Tribute to Thomas Kelly Vaughn from Jim

My father, Thomas Vaughn, passed away this week after a three year battle with a degenerative nerve disorder that slowly took away his freedom and mobility. One of the most independent and competent people I've ever known slowly had to rely on others for almost all of his daily care- and did it with a grace and quietness that humbles and challenges me.

As the responsibilities and worries of the past few years begin to give way to memories of happier times, I realize that best and most basic parts of who I am can be attributed to my father. That problems aren't to be complained about but worked through. That you don't need a lot of friends and family but you need some really good ones. That freedom and responsibility and trust all tied together can let you accomplish amazing things as a family.

Many of my best memories of him are of knowing at the end of a day of hard labor that you had done all you could but you had accomplished your goal for the day. Of the satisfaction of rain on the roof and hay in the barn. Of land and buildings in better shape than when you started. Of quiet humor in the midst of hard work. Of pride of good hay crops and calving seasons. Of quiet times together as family with games on the table and sports on TV. Of Sunday walks and of rides in the truck(realizing now that where wasn't really that important).

As his sister informed (and I think warned) Julie soon after her name became Vaughn, " Vaughns are not huggy people." And that was true of dad. He showed his love and care by what he did and provided and not so much by words and affection. As my years as a parent grow, I realize and appreciate his love more every year. And I find wonderful blessings in seeing his loves, mannerisms, and looks show up in our boys.

He spent years at a job that was acceptable but not what he loved to provide for our family and to let the farm become what he wanted it to be. In all honesty, my parents' sacrifice and patience allows my family to be here working together each day-which I'm almost sure would have been his greatest dream for his own life. They helped physically with loads of projects when we began-even if they thought we were crazy on some ideas. We used their equipment for years until we could afford to begin to add our own. They gave us the opportunity to start farming on land that I knew how to farm from years of working with Dad on it. And while our visions and dreams have taken us in different ways of farming than his, it is his foundation that helped us through the early years.

A Wendell Berry quote sums up what I'm almost sure was Dad's deepest hopes: "It was a dream bound to sustain damage and to cause pain, and yet he never gave it up, and he passed it on. He dreamed, simply of a world intact, the family together, the placed cared for, and all well." As he slipped from this world this week, our family is firmly dedicated to the farm and caring for its plants and animals. My sister has a house almost completed here. D and Caleb have an assortment of partnerships on calves, sheep, and chickens. Justin says "Cow" a thousand times a day and Jacob loves anything with wheels or tools. I hope he left content and peaceful with the dream he passed on. And I live humbled, blessed, and amazed that for a time I get to carry the dream and hopefully pass it on. Dad, I'll miss you every day and in so many ways.


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