Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This Is My Dad

070107-045a.jpgThis is my Dad, Burt.  John thinks he looks like the cartoon toymaker from Toy Story 2.  I have to agree with him!  My Dad is an interesting little man.  He is a hermit.  He likes open spaces and goats.  070107-042a.jpgHe dislikes crowds and airplanes.  I'm certain he would be diagnosed with a social phobia if he ever saw a psychiatrist.  He moved to Idaho, his birthplace, several years ago where he can live in a little 100 year old house with wide open fields surrounding him and his goats.  He is happy there.


070107-229a.jpgMy Dad wore jeans, usually Wrangler, everyday of his life except on Sunday for church.  He also had a pair of sandles that he wore occassionaly around the house on hot days.  But, much to my dismay, he always wore them with socks.  What's the point?  If you want shoes that cool your feet, why are you covering them with socks?!  He also never wore shorts.  Never.  Not ever.  So, imagine my shock when I saw my Dad wearing these beauties!  Man Capris!  What?!  Where did he get these?  Did his wife make them for him?  After all, she does own 9 sewin machines and about 12 vaccums.  And did you notice his hat?  My Dad has always worn ball caps because he doesn't want his bald head to get burned.  He likes this hat because it says PING.  He doesn't know what that means he just thinks it's funny that it says PING!


My father enjoys a good conspiracy theory.  So, if you don't want your eyes to roll back into your head don't ask him about 911!  He is convinced that the US government was behind it and that the government would like nothing better than to keep him quiet.  Don't worry, he's harmless, he's only a capri wearing goat lover.


070107-228a.jpgMay I introduce my Dad's wife Vona.  He married Vona 3 years ago.  For two of those years all my brothers thought her name was Bona despite me trying to correct them.  She is also harmless.  She is very sweet and quite entertaining because of some sort of demensia that my Dad and Vona won't confess to. 


070107-037a.jpgHere is Vona's little doggy named Tippy.  My brother's had told me that Vona had this little weiner dog that she wouldn't allow in the house.  So, at night or when it was storming they would lock the dog in one of their cars.  I'm a dog lover so I have been deeply disturbed by this story for about 2 years.  On my drive to Idaho I was thinking of all the ways I could dognap this dog without my Dad noticing while keeping it a secret from my husband.  I was quite happy to see the dog was happy.  Vona loves her little weiner dog and watches closely after it and yes, the dog is not kept in the car.


070107-235a.jpgMy Dad raises chickens.  I hated those things growing up.  They stink and I hated collecting their eggs and cleaning them of chicken crap.  Currently, my dad owns about 20 red chickens and collects their eggs everyday.  (My husband wanted some of the brown eggs so he made me keep them in our cooler for an entire week while we were in Wyoming.  I left them in my brother Paul's fridge.  I wonder if Kira would cook brown eggs for Paul.)  My Dad told me that a neighboring farmer gave him two white chickens that were raised for my meat.  He then wondered out loud how these chickens reproduced because they never had eggs, they were only for the dinner table.  Anyhoo, back at Burt's farm, one of the chickens died because the stress of being stuffed inside of a sack for transport was to "shocking for its system."  I can't imagine!  (PITA leave my Daddy alone)  So, already my Dad was only left with one chicken for a Sunday meal.  Well, Vona doesn't like chickens either.  On about 5 different occasions she told me she didn't like them because of their "fowl odor.  Get it fowl odor?!"  But for some reason she has become close with the lone white chicken.  She'll go to the hen house and open the door and say, "Come here chicky, come here!"  And out walks the white chicken while the other red chickens stay obediently in their house.  I was surrounded by chickens for 12 years and I've never seen anything like that!  She then pets the chicken and feeds it a special meal.  So, now my dad has lost another Sunday dinner because he can't kill Vona's pet, now can he?


As I was saying Vona has some sort of demensia.  I once thought I had lost her in WalMart because she had wandered off.  I didn't know how I was going to tell my dad that I'd lost his wife.  I have to keep introducing myself to her as "Katrine, Burts daughter" where she blurts out with, "Burt, I didn't know you had a daughter!"  On this visit as we were admiring the chickens she exclaimed, "Burt, is this your sister?" 


I enjoyed this visit because she was in her own surroundings and she could think more clearly.  So, I was able to learn a little more about her.  I once asked Vona how many children she had and she had to count them out on her fingers.  I then asked her how many were girls and after several minutes she gave up.  But at her own home she showed me pictures and talked about them.  I was saddened when she pointed to a picture and struggled to remember that this was her son who had died as a child.  She then kept coming back to the picture and as the clouds of memory loss slowly lifted she remembered he had died when a horse kicked him.  I can't imagine having to remember everyday that your child had been killed.  It made me so sad for her! 


070107-232a.jpgAs I was walking across their little land I walked across this peice of bailing twine.  You know how it is when you smell something, or hear a song, or see something and it instantly reminds you of the past?  This piece of twine did it for me.  I was instantly taken back to growing up in Utah under Timpanogous mountain and watching my Dad spend hours with his garden and his goats.  I remember being so upset that he was more worried about how the pumpkins were growing while never asking how my grades were.  I remembered my Dad spending money on food for the goats while I only owned one pair of pants.   I remember standing in the garden and begging my Dad to go to one of my violin concerts and he would get mad and say, "Judas Preist, I have to take care of the animals!"  I have always been hurt by his neglect.  Now I can begin to understand because I have distance to see his mental state.  He loves me, but I believe it was hard for him to show it because he didn't get it as a child. 


A few years ago my Dad began to tell me he loved me on the rare occassions I talk to him on the phone. He didn't tell me that growing up. It's still foreign for me to hear that from him. In fact, I would resent it when he ended the conversation with an I love you. But as I left his little farm I burst into tears and jumped out of our car for one last hug. This may be the last time I see him. I am relieved to know I love him.070107-230a.jpg 

5 comments:

Jason said...

What an utterly fascinating post on so many levels. Having never been to Dad's current farm, I was intrigued. I've never seen his house, nor his animals, nor his MAN CAPRIS! I am so glad you had a good visit with him and Vona and the weiner dog and the white chicken. I'm especially happy that your children realize that they do indeed have a Grandpa Shelton.

Mimi said...

That's such a sweet post, and I'm giggling at this line Don’t worry, he’s harmless, he’s only a capri wearing goat lover.

Kira Joy said...

Katrine, that was a beautiful post. I laughed and hurt and smiled and thought. I always get a kick out of hearing Paul talk about your dad (and the goats), he really seems like he has a good heart. This was such an eloquent post.

Eric said...

I say he looks more like Karl Malden, especially when he played the priest in the West Wing episode, "Take This Sabbath Day"
Picture here: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://westwing.bewarne.com/images/nbcmv/2WESau99km.jpg&imgrefurl=http://westwing.bewarne.com/14sabbath.html&h=210&w=150&sz=7&hl=en&start=1&um=1&tbnid=8gVx2KmwMjwbUM:&tbnh=106&tbnw=76&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dcarl%2Bmalden%2Bwest%2Bwing%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN

Sharyn said...

Katrine, I am so glad you wrote this and I have finally read it. I got to get to know so much more about you than I had known, even though I've known you all my life. And even related to bits of it as well. I am glad you have been able to come to terms and a sense of peace concerning your father.

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