I heard the pounding before I saw him, as I stepped out of my 2002 silver Jetta. It was a chilly Tuesday morning, April 17, 2012. My father was perched on the back of a trailer, about one-hundred yards across the open field. I watched as he swung the post maul on top of the cedar fence post, making a loud echoing thud, as the post sunk deeper into the ground. I was proud of my seventy-eight year old father. I thought how many men that age are still energetic and strong enough to be out swinging a maul around, building a fence for a herd of beef cattle.
My father was old school; hard working and tough. He married his childhood sweetheart, at eighteen years of age, and together they had twelve children. He had never been an affectionate man, when I was growing up. It wasn’t that he was cold or unfeeling; it’s just that when we were growing up he had been far too busy with his job and the farm, to spend much time with us.
He never really let anybody see his soft side until Trish, my youngest sister, had a baby girl in 1999. Stephie was the light of his life and when Trish gave him another granddaughter, Kristi, two years later, he was like a kid again himself.
He had many other grandchildren; I've lost count of how many. He was proud of each and every one of them, but these two little girls were his baby’s babies. I remember walking into the house one day to find him sitting on the floor with Stephie and Kristi, when they were about six and four years old, playing Barbie with one, while the other one put rollers in his too long white hair. He wasn’t even embarrassed; just laughed and said he guessed he needed a beauty treatment.
I chuckled at the memory as I walked into the house. My mother was doing her crossword puzzle, in the warm country kitchen of the house where I grew up. I poured myself a cup of coffee and sat down across the table from her. We chatted for a few minutes about this and that, catching up on what was going on in the family and in the neighborhood. I finished up my coffee, rinsed my cup under the hot water tap, and placed it in the dish rack. I was just getting ready to leave when Dad popped in the kitchen door. “Well hello there,” he said, “are you driving back to Montreal today?”
My father had a booming voice. He was partly deaf from years of working with heavy construction equipment. Even after he retired, a few years ago from his job in construction, he spent just about every waking hour outside,working on his small ninety acre farm. He raised beef cattle; making enough to pay the taxes and insurance on the farm, with a little left over to justify its existence. He had three riding horses, and also a pair of Belgian draft horses that he used to tow wagons for hayrides, parade floats, and sometimes sleigh rides in the winter.
We talked for a few more minutes before I said goodbye. And as I reached for my jacket, Dad gave me a big, almost bone crushing hug and said, “Love you.” Even though Dad had softened-up over the years, this kind of affection, although very welcomed, was still a little surprising. I hugged him back and returned with, “love you too, Dad.”
“Have a safe trip and I’ll see you next time you’re home,” he said.
Leo J. Bond, 78, died Wednesday, April 18, 2012, peacefully in his sleep, at his home on the House Road in Clayton, NY. He will be missed by many.
I think he knew.
Peggy Bond Timmerman
Peggy Bond Timmerman grew up on the House Road in Clayton, NY, the oldest daughter of Leo and Nancy Bond. Peggy raised three sons, has five grandchildren, and recently retired from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service. Once again she is living happily back in Clayton, on the House Road.