I spoke to my Dad tonight. He was in Central Time. His home state of MN, the land of butter and many lakes, attending his first cousin’s memorial service. The other sad news is that the family farm is no more. The Malme homestead and barn have been leveled. He and Mom drove by yesterday. Big machines stood where the buildings once did. I asked him if the faded white stone block that bore the family name was still firmly planted by the front hedges. But they didn’t get that far in to see. We both decided that it was probably removed. Gone. Who knows where. The farm was sold long ago. To cousins who farmed the land. Then to strangers. But it was always our farm. Still. In my memory.
Many summers I chased after the ferrel kittens that only my Grandma could coax into her arms. I walked amongst upturned clumps of rich soil, wandered inside the empty barn that still smelled of cows and hay that were long gone. The softness of the home made buns my Grandma baked that tasted amazing with the rhubarb jam she had canned. Shelves full in the basement.
I am sad I’ll never see the farm again. I haven’t been there in years. Decades. My Dad and Mom have been back off and on over the years. They’ve watched it’s slow descent into no more.
But the memories of all those summers are firmly planted in my mind. My Grandpa driving us in the back of the sun faded red Ford pick up to get the mail at the end of the dirt driveway. The sound of the screen door slamming. The slant of the gray planks of the front porch. The rain barrels full of summer rain.
It’s Father’s Day. And my Dad has had to say goodbye to his childhood home. I hope he knows how much it means to me to have spent those summer weeks exploring where he grew up, where he played with his cousins, where he milked the cows, fed the pigs and chickens, where he dreamed of who he was to be. It is part of who I am. Even if it is no longer there.