My Dad’s the Best

1972 - 10 - 00 Danny in combine 2 - Fall 1972

I took my dad’s success for granted when I was a young kid. In third grade, one of my friends told me that my dad was the best farmer in our area. So, I started paying attention to what it took my dad to be the best. Because he had done so well, he temporarily retired from farming and rented out his land, so I started observing my dad outside of the role of farmer.

He was really good at playing the board games Billionaire and Monopoly. I never won either game when we played because it was Dad’s job to win those games, but I still enjoyed having him teach us kids a thing or two about making money and investing in real estate. It was the same with playing pool—I knew my dad would always win because he was the best. I wished he would become a professional pool shark so I could see him beat the pool player Minnesota Fats. When we weren’t playing games, my dad did investing, and he kept busy, but I enjoyed wondering what my dad would be if he had to go to a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday job. I came up with a lot of potential careers for him because he was the best at so many things.

1972 - 07 - 00 Danny, Brad and Julie - Summer 1972

I thought Dad would have made the best boss of any business because he was the best at telling me what to do. He figured out how to motivate me to work hard at pulling weeds and picking up rocks from the bean fields by praising me for being a “hard worker” and commenting on how fast I moved. I would gladly do anything to hear acknowledgement of those skills that mattered so much to me. And he somehow convinced me—in the style of Tom Sawyer—that doing hard labor like that was fun.

I imagined that Dad would make the best stockbroker because he seemed to be aware of everything that could affect the financial markets. His awareness of everything and ability to make predictions also would have made him the best weatherman. He could look at the sky and tell us when the storm was going to hit and how fast we needed to go to outrun it and get in the basement—while he stood in the entryway door and watched for tornadoes. Because he was the most observant person I knew, I also thought he would make the best detective. He could always tell if someone touched his stuff and didn’t put it back in the exact same spot.

My dad could have been the best professional artist because he was incredibly creative. He could make anything that was needed on the farm. When I needed a Barbie doll house for my growing Barbie family, he built me one. I was inspired to become an artist when he showed me a piece artwork from his school days that had windows and doors that opened to reveal art behind them. He effortlessly drew me a picture of a car whenever I asked him to. Dad was the best at knowing everything there was to know about automobiles, and he has acquired the biggest collection of anyone I know. He’s even made art out of some of his car parts.

Dad would have made the best professional athlete. He was able to make his body do whatever he wanted it to do. He taught me how to do sit-ups really fast. And in case I wanted to get up really fast from lying on my back, he taught me how to do a kip-up. It allowed me to go directly from being on my back to standing on my feet by flipping myself in the air and not wasting time using an excessive amount of body parts. He was the best at racing my brother and me from the house to the ditch, waterskiing, family games of croquet, bocce ball, badminton, and volleyball. Dad always won, and I always wanted to be on his team so I could vicariously be a winner through him.

My dad would have been the best entertainer. When my brother, sister, and I were young, he would play songs for us on his guitar like “Catch a Falling Star” and “I’m Going to Leave Old Texas Now.” He taught my siblings and me to harmonize in way that would make us laugh when my little sister sang her part about the longhorn “cow-ow-ow-ow.” My dad had the best sense of humor. I learned what funny was by paying attention to what my dad laughed at when we watched Johnny Carson together late at night.  I made it my goal to someday come up with something as funny as “sis-boom-baa” that would make my dad laugh. When my dad found something really funny he would fall to the floor and roll around laughing. He would sometimes laugh so hard that he would turn purple. In the process, he taught me the value of deep, debilitating laughter. 1983 - 07 - 00 Gina and Danny in Deadwood SD - Summer 1983

I realized that my dad had the best attitude when I was a kid. I never saw him look back and question anything that happened because he was always so focused on pursuing the future he wanted. He told me that when life hands him lemons he makes lemonade. I was young when I first heard him say that, and I thought it was more likely that he would have Mom make the lemonade because being in the kitchen wasn’t his thing. I wondered if the kitchen was his kryptonite, but then I saw him make peanut butter toast once and decided that he was just being thoughtful by letting Mom hold the title of “Best in the Kitchen.”

Dad could be retired now, but he’s farming today because he wants to. President Trump isn’t making it easy for anyone to farm right now with tariffs on China and his crippling trade policies that limit who will buy American farmers’ commodities. The weather has also been behaving like a member of Trump’s cabinet lately because it has been dealing farmers in our area one hurdle after another via unseasonably cold, snowy weather and record-setting rain. The growing season for many farmers will be a short one this year, but I’m actually looking forward to harvest season this fall. From experience, I know that my dad’s farms will either produce the biggest yield around (that will probably be sold at the most laughable corn and bean prices ever), or the most amazing lemonade will be made out of a sour situation—because my dad’s the best at making everything just fine and focusing on a successful future.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

2009 - 09 - 02 (35), crop Danny


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© 2019 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Julie Ryan


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