Olga S. Hardman

As he cared for the newly hatched chickens, I usually sat on a small green stool near the furnace and watched. Father went about quietly putting the mash in the trough, adding fresh water to the bottle, and checking the electrical equipment in the incubator. I can remember so well the feeling of security and warmth I always had there. It was warmth that came from the incubator, the brooder, and the adjacent coal furnace, as well as from the love of this man who was my father.

Through these experiences in the basement, I learned the meaning of the word gentleman. My father was indeed a gentle man. As he placed the eggs on the shelves in the incubator, he cradled each one with great care. His hands were large and his muscles strong from years of practicing his trade as a glass cutter. With only slight pressure, he could easily have cracked the precious eggs.

I watched with awe as each little chick pecked its way out of the shell when the time came. As each small, wet, wormy-like chick dried off and became a beautiful, bright yellow ball of fluff, shivers of delight went up my spine. Daddy showed me how to cradle the "peeps" in the cup of my hand so that I would not harm them. Their chirps filled me with unbridled joy.

Oh, that all children might be blessed with such a father who could show the beauty of life and love through his own respect for and devotion to all living things. What a priceless gift!

© 1998 Olga S. Hardman