My father died many years ago. His sister passed away recently and my sister and I shared our father’s portion of the inheritance. It was an amount too small to pay off mortgages and too large to blow on trips.

What to do?

I only have one child, a son who has been wanting his own small farm. And somehow I wanted this unexpected gift to bring a connection into his life of a man he never got to know. My father would have been so proud of him, would have fished with him, hunted with him, told him crazy stories of jumping a train to Wyoming when he was a teenager. But he wasn’t here to do that. The only things he will ever know about his grandfather are the things he hears from others.

My aunt and my father were close, closer than she was with their other siblings. She used to take all of her nieces and nephews on nature hikes and tell us how she wanted a little house in the forest, surrounded with ladyslippers and pitcher plants. Then she would single me out and say, “You are just like me!”

This desire to live in a forest cottage would not be something you would associate with her on appearances alone. She was very elegant, beautiful, dainty. She had hair the color of golden wheat and eyes like the heavens. Her laugh will resound in my head forever. She gave me my first taste of champagne and my first book on etiquette; another on French style with a pink cover and details on achieving the perfect French manicure.

I was closer to my father than my sister was and she is closer to our mother. It’s just a fact that we can joke about. No hard feelings about it from either of us. Recently, I have just understood the power of that genetic makeup and parental influence. My sister is like my mother and I, more like my father. He had wander lust, as do I. I can be alone and it is a precious gift. I can travel by myself, which appalls my mother. I can drive anything; stick shift, tractor, off road vehicles. She never learned to drive.

I feel my father’s presence in my life in ways that are unique and have meaning to me. I felt instinctively that he would help me decide on the correct way to use this gift.

And so he did.

My husband and I were walking over a piece of land that a neighbor wished to sell. It had cleared fields and nicely wooded sections. In all the years that I’ve been walking in the forests and the fields, I have never found a deer antler shed. My husband and son both have.

As we were walking, I found the first shed of my life. It was a two prong. In mere minutes, I found another, a three prong. I instinctively felt like these were male and female symbols, my aunt and father approving this property.

Our son drove by in his recently purchased Dodge Ram truck; saw us out in the field and asked if he could join us. I had already made up my mind to purchase it for him and my husband left so I could tell him about it myself; how I got the money, why I was purchasing it.

He was excited beyond description. Could he grow corn; raise grass fed beef, specialty hay, he asked. We agreed to name the little pond on it: ‘The Millie Pond’ after Aunt Millie. Then we trekked up through the forest to a knoll where the mountain ridges swelled to the heavens and a newly planted vineyard joined the edge of the property.

“Can I build a house here in the forest?” he asked.

I made the down payment that day, signed the agreement to buy. Aunt Millie is finally getting her cottage in the forest.

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