Every now and then humor takes a holiday, and the realities of life settle in.
While it’s not an unusual occurrence, sometimes the teachers of those realities are what take us by surprise. It’s been said that, while we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.
Our son learned such a lesson not long ago.
He had just returned home from a day of corn chopping. When he came through the doorway of our home, I asked him how it went. He sighed, sat down and said quite factually, “It was an emotionally tough day.”
He had been hauling with a truck, and the corn belonged to the friend of a friend, who had died earlier that week. A few friends had gathered to harvest his corn silage on the day after he was buried.
Others there knew the man who had died; our son did not, but felt good about helping with such an important harvest.
Awhile into it, he saw a young girl (about 10 years old) in the yard. She approached his truck and asked if she could ride with him.
Happy to have company, he invited her in.
Turns out, she was the oldest child of the man whose corn he was helping to harvest.
She told him her name, and followed that a little later with, “My dad died on Monday.”
Our son found himself face to face with a young girl who had experienced so much in her short time on earth, understood the brevity of this life, and who had to find a way to work through her father’s illness and death.
And possibly, find someone to talk to about it.
She chose our son.
He discovered there were three younger siblings, whom he learned about during the course of their time together. He also learned about some wonderful things the father did for her and their family before he had to leave them behind.
Among them, she was especially proud that he built the children a chicken house for their poultry projects, and he bought her a calf to show at the fair.
Our son loves cows and calves, and could relate to how special that calf must be to her.
As they visited, she said, “God must have really liked my dad to take him so early.”
Our son said he was trying to think of something comforting to say, but most of all, was trying to hold his own emotions together for the sake of the young girl, who had been dealing with her own emotions about this for as long as she had known about her father’s illness.
She was doing well, it seemed. She was leading that conversation.
I wiped away quiet tears of my own as he was telling me this amazing story of a young girl who reached out to a total stranger and introduced him to her father in the only way she could do that now. And what a job she did. It gave his job there even more special meaning.
I thought of all the amazing people she must have in her life helping her through something that is so difficult even for adults to understand. Of all of the man’s children, she would remember him the most. I thought about the tremendous gift that will be for her.
For one day, farmers banded together with equipment and manpower to harvest a silage crop for a friend. They may not say it, but farmers all know the brotherhood they share, strangers or not.
They don’t even have to say it. And in someone’s hour of need, they’re there – even if only to be a sounding board, giving a child a chance to let someone get to know her dad.
Perhaps that was the most important job of all that day.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and at www.karenschwaller.com.
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