Written by Beth from Sense and Sensibilities
It’s a familiar place. Tall trees, wide open fields, white puffy clouds randomly scattered across the never ending blue sky. The porch is my favorite spot. It looks out over acres of everything beautiful. The rolling dam, the lake with its fountain softly gurgling, birds flitting about the feeders, the deck with chairs growing hot in the midday sun, pots of flowers planted with an artist’s eye. I find myself here frequently when we visit, oftentimes with a book I’m determined to read, but more times than not, I drift off on the couch, content to just feel the cool breeze and enjoy the peace and quiet of my in-laws’ farm.
It’s not quiet today.
In what seemed like moments after closing my eyes, I was awakened by the sound of the tractor, slowly crawling across the hill. After listening to it growl its way back and forth a couple of times, I picked myself up to go look. This sound is familiar too, but not as much as it once was. I expected to see my husband at the helm today. Instead, my heart smiled as I saw the tattered baseball cap, the blue ringer tee shirt, and the stockier frame. My father-in-law was always mowing, it seemed. For quite a few years, he was frequently absent from family activities during our visits – always something to take care of on the farm… or a round of golf to be played. Seeing him out on that tractor, occasionally with one of my children in his lap, was common.
So, on days like this, when my father-in-law’s presence is missing, I forget. I forget that he’s not just out mowing, or down at the barn, or over at the golf course. I forget that we’re not waiting for him.
Whoever said “change is good” did not know my father-in-law. While I may frequently change the landscape, or the furniture, or the curtains in my home, I never want to change its makeup, its core. I don’t subscribe to that kind of change. That kind of change only leaves a crater that can never be filled by anything else.
It only took a moment after the image of the man on the tractor entered my head for me to realize that it wasn’t him. It was the helper my mother-in-law hired to take care of the property. The baseball cap wasn’t as tattered as I thought it was, and the ringer t-shirt had a brighter hue to it. He was heavier than I first saw too. My heart sunk again, and I sat down.
There’s something else I can see from my spot on the porch. If the trees move just the right way, and the sun is just right, I can see a glint from the headstone over on the cemetery hill. That’s where my father-in-law is this year. And for once, we’re not waiting for him. In fact, I guess he’s waiting for us.
Beth is the author of Sense & Sensibilities. She has been married to Mr. Sensible for 12 years and mother to boys Goose (9) & Bug (6). She is a Christian, a Republican, and an entrepreneur. And she is always right.