Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PROCRASTINATE (08/04/16)
TITLE: Dad was Dad
By Ellen Carr
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Dad pulled his feet off the stool, dragged his boots on, and summoned the rest of the family with a yell. “Hey! I need you all to help get the cows out of the peas. Every minute they're in there is a hundred dollars lost.”
My brothers poured themselves into their gumboots as I pulled a jumper on. Mum turned the stove off and joined us as we raced out the door and across the road to our nearly-ready-for-harvest pea crop. Thirty brown and white backs and tails moved lazily amongst the rich green of the pea plants, their heads hidden in the foliage.
“Pete and Mum, you go round the road side. You others climb over the back fence and I'll open the gate.” Dad had us working like well-trained guerillas, and soon the cows were rounded up and back where they belonged. This wasn't the first time we'd rounded up errant cows. It happened more often than Dad would like to admit.
Anticipating Dad's next move, Dave spoke up. “I've got heaps of homework tonight. I need to get back to it.” And Pete groaned; he knew exactly what Dad was going to say.
“I need you boys to help me mend the fence. It has to be done now or those cows will be back in there in no time. Dave, get the hammer and nails, and Pete, bring the wire tightener down.” There were some advantages in being a girl; Dad always called on the boys first. That fence had needed fixing for a while and we all knew it, but this was no time to bring that up.
Dad was a born optimist but also a procrastinator. If it wasn't cows getting into pea paddocks it was us running out of water because Dad had put off turning on the pump, or the shed lifting up like a parachute because Dad didn't get around to tying it down before a storm came. We knew Dad put things off, but Dad was Dad. He loved to play his guitar and no one was better at telling a good story. It was fun to be around Dad.
Sometimes Dad's laid-back approach cost our family money. The neighbours would all have their potatoes sown while Dad's seed potatoes would still be sitting in the shed. By the time he got them planted they would be just that bit late, so they never grew quite as well as other people's. It didn't worry me, but I often saw Dave clench his fists and grit his teeth when he saw the other farmers getting ahead of Dad, or he heard someone whisper, “Ralph Dawes is always late with his crops.”
But, for me, Dad was the best dad in the world.
When Dad and the boys came back to the house. Dad picked up his old guitar and began to sing, making up the words as he went.
“The cows was in the peas. The cows was in the peas. Hi, ho, the milk went green. The cows was in the peas.” Jilly and I joined in, but Dave and Pete slipped out of the room as we roared with laughter. Mum beat time with a spoon.
“Hang on! That's the phone. Put a sock in it, Ralph! I need some quiet while I answer it.” Mum stepped out to take the call.
When she returned her face was ghostly white. Our laughter stopped abruptly.
“It's your Dad, Ralph. He's been rushed to hospital. Your Mum says it's very serious. You need to go down there. You haven't been down for ages.”
Dad leapt to his feet. “I've been pretty slack, haven't I. I've just put off, and put off visiting Mum and Dad. Always some excuse. I'm going right now. Please God, don't let it be too late.”
He grabbed the car keys and bolted out the door. Half-way down the drive, he stopped and rushed back. The rest of us were in the kitchen.
“Will you all pray that I'll be in time to see Dad. I know God wants me learn a lesson, but please ask him to go a bit easy on me.”
Author's note: This story is fiction. Although my father was a farmer he was never a procrastinator. Rather, he was one of the most organised and efficient farmers in the district.
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