I haven’t written in some time. Work has been busy. Life has been busy. I now have a tiny bit of time so I’m going to take it to write something about what we’ve been doing, and what has been on my mind.
My Dad, Valere Orebaugh passed away early on March 1. He’d been in and out of the hospital and was moved to a nursing home where he was supposed to get better and go home. He had days where he was better, but the bad days started out numbering the better ones. The day before he died Mom called us all in and I secretly hoped my boys being there would snap him out of it. But it really didn’t. I do know he knew we were there and he was surrounded by his family at least for a few hours.
This morning I was helping Chance get dressed and he said, “that smells like Poppa.” I’m not real sure what he smelled, but I didn’t catch a whiff of it, so I wasn’t for sure. I was telling an acquaintance at lunchtime about what he’d said and she shared her own wisdom on the subject. Chance and my Dad spent a lot of time together the past 2 years, and I’m not real sure how much a 3-year-old can grasp about death, but I do know he misses his grandpa.
When I was coming into the office this morning, I paused to gather my things and make sure I had everything and realized the song I heard the morning my dad died was again on the radio. I don’t know if I’d heard it since the day he died on the station, but there it was My Old Man by the Zac Brown Band.
And while I was working on pages this morning, I had my normal Pandora radio station playing and it was Stoney Larue’s “Forever Young.” That was the song I had played at my wedding for the Father/Daughter dance. When it was time to choose a song for the dance, I really couldn’t decide on one. A friend suggested one to me, and at the time it just fit. It still does. I think I chose it because I always wanted him to be forever young.
For as long as I can remember I thought of my dad as young, even though he was one of the older parents of my classmates. Maybe it was because he was tanned and strong, spending his days on the tractor or outdoors. Maybe it was because he liked new things. More than once I remember Mom cussing him because he came home with a new pickup or a new pair of boots.
But these last few years have been hard with his health. In 2007 he had a quadruple bypass surgery and even then they told him his time was limited. His heart was pretty badly damaged and they told him he wasn’t a candidate for the transplant list because of his age and health. Admittedly I was shocked we had him for 10 more years. I’m thankful for those extra years. He got to meet my two boys and become a part of their lives.
While planning Dad’s funeral we came across his wishes for the memorial and he wanted to be buried in a small country cemetery. The land around it was farm ground he used to rent and farm when we were kids. I remember helping him switch out anhydrous tanks at this particular place and watching the hose come off, spraying the noxious gas everywhere. He yelled at me, “get in the pickup!” It was a pretty scary situation, but we were both lucky to come out unscathed.
On the day of his funeral it was terribly windy. Gusty, nasty wind. But it was also nearly 80 degrees so it was almost tolerable during the graveside service. Once we’d returned to the church we all noticed heavy smoke clouds in the south part of town. It was not a good situation. After we’d returned home my husband’s phone rang. A family friend alerted him to a fire very near the Scott farm. It wasn’t good. In fact it was awful. The farmhouse, the barn, hay stockpile and grass all burned. The cows and calves managed to survive, but there have been a few that had to be culled because they weren’t going to have the quality of life they deserve.
I work for an agricultural publication and was asked to write about my experience. You can read my post titled, “The worst day of my life” on the High Plains Journal website. After I’d returned home after seeing the devastation with my own eyes, I called my mom and said, “I don’t know if I can even write it.” She said just do it.
This past week its been read and shared a number of times. I got to speak with Kansas Senator Pat Roberts about my experience and he even read my words on the floor of the Senate in Washington DC. Yesterday, I received a letter from Kansas Senator Jerry Moran. Both were moved by the strength in my words. I’m not real sure how much strength I do have, as it’s really a trying situation. But one thing I do know is farmers and ranchers are some of the best people on the planet. We’ve gotten truckloads of hay. Offers to help us pick up the pieces. All of it, we are so grateful for. Words cannot express how much we are thankful for these people. I thanked a few of them in my second blog for work, “Only thing I know.”
At the Roberts fire tour, I overheard a woman from Englewood, Kansas who lost her home and all her belongings. She told the senator, “the Lord will provide.” And I believe her. Ask, and He will provide.