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The Last Time I Saw My Father

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.

Posted in: Places, People
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Comment by: ADKRich
Left at: 9:31 PM Sunday, June 14, 2015
Great story. Life is short and the moments to enjoy it.
Cynthia Stren
Comment by: Cynthia Stren
Left at: 11:30 PM Sunday, June 14, 2015
Beautiful story. Beautifully written. Beautiful tribute to your dad. So glad you had that last hug.
Comment by: BOB TUTTLE
Left at: 12:58 PM Monday, June 15, 2015
Dan Colby
Comment by: Dan Colby
Left at: 8:37 AM Sunday, June 21, 2015
Wonderful memories. Sometimes you just know they knew.
Comment by: Peggy
Left at: 7:11 PM Monday, June 22, 2015
Thank you for your kind comments. My father meant the world to me and I miss him daily, but so happy that he was in my life; sometime I still don't believe he's really gone.
Comment by: Joanne
Left at: 5:37 PM Wednesday, October 21, 2015
You are such a nice family! I like reading articles by your mother.
We live in Gouverneur and since that glass bottom boat tour and seeing the Rock Island light house this summer I just so enjoy all the articles in Thousand Island Life. My husband is seventy nine. We are so thankful we can go on trips yet and enjoy life. We also find we tell our three kids" I love you" more often.
Comment by: Peggy
Left at: 6:52 PM Friday, October 23, 2015
Joanne, Thank you so much for your kind comments. I'm glad that you enjoyed it. As we get older I think we appreciate our families a lot more. Please check out the most recent edition for my sister, Melody Brabant's article. Take care, Peggy.
Melody Brabant
Comment by: Melody Brabant
Left at: 10:22 AM Wednesday, June 15, 2016
So well-written, Peg, I just love it. You really capture Dad as we knew him. The suddenness of that obituary line (like the suddenness of Dad's passing) takes my breath away and brings the tears each time I read it.
Lee Crandall
Comment by: Lee Crandall
Left at: 10:24 AM Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Your dad was a wonderful hard working man who showed his love for his family through the wonders he did transforming an old house into a beautiful home for his family. Like my dad (who always spoke highly of Leo), your dad saw the honor in hard work and dedicated that work to his family. I was in high school when our bus began picking you all up from the house that you had just purchased and was amazed a few years later to see how it had been transformed. Truly that was a labor of love by your parents.