Fidelity and Family

By Toni Kolb
Reader Contributor

I think back on my fluctuating childhood and smile. The ups and downs — it was a journey of memory making. I remember the seasons of beans and rice for dinner. The times where we’d sit out on the porch with the boxed strawberry plants, singing hymns and trusting in Providence.

Toni and Jonah Kolb, left, pose with Toni’s father Eddie Hutto and her mother Rosanne Hutto in June, 2018.

I remember my mom taking my brothers and I aside to thank God for the groceries and cookies left on our doorstep by some anonymous giver. Or the Christmas our Suburban was loaded with gifts while parked at Dad’s job-site.

The times we moved — how Mom always treated it as an adventure. We helped clean the new house, participating in creating the home my parents envisioned. And Mom always let us pick out the color for our bedroom trim. It was exciting.

As a young person I’m sure I recognized Dad’s wild jumps from dream to dream. But it wasn’t until I was much older that I realized sign painting, pheasant raising, elk ranching and Christmas tree farms were uncommon careers. Or that Dad’s many entrepreneurial ventures were deemed sporadic and risky by more than a few friends and family members. Some even may have thought my dad was irresponsible or unpredictable. As children we saw the adventure.

They weren’t all “low” times. But I don’t remember anything remarkable or nostalgic or meaningful about the easy times. I did enjoy having my dad close to home. I loved the evenings of sitting in the barn on a milk crate, watching my Dad paint. Paint thinner is still a comforting smell to me. I loved him being home for dinner, the campfire marshmallow nights. The astronomy lessons and childhood stories. Or waking up at 4 a.m. to catch pheasants for the hunters. Dad was also encouraging me in my own business ventures as I grew older. My parents expected great things from my siblings and I. And now I think it was their belief in me that gave me the attitude that I could do anything I set my heart to.

When Dad did leave for the oil field, there was a piece missing in our lives, a gap that grew wider with time. It was a season where “Dad” was a voice on the phone and the head chair sat empty most of the months of the year.

I guess it isn’t too surprising that now, at 26 years old, I am married to a visionary/artist. And even while living my own dreams with my own distinct life I still play a part in one of my Dad’s ventures. We all may have had some degree of skepticism of his idea to build log cabins, but like in most of his ventures, he made it happen. So I now market for Fidelity Home Solutions, the family business my Dad dreamed up and put to action. And so does my husband. And I am filled with thankfulness. My husband’s chair is occupied every night, and he isn’t just a voice over the phone anymore either. Part of that is due to my Dad’s wild dreaming and his desire to put his family first.

Toni Kolb and her husband, Jonah, live in a quaint log cabin along the Clark Fork river. Both are aspiring freelance writers, are interested in natural and emergency medicine, and are both training with an organization that rescues children from trafficking. [email protected]

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