, unless, of course, he was talking and you were listening. But he still generally prescribed to John Wayne’s “less is more” strategy: Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too much. He had a handlebar mustache and was rarely seen without a sweat-rimmed cowboy hat. He liked a good steak, a good scotch, and quiet kids. My dad wasn’t much of a parent in the customary sense. He never taught me to ride a bike and he never attended a single one of my golf tournaments. Instead, he was traveling throughout western Kansas, working hard to pay for my college, my siblings’ college, and his grandkids’ college. This is, in his mind, his greatest accomplishment.
Despite his overwhelming work ethic, my dad was always there when I needed something, from his words of wisdom to all the reasons I didn’t need to worry about the things on my “worry list.” I adore all these things about The Last Cowboy, but more than anything I adore the memories of family gatherings, which occurred well into adulthood, surrounding my parents’ kitchen table on the farm. Me, with a glass of wine, my dad, with a scotch, and my mom and siblings sitting around a table filled with love, memories, and stories of childhood on Oakmont Street, three-wheelers and two-wheelers and a little cabin on Cedar Bluff Lake, ski trips, road trips and those dreaded “vacations” to visit Civil War Battle Sites . . . My God, I was and I am blessed beyond measure.