Thursday, March 14, 2013

Daddy's Girl by Pam Hillman

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What do you think about when you hear the phrase ‘Daddy’s Girl’? 

Do you visualize a princess in pink taffeta twirling before her beaming father? Or a little girl, hands encased in pristine white gloves, serving pretend tea in a tiny plastic teacup while her daddy balances on a chair so small he’s in serious danger of tipping over?

I was my daddy’s little princess, but instead of pretend tea, my greasy hands were more likely to hand him a crescent wrench, a roll of baling twine, or a screwdriver while the two of us worked to repair a tractor or finish baling hay before the storm hit.

My daddy was a farmer, and when my two older brothers left home, it was my turn to help Daddy on the farm. Daddy taught me to drive a tractor, to hook up a bushhog, milk cows, and to cut, rake, and bale hay — along with a host of other skills that have come in handy over the years. It never seemed to occur to Daddy that I couldn’t do the same work on the farm that my brothers had done before me.

My teen years were spent working side-by-side with Daddy, putting up hay for our own use and for neighboring farmers. Being behind the wheel of a tractor and raking sweet-smelling hay into neat rows with nothing but the blue sky for company is a good place to dream big dreams and do wondrous things.

I wore my hair twisted under a cap when working. It was cooler and kept it out of my way as well. One day while cutting hay at a neighbor’s place, a man drove up to their home. When he couldn’t find anyone at home, he drove out into the hayfield. I cut the throttle on the tractor and disengaged the PTO, letting the whirling blades on the hay mower grind to a halt. As I opened the tractor door, the stranger looked up at me.

His eyes widened in surprise, and he blurted out, “You’re a girl!”

That just tickled me pink. I guess he’d never seen a teenage girl operating a five-ton tractor and a hay mower. I couldn’t wait to tell Daddy what had happened. He got just as big of a kick out of it as I did.

On rainy days and Saturday mornings, Daddy and the other farmers could be found at the local country store, sitting around an old stove shooting the breeze. I spent many days sitting there with them, the only girl in the bunch. And when Mama told me I could skip school on my birthday, I was very excited. My birthday fell on a Thursday that year, and I spent the day at the stockyard with Daddy.

Daddy taught me the value of hard work through example. But more than that, he taught me that I could do anything, be anything. He never told me I couldn’t achieve my dreams — dreams mostly formed inside the cab of a tractor.

I dreamed of becoming a pilot and a flight attendant, a linguist and an accountant. I dreamed of touring the world, of taming the old west, of running away with the circus, of becoming a missionary.
Eventually, all those dreams swirled together to form the best dream of all — weaving stories where I could be all of the above and more.

Daddy was taken from us in the prime of his life many years ago, and I never truly understood what a special man he was until much later. Even now when his name comes up among farmers in the area, it never fails that someone mentions what a good man and a hard worker he was. I’d like to think some of his work ethic rubbed off on me from the many hours we spent in the hay fields together.

Thanks Daddy. I’m proud to be your girl! 



Dora here. What about you?
Has anyone influenced your writing?
What are you doing to make your dreams a reality?



Pam Hillman was born and raised on a dairy farm in Mississippi and spent her teenage years perched on the seat of a tractor raking hay. In those days, her daddy couldn’t afford two cab tractors with air conditioning and a radio, so Pam drove the Allis Chalmers 110. Even when her daddy asked her if she wanted to bale hay, she told him she didn’t mind raking. Raking hay doesn’t take much thought so Pam spent her time working on her tan and making up stories in her head. Now, that’s the kind of life every girl should dream of! Claiming Mariah is her second novel. www.pamhillman.com

7 comments:

  1. What wonderful memories that shaped your writing, Pam! I wasn't raised on a farm, but I was raised outside of town in a farming area. There's nothing like riding back trails and building forts and exploring the "unexplored" to get your imagination going.

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    1. Sandra, nothing like being raised in the country where your imagination can roam free. The other night an old friend and I were reminiscing about the times I visited her sister. Their daddy owned a sawmill surrounded by red clay hills and pine trees. We'd rake pine needles into rows forming "rooms" in the woods and use old cups and pottery for the kitchen, pine bows and whatever for "beds".

      Woe to the person who walked through those pine straw "walls" and didn't use the proper "doors"!

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    2. How fun. I had a friend who lived on a farm. I remember being there and walking through semi-wooded pasture where the cows were and looking for large fallen limbs to make a teepee. If there was a woods, we trucked through it.

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  2. What sweet memories, Pam! My dad didn't know what to do with three girls (no brothers), so he treated us like boys. No girlie activities in our household. We played co-ed sports and operated a lawn mowing business. lol. Probably nurtured the competitive gene in me, but also made me more determined.

    Great post, Pam. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Dora, I know several youngsters who had/have a lawn mowing business. Dad is usually involved, but the teens have to do their share on weekends and summers.

      Mowing grass is hard work if you're using a push mower and using a weed-whacker! I definitely need to exercise today, but I'm not wanting to push a mower, which is what I probably SHOULD be doing! lol

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  3. Oh, Pam, what an incredibly touching post, my friend!! I could see you incorporating that in a novel, girl!!

    The person who influenced me more than any other is Margaret Mitchell because after I read Gone With the Wind at the age of 12, I immediately sat down and penned 150 single-spaced typed pages of what eventually would become my debut novel A Passion Most Pure some 40 years later.

    But the person in my family who influenced me more than anyone else was my little sister, Katie, who at the age of nine, would lay in her bed at night and say, "Julie, will you read me your story?" So she was the first one to hear about Faith O'Connor and the rest of the gang way back then, and I will NEVER be able to thank her enough for her support, love and faith in me.

    Pammy, just finished Mariah and absolutely LOVED it my friend!! Honestly, I kept turning to Keith and saying, "I knew this woman could write WAY back when, and I was right -- she is amazing!" Will write a review soon and shout it out on FB and elsewhere. :)

    Thanks, Dora, for featuring Pam, and hugs to you, Pam, Annette and Dawn!!

    Julie

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    1. Julie, I can just picture Katie asking you to read your story to her. That is so sweet. Now I know where the name Katie Rose came from.

      And thank you for loving Claiming Mariah. It makes me VERY happy to know you enjoyed Slade and Mariah's story! :)

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