by Shannon Mattson, Administrative Assistant
When asked to describe my dad, Richard Edington, I immediately think of the “Marlboro Man.” Dad wore a button-down denim or flannel shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots every day of the week. Every. Day. His shirt pocket was never without a small notepad and pen, which laid neatly behind his lighter and a pack of cigarettes. Picture the farmer, the cowboy; working his cattle, horses, and land all hours of the day and into the night. He was gruff, straightforward, and a bit scary at times, but he was also honest, funny, and deeply loving to his family. This was my dad, Richard Edington.
Dad had eight kids, a wife who was his opposite, and a large farm in the eastern Upper Peninsula. Our backyard was 80 acres of animals, hay, and lots of dirt. We did chores, rode horses, and drove tractors. Dad expected us to work hard, fix things ourselves (I struggle with that to this day— some things just don’t stick!), always do the right thing, and be better.
He was the guy people turned to. I remember pulling in the driveway with my mom and seeing my dad running for his truck, gripping his welding gear. He yelled at my mom to call 911 because our neighbor was stuck in a small hay baler just over from our property. Without hesitation, my dad raced over, cut him out of the baler, and wrapped him up while they waited for the ambulance. No one else had the stomach for it. The neighbor lived and still tells the tale.
There are countless stories of my dad helping neighboring farmers and family members: pulling strangers out of the ditch on our road in the middle of the night, putting up hay for others when he had his own crop to tend to, and fixing one more piece of equipment because he knew how to fix everything. The list goes on and on.
I lost my Dad in June of 2014. We laid him to rest in a button-down, denim shirt, jeans, his “nice” cowboy boots, a notepad, and pen. A horse-drawn wagon brought him to the quaint cemetery down the road from our family farm. His funeral was packed with family, close friends, and long-lost friends who came to pay their respects.
Later in the day, my daughter and I had a moment to reflect. So many stories were told, new and old, but the theme was recurring. My Dad always did the right thing. He was always striving to be better.
At that moment with my daughter, I was inspired to live life more like that “Marlboro Man.” I would continue to work hard, maybe, learn to fix a few things myself (maybe Dad, you know what this looks like), but most importantly do the right thing and be better.