“Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.”
Grandpa and the Pig
When my sister, Mary Ellen, got her first house, it was in a part of town where all of the properties were set up like little farms. She had a small house toward the front of a large rectangular lot, with a typical backyard. And behind that yard was a farm.
She had a long barn on one side of the remaining lot that reached most of the way to the back of the property, for farm animals, such as horses, goats and chickens. On the other side of the yard was a garden to grow food such as corn, lettuce and tomatoes, really vegetables of every kind.
My dad used to love to go over there, I think because it reminded him of his childhood. He grew up in a small town in Kansas. Dad’s favorite thing to do in my sister’s yard was to rake leaves. I think he found it relaxing after a hard week of work.
Now then, Mary Ellen’s neighbor had a pig, a very large pig, a Yorkshire, which had white pointy ears. He probably weighed close to a thousand pounds, was about six feet long and nearly three feet tall. The pig liked to roll in the mud to stay cool on a hot day. A five-foot tall wooden fence ran the length of the property, separating Mary Ellen’s and her neighbor’s yards. The pig lived in a small mud-covered pen just on the other side of the fence.
One warm afternoon, my dad was out in back, raking up leaves under a huge walnut tree. And there were a lot of leaves because it was fall. He stopped to rest and went over to the fence to take a look at the pig, as it was snorting around in its pen. Dad was probably daydreaming about his grandfather’s farm and stood there quietly for several moments, admiring the pig.
After a while, Dad gently said, “Hey pig,” and that’s when the trouble began. Because the fence was high, the pig hadn’t seen or heard my dad walk up. The pig was startled by the sound of my dad’s voice and, in panic, whipped its head around to see where this sudden threat was coming from. Only Dad’s face was showing over the fence, and, as the pig spun its head around, along with it came all of the slop from its snout. The pig slop went flying through the air and, with the greatest of ease, hit Dad square in the face.
Well, you can imagine my dad was fairly startled himself and pretty grossed out too, standing there with a rake in one hand and pig slop all over his face. But after he cleaned up, he thought it was pretty funny and enjoyed telling that story to the family. From then on, however, my dad made sure to let the pig know he was there, before he went over to have a look.