By Rep. Kristi Noem
I’ll never forget the day my dad and I were checking fences on our ranch and he pointed out the prairie pasque flower to me. He told me how it was a special flower and how it only grew on native ground that had not been developed, plowed or disturbed.
As we talked about how rare it is to find land like that and how a person had to search to see the small, diminutive flower tucked away on the hillsides, I remember thinking how this was such a different conversation than I was used to having with my tough, cowboy father. Usually, he was busy giving me my next list of chores to complete, or asking why I wasn’t done with the list of chores he had given me earlier. He was a hard worker and it wasn’t often that he took a break to point out the special beauty of the land around us.
The pasque has been my favorite flower ever since. Not only does it reflect the hardiness and beauty of the South Dakota people, but every time I see one, it also reminds me of my dad. I have shared the same story and facts about our state flower with my children. We go out each spring as soon as the snow melts to look for the pasque flowers that appear before the grass dares to turn green. They realize that their backyard – and the pasture beyond – is not only special, but now part of our family heritage.
Perhaps your father shared a story with you that you’ve never forgotten or maybe certain holidays or events remind you of your dad or grandfather. As we near Father’s Day, it can bring a range of emotions for people. Whether you’re a new dad celebrating the birth of your first child or mourning the recent loss of a father, I hope each one of us can honor our fathers or father-figure by thanking them for their impact on our lives and being grateful for each day we have had with them. While I miss my father every day, I also choose to be happy for every day that I was blessed to be his daughter.
Dad and I shared a love for cattle, horses, and the land. Every day was an adventure with him, even though some of them were challenging. He pushed us kids, made us work hard, and woke us up most mornings with the phrase, “We’re burning daylight! Get up! More people die in bed than anywhere else!” We weren’t always happy to be crawling out of bed so early, but today I am thankful for the example he set and for teaching me to tackle a difficult job when it needed doing.
While I am in Washington, D.C. my husband Bryon is back home on our ranch with our three kids. Often he is doing chores, juggling meals, doing laundry, planning family activities and running the family business. He’s busy! I could not do my job representing South Dakota without his support and willingness to do whatever it takes to help keep our family healthy and happy. Kassidy, Kennedy, Booker and I try to show him every day how grateful we are for all he does, but we try to make an extra special effort on Father’s Day. He is such a blessing to all of us.
Spending time away from my family is not easy, but like many South Dakotans, I wake up, remember the lessons my dad taught me, and continue to work to provide a better future for my kids and grandkids. I encourage you to share lessons your father taught you, or lessons you’re hoping to teach your kids with me and others. I’d love to hear them!
I also hope you will join me and thank all of the fathers and male role models across South Dakota for all that they do to make our lives better every day. Happy Father’s Day from my family to yours!