Monday, July 30, 2012

Second installment to 'My Story'

In a recent conversation with my dad, he casually stated,           

  “...of all you kids, your sister was certainly the easiest one to raise.”

He was gracious to stop there. 

He was speaking truth.

Certainly each of my brothers had their challenges.

However, if dad had finished that thought, he probably would have said,
.... “and you Rhonda were the hardest.”

Not all the years under his roof had been easy for either of us.

I stubbornly set out after high school to Overland Park, Kansas. A management job was the reason. 
My time there was short in the scheme of life.
A few deep lessons were learned and a few sweet friendships were forged.

When I returned to my home town my thoughts were pretty basic.
Either I need to get into college or find work that paid well. 

The railroad hired me in 1979 as a switchman.

The fact that there were only a few women working in the transportation department
fueled my desire to be good at my job.

The hours were ridiculous. The work was challenging. The pay made it worthwhile.
The economy caused huge layoffs and hundreds of us found ourselves furloughed.  

An excavation company hired me shortly after that.
Mostly, I ran a shovel. Sometimes the skid loader.
I could back a trailer loaded with equipment anywhere. 
We traveled several states doing large scale contracts.

There was something fierce in my heart.
A battle raging within me.

It seemed that I was always striving.
Never feeling like I was enough.
My thoughts were to try harder, go farther and be more.
On the outside I tried to display an appearance of
being in control and confident.

In reality I was trying to hide a deep,
empty place in my heart. 

Then I met him.

He was a friend of my brother.
It was July. His birthday.
Something just clicked with us.

My excitement faded when he said he’d call sometime.
Maybe in the fall. 
It was at least the most original line I’d heard.

In September my phone rang.
He invited me to a hayride.

At twenty four years old I thought that was an odd idea for a date, 
but I said yes.

He failed to mention that he was providing
the tractor and hay sled.

He failed to mention he was driving for the event.


Our first  date consisted of the two of us riding in the cab of his tractor.

As the sun set over that place,

we bounced  across the fields pulling the 

hay sled full of laughing people.

We discussed our dreams.

 The conversation turned to how we loved to work hard
              - - with our hands.

With passion in his voice he shared how he
loved the land and animals and being outdoors.

We talked about being independent and taking risks.

He spoke of wanting to try things so big that if it failed… it would be an epic disaster. 

He stole my heart.

My world would never be the same.

post signature

Monday, July 23, 2012

First Installment "My Story"

At the age of twenty-two, my parents took a bold step out of their comfort zones.

They went down a road less traveled.


They bought "The Farm."

My sister had just turned four. I was three months old. Neither of my parents had ever lived in the country. Mom thought she was being moved to the ends of the earth.

It wasn't actually a farm and it wasn't at the end of the earth. It was forty acres located just outside the city limits. In that day, there was a rough dirt road that led, to a long narrow lane.

Both were hard to maneuver in rain or snow. 

The acreage came with a house, believed to be built at the turn of the century. It was an old, but well preserved, two bedroom home with rough hardwood floors.

The house was amazingly sturdy and established despite the fact that the basement would fill with water when the river rose.

There was not a fancy thing about it.

My sister was often put in charge of me to give mom a break.

Dad worked on the railroad. My mom managed the home.

There was a lot to manage as they tried their hand at various things.

Things like sheep, cattle, horses, pigs, goats, cats, dogs and chickens. Lots of chickens.

My dad’s pride and joy was his GMC pickup truck for which he paid $350.

In that truck, I learned to drive.

He would pull the choke out and set me loose in the field to help feed the cows.

As time went on my brother and I would fight over who would steer and who would run the gas pedal.

More than once we knocked dad out of the back of the truck.

My city girl mom, down at the barnyard in her dress.

Life changed with the arrival of my brothers. The four of us shared a bedroom until my sister was about sixteen years old. I don't remember that it was a problem. 

My sister may have a different memory of it.

As children, we grew up foraging for treasures in the barns and out buildings.

Deep in the wooded area of The Farm was a stream.

It was fed by an artesian well which made the water clear and cold year round. 

This is where we spent so many of our days building forts and playing. 

My dad put a huge horn on top of a telephone pole at the house. When the horn was sounded it could be heard at even the farthest corner of our place. When we heard it we knew to drop everything and run to the house.

There was a rhythm to life.

Mom took us to church on Sunday. Our sheets were hung on the line every Monday. Meals were served at the same times every day. There was usually roast on Sunday, 'hash" on Monday, spaghetti on Tuesday.

We were kissed good night and knew we were loved.
They were good years.

Stable years.

My parents had the basics while they were trying to figure life out.

They were committed to each other and to us.

The Farm was a bonus blessing.
These are my roots.

Growing up here made me a dreamer.

A lover of the outdoors.

A lover of the land and of animals. 


 A risk taker.

A girl who knew how to work hard.

The old lathe and plaster walls of my childhood home still stand.

This place represents the strong foundation of my childhood years.

The only place I knew until I left home at the age eighteen.

My parents made a decision to take a road less traveled. 

© Rhonda Quaney