“Are you my little girl?”
“Or am I your little old man?”
Growing up on Dad’s land was like living in the Wild West. We had guns but no locks while bandits, drifters and fine pilgrims passed through our lawless hospitality. A car, cash and a diamond engagement ring stolen, and a large cheque fraudulently signed and caught at the bank, a thank you gift was the abandoned junk they left behind.
A right wing libertarian with a weakness for the underdog, our swinging doors opened to runaways, criminals, addicts, anarchists and medicated depressives.
Tightfisted with money, my mother never had a budget to work with. She had what he left in the teapot on any given day. But for some, strategy was spending on credit and defaulting on loans so my generous father could enjoy saving the day.
At the end of his reign over these 3.5 acres, Dad’s leadership style has left him with a tribe of loyal supporters: some giving back, some still waiting for more.
Our home has paid the cost of my father’s generosity. With priority on bailing out other people’s failures, the house and land have fallen into disrepair. Broken, leaking, missing, fallen, and overgrown, I am inheriting a slum on a beautiful piece of land.
“You really are a hard woman sometimes.”
Mum tells me.
Transitioning into Power of Attorney and head of a tiny state, I began as a dictator in crisis. I learned to say no, all of the time. I found guidance in wartime leaders Dad respects: Maggie Thatcher and Winston Churchill.
“She was one of the finest men in the parliament of Britain.”
With the return of family and a new shared vision for our farm, I am looking for a new style to govern.
“She’s neutral! She rules for us, not the politicians.”
Sandy and Joan share three things: the love for their children, an excessive generosity and a respect for the Queen.
And like Lizzy, I have not earned this land. We are inheriting it from my father.
“Can I make a new rule?”
“What is it?”
We reply, building our own constitution, rights and useful regulations.
So far it is our Code of Ethics:
This is a safe haven from the world.
Communication is clear and kind.
We receive and we give.
We focus on our own circles of responsibility.
We share the load.
We start each day anew.
We laugh, we sing, we dance, and we celebrate.
We rest and we meditate.
We dig in the earth and we look at the sky.
We do reap what we sow.
We protect this sacred place by respecting the Code and by vouching for the people we bring here, as even guests must obey the family Code.
We do not have a conventional family. We are not bound by blood alone. Perhaps without divorce, death and an extraordinary opportunity, we would each be married with our own children, renting our own home and mowing our own lawn.
But we are not.
A father of three and a mother to none, I know children grow up and go off on their own. I don’t want to be old and alone in a nursing home. I want what I’ve built with my father: laughter, generations, support and teamwork.
We are a family that is choosing to share time on this land. That time is spent checking off tasks on lists of lists to repair and maintain our shared home, followed by naps in hammocks and loud celebrations of our work’s rewards.
I am in heaven.
God save the Queen.
(In an executive monarchy with reserve powers.)