I’ve written before about how God blessed with me a pretty incredible Dad. One that I have a very good and close relationship with. But God not only blessed me with one Dad, he blessed me with two.
My father-in-law, Tom, has honestly become one of my favorite people.Much like his dad he is one of those people that when you meet him, you’ll never forget him. When you first meet him, if you’re not from here, you’ll notice that he is undeniably German. I honestly think that the first two weeks I spent living in North Dakota, I had no idea what my father-in-law was saying because of his accent. But now even I have picked up that German accent a little bit.
We joke that there’s quality that all Rohrich men in this family have that they could talk to a fence post. They’re always friendly, will look you in the eye, and say hi to you even if you’re a stranger. And boy, if they know you, they love having a conversation which usually ends up with lots of story telling. It is a quality I truly love about all of them. I love listening to Grandpa, my father-in-law, his brothers, and even my husband share with me the stories of how things used to be, who used to live in what farm steads, and how they used to plant and harvest crops.
But aside from telling stories, I truly have to thank my father-in-law Tom for passing down so many amazing qualities I see in my husband. And today, in lieu of Father’s Day, I’d like to share a couple of those.
The Value of Hard Work
If there is a quality that each and every person in the Rohrich Family possesses, it is the value of hard work. Even people who know my father-in-law marvel at the fact that he is a hard worker. As farmers, this is no surprise to anyone that profession requires hard work. He is usually up before the sun and out past the sun going down. And I know it bothers him that as he ages, he can’t work as hard as he used to. In fact he regularly tells me, “you know I can’t work like I used to”.
Clearly, Tom has always had this kind of work ethic because it is something the boys have caught on to. They all know that when there is something that needs to be done, they’ll all show up, ready to work. We are already seeing the work ethic rubbing off on our nephew who will be three very soon. He already enjoys going out and “working” alongside the boys in the yard.
2. An Example of What Marriage Should Look Like
In this day in age, I feel like it is so rare to find not one but two examples in our lives of parents that model what a marriage should look like. My mother-in-law and father-in-law are no different. They’ve been married over 40 years and through those years they raised a handful of children all while farming and milking cows. They will tell you, it wasn’t easy at times. But they stayed together through it all.
One of the first things I noticed about Tom was the little things he does that show you how in love he is with his lovely bride even after all these years. Every single evening when he comes in from the field or being outside, he walks over to my mother-in-law and says “Hi Ma,” as he pats his hand on her derrière. And I have to say, it is something that must be genetic because I get the same thing when my husband walks in the door. It is such a little, simple act of affection, that could be missed if you aren’t paying attention, but gives you a little insight into his heart.
Without my mother-in-law Mary, Tom would be lost. We all joke that he certainly would go hungry because he’s never been one to be in the kitchen. And it is clear that even through all of his busy work, he still stops to make time for her. Together, they are truly the example of selflessly serving one another in a marriage. And I am so thankful they’ve set a wonderful example for my husband and I in how we can make our marriage last throughout the years.
3. The Importance of Family
If there is one thing that I can count on, it is that my husband and his dad will talk at least once a day. They talk about farming, the weather, machinery, and other things related to farm life. They also talk about more personal aspects of our life, which honestly doesn’t bother me. I find it incredibly thoughtful and sweet that my father-in-law is concerned about our lives and even sometimes ME. While I may not be blood family, I am still a part of the family and there’s no denying both of my in-laws always make me feel important and accepted into the family.
Before moving to North Dakota, I was extremely close with my family, and I’ve shared that one of the things that made my transition easier was the fact that my husband is very close with his family. Sunday afternoon dinners (lunch in other parts of the country) are usually a regular thing where we all sit around the table together as a family and enjoy a meal. And sometimes even when we are beyond busy, the Rohrich family will still stop and make time for one another. Having that sense of closeness within a family is important and I think is something as a society we’ve gotten further and further away from. It makes me feel very much at home that even though we all work together, we can also come together and enjoy a meal and some conversation together.
But where I see how much family means to Tom is in his grand kids. The time he spends playing, teaching, and talking to our nieces and nephews despite all the work he has to get done is amazing. He will always make time to stop and give kisses to his granddaughters or spend time showing his grandson how something works. And all of his grandkids LOVE Papa Tom and have endless stories about him. It warms my heart for the time when our own kids can someday cultivate a relationship with their Grandpa and I can’t wait to hear the stories they’ll tell about him some day.
4. Having a Sense of Pride and Passion in Your Work
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my father-in-law talk about how important it is that we “do things right”. It doesn’t matter what it is, nothing is ever done half assed. And it doesn’t matter how busy we are, time will be taken to ensure things get done right whether it be fixing something or simply finishing something. And honestly, I don’t blame him. Tom has built a beautiful life for himself and his family and there is no doubt that he feels a sense of pride in every single thing they do and have because of it.
Every single tool in the shop has a place, all of our machinery gets cleaned off before it winters in the shop, Tom has taught his boys to take care of the things they have and the importance of being diligent with what you have. He taught them the importance of putting things back where you find them, so when you need them again you can find them. This is a quality I see in my husband all the time, he is adamant about certain things getting put back where they go as well as keeps my pickup washed and clean regularly.
But aside from being slightly type A, there’s no denying the fact my father-in-law LOVES what he does. I talk about my husband as having farming in his blood and without a doubt, he gets that from his Dad. Tom has told us and continues to tell us, he will farm until we have to put him in the ground. And he will. He truly loves it. You don’t even have to know him that well to see his eyes light up when you ask him about his crops. Even though I work in town and don’t spend a whole ton of time on the farm, every time I come out, Tom is usually the first to meet me and tell me what is going on. He likes to keep me in the loop about how things are looking and what they’ve been up to. As a daughter-in-law and especially one that isn’t involved in our day-to-day on the farm, I appreciate that. I appreciate the fact that he wants to make sure I feel involved and included in what is going on in their operation. Part of it though is simply that he will talk farming with anyone who will listen. So if you’re ever in the area, stop by. I am sure he would love to have a talk with you.
My in-laws have told me that they feel blessed and lucky to have me as a daughter-in-law but sometimes I think I am the lucky one. Not only do I get to have them in my life, I also get to be married to the son they raised. The one who watched them interact, work, and gleaned from their examples what is important in life. There’s no denying both my in-laws have made my transition here to North Dakota much easier and I love the fact that we can have a close relationship with family while living here.
Tom, thank you for all the hard work you’ve put in over the years to build this life we are living today. Thank you for teaching Mark the value of hard work and instilling that in him from a young age. Thank you for giving us an example marriage rooted in selflessness, love, and faith even through the hard times in life. Thank you for showing us the importance your family plays in your life and always making time for all of us even when there are things to be done. You keep us laughing and smiling all the time. You truly are one of a kind and I am lucky to be able to call you Dad too! Happy Father’s Day!
And Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there! Your kids are always watching. No matter how old they get!