“That happened to me, once.”
The statement came from behind and without warning. It had come from my father’s lips. This was a matter of chance; I was watching cartoons, and he was just passing by. The two events were regular within my childhood home, but, this instance was different.
Initially, this blog was just a homework assignment. I had a few stories that I knew I could write about. However, the more I did it, the more stories I began to think of. Slowly, I began to realize that eventually, I would run out of stories. Then what? Then, I guess I’m done. And, I guess that’s alright.
“So, what’s my point?” You may be asking. Or, “What does the one thing have to do with the other?” Well, if you will humor me for a brief story, it should become clear.
“That happened to me, once.” And my father kept walking. My mind was confused. What was he talking about? Was dad talking to me? What just happened? Wait, where did dad go?
I had been watching a cartoon. In this cartoon, a regularly used gag had taken place. A character had been walking along across the top of a puddle of water. All was well until the character had reached the center of the puddle. Once this character had reached the center of the puddle, he dropped, out of sight. The character was gone. All that remained of his existence was his hat, floating atop the water, and the ripples moving outward upon the once placid surface.
Within seconds the character had surfaced and made some commentary about the puddle being deeper than it looked like from the surface. It was funny. It’s always funny. The physics of the cartoon world are meant to be. All that aside, what had my dad been talking about?
Once again, enter my father… “Dad? What were you talking about when you said ‘That happened to me once’?”
My father then began to tell of a time when, as a young teen, he had been hunting. He didn’t tell me what he was hunting, but, given the circumstances of the story, I have figured it was birds. In the small farming community that my dad grew up in, there were (and still are) plenty of farm fields where a youth can go wandering and either target practice, or shoot a pheasant or two. Later, in my youth, I would find myself wandering many of those same fields. Sorry, this is supposition, and beside the point.
Dad was telling me of how the field he had found himself in was very wet from a recent rainstorm. If I recall correctly, dad mentioned that it was fall, so it was also kinda chilly. He told me of how he was walking near the edge of the field because that was where a tractor and plow can’t always reach and so the weeds can get pretty tall and hide game. Father mentioned how he had been walking along a ridge of earth that was protruding above the swampy surrounding area. Along this path, there was a puddle. Given where it was, he figured that its depth would be insignificant. With that in mind, he planned on walking right through it.
He proceed to tell me of how, when he reached the middle of the puddle, he just disappeared—like in the cartoon. He said it was exactly like what I had just witnessed in the cartoon, only mere minutes before. He said the hole was not only covered by the water but obviously filled with the water. And, because the water was a little muddy, he didn’t see its true depth. As a result, he just dropped right in, and the water level was over his head. The hole apparently was just barely larger in diameter than he was wide, but still, it was plenty deep.
Then, dad told me of how he had to climb to the surface, almost lost his rifle in the process, surfaced, was then soaking wet, muddy, and quickly began to get cold. Next, my father wrapped the whole tale up by letting me know that he just walked home and had taken a warm bath to get cleaned up.
My dad had taken part in a living cartoon script… Even if it had been on accident and for only two minutes. Still…
So, here is my point. I only have a few stories of my father’s youth—that he has told me. I have a few more that I have heard second-hand. While I knew my father, I didn’t really know my father. I don’t know much of what he did as a young man, beyond raising cattle and sheep. And the fact that he raised cattle and sheep is pretty much all that I know.
My religion encourages us to keep a personal journal and to write down our family history. As I have written more and more blog posts, I am self-encouraged more and more to not get too far off of my own experiences. Not because I would like to be all braggarty about who and what I was (and am), but, because one day, my children—or grandchildren—might ask about me. My children keep telling me that they already know all my stories. They don’t. They never have. So, I do this for me and for them.
In doing research into my own family ancestry I have come across stories and documents about family that I didn’t know about. Connections made to ancestors that explain so much about who I am—and maybe why I am the way I am. Like a ripple effect through time. Maybe my stories will one day do the same thing? I hope so. I wish I had taken more time to learn more about my father when he was around. Or, that he had written more of his life down.
If you, dear reader, don’t keep a journal of some sort—either digital or a bound book—about who you are and where your family came from, might I suggest that you do. You never know which of your family’s stories will pass away when you do.
In writing this, I decided to do a little research. I found this article with a short video that shows pretty much what my father once described happened to him: Man Falls into Mudhole while Taking Shortcut.