MONTH OF DAD



Dear Dad,

Last year during April, you tried to stick around, but the 'powers that be' didn't let you stay. I'm not religious (as you know), but I do have this sense of inner magic about life - even though it can be really hard to connect with at times (insert Planet Earth sequence here where wolf eats baby deer). This is great for a sense of mystery (while being human here on earth), but it doesn't work well on the ritual side of things. Your 'funeral' was just what you asked for - a party with friends and booze and a spread, but it just wasn't enough for me in the ritual sense to honor your memory. At moments I wish I were Jewish or Catholic, or anything so I could have more ritual to honor things like this - like the love I feel when I think of you, or anyone I have loved who has left the planet.

 

I'm putting this picture up as my first 'message in a bottle' to you, if you will, because I used this last year to announce your passing on Facebook. Everyone thought it was me you were holding in this one, but of course, it's Rob. :) You look like such a COWBOY, and it's one of my favorites. Well, you WERE an actual cowboy. But you know - like an iconic looking cowboy man.. You are one of the few real men I knew on the planet...

 

Back to this photo - little did anyone know from looking at this that you were nervous about holding your child on a horse that wasn't always predictable, and that Mom was the one persuading you to do it so she could have a fun camera moment. Insert Mom smiling and encouraging you to hold your infant son on the horse for a shot. You did not feel ok doing it, even though you look like it was all cool in this photo. But that's one of the things I loved so much about you. You always played it like a 'man', but underneath you were a hell of a human being with deep emotions, integrity and love for your family. Yup. You were a real man. And I miss the heck out of you. More tomorrow.

4 comments

  • Robert Baker

    Robert Baker Atlanta, GA

    Since I'm the baby in the picture, I will offer two memories connected to this photograph. As you probably know, I have this photograph in my living room and have had it there for at least two years now. When I first put it up, Maia was entranced by it. She was four at the time, and instantly recognized that it was her grandpa. She then took to saying "remember when I was a baby and grandpa held me on the horse?" It made me smile. I would gently tell her that it was me in the picture, that this was grandpa holding me when I was a baby, many many years ago. And she would say "I know Dad. Remember when grandpa held me on the horse?" Which of course never happened, but no matter. Part of her memory of grandpa has been constructed by the photograph, and is intertwined with my own. The second memory comes from horse riding on the ranch. I was somewhere between the age of seven and ten, old enough to ride with the men. And old enough that Dad put me on Kitty, the rather uppity mare. Very shortly after we all set out towards the Yeary, Kitty decided to shed me by galloping straight for the trees. Try as I might, I couldn't get the reins tight enough to stop her, and Dad had to come galloping after me. I held on, ducking to the side and laying flat against her mane until I got enough clear space to haul in the reins and drive the bit up in her mouth. She came to a reluctant stop just as Dad came up. He patiently explained to me how to hold the reins so that she wouldn't bolt again, and then the group of us set off on our way. At the time I was too young to grasp the real lesson, which involved fortitude and stamina and being treated more or less like an individual than coddled like a child. I doubt many parents would have even allowed their child on the horse in the first place, let alone after the horse bolted.

    Since I'm the baby in the picture, I will offer two memories connected to this photograph. As you probably know, I have this photograph in my living room and have had it there for at least two years now. When I first put it up, Maia was entranced by it. She was four at the time, and instantly recognized that it was her grandpa. She then took to saying "remember when I was a baby and grandpa held me on the horse?" It made me smile. I would gently tell her that it was me in the picture, that this was grandpa holding me when I was a baby, many many years ago. And she would say "I know Dad. Remember when grandpa held me on the horse?" Which of course never happened, but no matter. Part of her memory of grandpa has been constructed by the photograph, and is intertwined with my own.

    The second memory comes from horse riding on the ranch. I was somewhere between the age of seven and ten, old enough to ride with the men. And old enough that Dad put me on Kitty, the rather uppity mare. Very shortly after we all set out towards the Yeary, Kitty decided to shed me by galloping straight for the trees. Try as I might, I couldn't get the reins tight enough to stop her, and Dad had to come galloping after me. I held on, ducking to the side and laying flat against her mane until I got enough clear space to haul in the reins and drive the bit up in her mouth. She came to a reluctant stop just as Dad came up. He patiently explained to me how to hold the reins so that she wouldn't bolt again, and then the group of us set off on our way. At the time I was too young to grasp the real lesson, which involved fortitude and stamina and being treated more or less like an individual than coddled like a child. I doubt many parents would have even allowed their child on the horse in the first place, let alone after the horse bolted.

