My first year full year as a newbie farmer witnessed many triumphs and challenges but what will hold most dear in my memory is my father and his visit to my farm. My father, Reginald Mathew Stack, immigrated from Ireland at the tender age of five. Due to the tragic death of his father when Reg was only 14 he dropped out of high school to take care of his mother and four siblings. After only a few months of marriage to his seventeen-year-old bride, Lucille Bernice McMillian, he was called into the army and fought in World War II for his adopted country. He was severely wounded but returned to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, the Liberation of Auswitz, and was a guard during the Nuremburg Trials. After the war, thanks to the GI bill, an undaunted work ethic, and natural intelligence he became a sucessful businessman and was able to raise his family in the American dream. My father and my mother inspired in their children a commitment to living a loving, ethical life of integrity and service. My parent's loving marriage of sixty-seven years was grounded in tenderness, generosity, humour, and fidelity and it is the model that my older brothers and I strive for in our own relationships.I would often tell my Dad that I saw him as a "Natural Born Buddha" as I witnessed him taking very difficult situations with ease that would freak a lesser man (or myself!). When my mother passed away four years ago I knew my fathered grieved deeply. I asked my Dad soon after the funeral if he was ready to join his wife. Always being the consummate caretaker he said although he missed her so, that he was still needed by his family and could wait till it was his time to go. Over the last year of my father's life he became very frail, which was so difficult to witness as he was one of the hardest working persons I have ever known.
I was my father's youngest child and only daughter. Dad had always supported and encouraged me in my many professional adventures including artist, art professor, addictions councilor and even energy/spiritual healer. No matter how foriegn to his own sensibilities, Dad always supported my choices. When in June of 2011 I said I wanted to become a farmer I knew this gave him a special delight. Dad was proud that the Stack farming legacy in Ireland would be continued here in his new country. Dad was also delighted to give me wise council as a budding small business woman. One thing he was adamant about was that there was no business would be good business unless both parties involved were happy.
Dad was determined to fly up from North Carolina to visit my farm but each attempt was foiled by his declining health. Finally, last July, with my brother and niece by his side he was able to fly up and visit the farm. As walking was very difficult, we drove Dad out to the middle of my field to experience the farm and I drove up my muddy tractor Elvira so he could see me in full farmer mode. Dad said he was at peace and knew I would do well with my farm. During his visit, my father reconnected with memories he had shared with my mother in the years that they had lived near us in York Maine and then he was ready to go. Six weeks later I recieved an emergency call to come and see my Dad as he was failing fast. One of his last requests was to have the family get together for his "going away party". My husband Michael and my girls Tara and Izzy spent the afternoon filling the place with balloons, streamers, and banners with a large picture of my mother front and center and we celebrated my Dad's life in the simple, loving, and joyful way which was the epitome of my Father's way of being. A week later, he breathed his last and was finally able to join his beloved and all his other loved ones who passed before him. The last three words that my Father spoke at his deathbed were: Forever, Permanent, Love. These perfect words are now the standard of New Harmony Farm.
My Father is now nested in the earth next to the love of his life in a peaceful mountain meadow near my brother's home in North Carolina. When I go to the farm now I often remember my Dad with deep gratitude and know that when I put my hands into the cool moist soil I connect with him in the circle of love.