I was giving a lecture to a group of chiropractors a few years ago and when I finished, the doctor who was putting on the conference pulled me aside and said,
"I love that you give your dad so much credit and that you focus so much on his legacy when you are teaching people about Barlow Herbal and giving them information about your products but... you are just as knowledgeable as your dad. Half your product line are your own formulations. YOU are Barlow Herbal now."
For many reasons, that was a pivotal moment for me.
I've always been grateful that my dad created so many amazing and powerful herbal formulas and he raised me and my siblings with natural healing, the love of mountains and especially the love of plants and plant medicine.
So many times, and for many years, I've wished I could talk with him and share some of the things I've learned.
Especially when it comes to the plant he was known for studying and formulating, Lomatium. There are some things I've discovered about Lomatium over the past 21 years that I know he didn't know.
Oh, the conversations we would have!
He would have LOVED technology and how easy it is to communicate with people and keep track of data. I think he would be blown away by the things I'm doing with Barlow Herbal today and the reach we're having.
He would love being able to send out an email to communicate with his customers. Although if truth be told, he would have found a way to keep it as secretive as possible. Access to my dad was always exclusive. Actually, even access to his formulas was exclusive.
The only way to get a hold of any of his products was by sending him a letter by mail (snail mail) or telephone (always a voice machine). And when the mood struck him, he would change his phone number every few months. Sometimes, if you were lucky, when you called to place an order...he would answer the phone and you could actually talk with him. I still talk to people who remember speaking to my dad and how special they felt.
Besides the depth of knowledge he had on plant medicine, he was a genuine listener and you could tell he cared about you and would do everything in his power to help you.
He was a rebel who didn't like big government and he never once signed us up for the school free lunch program or any government assistance of any kind regardless of whether or not we qualified. He taught us to take care of our responsibilities and to never expect a government handout. He was fiercely proud of being able to financially take care of his big, always growing family.
He would let us drive on the back roads of rural Idaho when we were way too young to do so and then proceed to fall asleep in the passenger seat. He even let some of his older grandchildren do this (my boys included) without letting his grown kids know. We still love sharing driving-with-my-dad stories.
My dad would also pull out a few mattresses and let us jump off the roof of our house or jump into my his arms. He would balance us as little kids on one hand and toss us as high as he could in the air.
He would take our whole family up the canyon for a cookout, and when it would start to get dark, he would drive slowly down the canyon letting us run behind the car all the way home.
We were active and always outdoors. Playing, planting gardens, identifying plants, playing some more and basically being kids with all the benefits of kids out in Mother Nature.
There were some intense, slightly scary memories surrounding the things my dad would let us do, but we learned how to be fearless and go after the things we wanted in life, no matter how hard or how much it scared us.
When my mom met my dad during her first year of college, she told him she wanted a dozen kids, he said "Let's go!" They ended up with 14 of us and never once did we feel neglected or lacking in attention. This is as much a tribute to my amazing mom as it is my incredible dad.
He was smart, kind and generous to a fault. He gave willingly of his time, energy and resources. After I had already married and moved out, I heard from my other siblings that he met a woman and her family in Mexico and she was suffering from breast cancer. She had no access to medical care and 4 small children. My dad moved her into his home in Idaho for 6 months and treated her for no charge.
When I was a senior in high school, my dad self-published his book, "From the Shepherd's Purse." It was so much fun to watch him go through the writing process and entire development phase. We were all so proud of him.
Right after it was published, he became a very popular guest on talk radio all over the country. Because he needed it, and I was interested, I became his assistant. I would call the biggest radio stations all over the US and book my dad as a guest on their show. Looking back, I think..."Who does that? Who puts that kind of trust and faith into their inexperienced 17 year-old?"
This is the perfect example of my dad and his uncanny ability to see the incredible potential we all possess. No one knew I was only 17-years-old. I felt empowered and confident and that experience has made a huge difference in my business and personal life during the past 40 years.
I will be forever grateful to my amazing, quirky, thoughtful, insightful, loving, intelligent dad. He was fierce, but calm and always a force to be reckoned with.
With this Father's Day approaching, I'm reminded of how much I've missed him these past 21 years.
He left this earth way too young, yet his legacy is as strong and vibrant as the day he passed.
I know you're proud of me dad...I love you XO
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