I am so pissed. I had just written a long long entry, a letter to my father and this stupid computer ended my session, causing me to loose the whole thing.
I really don't feel like writing it out again, maybe another time. It was great to say it, but I really wanted to have a copy of it.
Today would be my father's 75th birthday.
Nordine Milo Johnson
He was born December 14, 1931. He had one older sister,(Nina Harriet- pronounced NINE-A or as she used to call her self when she was little Nina Hurry-up) who was born December 8, 1928 (sorry aunt Nina, hope you don't mind me outing your age). My grandmother was the daughter of Norweigan immegrants. My Grandfather immagrated from Sweden in his early 20's to join other relatives.
My father was supposed to have an older brother who was born sometime around 1930, but he died shortly after or during birth, and because of how things were handled back then, never even got to have a name.
My father was quite the curious child and from what I gather more than kept my grandmother busy. The family still tells the story about the time my dad, about 3 or 4 decided to put all the chicks (baby) in an old coffee pot (the stove top kind).
He grew up working the farm along with my grandfather. I still remember hearing many stories about life on a thrashing crew (how wheat/durum used to be harvested in the olden days), and getting up at 4 am to feed the livelstock and hitch the horses, before sitting down to a breakfast that would be more than I eat in a a week now. First there was the oatmeal, than the eggs and bacon, than the pancakes and milk..than bck to work.. and my granmother cooked all this on a coal stove)
When he was in 5th grade and my aunt about 7th grade, the moved from country school (one room school house), to city school. Because there were no snow plows in those days, when winter came, they would have to stay in town during the week and come home for weekends and holidays. My grandparents actually put them up in a motel and they ate at a local diner.
I can't imagine doing such a thing today. CPS would have your ass in jail in five minutes. Yet they both went to school, stayed out of trouble (mostly)and continued to grow up. My father learned to drive a Model T at ten and at 14 had a license with out ever taking a test. The judge just asked my grandfather if he new how to drive, Granpa said yes and that was that. Years later, in the military, they asked him a handful of questions had him drive around the base once he had his military license)
For reason's I still dont' quite understand (and will have to ask my aunt about), they moved to Valley City for a couple years about the time my Aunt was starting high school and my dad was in the equivalent of middle school. They later moved back to the farm, where both my aunt and my dad graduated high school in 1947 and 1949 respectively.
My aunt went on to nurses' college (then you could get an RN in two years), travelled with her friends for a couple years and then settled down and married my Uncle Lew and had 5 kids (Neil, Joan, Michelle( Mickey), Tommy, and Karen).
My dad traveled a bit after high school, and then was drafted in about '52 or '53 (after Korea ended, and the rules about the only son staying home changed). He did his stretch, and even though he tested for and could have gone on to OCS (Officer's Candidate School) and made a great careeer with the military (there was some talk that CIA or some other group was also trying to recruit him0, he left the military after one hitch as a company clerk (my dad was a Radar hehe!!) and went home to help my grandfather run the farm
Sometime in the early to mid 60's he was at a dance in Williston when he happened to meet my mother, who was at the time living with her sister and another friend.
From what I've been told they dated many years, adn sometime after my mom and her sister and friend barely escaped from an apartment fire with thier purse's (thank you Aunt HEDY!!) and the clothes on their backs.
They were married February 8, 1968. Because my mom was from a very old world German-Russian family and raised very Catholic, she wouldn't marry in a Lutheran Church. My father didn't want to convert, so a Catholic wedding was out.
Instead they opted for two witnesses and a trip to the JP. Almost exactly 18 months later (August 10, 1969), I came along. In July of 1972 my mom thought she was starting menopause (it runs early in my family), but she was wrong. March 30, 1973 saw my brother Milo come in to the world.
My parents settled in the same house my dad grew up in. Because my mom lost all of her things in the apartment fire, they kept my grandparents furniture and almost everythign else. My mom had to raise her kids in her in-laws house, with her in-laws furniture and her mother -in law in the house.
My grandfather passed away in December of 1972 (a week before Christmas - just like his son). My grandmother at this point was no longer able to care for herself. So she had to move out of the house her and Granpa were living in and bck to the farm she raised her family in. Now being run by her daughter in law and son.
Looking back, none of this could have been easy for anyone. My brother was a preemie, who had many difficulties. To say I was a handful at that age would be an understatement. I'm sure there were more than a few boundry issues.
I am so glad I had that short time to get to spend with my grandmother however. I remember he telling me storeis about teaching in a one room school house, and she was the one who taught me the old hand rhyme about here is the Church, here is the steeple....
