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- My Turn -

Remembering Dad

By Roxanne Rooney
Wellington, Kansas

My Dad died more than six months ago, and I haven’t adjusted well to his death. In fact, my husband has told me more than once that Dad would not want me to mourn him like this.

No matter what I think or do, it’s been very hard to pick myself up and move on. I’ll be the first to tell you that my Dad would want me to. He would tell me to get my lip off my chest and move on with my life. I’m working hard to figure out how to do that.

He accomplished much in his life despite great adversity. When he was an infant, his mother ran away with another man, leaving his father to raise him. His father was unable to care for him and depended on different relatives for help. One of my Dad’s earliest memories was hearing his uncle and wife arguing because she didn’t want him to live in their house – therefore he had to sleep in the barn.

One of his aunts had married well and couldn’t have children and offered him a permanent home at age five. This was the first time in his life that he felt that he belonged. He made a vow that when he had children he would make sure they always knew they were loved and cared for no matter what.

He flourished in high school and college, but in his senior year his adopted father died suddenly. He had to leave college to take over the family farming operation. He married his college sweetheart and settled down to farm. Three children followed, and graduating from college was a distant dream for all of them. He made another vow that his children would graduate from college no matter what.

All three of us graduated from college, and we all have families of our own. The one thing that I’ll always remember is how proud he was of every one of our accomplishments. There was no way that any of us were going to disappoint Dad. His love and attention meant everything to us.

He lived by an honorable philosophy. A good man’s handshake was his word. This didn’t serve him well all the time, but he always told me “what goes around comes around, and they will suffer for their actions someday.”

He was haunted by his childhood, and it resulted in a drinking problem. When he realized how it affected his family, he got help and quit. If he had lived another eight months, he would have had his 30-year pin in AA. This showed us that no matter how hard things get, you figure it out and fix it. We weren’t allowed to quit anything. He grew his father’s farm to 15,000 acres in southwest Kansas. He was married to my mother for 51 years. If you started it, you finished it. No excuses.

When he was diagnosed with cancer, he was the rock. We were all trying to figure out how to handle it, and he guided us through.

I believe that if you have one person in your life who loves you unconditionally, you’re one of the lucky ones. I was blessed with more than one, but miss my Dad’s love most of all.

I try to remember the good times. The family station wagon trips. He would have the radio on full blast singing at the top of his lungs. We really had no choice but to join in.

When I got to dating age, he would put a stepstool out for me if my date was too tall. When I left home, he would call me when the Miss USA pageant would start so we could make our picks. I rarely missed his daily call to my office with his updates on life at the farm.

He was the glue that held us together.

I’ve written several stories, and he is the main character in most of them. This was the hardest one to write. From now on, I’ll work hard to remember the good stories. I think Dad would have wanted it that way.

– Roxann Rooney, Wellington, Kansas

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