Our house was quiet but busy.Everyone was walking around in a daze.We were shell shocked.My sisters were keeping my mom busy so she
couldn’t dwell on what was happening.My
youngest sister was in a dress and totally oblivious to what was
happening.I can remember me thinking I
wished I was like her and so young I didn’t know what was about to happen.
My oldest sister handed me a suit coat with a
matching pair of pants and a tie.I
didn’t own dress clothing.I didn’t need
it before that day.The clothing was
borrowed from a local family.I remember
the pants were too long and a little too big in the waist. My sisters searched
and found a belt for my pants.I
remember being uncomfortable in the pants because they were too big and they
had to be pulled up really high so the pants legs wouldn’t drag on the
ground.I didn’t own dress shoes.My mom borrowed a pair from the same family
that lent us the suit.They were two sizes
too big but I had to wear them.
My mom was the only
one in the house that knew how to tie a tie but she was in no condition to do
it for me.I can’t remember who tied it
for me but it was tied and way too long. We were all about to leave and my mom
gave us all a once over and she wet my hair and combed it.I never combed my hair typically.I tried my dangdest to look like my dad
always.He never combed his hair
either.He had a curly mop of black hair
that always looked like he had just been outside hunting.Before we left I looked in the mirror and
didn’t recognize myself in the mirror.
We all loaded into two cars and headed there.We walked in and all sat in the front
row.My cousin Chris came and sat by
me.We whispered back and forth during
the priest reading something that I totally tuned out.It seemed endless.My mother was looking down all the time
trying to keep herself together.The
readings were finally over and people lined up and gave their condolences to my
There was lots of crying so Chris and I walked up to the
front.We both didn’t believe what had
happened. We both stood there dumbfounded.My sisters went up and said good bye to him.Chris and I waited until last to go up.
I looked at him for a long time.I questioned if that was my dad laying
there.He was in a suit and his hair was
combed.It was the first time in my
young life I had seen my dad in a suit and his hair combed.Chris and I stared at him and he prompted me
to go to him and say good bye.I
remember touching my dad's hand.It was so cold.I remember
leaving the funeral not believing it was my dad in that casket.
Our family had been dealt a hand that I wish upon no
one.My father had died at age 40 while
deer hunting in northern Wisconsin and left behind six children ranging from
age 3 to 17 and his wife that was only 39.Fate had been not so kind to the Harris family.
Through the years when bad things happened to me I always
blamed it on my father dying.I don’t
know how many times I said what if he had lived.I visualized myself as a completely different person on a much different
There were times through my life I felt that I had no
control of what the future held for me.I was the proverbial leaf in the wind.I changed my career path a couple times in my life.I went in the army for seven years and married a
German national and that ended after a short time.
When I got out of the service I ended up back in my small
hometown of 624 people.The town was my
anchor throughout my life.A few years later
I married a hometown girl and had one beautiful daughter. I am now retired.
My cousin Chris and I. Chris was the brother I never had. He left us much too early
I typically visit my mother these days on Wednesdays.She still lives there in the hometown she was
born in and the town she called home with my father.We started a new tradition a couple months
back.I take her somewhere new to eat
lunch.She is 89 years old and doesn’t
drive anymore.She has told me numerous
times throughout my life how much I remind her of my dad.The fall colors were still good today so we
took back roads to see the last colors of the season.
We were backroading near Desoto and I decided to look for a
place to eat there.My mom went silent
as we pulled into Desoto.I asked mom
what was up?She choked up a little and
told me this was the first time in 50 years she had been in Desoto. She told me
that almost 50 years ago to the date she and dad went house shopping in
Desoto.I had never heard this story
ever.My dad worked at the power plant
near Desoto and the drive of 40 minutes one way was getting old and they had
decided to move.They had not told us of
the move because of the blow back they expected from six children being
uprooted and moved away from the only home they had ever known.
Mom told me she never told us about the move because it was
not going to happen without our father.This November it will be 50 years since he left.My mother never remarried.She did the best she could as a single mother
My wife and I were talking tonight on the deck and I told
her about my mom’s story today.I told
her about my feeling of being a leaf in the wind for a large part of my life
until I met her.Barb smiled and said
two profound sentences.