It didn't last long. By the time I was ready for school my grandmother needed more care than my parents could manage..
My folks were so lucky they didn't have to put her in a home, she would have hated that (I'm a lot like her in many respects, not the least of which is my physical build - she gave me these barrel calves - her and Aunt Alma -her sister). They were lucky enough to find a lovely home setting run by this alternately strict and extremely kind British woman from London, or there abouts, named Madeline Bunn.
Basically it ws like a bording house for older people who were no longer able to be left alone, sort of a foster home for elderly. Later when the oil boom in Williston went insane whe also wound up bording a bunch of roughnecks and other oil field guys as the men comming to town for work far far exceeded the available affordable housing.
She was quite the character. Today even 30 years later, I can still remember the smell of that place. A bizarre combination of lysol and peppermint. It was avery homey place, even the wheelchair ramp was covered in asto-turf. And each resident had private room, and tv.
I still remember her yelling at Milo and I once for running around (I was about 8 and Milo about 4). It was like being bitched out by Mary Poppins, I didn't know if I should get scared or laugh!!).
She had her hands full. She made lunches for the guys and used to always put cookies in them (I tell you the woman was a cross between a saint and a robot), but then the cookies started disappearing. The guys started complaining. But she insisted she had put them in there.
One morning she pretended to leave the kichen and watched from the side. Seems my grandmother and a couple other old ladies who werent supposed to eat sugar, had been going lunch box raiding (I told you I took after her).
Meanwhile my dad was for the first time running a farm completely by himself, starting a brand new family and taking Vet's Ag classes (goverment paid for farm training).
It was also about this time that it became apparent just how many issues adn delays my brother really had. There were so many doctor visits, my brother was almost 9 before he could be in room with the door closed, even the bathroom.
My mom raised us Catholic, and my dad sort of begged off religion.
But he managed to turn my grandfathers' small farm into a great source of income, with investments and such he did better than anyone had ever dreamed, eventually buying out my aunt.
It wasn't easy. I remember when I was little and had to poor the cream off my milk before I could drink it (even then I hated it), as my folks only source of dairy was across the yard). Most little girls have memories of thier first horse ride, I have memories of my first cow ride. She was so old, I'm suprised she could hold me, but it was still fun.
The chickens were my job. I learned at an early age, not to name the livestock. Eating dinner is way harder when your entree has a name.
Eventually my dad got tired of the pain of raising livestock and switched to crops full time
After Milo and I both left home, my folks retired and moved to Williston.
My father still loved going to auction sales all over the state, and had the house and farm full of stuff to prove it. He read auction bills, like most guys read a porn magazine. They were his favorite passtime. I think he knew every auctionneer in Western North Dakota by name.
When he retired he added rumage sales to his hobby. He eventaully took up bowling and went for daily two miles walks. I think he just couldnt' stand having nothing to do all day. Not after a lifetime of 80-100 hour work weeks.
On the morning of December 16, 1996 my father got up had breakfast and got ready to go to the post office. My mom was sitting at the kitchen table decorating Christmas cookies. Both my brother and I were at our repective jobs going about our respective lives.
After I had dropped my son off at daycare, a very strange feeling came over me. I couldn't to this day explain it. But for reasons I didnt' understand I just burst into tears. I got ahold of myself and went to work.
I was at work maybe an hour, maybe two. My memory is foggy. I got a phone call. My boss said it was some guy. I assumed it was my idiot soon to be ex.
It wasn't. It was my mom. The only time in my life I've ever heard her hysterical. Finally the hospital chaplin got on and explained what happend.
That morning, my father kissed my mom good bye, stepped out the back, patio door and dropped to the patio like a brick.
My mom dialed 911. She worked on him for 10 -20 minutes. The paramedics worked on him the hospital worked for over an hour, maybe two. But it was too late.
My father died two days after his 65th birthday. The corornor said it was a massive coronary. He deserved much better.
He deserved to live like his Uncle who went to bed on his 99th birthday and never woke up. (the same Uncle who's breakfast beverage of choice was Akvavit, but go figure..). He deserved to see his grandson grow up (if I let him live that long).
He was the best father, husband, brother, son, friend, uncle and he left this planet way to early.
I miss you dad. I know you are watching out for us. We will never stop thinking about you, ever.
Happy Birthday Dad!!
You would have been 75 this year.
Prequels ~ Sequels
Music of the mind: :
~*~Have you read these~*~
~ Ode to a child who is no more ~
~ She's baaack ~
~ testing ~
~ Facebook me ~
~ Bleech ~
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