Wesley Kenneth Roush (1942-2020)
Wesley Kenneth Roush (1942-2020)
Ladies and gentlemen, most folks would think I’ve led a wooden, repetitive life – nothing to write home about.

And perhaps that’s true. After all, I’ve spent most my life hanging out in a barn. I spent so much time in that barn I forgot all about my former life. Oh, I vaguely remember bits and pieces here and there, but that was so long ago I don’t know how long ago that was.

Oh, pardon me, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Kane, at least that’s what those around me call me. I’ve never seen my name in writing, so I don’t know if it’s spelled Kane, Cain or Cane, but I kind of like Kane.

Like I mentioned earlier, I hung out in a barn for the longest time. I watched the sun go up and down, I watched it get hot and cold, storm and snow, and watched the barn swallows fly in and out. But mostly, I watched the man who put me up there so long ago.

The lights would come on and a few minutes later he’d enter the barn almost every single day, often many times a day and I’d just watch him. He’d use all sorts of contraptions that made loud noises, and he made so many beautiful things out of wood. I was partial to those because I was made out of wood, too. But he’d also fix things, work on things, make something out of nothing. You might consider life in that barn dull and monotonous, but I liked it just fine.

I hung out with a couple other Kanes who looked somewhat like me. I enjoyed the company, but mostly liked watching him do his thing in his workshop.

When the season was much like it is right now last time around, I didn’t see him come in for maybe a fortnight of sunrises and sunsets. I was a little concerned.

Then one sunny day, the lights came on and I saw someone come in. It wasn’t the guy I love to watch, but someone I’ve seen many times before come in and work with him. He looked around for a while and then came over to … me! He picked me and my friends up and I heard him say, “Hmm, Dad says pick him out a good Kane.”

Well, now I know his name – Dad. After a few moments, he put the others back and took me out of the barn. The sun was so bright, I had forgotten how bright it is. He took me in a house, and I immediately recognized some of the beautiful things he made out of wood. Then I saw him. He said, “Yes, that’s a good Kane.”

That made me happy. Another day that made me happy is when Dad took me outside and really shined me up. It felt so good – I think it made me look 40 years younger!

It’s like we were closer than ever. Dad and I rode on things they call tractors, 4-wheelers, cars and trucks. One day, we were getting ready to go outside and the lady of the house said, “Ken, don’t forget your Kane.”

OK, maybe Dad’s nickname is Ken. Anyway, we traveled by car to a big building. When we got inside, I heard her say, “We’ve got an appointment for Wesley.”

Now I was really confused. Dad has several nicknames, I guess.

We would go to different big buildings in different places, some near and others of farther distance. I think I heard they were called hospitals. Sometimes we’d only be there a short time, other times we were there for quite a few sunsets.

When the weather started getting colder, we went to a big building to see someone they called Kemo. We ended up seeing Kemo 19 times. After we saw Kemo, Dad would come home tired and sleep.

Sometimes even though I was with him or nearby, Dad would fall down. I hated that. Sometimes he’d get back up, sometimes others had to help him up. One time two people took him in a big, red vehicle with blinking lights.

People they called nurses and therapists would come to visit. There was one I remember with dark brown hair who really made him do something they called exercises. She’d have him walk with me around the house many times, and I watched as they bounced a big, yellow balloon back and forth. I really liked her.

When the snow stopped falling and it began to get warmer, the nurses and therapists started wearing masks. I found that odd.

When it was hot outside, Dad was told he didn’t have to see Kemo anymore – they said something about “remission.” That made many people smile and say prayers of thanksgiving.

It was my hope that we’d start going out to the barn again and I could watch Dad make more things out of wood now that we don’t have to spend so much time seeing Kemo.

The sun went up and down and up and down again. Dad and I would walk together and sometimes go outside together.

Not long ago, he and I weren’t spending as much time together. I hung out by his bed while he slept most of the time. He was given plenty of food, but he started eating less and less. He began speaking less and less to those around him. He was almost as skinny as me. I believe I heard someone say that Dad was too weak to see Kemo again.

I guess he’s just really tired. Maybe after he gets enough rest, Dad will wake up and we’ll go back out to the barn and work on things like we always did.

While he is sleeping today, people are around him. It must be allergy season because their eyes are all wet.

Now they are taking him away. Wait, don’t go just yet, you’re forgetting Dad’s Kane!

I love you, Dad.

Steve Roush is vice chairman of the Highland County Historical Society Board of Trustees, a vice president of an international media company and a columnist and contributing writer for The Highland County Press. He can be reached by email at roush_steve@msn.com.