My wife and I met my sister at noon today for lunch. My sister already knew what she was going to order for the meal – liver and onions.
I told my sister, “You probably know about our dad and liver and onions.”
I figured it was one of those things I had told in the past and she had already heard this before. To my surprise, she said she had not heard that story.
I was ready to repeat the story just for the sake of reminiscing and here was my chance to tell it to a new listener. So, here we go.
My uncle, with whom I farmed, never married. He and his oldest brother worked hard feeding cattle, raising corn, and expanding the farm enterprise at a great rate.
My dad was the only son who married, farmed separately from his brothers and raised a family.
When the older brother died unexpectedly, that was when I decided this could be my chance to move back to farming as my uncle could use the help.
Living by himself, my uncle had Stella, a retired lady from town, drive to his place every Friday to fix a meal, wash clothes and do general housekeeping.
I knew Stella from when she worked in the school lunchroom when I was in grade school.
Stella and her husband had lived on a neighboring farm, raised their daughter and son, and as a former farm wife, enjoyed keeping busy, even in retirement.
My mother taught school every day during the school year so lunch was up to my dad and uncle.
However, every Friday was lunch at my uncle’s house because Stella was there cleaning, talking and best of all, cooking. It was a great day.
I had lunch in my own home across the road and after lunch would walk to my uncle’s to resume whatever we had stopped doing at noon.
My uncle’s dog was a German shepherd named Hondo. I noticed that on the Fridays of Stella’s visits he seemed especially happy about 1 p.m.
He knew he was getting the leftovers of the noon meal Stella had prepared.
When I looked at Hondo as I went up the steps, I was sure that if a dog could smile, he was smiling. The tip of his tail would not stop wagging.
So every Friday was a lunch date for the three old friends to eat and gossip, which was another one of Stella’s talents.
One of the favorite meals for my uncle and Stella (probably Hondo, too) was liver and onions. My dad was not a fan of liver and onions.
My dad enjoyed eating, and that was the only meal I ever knew he would not eat. He did not even show up at noon on those Fridays if he knew liver and onions were on the menu.
When a farmer does not show up for a meal that is not only homemade, but free, something must be wrong. My dad never did have those liver and onions.
My sister ordered her liver and onions, enjoyed them, and I am sure she will order them again.
The reason I like telling this is because I believe family stories need to be preserved by telling and retelling.
They become like the leftovers after every meal that can be reheated and enjoyed again.
Maybe there will be something left for a grateful family dog who is working on his smile.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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