Dear Dad: Thinking of You at the Suffolk Show

My father, in his Prosecutor days

Felixstowe England

Dear Dad,

Clive and I went to the Suffolk Show last week.  Maybe you already know that, from wherever your soul may be, seven months after you died.

We parked in a sunlit field under one of those endless powder-blue skies I’ve fallen in love with here.  When we approached the entrance gate, I told Clive I couldn’t help thinking of you– you, who grew up on a farm in Iowa and couldn’t get away from it fast enough – and me, all these years later, finding myself, to my own great surprise, attending my first agricultural show. 

‘Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain,’ I sang in elementary school, even if I’d never seen a pasture or a meadow – certainly not a real pig or cow —  or anything other than house pets, suburban backyards, and the skyscraper canyons of New York City.  Sheep were the stuff of nursery rhymes – Mary’s little lamb.  Horses starred in storybooks and TV shows – ‘Black Beauty’ and ‘My Friend Flicka’.  Farms represented an unknown world – in our house, fruit and vegetables came only from the grocery store.

Yet you were raised in rural Iowa.  You left your home state and made your way to the bright lights of the east coast – your rising stardom as the young assistant District Attorney, your pursuit and easy acceptance into a world of country clubs, expensive cars, dinner parties, golf outings, and casino weekends in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas.

You’d like the horse-racing here, Dad, or at least the betting part of it, the risk-taking and drinking and seeing and being seen at the events.  You’d find a way, like you always did, to be part of the in-crowd, the upper crust — you’d dine in the members’ private club and watch from the VIP stands.

Out and about at the Suffolk Show

You told me that when reporters interviewed you and asked where you were from in Iowa, you always said, ‘Ames’ – the state capital, home of the esteemed university — where your parents moved when you were fourteen, after the failure of the family farm during the Great Depression.  You never talked about a happy childhood.  You hated the dirt and the poverty and were happy to get to Ames, to work hard, earn scholarships, and then leave there, too, en route to your new life out East.

My father in high school, Ames, Iowa

You once attended the Iowa State fair when you were a boy.  Under the cornflower skies of the Midwest, you wouldn’t have seen a thatching demonstration, Suffolk Punch horses, an Aspall’s Cyder Bar, or Princess Anne talking with young men from the Wattisham Army base.

Life is funny, isn’t it?  I thought of you so much, Dad – from the amber waves of grain rolling across your native Iowa to the golden fields  of rapeseed sweeping across my chosen county of Suffolk.

Don’t worry.  I haven’t fallen in love with the farming life, or anything like that.  I’m counting the days until our next trip to Paris.   But I love it here, too, and I loved the Suffolk Show.  Being there, in some small way, made me feel close to you.

Maybe part of my enjoyment of the show was because it’s in my DNA.

My father and me at my first wedding, 1982

Thanks for that, Dad.   I love you, and I miss you.

6 Responses

  1. Gosh, Carol, I forgot if I said at the time of your father’s death that I am stunned at how much Rob looked like your father. Two handsome fellows!

  2. Eleanor, they really did look alike.

    For anyone reading this, a post about my brother Rob is at

    Cheers for now and thanks for your comment.

  3. Hi Carolyn & Clive,

    This is so touching. Bravo for putting these deep feelings in such beautiful words.
    You know as well as I do that many women remain “Daddy’s girl” in the positive sense of the term, even when Dad has gone to heaven.
    I stauncly believe that we are in part in sum of all our ancestors have passed on to us. What they have felt, their sufferings, their joys are also ours.

    big hugs to you & Clive. XO

  4. I just love how this is written as a letter to your father. It’s so very touching. I really like what Clive had to say about it in comments up there. 🙂 It echoes what I felt reading, too.

    I was on Paul’s blog today, and he has your blog linked in his blogroll. I thought, “Carolyn! I wonder what she has been up to?” and came here for a look. I see that like me, you are not posting super-often either. Funny how the blog writing and reading can ebb and flow. It was nice to be back here today, and read something from you. I really do love your words. You’re so authentic, and it is one of the ways in which we have connected, I know. 🙂

    You and Clive be well, keep me posted if you are going to be in town again soon. We’re gone in August, but will be back this fall. Maybe you will be, too? Hope to see you soon!

    Be well!
    Bisous —

  5. xpat92, thanks so much for your understanding 🙂 I so well remember your posts about your own beloved father.

    Hope to catch you in Paris in the not too distant future!

    Cheers for now.

  6. Karin, hello there and lovely to see you – thanks for your kind comment — much appreciated and I always feel the same when I read your wonderful posts!

    Hope you and Paul have a great August, wherever you may be and that our paths cross again in Paris, maybe at another blog get-together somewhere!?

    In the meantime, cheers and take care – best to you both!

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