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Growing Pains



I faced this weekend with mixed emotions. My bibbed wearing buddy finally wore me down and got his way, he removed the white vinyl fence that lined the lane coming into the farm. The white vinyl fence was merely decorative, it served no purpose other than to dress up the place. It was also difficult to maintain, was showing its age and wear, and was inhibiting much needed pasture field for our goats and pigs. However, it was part of my dad’s vision for the farm and it is the project my Bibbed Wonder was working on when we first met.

Almost twenty years ago, I came pulling into my parent’s lane to see a ruggedly handsome, bald, bib wearing 21-year-old working tirelessly at building fence for my dad. I took notice of him of course but I was 29 and engaged to someone else. My mother had spoken of this, “handsome little bald man, who worked so hard, was so smart, was putting himself through school by building fence, and too bad I couldn’t find someone like him.” Side note, the guy I was engaged to was…let’s just say, less than desirable. No judgement, most of us kiss a lot of frogs before we find a prince. I believe my response to my mother’s suggestion was, “Okay mom, he’s like 12!” I gave it and him no further thought.

As fate would have it, or perhaps more accurately, my dad would have it, Eric was invited to one of my dad’s barbeques. My dad loved to smoke brisket and took great pride in his culinary skills. Upon arrival, I was again introduced to “the fence guy” and we struck up a conversation. After a few beers and what felt like hours of conversation where everyone else at the party seemed to disappear, including my then fiancé, I went to the restroom and upon returning, he was gone. My own Cinderella story in reverse. As I returned to my life in Brookville, teaching, coaching, and being engaged to someone I knew I would never marry, I couldn’t get “the fence guy” out of my head and things became very clear. I broke off the engagement, I cyber stalked “the fence guy” on IUP’s site, took a long shot and emailed him to tell him how much I enjoyed our conversation and hoped that his last semester went well. The rest is history, from the moment we met to our wedding day, we had known each other a total of nine months. Life has been a whirling, wild ride but I would not want to take it with any other by my side.

So, you see the white vinyl fence holds much meaning and symbolic importance in my little world. The Bibbed Wonder, well he tends to be more logical, practical, and less romantic than myself. He also has no appreciation for the aesthetic and tends to be a burr in my britches about anything he deems useless…which is a lot. I feel like the landscape is less cluttered but I also miss the white fence as I pull in the lane. I know we have to place practicality over appearance if we are going to continue to build and expand our business but like all change, there is a bit of pain involved.

I think my dad is probably watching over us, irritated that we took down the fence he put up but proud that we are working hard to build something on the farm he so loved. In the end, as with most men, I think he probably understands and sides with The Bibbed Wonder on the practicality of it all. I know the fence makes my dad no more or less here but it is a memory I have of him and hate to have it undone. My very wise little bean pointed out that it’s not my memory that is undone, I still have that. She is absolutely correct, my dad will always live in the most important place, my heart.

As for my memory of our meeting and the beginning of our relationship, we haven’t undone those memories either. We just keep building more memories and adding to our story. Like my dad, my bibbed wearing prince charming will hold a place near and dear in my heart. Seriously, you know this handsome, little bald man is adored when he is placed on the same platform as my dad. In my book, there is no greater compliment.

As always dear reader, please continue to stay safe, stay smart, hold your memories dear, and keep washing your hands.

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