On a Personal Note

Yesterday I went to visit my Dad.  My two sons went with me, which was unexpected but nice.

Dad was recently in the hospital, and was moved to a hospice.  But he is a tough old geezer–he has been in a hospice program for a year and a half.  His heart has mostly given out, and he can’t get out of bed by himself.

I love my Dad, but I also spent a major part of my life trying to be as unlike him as possible.  We did not have many things in common.

One thing we did have in common, however, was an interest in prairies.  We would visit a prairie in Lake Hawthorne State Park (near Barnes City, Iowa) about once a week over several years–separately or together.  I visit him now and run out of things to talk about.  My visits involve more time driving there and back than they do talking to him.  Sometimes I think I am just checking a box on a checklist.

But I remember those times, fifteen or so years ago when we shared the prairie.

I didn’t take enough photos of him in the prairie, but here is one I like.

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About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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6 Responses to On a Personal Note

  1. Perry Thostenson says:

    Harlan,

    Im sorry to hear about your dad. Where is he at hospice? Is he still sharp? I don’t know if you remember me or not, but Rayford and I were friends of sorts and I have many fond memories of him. I was Mahaska County Conservation Director from 1987 to 2000. (I moved from Osky in 2003 and moved back four years ago.) I guess I lost track of him. Rayford was an occasional visitor at the conservation center. He would bring scraps of wood for the wood stove and tell stories. He had one of the best prairie restorations in his yard that anyone has ever seen. And what made it more interesting was his stories. I thought he was at a retirement home north of Osky, but I guess I haven’t followed through to find my old friend. He would occasionally join me on field forays. I especially remember a time when he joined me and someone who I cant quite remember right now–might have been Duane Bedford–but anyway, Rayford was as excited and curious as a school boy as we set out on our adventure. He often took a homemade hiking stick with him that had an old nylon for a hand strap. We really wore him out and even lost him for about an hour. Some how he had lost his stick. I often tried to keep an eye out for it but I never did find it. I could go on and on, but will stop for now. Please tell him I said “hi.” Can you tell me where he is? How is his health?

    Sincerely,

    Perry

    • Yes, I remember you. Dad is in the hospice that is just north of the Mahaska County hospital in Oskaloosa–the name is “Serenity House”. He is mostly still there mentally (although sometimes he lapses into hallucinations) but he can’t get out of bed by himself.
      Are you still at one of the County Conservation Commissions south of there–was it Wapello County or a different one?

      • Perry Thostenson says:

        I was at Wapello County Conservation until 2007. We did a lot of work at Eddyville Dunes, which was great satisfaction for me since the brouhaha to save it in the 90’s. I got an opportunity to go (back) to the Corps of Engineers at Red Rock. So I made a big circle. I work in natural resources, or as the Corps includes within Environmental Stewardship, real estate and dam safety.

        Is your father up for visitors? If so, when would be a good time to see him?

        Perry

      • I think so. I like to go in the late morning. Then he is more likely to be awake. If you try to visit in the afternoon he might be sleeping.

  2. Zahara says:

    Nice that your boys came along. How is your dad’s vision? Would he enjoy seeing some of your/his old prairie photos?
    Love the multi-colored layers of the prairie photo, and your dad obviously digging right in.

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