I wouldn’t characterize my Dad as a “free spirit”
I’m not sure anyone from his Depression-era generation could be called that, but Ernie had plenty of spirit! His great sense of humor, friendly personality, and tender heart were coupled with an astute head for business and a devotion to his family and North Dakota farm.
At the young age of 90, he was still in his John Deere combine for the wheat and soy bean harvests, still driving his pick-up truck to the grain elevator to debate politics and grain prices with local farmers, and still tending to his vegetable garden that was larger than most urban back yards. His sense of adventure took him on an Alaskan cruise and his curiosity about the western Dakota oil boom took him on a bus trip with his fellow Farmers Union members.
Last January, as I was about to launch Free Spirit Floral, he spent three weeks with my family and me. I made him my first “employee of the month” as he worked to remove rose thorns. He earned the title because he literally worked for potatoes!
Seasons quickly changed. Last month, family and friends gathered to say their final goodbyes to my Dad. While I hope Dad’s Midas touch rubs off on me as a businesswoman, what I truly hope I will possess is his never-ceasing, simplistic wonderment at the beauty of a wheat field, the taste of farm-grown sweet corn, the mighty forces of nature, and the sun setting on the horizon line. The abundance of Dad’s spirit was an appreciation for the simplest of gifts. Come to think of it, Dad was a free spirit.