Get busy paying attention

Chad McConnaughey Contributing columnist

Chad McConnaughey Contributing columnist

I have been looking for inspiration for another article here recently. I like my articles or stories to have meaning, and for that to happen I feel they need to be inspired. I actually think of what I have been doing as storytelling and not writing articles. My Dad could always tell stories. I wish I had listened more.

Well, my inspiration finally came. My wife Becky and I had sat down to watch a movie on a cold January evening. This movie was one that my wife had heard was very good, so we thought we would check it out. The title of the movie was “Mr. Church.” I had never heard of it, but one of the main characters was Eddie Murphy. After watching this movie I was left with a question that led to this so called inspiration. Do we really know people?

While traveling home with my Mom from a doctor’s appointment the other day we stumbled onto a discussion about my father. As much as I know about my father, there are some things that I don’t think I ever asked or knew? Like what was his favorite color” What was his favorite food? What did he want to be when he grew up? So, I asked my Mom, “Did Dad want to be farmer when he grew up?”

You see, my Dad and his brother Jerry formed McConnaughey Brothers and they farmed together with the help of my grandpa. I loved those days — traveling to the farm in the back of the pickup truck, hanging over the side of the bed watching the wheels turn, or standing up by the cab with the wind blowing our hats off. What a great time. Obviously, this kind of transportation isn’t permitted these days, but I doubt my Dad ever traveled over 40-45 mph. The farm was a place of work, but yet it was such an exciting place for a young boy.

I loved tractors and sitting on the fender of the tractor as Dad would find something in the fence row across the field to drive toward as he planted. Funny thing is, I do the same thing now while I mow. My all-time favorite story of back in the day goes back to the winter that my Dad was pushing snow for Tuck Peterson on his horse track. My Dad was using a Steiger tractor with a large blade on the front. I am not sure what year this would have been, but I remember the snow packing and rolling so high that it was clear up to the cab of the tractor. That was a lot of snow.

There came a day in the mid ’80s that Dad decided we no longer could survive on a farmer’s salary. I was only around 10, so I had no clue what that might have meant to my father. His dream, his occupation, could no longer sustain his growing family. Mom was the ultimate housewife and constantly chased us six kids from one thing to another, all while being one of the greatest bakers in the county.

Do we as children ever really know our parents? I mean, sure we know them. But do we know what their dreams were? Likely, they had dreams that didn’t involve working three jobs to make ends meet, or not doing what they really wanted because other priorities took center stage. Sacrifice is a lost word on many people these days.

Back to my Dad. As we were driving home I asked Mom a question that I have never really thought about. How difficult was it for Dad to have to quit doing what he loved? The answer was what I feared. It crushed him immensely. Then came something that I never expected my Mom to say. She told me that he didn’t want their farm problems to ruin his Dad, because he knew he would want to step in and help the McConnaughey Brothers out. In this process my favorite tractor was sold. While Dad was dealing with his dream disappearing, I was worried about a 2-70 White tractor.

So, Dad began other jobs. I am not sure of the time frame of things since I was a young child, but I remember a story being told of one time when my Dad was driving between jobs. He grew very tired and decided he couldn’t make it, so he pulled alongside the road and took a nap.

How well do you know your parents? What were their dreams and aspirations? My mom wanted 12 kids. Thank goodness that didn’t happen.

As humans we are so quick to judge people without truly knowing the path they trod. I place myself in that boat. One of my favorite actors fits this perfectly. I always enjoyed watching Robin Williams. My favorite movie that he was in was called “Patch Adams.” I highly recommend the film. Such a great story, and fittingly Patch only wanted others in this movie to laugh and enjoy life, and yet Robin suffered from such demons in his own personal life.

As I write this story our country is divided in so many ways. And most of them are purely from our lack of compassion and understanding of one another. Do we truly know the people that we are surrounded by, that we call co-workers, that we call friends, or that we even call family?

As I age, my quest for knowledge seems to have shifted. I find myself searching for answers that I never even knew were questions. I fail at being observant even in my own home sometimes. We miss out on some really good hints in life because our eyes are focused in the wrong direction. For example, what’s my wife’s favorite color? What’s her favorite food or what did she dream of being?

I guess I better get to work. One day, I might have to answer one of these questions on a game show.

Get busy paying attention.

Chad E. McConnaughey is the Highland County recorder.

Chad McConnaughey Contributing columnist McConnaughey Contributing columnist