Unfortunately I am forced again take a break from discussing Economic Development to pay tribute to my father Jay Kellogg whom we lost this past week.
Growing up on our Tama County farm I was extremely fortunate to be able to spend a lot of time with my dad. Which was good because he never took the time to tell me very much about himself; I had to learn a lot just by watching.
The earliest memory was getting to ride out to the pasture in an old army jeep to “check” the cows (more on that later). I remember riding along as he hauled corn to the Le Grand elevator, where he’d buy me an ice cold pop from the machine (still think of that every time I see a glass coke bottle)…..and helping the guys unload and stack hay bales in the mow in the awful 100 degree heat, and in later years riding in the air conditioned combine sitting on the floor in front of what looked to be a giant panoramic window, as the sun slowly sank, I can still taste the hot homemade tin-foil-wrapped cheese burgers mom delivered to us for supper on the go (amazing).
I have written in past articles about growing up showing cattle through 4-H, and the fond memories of county, state, and many open shows. Livestock shows were truly a way of life for our family. We would spend an entire day gathering up the whole family, (including cattle, equipment, & trailer) get in the truck and say “We’re going on a vacation!” and we loved every minute. Showing cattle allowed our family to meet so many great friends and learn the value of building life-long lasting friendships.
I remember on the way to one show we were all packed with the calves loaded on the trailer and headed south through New Sharon. As we approached we could see they were having a parade on the town square. When we drove through everyone (kids and all) were waving at us. We did the courteous thing and waved right back at them. We all started laughing hysterically as we thought we were crashing the New Sharon parade. Little did we know that a mile outside of town we found the real reason they were waving at us……. we had a flat tire on the very back of the trailer. It makes me smile a big, tearful, goofy grin. I laugh to myself about that day we changed that trailer tire along the side of the road, like a pair of NASCAR mechanics, scrambling to prep their car to get back into the race.
After my dad passed away on Tuesday, we had a long week holding mini impromptu wakes, telling stories of his life, laughing and crying and processing out loud what we were feeling. My father did not openly share his feelings or engage in sensitive dialogue very often. He was no-nonsense, logical and at times could be critical. But in recent years there was a softening of his heart. He was learning to let go and surrender in small bits and pieces. I was always watching and processing the changes that were going on with him—and their effect on me as well.
I could go on and on reciting memory after memory but I will end with a slightly modified verse from county star Alan Jackson’s song “Drive”
It was just an old worn out jeep
Rusty old floor boards
Hot on my feet
A young boy two hands on the wheel
I can’t replace the way it made me feel
And he’d say
Turn it left, and steer it right
Straighten up now, you’re doing just fine
Just a little valley by the river where we’d ride
But I was high on a mountain
When Daddy let me drive
Daddy let me drive
Oh he let me drive
Thanks Dad for “lettin” me drive.