How does one sum up a father’s life? Surprisingly, the tiny wooden Roadrunner seemed to do just that for us. Carved in the later years of his life, it was but one of a whole cabinet-full of birds and animals. He and Mom had spent their many retired years thoroughly enjoying their life together. Taking pride in their home and yard, Pop enjoying watching the birds and squirrels. He built bird houses, feeders, and carved the Robin, Hummingbird, House Finch, Magpie and Meadow Lark. They drove their small motor home throughout the U.S., claiming it was best to see what our own country had to offer first. Pop kept a record with his carvings - Ibis, Cardinal, Blue Jay, Bald Eagle ... Each fall they headed down the Oregon coast - Loons, Gulls, Pelicans, Killdeer... Wintering in the Palm Springs area of California, he captured the Cactus Wren, California Quail, and yes, his beloved Roadrunner! They especially loved their own part of the world - spending time each summer camping and hiking in the Tetons of Wyoming. We joined them there as often as we could and have many fond memories of the times we shared together in this magnificent place. And so we have the carefully carved Chickadee, Mountain Bluebird, Stellar’s Jay, “Camp Robber”, Western Tanager and Red Winged Blackbird.
I have no idea what Pop expected when I became his first, and only, daughter-in-law. Being one of 5 sons, with 2 sons of his own, he must have wondered a bit at this “earthy”, then 20-something, college tomboy his son brought home. But from the beginning, we had a special bond. His quiet, thoughtful wit, neat, precise ways, quirky sense of humor, and fantastic creativity with recycled materials struck a chord with me. He quickly learned my interests, and I his. We had mutual respect for each other and shared quiet conversations about his art and mine, the natural world around us, and always - birds. We learned so much from him and we miss him.
It was Pop’s fervent desire to leave this life with dignity in a quiet, respectful way - with no undue outside interference. He wanted no fuss, no frills, just a short service with immediate family. For 90 years he had lived his life this way and we sent him off as he wished. But a part of him remains - we see it in the strong, determined stance of a tiny wooden bird with a bright, devilish glint in its eye.