|Dad and I in 1956 Photo by Anita Bell|
Ronald Edwin Bell 1910-1997
Growing up on the farm, I never gave Dad much thought.
He was just there.
"Feelings" never entered the day. You had work to do and you did it.
What I knew is that Dad was my "buddy!"
I spent more time with Dad outside, then with Mom inside.
After "the boys" (my 3 older brothers) left the farm, Dad and I were in charge of 140 acres and about 45 Holsteins.
Mom and Dad got into a huge fight over me: "But Ronald," Mom shouted, "You don't understand. It's time for her to come into the house and learn to be a lady!"
"But Anita," Dad quietly answered, "I need her outside."
Dad and I crippled along for 3 full years. I ran the dairy and Dad did all the field work.
Sick of milking cows and not being able to do anything fun with the "city kids," I was beyond joyful when we sold the farm and moved "to town."
But I still didn't give Dad much thought.
Until later years. After he'd died.
Dad was always cheerful. Always singing. Always kidding around. Always laughing. Always whistling.
That was just Dad. I took his cheerfulness for granted!
As an adult, I began pondering on stuff like: How'd he get off that tractor, clean up, put on his suit, suck on a lemon and drive into town to "sing a solo at a wedding, funeral, choir?"
Dad rarely missed Thursday choir practice and Sunday choir.
Dad taught me how to drive a tractor; pull a loaded hay wagon down a steep hill without jackknifing; hay mow terraces without tipping over; use the hydraulic lift on the Ford tractor (he bought for me) to help pound in fence posts; wash utters, pre-milk, milk with automatic milkers and strip; look for and doctor mastitis and seal corn.
The only times Dad would get stern with me, is if I bulked trying to play opera songs so he could rehearse. Yes, he even sang opera. Mom made him a clown costume and he sang Pagliacci.
How'd he do all that he did?
I'll never know.
What I do know, is that he was my buddy.