I grew up in a farming community called Sand Hill.  We lived in an old house that sat directly across from a private saw mill, and was surrounded by rolling hills.  With a little imagination you could wander out to the meadow where the blueberries grew and climb on big rocks. Those rocks often turned into forts that needed to be defended by the Queen of the Hill. If you wanted to hide, you could run into the woods and climb half way up a tree.  It was the perfect place for young parents with four little girls. The house, built in 1850, had thirteen rooms, seven of which were unfinished, and was a storyteller’s dream. The rooms were great for playing hide and seek during the day, but could be a bit scary at night.  One of my favorite memories happened the moment dad came home from work.

Since we didn’t have a lot of material things in those days, we loved little surprises. As soon as dad opened the door, we’d fall into line behind him as he carried his silvery metal lunch pail to the kitchen counter.  We knew  he might have a little treat for us in that trusty pail, maybe a candy bar or a cookie from his lunch.  He would hold the pail in his hand and smile at our hopeful, upturned faces.  After some teasing, he’d finally let us open the latch to see if there was anything inside. It was a little game we all loved, complete with squeals of delight at the very sight of a Hershey chocolate bar.

My dad made things seem uncomplicated and okay.  With him, we felt secure and safe. I loved his ability to turn anybody he met into a friend. He and my mother were good at welcoming people into their home and into their hearts. It’s something I hope I’ve learned to do as well. He had a heart for critters and so we always had a dog, or some bunny rabbits, or chickens, or kittens.  We planted gardens in the spring, tapped the trees to make maple syrup in the fall, and warmed ourselves by the coal stove in the winter.  We weren’t exactly the Walton’s, but we felt blessed to be together in that little haven on top of the hill.

As I look back on it now, I understand God’s wisdom in putting us in that house where we were treated to summer hay wagons and winter toboggan rides.  We learned to be neighborly, and help those around us when we could. We seldom let the world at large intrude into our lives, something I wish we could still do today.  This Father’s Day, I am more grateful than ever for my dad. He comforted our tears, did his best to make us smile, shared his magic lunch pail, and made us proud.

My dad became a father at 18 years old and had four girls by the time he was 27. He was loyal and loving every day of his life. Douglas Moore was a precious gift to our family and he will live in our hearts forever. If your dad is still with you, send him some big love this Father’s Day. It will do your heart good.