Blessed are we that have Montana Dads! I am so lucky to have Harold Donaldson—salt o’ the earth Central Montana wheat farmer—for my dad.
Thank you, Daddy, for raising me in the heartland of Montana surrounded by multiple generations of aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Thank you for teaching me the value of wide-open spaces, for encouraging me to get dirt under my fingernails, and for working so hard from sunrise to sunset for our family.
I had such a happy childhood. I remember stepping into your worn-out Redwings when they came up to my knees. Your hands are still as big and weathered from hard work as ever. When you’d come in from the field, your face would be tan and black with dirt, but your forehead always neon white. In the late evening, I loved sitting in the bay window watching for the trail of dust your red ’67 Ford pickup would kick up…Mom would be in the kitchen…the house smelled like dinner, and it meant you were done for the night.
I always smile when I hear the story of you plowing the field in front of our house when I was a newborn baby, stopping each round to come in and marvel at your newborn bundle…getting me so dirty Mom would have to change my clothes several times a day.
All through grade school and high school, I loved sitting in the school cafeteria at lunch and being able to looking up on the wall to see Grandma Donaldson’s graduating class, and your senior picture—in the class of 1952—smiling down at me. I felt like you were both watching over me, keeping me safe.
I am so grateful you and Mom raised me in Denton where—even though it grated on me in high school—all of Fergus County keeps a watchful eye on its youth. I’m thankful for all the Sunday drives and countless road trips we took across Montana in the white ’74 Oldsmobile…KMON on the AM radio. Trips to Virginia City…the Dry Falls of the Missouri and the PN Ferry…lunch in Square Butte…camping trips up Hay Canyon. You’ve rarely traveled beyond The Big Sky, but you know this state like the back of your hand. Thank you for infusing me with your insatiable curiosity and love for Montana.
And especially, THANK YOU for being such a wonderful grandfather—for instilling your values and sharing your local knowledge and love for “The Last Best Place” with your three grandchildren. (There’s more than a little Harold Donaldson in all three of them!) I thank you and Mom for your love and support and for showing me all the beauty, good food and and fun in my own backyard. Happy Father’s Day. We love you so much!