|Ready for a tour with my aunt and uncle; call it a "bucket list" day for all of us!|
A week ago this morning, I had the unique privilege to spend the better part of an entire day with a couple that I've admired all my life. My Uncle Dick and Aunt Fran raised their six children on the east side of a shared side yard. Their home is just down the bank of "Cat's Ass Lake" -- on the family farm where my parents built a home and raised the eight of us. This is the setting where my awareness of and passion for the outdoors first germinated. Deep roots were set there to support a lifetime of love for the natural world.
Adjectives like hardworking, passionate, focused, dedicated, tireless, philanthropic, and community-minded are all part of Dick and Fran's public identities . . . as individuals, as a couple, as parents, and as leaders in northwest Ohio and beyond. I can certainly vouch for all of these descriptors as accurate. But I might also add words like: humble, earthy, humorous, genuine, loving, and authentic. Bottom line: these are solid folks, and I've always felt honored to be in their presence.
I worked for and more importantly with my Uncle Dick through high school and into the first couple years of college, when I transitioned into seasonal work for the family business that he was leading as CEO. We poured building foundations, fenced pasture, shingled roofs, installed irrigation lines, rebuilt docks, stoned patios, planted countless trees and plants . . . the list goes on and on -- and this was all on their property and/or the family farm. It was all designed and orchestrated by my uncle. He showed me how. And we did it shoulder to shoulder, whenever he could be available.
|Here I am on our beach at about age 7 with my brother; |
I'm holding a bass that Uncle Dick stocked into our lake
(and that I probably caught a dozen times)
In the end, Uncle Dick and Aunt Fran were characteristically engaged and enthusiastic. On top of all Dick's lifetime of accomplishments, he and his brothers spent more than their fair share of time in a duck blind. He appreciated the tour with that context, but I think both of them enjoyed it for the wildlife, beauty, peacefulness, and overall breadth of our mission. Now flirting with his late 80s, Uncle Dick joked with me that visiting Standing Rush "someday" had become something that he put on his "bucket list." For me, having the two of them to myself for the day -- to show some of the results of their lessons being lived out through my work -- was just as satisfying.
P.S. I hope to add additional images from our tour at some point. They took some additional photos with their camera, but I was apparently too busy tour guiding! Appropriately, I think they marked the 299th and 300th visitor (family, friend, restoration partner, hunter, interested party) whom we've toured over the last 2.5 years. These numbers may be off by a few. I wasn't keeping good records early on. I have to commit to keeping a guest book. As with visits like the one above, it will be fun to look back.