  • Virginia Baker

    Virginia Baker Arizona

    Those were the days. Other than flus, we were all healthy and full of vigor. Ranching was all about a grass crop, and in Arizona, that has to do with rain. Dad would step out on the porch and scour the sky for a hopeful cloud. . . so that the grass could grow, so that we would have a grass crop and a calf crop, so that he could provide for his family. Riding out on windy days was the most difficult as the cattle would be "brushed up" and hard to locate. But how Dad loved that life with his feet in the dust, living life close to the land and nature. He would come home and let you children climb all over him while he played bucking bronco (gently) and you would see if you could hang on. Children raised on ranches SEE what their father does, imitate it, and have a sense of 'can do' about them as they merge into adults. What a great life it was.

    Those were the days. Other than flus, we were all healthy and full of vigor. Ranching was all about a grass crop, and in Arizona, that has to do with rain. Dad would step out on the porch and scour the sky for a hopeful cloud. . . so that the grass could grow, so that we would have a grass crop and a calf crop, so that he could provide for his family. Riding out on windy days was the most difficult as the cattle would be "brushed up" and hard to locate. But how Dad loved that life with his feet in the dust, living life close to the land and nature. He would come home and let you children climb all over him while he played bucking bronco (gently) and you would see if you could hang on. Children raised on ranches SEE what their father does, imitate it, and have a sense of 'can do' about them as they merge into adults. What a great life it was.

  • Silviana

    Silviana Rome

    Saw some postings on facebook - Bellisima!!

    Saw some postings on facebook - Bellisima!!

  • Marianne

    Marianne Brooklyn

    Dear Mr. Baker, Fred, Dad Baker, You and Mom Baker adopted a passel of your children’s friends over the years, and I’m incredibly fortunate and honored to be one of them. With much more than patience but true caring and love, you always welcomed me no matter the circumstance. I loved every visit to the house on Montezuma or that exquisite sun room outside Sonoita, for holidays, getaways, or no reason at all but to spend time. I am so blessed to have you and your family in my life. Big little memories: You once explained to me (and I can hear your voice right now like you’re in this room) about the Old West law of justifiable homicide: “He needed killin’.” … You bought me my first Cobb salad at the MO Club and my first filet mignon at the Steak Out, perhaps a bit horrified I’d gotten that far in life without them. … And damn you knew how to grill a steak. You had my parents over to the Sonoita house once; they said it was the best steak they’d ever had. Another time you met them at the Steak Out and, as my dad remembers it, you all spent hours talking and could not find a single thing to disagree about. … One year, seems not that long ago, you and I drove out to the country to check fencelines, and you were straightening and driving posts like the young man in these photos. Getting it done out there under that wide blue sky, hat on, working hard, doing it right. I was shocked and overwhelmed when you died. I wrote this the next day and feel the same today, and always: “I am so sad. There are not enough like him. I am so blessed to have known him as long as I did. Thank you, thank you. … What made me stop crying was thinking about how Fred married the woman of his dreams, his partner in all of life, its beauty and ugliness; they raised a family together to bring more of that joy and love and strength and passion in the world, lived a rich life, exciting, difficult sometimes, but filled with love. More time would have been wonderful, but all the same, a great life. A great man.” I can’t thank you enough. Marianne

    Dear Mr. Baker, Fred, Dad Baker,
    You and Mom Baker adopted a passel of your children’s friends over the years, and I’m incredibly fortunate and honored to be one of them. With much more than patience but true caring and love, you always welcomed me no matter the circumstance. I loved every visit to the house on Montezuma or that exquisite sun room outside Sonoita, for holidays, getaways, or no reason at all but to spend time. I am so blessed to have you and your family in my life.

    Big little memories: You once explained to me (and I can hear your voice right now like you’re in this room) about the Old West law of justifiable homicide: “He needed killin’.” … You bought me my first Cobb salad at the MO Club and my first filet mignon at the Steak Out, perhaps a bit horrified I’d gotten that far in life without them. … And damn you knew how to grill a steak. You had my parents over to the Sonoita house once; they said it was the best steak they’d ever had. Another time you met them at the Steak Out and, as my dad remembers it, you all spent hours talking and could not find a single thing to disagree about. … One year, seems not that long ago, you and I drove out to the country to check fencelines, and you were straightening and driving posts like the young man in these photos. Getting it done out there under that wide blue sky, hat on, working hard, doing it right.

    I was shocked and overwhelmed when you died. I wrote this the next day and feel the same today, and always: “I am so sad. There are not enough like him. I am so blessed to have known him as long as I did. Thank you, thank you. … What made me stop crying was thinking about how Fred married the woman of his dreams, his partner in all of life, its beauty and ugliness; they raised a family together to bring more of that joy and love and strength and passion in the world, lived a rich life, exciting, difficult sometimes, but filled with love. More time would have been wonderful, but all the same, a great life. A great man.”

    I can’t thank you enough.

    Marianne

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